Among the many types of cookware out there, granite stone pans are touted as one of the safest, non-toxic options. Is this just hype or truth? I turned over every stone out there to uncover the truth.
Just what Is Granite Stone?
To better understand whether granite stone based cookware are in fact safe, it’s crucial to know just what “granite stone” is and how it is made.
Don’t let the name “granite stone” fool you. Granite stone pans don’t actually have granite in them. It’s called as such because of its mottled or speckled appearance.
Granite stone cookware is a type of enamelware that originated in Germany in the late 1700s. It was when fusing glass to metal under extremely high temperatures of about 2000°F was invented. This process creates a glass coating or porcelain enamel which is glossy, inert, and porous.
The enamel frits used to create the glass coating of granite stone pans typically consists of quartz (silica), feldspar (silicates of alkali or alkaline earth metals, commonly potash feldspar), and clay (aqueous aluminosilicate).
Initially, cast iron was used as the core for granite stone pans. The resulting products were sturdy, albeit thick and heavy. Nowadays, the granite stone pans are less durable, but lighter and thinner with an aluminum alloy, carbon steel, or stainless steel core.
Are Granite Stone Pans Safe?
Now, onto the main question – are granite stone pans non-toxic?
The short answer is, granite stone pans are safer than most cookware, but caution still needs to be exercised in selecting and taking care of your granite stone pan.
The glass coating of granite stone pans sometimes contain trace amounts of heavy metals like copper, manganese, and nickel. However, these get burned and locked in the harmless metal materials during the firing process.
Any harmful substance will only get released when the granite stone pan is used to heat acetic acid and ethanol for more than two hours. Of course, this is an extreme condition that doesn’t occur in normal use.
You also won’t have to worry about chemical reactions from acidic food since the glass coating of granite stone pans is inert or non-reactive.
The surface is also non-porous, so stains or smells from previous dishes won’t get passed on to what you’re cooking.
That said, some companies add PTFE to the glass coating in their granite stone pans to enhance the pan’s nonstick ability.
Polytetrafluoroethylene or PTFE is a synthetic polymer that has been proven to have adverse health effects. Once it reaches 260 °C (500 °F), it starts releasing fumes which can cause polymer fume fever to humans and death to birds if inhaled. There are also some reports of lung damage.
If you find that your granite stone pan has PTFE, fret not. Just make sure to cook under 500°F (260°C) to prevent the coating from getting toxic. For reference, the smoking point of vegetable oil is 400-450°F (204-230°C) and the oil temperature for fried chicken is 350°F (175°C).
The FDA considers porcelain enamel as a safe type of coating as long as the product adheres to their guidelines. Some low quality products use cadmium or lead in the glaze to make the coating shiny. They’re not allowed to be sold in the US so there’s a very slim chance that you’ll encounter one.
Just to be sure, only buy granite stone pans from reputable companies. Make sure to check if it’s free of PFOA, lead, and cadmium at a minimum.
Another safety reminder: immediately throw away granite stone pans with damaged coating. Otherwise, the parts of the glass coating that chip off might get mixed into your food and ingested. A chemical reaction with the metal core can also occur.
Are Granite Stone Pans Nonstick?
Despite what manufacturers say, granite stone pans aren’t as non-stick as Teflon-coated pans. That’s why they add PTFE. However, non-PTFE granite stone pans are still resistant to sticking as long as you use some oil and control the temperature.
How Long Do Granite Stone Pans Stay Safe?
With proper use and care, granite stone pans can last anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. After that, it starts flaking off or the glass coating might get too thin in some parts to prevent food from sticking. These are signs that you need to replace your granite stone pans.
Proper Usage and Maintenance for Granite Stone Pans
To keep your granite stone pans suitable for safe cooking for a longer period of time, you have two goals. First, you need to maintain the integrity of the glass coating. Second, you need to stay under the maximum recommended temperature when cooking.
Follow these tips to ensure safe cooking on granite stone pans .
- Do not go over 500°F (260°C) when cooking with a granite stone pan with PTFE. For non-PTFE products, stay under the manufacturer’s temperature rating.
- Avoid using metal kitchen utensils on your granite stone cookware to avoid scratching. Yes, even if the company claims it’s scratch-resistant. Opt for silicon or wooden ones instead.
- Refrain from stacking your granite stone pans. If you need to save space, insert a paper towel or cotton cloth in between each pan before stacking.
- Use just a bit of oil each time when cooking to prolong the lifespan of the glass coating.
- Try not to use a dishwasher to clean your granite stone pan even if the manufacturer claims that it’s dishwasher-safe. Stick to handwashing to avoid faster deterioration of the glass coating.
- Do not soak your granite stone pan in water right after cooking. Thermal shock can cause the pan to warp and damage the glass coating. Let it cool down for a few minutes first.
How Do I Wash My Granite Stone Pans?
Just wash it with some warm water, dish soap, and sponge. Don’t use abrasive cleaners. If there’s grime build up or burnt food, leave it to soak for a few minutes first.
For stubborn grime and burnt food, you can use a combination of baking soda and vinegar or lemon:
- Add some water and baking soda on your granite stone pan.
- Let it simmer for a minute.
- While it’s simmering, gently scrape the stubborn grime with a wooden or silicone spatula.
- If there’s still some grime left, make a paste using 3 parts baking soda and 1 part water.
- Apply the paste and gently scrub using a soft sponge.
- If the burnt food still won’t budge, try adding some coarse salt to the paste.
- Proceed to wash as usual.