Your kitchen is where you prepare healthy meals, so you want it as pristine as possible. And, that means free of toxins.
So, how do you get a toxic free kitchen? Try these 12 ways and get a new perspective on a healthy kitchen.
How to Get a Toxic Free Kitchen
First, you need to know a bit about PFCs to create a toxic-free kitchen. Where do you find PFCs? Think non-stick cookware, water, wrappers, clothing, carpeting, and yes, popcorn bags!?!
- Poly-fluorochemicals, known as PFCs, are a family of chemicals that are widely used to make water, grease, and stain-repellent coatings. PFCs are used to make the following:
- Non-stick cookware
- Fast food wrappers/pizza boxes
- Microwave popcorn bags
- Stain resistant carpet coating
- Stain resistant and water-repellent clothing
Are you surprised by this list? So, basically, anything that is grease, water or stain resistant could have been treated.
- PFCs are found in water and soil, and in your blood, and some are linked to serious health effects.
- PFOA is one of the chemicals in the PFC family. It is being phased out this year (2015). PFOA was a key ingredient in the production of Teflon pans.
- Before you start celebrating the phase-out of PFOA, there is no evidence that chemicals replacing PFOA are any safer according to industry experts.
- Just one more fact…
- Is PFOA dangerous? EPA studies say “suggestive evidence of carcinogenicity”. Other studies have shown higher than normal cholesterol levels, thyroid disease, and reduced fertility.
Now that you’ve got the goods on PFCs, you can start learning how to avoid them.
1. Avoid non-stick cookware
You should try to avoid any type of non-stick cookware like pans, pie tins and cupcake tins. And, don’t forget the cookie sheets.
Non-stick cookware can release dangerous fumes if overheated. There’s actually a name for the flu-like symptoms. It’s called Polymer Fume Fever in humans.
Overheated non-stick cookware fumes are sometimes fatal to birds.
It’s unclear if non-stick cookware is a major source of PFC exposure compared to other sources (remember the list above). Some studies suggested that PFC exposure when using non-stick was low while other studies did not.
The lack of clarity around the dangers is kind of frustrating, isn’t it?
Not into risk taking?
Your best bet is to use other options. Try these other great ways to cook without the worry or risk.
- Stainless Steel (actually better for cooking than non-stick)
- Cast Iron
- Ceramic Baking Dishes
- Glass Baking and Pie Dishes
These alternatives have the added benefit of being long-lasting unlike non-stick pans and trays.
2. Use your cooking vent or air cleaner
Any type of combustion creates fumes. By using your cooking vent, you can remove these from your kitchen and breathe easier.
3. Switch from plastic storage containers to glass
Once you switch from plastic storage containers to glass, you’ll wonder why you ever used plastic. You’ll love your glass storage containers.
Glass containers stack, clean up easily and are much healthier than plastic. Just think, no more greasy residue on your containers.
Trade in plastic pitchers for glass, and if you use plastic drinking glasses, consider switching to glass.
4. Roast, bake, broil and saute with the right oil
Use refined oils with higher smoke points for medium and high-temperature cooking.
Because when you use low smoke point oils like extra virgin olive oil for roasting and medium to high heat sauteing, you release harmful fumes.
Want to learn more? Read Cooking Oils 101. It’s got everything you need to know about cooking oils.
5. Make popcorn the old-fashioned way on the stove
Did you notice at the beginning of the article that microwave popcorn bags are coated with PFCs?
Try making popcorn on the stove in a stainless steel pot using a high heat oil like organic safflower or sunflower. You’ll realize that it’s pretty easy, and the popcorn tastes amazing.
After you add real butter, you’ll wonder why you ever ate microwave popcorn.
6. Limit use of take-out/processed food like pizza
Some take-out wrappers are treated with PFCs. While you may not want to alter your take out lifestyle, being aware of the issue is a good start.
It’s all about balance.
Try not store your leftovers in the wrapper or box.
7. Rethink plastic wrap
Rethink your use of plastic wrap by using it less often or not at all. Plastic wrap can be made with PVC or BPA. Neither is good.
Read more about which plastics to avoid.
8. Switch from plastic cutting boards to wood or glass
Using a wood cutting board is a great option to replace plastic. Think about how gnarly your plastic cutting boards look after a few months of slicing and dicing. Wood holds up much better and is healthier.
You can easily sanitize your wood boards by rubbing the surface with a lemon slice or using full strength vinegar.
You may also like to use glass cutting boards because you can clean them in the dishwasher.
9. Try wood or stainless cooking utensils and not plastic
Consider replacing your plastics with wood or stainless for spoons, spatulas, and ladles.
After all, you won’t need your plastic spatula, since you’ll be ditching your non-stick pans, right?
10. Use safe kitchen cleaners and soaps
Kitchen cleaners and soaps may contain harmful ingredients. The Consumer Products Safety Commission regulates these items and has lax guidelines for ingredient disclosure.
In fact, the guidelines are so lax that manufacturers can disclose all, some or none of the ingredients. So, even if you do a good job of label reading, you could still be using a product that produces harmful fumes.
It’s disturbing, isn’t it?
11. Install a water filter
Are you still drinking unfiltered tap water? If so, you may want to install a water filter.
Your drinking water has PFCs.
And, here’s the kicker.
The EPA does not regulate the amount of PFOA or PFOS (both types of PFCs). A good carbon filter will take care of these contaminants for you.
Click here to check out your options.
The Minimalist Guide to Water Filters is a great resource for anyone looking for a top-notch water filter. It’s a great, simple tool to pick the right type of filter with a short list of the best-rated filters.
12. Don’t use the self-cleaning oven feature
You may think that using the self-cleaning setting on your oven is a great idea because you’re simply heating up the oven and not using any cleaners.
Unfortunately, when your oven reaches over 600 degrees, it can start emitting nasty fumes. These fumes come from your oven’s interior coating off-gassing or residual food burning and releasing carbon monoxide. Neither is good.
While it is well documented that pet birds can succumb to self-cleaning oven fumes, it’s unclear how toxic the fumes are to humans, with the exception of carbon monoxide.
Why risk it?
You know when you use the self-cleaning feature, your house fills with fumes that last for hours. Do you really want to breathe that?
What should you use instead?
Try generously sprinkling baking soda in your oven. Pour white vinegar on top coating the baking soda. Listen for the bubbling sound.
This is the sound of cleaning taking place without any effort on your part. Wait 3-5 hours. Then mop up the vinegar and soda with a towel. You’ll be amazed at the shine.
How many of the 12 best ways were a surprise to you? A few? More?