Main Article: Guide to Natural cookware

Written by Patricia Pauyo | Reviewed by Nikita Kapur MS, RDN, CDN, CLT

You probably spend a lot of time buying quality ingredients and putting a lot of effort into preparing healthy and safe meals for your loved ones and yourselves. However, all these efforts can be wasted if you are using certain types of cookware.

Many cookwares are made with man-made materials that are unsafe and can leach into our foods. Some cookwares contain a chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which is found in many nonstick cookwares. This chemical could potentially cause various health issues such as heart attack, stroke, and various cancers.

What to use instead?

Natural cookware can be defined as cookware that is non-toxic, ecologically sound, environment friendly, pollution free and devoid of heavy metals. There are many safe and natural alternatives to plastic and non-stick cookware that we can use to avoid harmful chemicals into our foods. These include cast iron, stainless steel, ceramic, clay, glass, copper, and carbon steel.

Here is a list of various safe and non-toxic natural cookwares with pros and cons to help you make your kitchen safer and healthier.


Glass is a great material to choose when stocking your kitchen with chemical-free cookware. Glass pans generally work best for savory dishes such as pot-pies, baked pasta dishes and quick breads.


  • Eco-friendly and nontoxic
  • They don’t leach anything into foods
  • Hold in flavors in foods
  • Does not react with acidic foods
  • Easy to clean


  • They can break
  • May not distribute heat evenly
  • Stovetop wares may require longer cooking time and constant stirring.


Ceramic is an organic material that has been used dating back to ancient cultures. Today, you can find a variety of ceramic cookware that is made for baking and for stovetop cooking.


  • Does not retain odors, bacteria or tastes.
  • Can withstand extreme temperature differences without cracking.
  • Versatile: Use on stove-top, in the oven and broiler, even on the barbeque.
  • Easy to clean: non-scratch, non-toxic ceramic glaze surface.
  • Lightweight


  • Ceramic cookware can break

Stainless Steel

Long-lasting, classic, uncoated stainless steel is a good choice for browning and braising. Often sold in sets, stainless cookware can be the kitchen workhorse tackling everything from pickling to pasta sauce.


  • Durable and long lasting
  • Easy to care for
  • Does not react with foods.
  • Provides rapid, uniform heating.
  • Dishwasher, oven, and broiler safe (depending on the handle material.)


  • Sometimes tougher to clean.
  • Must use oil to prevent food from sticking to pan

Cast iron

Cast iron is very thick and heavy duty. If you need something for browning, braising, stewing, slow cooking and baking, this would be the best choice for you. Cast iron comes in Bare Iron or with an Enamel-Coating

Enameled Cast Iron

Great for searing, sautéing, browning, and frying, these classic, colorful pieces transition seamlessly from stovetop or oven to your dining table.


  • Heats evenly
  • Last a long time
  • Doesn't react with acidic ingredients
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Retain heat well for table serving
  • Safe for oven high temperature (500°F)


  • Heavy
  • Enamel can chip

Bare (Uncoated) Cast Iron


  • Extremely durable
  • Keeps food warm for a long time
  • Heats up quickly
  • Non-stick properties with proper seasoning
  • Easy to clean
  • Inexpensive
  • Can last a lifetime


  • Must be seasoned and maintained
  • Prone to rust in improper damp environment
  • Not dishwasher safe
  • Can leach into acidic food
  • Pro-oxidant


Carbon steel pans are a cross between cast iron and stainless steel. They are extremely durable and efficient and designed for high-performance cooking which is why they are often used in professional kitchens. Carbon steel is the preferred material for woks, omelet and crepe pans.


  • Works well for any type cooktop
  • Light in weight than cast iron
  • Similar benefits and use as cast iron
  • Reacts with temperature change, excellent heat conductor
  • Durable


  • Can react with acid foods if not seasoned properly
  • Must be seasoned (rubbed with multiple coats of oil) to avoid rusting
  • Susceptible to rust and corrosion
  • Can be expensive
  • Not dishwasher safe


Many stores and cooking shows are now featuring copper cookwares, cup or just simple copper-colored items. Real copper cookware provides many benefits in your kitchen.


  •  Very Versatile
  • Best used for high-heat searing, sautéing, frying and also gently simmering
  • Distribute heat well with no hotspots
  • Light weight
  • Adds a nice rustic touch as a serving dish


  • Can be expensive
  • Can react with acidic foods
  • Can dent easily
  • Hand wash only


Aluminum is an excellent heat conductor. Many changes have been made to aluminum cookware to make them safer to use. Anodized aluminum is coated to prevent or minimize reactions with foods.


  • Affordable
  • Lightweight
  • Durable and an excellent conductor


  • React with acidic foods if not coated 
  • Scratch easily
  • Can discolor some foods and cause a bitter taste.

Although natural cookwares are a safer alternative, it’s important to be cautious with their use as some of them can also leach into our foods.


Compass Nutrition