PFAS, GreenPan and Treasure

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A week or two ago I attended, online, a webinar run by GreenPan, one of our suppliers. And Greenpan, in case the name means nothing to you, were one of the first (if not the first) people to the market with a Ceramic based non-stick coating. A coating made from sand, rather than the more usual plastic / petroleum based non-sticks which are currently still the norm. We have been stocking Greenpan since 2009, at one stage having 5 of their ranges on offer. It hasn’t all been plain sailing in the last 13 years, but essentially it’s a very good product, which, so far we know, has no “nasties” in it,  that are likely to do us any harm in the short or long term. Indeed, the basic material, sand, is inert. What’s not to like? Well, there is no such thing as a perfect product and like most cookware, in fact, it needs to be understood (the Good the Bad and the Ugly) to get the best out of it. Click here for our Greenpan guide.

Now, in presenting this webinar Greenpan had an axe to grind, as they trade on their product being PFAS free and to a degree I found that what was said disturbed me. And the reason for my concern was because of the permanence of this PFAS family of plastics/chemicals*. And, obviously governments are also concerned because there is a good chance that PFAS chemicals will start to be banned in certain categories of product from 2025 onwards. So I thought I’d ring my old chum Nick Squire (he of the X5 and Vietnam Bees…) to ask what he was going to do to make his bakeware (Tala Performance) PFAS free by the middle of this decade. He told me it already is PFAS free, and explained that this is because of the lower temperature that bakeware has to endure (Ovens don’t usually go much above 250°C) as opposed to cookware (frying pans in particular) where temperatures could be twice that. And for technical reasons, I realise I don’t understand, this means that PFAS is not present in their bakeware. I also tried to contact Nick Ryder at Le Creuset but am still waiting for him to ring me back on the subject. Knowing the Le Creuset people as I do, doubtless they will have already a plan in place. I’ll let you know when I know more.

*PFAS is a group name for a family of just under 5000 chemicals that abound in our modern world, being present not only in cookware, but clothing, electronics, the cars we drive etc. etc. and although not yet proven to be harmful to us, colloquially they are called “forever chemicals” because, as I understand it, they dissolve in water, and are therefore in our rivers and oceans and in our blood, and once there, there they remain!

 

Nick (Squire) very thoughtfully put me in touch with his expert on non-stick coatings (an outside company that he uses for compliance purposes), as I had other semi technical questions that he couldn’t answer, and I had a very interesting conversation with one of their compliance experts during which we discussed “Ceramic non-sticks” verses “Plastic non-sticks”. He (the compliance chap) wasn’t as convinced as I about the efficacy of Ceramic coatings, citing the following (his comments in italics):

1.      Ceramics are very non-stick to begin with, but once overheated lose a significant proportion of their non-stick ability. This is true, although far less now than 13 years ago. And even at their reduced level they are still basically non-stick. i.e. But whereas you can fry an egg without fat in a brand new GreenPan, once badly over heated you will probably need a drop of oil to prevent sticking.

2.      Ceramic is sand based. True and not true. It is made of sand, but other compounds have to be added to it to make it non-stick. So, the inference here is that we don’t know what the compound effect of combining these chemicals may be?

3.      It can chip, especially so on the edge of a pan. This is true, but Greenpan have now removed the coating from the edge and in any case, aesthetics aside, the edge losing its coating doesn’t really affect the pans performance, just doesn’t look so great. Otherwise my experience of GreenPan Ceramic coating is that I’ve found it to be very tough, and unlike plastic based non-sticks it doesn’t appear to get more easy to damage as the temperature builds. Plastic non-sticks do become more prone to damage the higher the temperature as they soften slightly.

4.      Oven use isn’t recommended for all ceramic coatings. For GreenPan this isn’t an issue.

5.      Induction use: Most ceramics are spayed onto Aluminium which needs to have a magnetic base added, for it to work. These are very inefficient, using far more energy to cook with. I hadn’t realised this, so thought that was particularly interesting in view of current energy pricing. However, this doesn’t just apply to ceramic coatings. Le Creuset TNS (by far our bestselling non-stick range) is aluminium (with a magnetic base added) and we’re aware is very slow to heat up on induction. What I didn’t know, is that it used more power in the process!

6.      Dishwasher use: Ceramics don’t fare as well in the dishwasher as their plastic counterpart. This is a known factor and as with plastic based non-stick pans, you might argue that it’s just as easy to wash them up by hand?  In doing so you will certainly prolong the life of any coating, including plastic based non-sticks. It certainly helps prolong life on ceramic coatings, as the salt in dishwashers can attack them after an extended period

So, that was a summary of a very interesting conversation and one that I’m most grateful to Nick for arranging. I’d also like to thank the independent compliance expert (who wished to remain anonymous) for sparing a good half hour of his day answering my questions.  And whilst on I’m also grateful to Jason Kirk at GreenPan for inviting me on their Webinar in the first place, which posed some very interesting questions. I remain a fan of GreenPan as both a manufacturer and of their non-stick material, which over the years has gradually got better and better.

Nickle Allergy

If what I’ve written here leaves you with further questions then do please feel free to leave a question in the comments section below the blog post version of this email. If I don’t know the answer I’ll tell you and go and find it out. And remember there are a number of really good alternatives, in the form of Iron pans from Netherton and castiron from Le Creuset and stainless steel from Demeyere that enable you avoid non-sticks altogether. And whilst talking things to avoid. People who have a nickel allergy should, I believe, not use stainless steel pans as of course nickel is a constituent of Stainless Steel. This still leaves Netherton iron pans and Le Creuset Cast Iron

GreenPan Offer

My offer this week is on Greenpan. A very simple one. Buy one piece and get 10% off. Buy two or more pieces and get 20% off. Use code GREEN10 (or just add more than one Greenpan product to your cart) to get this offer online, and just tell us who you are if coming into Cobham or Reigate shops.


Browse all GreenPan

Julian Treasure

Steven Bartlett (Dragons Den) was interviewing Julian Treasure this week in his podcast Dairy of a CEO. I found the interview really quite fascinating and went to look him up as one of the most listened to TED talks of all time on the “Seven Deadly Sins of Speaking”.

His talk is just under 10 mins long and can be found here.

I’d like to wish you a pleasant and peaceful weekend.

Kind regards, 

Andrew 

Andrew Bluett-Duncan 

Director


1 comment


  • Sam Mauer

    Hi, my first Greenpan has lost its coating, a member of your staff explained I’d probably heated it too much, using perhaps the wrong oil, I loved the pan so much I bought a replacement from you. Just wondering what to do with the old one? How do you throw away a frying pan? Do Greenpan, take them back? Just a thought.


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