It’s practically impossible to be completely toxin-free unless you live completely off the grid, and maybe even not then. There are, however, many ways to decrease your exposure to potential hazards in the kitchen—and it doesn’t have to be a super-heavy lift. While we don’t expect anyone to make these changes today (it’s okay to take your time with phasing things out), here are five simple things you can start doing to detoxify your kitchen:
Replace old non-stick pans
We know, we know—they’re so easy to use. But a lot of non-stick cookware has Teflon coating, which contains “forever chemicals” called PFOA or PFTE that release toxic fumes when heated. Although those aren’t used in Teflon-coated pans anymore, if you have an old one, it’s definitely time to move on. To reduce the risk of exposure, swap out your non-stick pans for cast iron, stainless steel, or ceramic (as long as its coating isn’t scratched).
Lodge Cast Iron Deep Skillet$60
With proper care, this cast-iron pan will get better and better as it’s seasoned over time. Will it last a lifetime? Yes—and then some.
Store leftovers in glass containers
Sure, plastic containers are easily available and generally cheap, but when it comes to storing your food, glass is a better option. Not only is glass a non-porous material (meaning it won’t stain or absorb smells), but it is also oven-, dishwasher-, and even freezer-safe–just make sure to avoid thermal shock by bringing the contents to room temperature first.
Not ready to replace all your containers in one go? At least avoid microwaving your food inside plastic, as plastic chemicals can leech into your food. Other great storage solutions when detoxifying your kitchen include stainless steel, ceramic, silicone, and reusable food wraps.
Oxo Smart Seal Glass Containers$33
This 12-piece set of glass containers and airtight lids keeps food fresh, and you won’t have to wonder if plastic is leaching into your leftovers. Plus, the containers are stackable to make the most of your fridge space.
Don’t eat from vintage dishes
Lead and cadmium are both toxic heavy metals, and unfortunately, they can be lurking in vintage dishware and glassware. So if you’re eating or drinking from thrifted, vintage, or imported ceramics or glassware, we highly recommend setting those aside for display or testing them for lead before using them with food.
Russel Wright American Modern Dinnerware$110
If you love the look of vintage, you’ll be glad to know that there are plenty of classic reissues to choose from, from Fiestaware to Paul McCobb’s midcentury Contempri line. We’re coveting this mix-and-match dinnerware originally designed by Russel Wright (and now offered in eight gorgeously glazed colors).
Invest in a water filter
While it is true that the U.S. has one of the safest drinking water systems in the world, we also know there are exceptions. If you’re not sure about the water quality in your area, you can look up your local Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) to learn more. Either way, we highly recommend investing in a water filtration system.
Not only can it help reduce your risk of exposure to contaminants and chemicals, but it can also help you reduce your usage of bottled water–which takes up space and is bad for the environment.
LifeStraw Home Pitcher$45
Made of hand-blown glass, this sleek pitcher reduces lead, mercury, and PFAS from tap water.
Keep your windows open
There are plenty of people who would argue a range hood is not essential, but according to Richard Shaughnessy, Ph.D., they’re helpful. “Any time you’re cooking or searing something in a pan, you’re producing ultra-fine particles in the air that are not just particles, but coated with all sorts of other chemicals that you don’t want to be breathing,” he told the New York Times.
Turning on your vent (even if your food isn’t burning) will help avoid that while preventing odors and oil from permeating your home. Don’t have a vent? We recommend keeping your windows open while cooking instead, or investing in a special fan to help you breathe easy.
This compact, portable extraction fan has an oil filter and a charcoal filter to reduce cooking odors, smoke, and grease. (It’s currently sold out, but you can join the wait list!)