Once upon a time, many years ago, when OA first started, things like farmers markets and organic groceries were considered fringe. Hippie. Crunchy. Granola. Fast forward, and consumer demand has even the likes of national chains like Kroger supplying organic versions of just about everything. This is a profound change in how Americans eat, and yet there's one big miss that hasn't hit the national consciousness. This, dear readers, is clean cookware.
The nonstick cookware industry has long been rife with chemical contamination, and as a result, we’ve been spending ever more time seeking out only the cleanest cookware in which to prepare our organic food. (To reap the rewards of our tireless search, check out our guide to non-toxic nonstick cookware.)
On our search, we couldn't help but fall in love with Caraway, the clean cookware company that never lets us down. It doesn’t hurt that it’s also gorgeous. Standing out from the crowd, Caraway has quickly become one of our favorite brands.
Unlike traditional PTFE (aka Teflon), Caraway's clean cookware is made with a ceramic nonstick coating. Its so-gel method is far more environmentally friendly than PTFE. This technology, explains Caraway growth lead Josh Knopman, not only provides a “naturally slick ceramic surface” that’s safer and healthier to use at home, but also “draws a lot less energy during production when compared to more traditional non-stick cookware manufacturing, thus resulting in lower emissions.” This, as compared to hard anodization, which is what most PFA-based cookware is made with and which “leaves a nasty chemical waste that needs to be safely disposed of.” (For years, this waste was disposed of in our drinking water – for more on this dirty secret, check out our timeline on legislation surrounding PFOAs in the U.S.)
California Prop 65 certified, Caraway offers the utmost in transparency. They monitor their factories closely, testing and (pre-COVID) visiting often. The company even went so far as to provide Organic Authority with third-party lab test results that demonstrate that they check for heavy metal contamination.
“We believe in the importance of transparency when it comes to the materials that make your cookware, and share our testing reports with all our customers who ask," says Knopman. "We’ve had tests performed by SGS (the same company the FDA uses) to ensure our cookware is 100% safe to use in any home. We want to encourage consumers to get educated about the materials they use in their home, and hold the brands they purchase accountable in creating safer products for all.”
There's also that drop-dead gorgeous factor.
To shed more light on the science, founder Jordan Nathan provided answers to some of our most burning questions.
OA: Considering the PFOA/PTFE scandal with Dupont and now the concern regarding GenX chemicals, how does production for ceramic based cookware coatings differ from the production process for PTFE?
Jordan: Great question! ~95% of the non-stick cookware market in the U.S. is made with PTFE-based coatings, which in some instances previously contained PFOA. The more recent PTFE is still potentially toxic when overheated/chipped. Our coatings are made with a sol-gel ceramic and are free of PFAs (such as PFOA/PTFE), lead, cadmium and other toxic metals. From a manufacturing perspective, we also refrain from using any form of hard anodization which is a nasty manufacturing process that requires putting the pans into a sulfuric acid bath. Not only does this emit a ton of toxic fumes and emissions, it is typically improperly disposed of, creating acid waste which is extremely detrimental and harmful to the environment. We use the sol-gel process to bind the ceramic coating to the aluminum core which releases up to 60% less CO2 vs. standard non-stick cookware that's hard anodized.
OA: Does Caraway have certifications for current good manufacturing practices?
Jordan: We support BSCI and SMETA manufacturing partners where employees are safe, paid fairly, given benefits, and work regulated hours. Additionally, our cookware is shipped in recycled cardboard with zero plastic bags, low impact print dyes, and 100% biodegradable cork trivets as being eco-friendly is one of our core tenants.
From the Organic Authority Files
OA: Can Caraway provide 3rd party tests for heavy metals and any other substances of concern that may be used during production?
Jordan: Yes! Our cookware has gone through and passed testing for PTFE, lead & cadmium leaching, and LFGB which includes PFOA and other metals. This testing was done by SGS which is highly respected and trusted around the world. The method used was CPSC-CH-E1003-09; CPSC is also highly respected in the industry.
After using the Caraway set for several months, our editor-in-chief Laura Klein, and our resident chef, considers this set to be the “best designed” non-toxic and nonstick cookware set she has reviewed thus far, dubbing it the non-toxic cookware that best measures up to traditional (PTFE) non-stick.
After testing the fry pan, sauté pan, saucepan, and Dutch oven over the course of several months, Klein says, “It is by far my favorite of the non-toxic, clean, non-stick cookware.”
Klein loves using Caraway for delicate items like eggs and fish. It boasts great heat retention and some heft, which translates to “better heat distribution without hot spots, which traditional lightweight nonstick pans usually don’t have.” The result? Even cooking and easy cleanup.
Product design is at the heart of Caraway's line, available in five gorgeous colors to suit any home. It's just one way that Caraway moves above and beyond mere utility.
“I love beautiful design and I will fully admit that I’m a sucker for it!” says Klein. “I love that I can pick out my own color to match my personal kitchen design aesthetic.”
The essence, though, of a truly good product design is that it must function well too. There's a lot of gorgeous cookware on Instagram that just doesn't hold up to day-in, day-out use. Caraway, however, is well-conceived not just in its aesthetics but also in its utility.
“I also love the notch on the handles of the pots and pans that tells you not to move your hand any closer to the cooking vessel, otherwise you might get burned,” says Klein, who also loves the storage rack for pots, the canvas lid holder and cork trivets included in every set. These organizers are designed to fit in kitchen cabinets and make finding the right pan easier than ever.
“These storage devices are incredibly useful for small spaces and kitchens with limited storage space (and even if you have plenty of space!)”
To invest in Caraway, we recommend the company's best-selling Cookware Set, featuring four pots and pans, three lids (one of which fits two pans, to optimize space), and the organizers.
Related on Organic Authority
The Reason PTFE Nonstick Pans Aren’t Safe: It Has Something to Do With Loose Regulations and Our Drinking Water
PFAS Contribute to a Slow Metabolism, Especially for Women
The 5 Pots and Pans You Actually Need in Your Kitchen
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