Chemical Free Cookware

On a recent stroll down a shopping strip while I was away from home for a conference, I came across this startling advertisement:


You can imagine my shock and amazement that the cookware company Baccarat had not only come up with a chemical-free ceramic material, but then also managed to construct a frying pan from it. I quite enjoy cooking, and tend to covet expensive and unnecessary kitchenware items, however I’m not sure this one will be making it on to my post-Christmas sale shopping list this year seeing as I can only assume is made primarily from photons, and I already have plenty of those lying around.

Curiously, the Bio+ range seems to be absent from the Baccarat website, but several online retailers are flogging these frying pans and offer a little more insight into what they are actually trying to say when they claim the  ‘chemical free’ label. The use of the prefix ‘Bio’ is total greenwashing, because there is absolutely nothing about the use or manufacture of these items that is in any way biological. These frying pans, like many others, are actually made of aluminium (an element and chemical, gasp!), with a Bakelite handle (a polymer resin made primarily from the chemicals phenol and formaldehyde*) and a ceramic (usually a crystalline oxide, made from… you guessed it – chemicals!) cooking surface. What they are actually trying to get at when they say ‘chemical free’, is that these pans are not coated with PTFE (Teflon), the fluorinated polymer we associate with non-stick cooking surfaces. Whilst there have been concerns about the safety of these products, if you follow the manufacturer’s instructions in terms of the temperature you use them at, and use an exhaust fan or rangehood while you’re cooking, then they don’t pose a health risk. There are plenty of Teflon-free cookware items available on the market if you prefer not to use them for whatever reason. Most chefs don’t use Teflon pans, and instead favour cookware made from cast iron, stainless steel, copper and aluminium. The reasons being that these materials develop a better fond when cooking, are more hard-wearing for increased longevity, tolerate much higher temperatures and can be used with metal utensils.

As a side note, I also found it a quite hilarious coincidence (or maybe not), that celebrity chef Pete Evans of ‘activated almonds and alkalised water’ fame, is one of the faces of Baccarat cookware.  Clearly, a man who thinks water containing vinegar is alkaline has much to learn about basic (pun intended), primary school level chemistry and is an excellent choice for ambassador of this company.

*phenol and formaldehyde are two chemicals that you certainly want to take care with on their own,  in my laboratory these are both stored in special poison/carcinogen cabinets. However, once incorporated into the Bakelite resin they have reacted together to form a new, non-hazardous chemical structure and are effectively permanently trapped in that form within the resin.

12 Comments on “Chemical Free Cookware”

  1. […] Chemical Free Cookware → […]

  2. Louise says:

    Recently, I unbelievably got sucked in by tv marketing for these pots and pans – not by Baccarat but a company called ‘Stonedine’. I didn’t really think much about how they bonded the ‘granite’ (it turns out it’s silicon carbide) to the metal – it looked greyish like granite on the tv – but when I received it, it was a uniform black with bits of white stuff on it, made to look like stone, I guess – but I really want to know what the dye is and what the stuff they use to bond the stone together (and to the metal) is – no-one as yet can tell me. It could be even worse than teflon and quite likely is. It’s a total scam calling it chemical free. When they asked me, they could only tell me it was silicon carbide – yes, but what’s the rest of it made of? They offered to give me a 50% refund rather than return it – they must be desperate to get rid of the stuff. I certainly won’t be cooking on it until I know what it is I am cooking on and how that reacts under heat and contact with food. Would be grateful if anyone can find out more!!!

    • lostinscientia says:

      Thanks for your comment, that’s really interesting. My guess is that it’s a ceramic material. I might look into it. Thanks for bringing to to my attention.

  3. Bridget says:

    i am looking at a REAL granite stone surface fry pan on a iron base, only one I can find.
    Product on
    your comments appreciated. Regards Bridget

  4. Sasha says:

    It seems that even cast iron is no longer sacred. I received a cast iron pan that smells of formaldehyde. I can’t be certain but it seems to have been treated with the stuff as it reeks through the house when I heat it. NOT because it isn’t seasoned, this is a different smell – formaldehyde. I know it well. It’s the same smell you get from cheap Chinese nail polishes. You know it. . .

  5. Ann-Maree says:

    “water containing vinegar is alkaline”
    I think you’ll find that the water is alkalised by a water filter that then alkalises the water then vinegar is added

  6. Peter says:

    So, all you very educated repliers-what product would you use?

    • kerrie says:

      I would like to know this too 🙂 what would you use instead? we have a brand her in australia called Neoflam…..anyone know how good this is?

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