If you are working towards removing toxins from your home, you have likely concentrated a lot of your efforts in the kitchen. After all, if you are going to spend your time and resources sourcing and preparing high quality food in your home, you want to make sure you are not reversing all of that progress by cooking in pots and pans that pose a risk to your health. In this episode, Molly Hill of Maison Pur joins me as we walk through cookware, bakeware, dinnerware, food storage, small appliances, etc. Molly definitely gave me some new things to consider about a few of the pieces in my own kitchen!
In this episode, we cover:
- All things cast iron: why we love it, how we use it, how to clean and care for it
- Why it’s worth it to remove toxins from your kitchen
- How to choose quality stainless steel pieces
- Uses for copper + concerns about copper
- A trusted source for cookware, bakeware, and more
- The problem with Teflon and the confusion surrounding its safety
- Cookware coatings to avoid
- Toxicity concerns with small appliances: Instant Pot, Crock Pot, Air Fryer
- Safe choices for dinnerware + cups for kids
Molly has had a passion for natural living since she was a teen! She’s been helping others on their journey to natural living for over seven years through her blog and podcast. In her free time, Molly enjoys a good 80s movie and traveling with her family.
Molly’s comprehensive blog post about nontoxic cookware
Xtrema Pure Ceramic Cookware | Use code MPUR10 for 10% off your order
Molly Hill of Maison Pur | Website | Instagram | TikTok | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Podcast
Lisa Bass of Farmhouse on Boone | Blog | YouTube | Instagram | TikTok | Facebook | Pinterest
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Lisa Bass Welcome back to the Simple Farmhouse Life podcast. Today, I am bringing on Molly from Maison Pur. She is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to eliminating things from your home that could be causing health issues. Or just sometimes you just want to be proactive, even when you don’t have things that are popping up for the potential of that. So we’re going to talk about specifically the kitchen: cookware, plates, how to care for proper cookware, where to source it, potential things to look out for. She definitely taught me a few things that I did not think about that we have going on in our kitchen that need some refining. So maybe you will find some things that are helpful for you as well in this episode.
Lisa Bass We are going to discuss all things toxic in the kitchen in regards to cookware, appliances, food storage. Molly has a whole wealth of information over on her Instagram. Now, is that the primary place you share? I know you also do have a podcast as well.
Molly Hill Yes, I would say my blog is probably my home base where you can find most information, but I do try to keep adding things to Instagram that are helpful, although it’s harder to dive into bigger topics like this there.
Lisa Bass Yes. Right. Yeah, if you want to dive deep, that’s really the place to do it is on the blog. So it’s MaisonPur.com to dig deep into a lot of these topics. I actually did listen to a lot of the podcast episode that you were referring to on this topic. Just to think, “Is there anything I’m missing?” Because sometimes you think you have a handle on something that you’ve been doing for a really long time, and sometimes there’s new information brought to light. I actually learned a lot from it, so we’ll dive into some of those topics as well because there were a few things that I felt like were approved cookware in my kitchen that you guys brought up. It makes perfect sense that we take all of this time to source the right ingredients, cook from scratch, and then cooking it on a surface that could actually just leach in and undo all that we’ve done there is something to consider for sure.
Molly Hill Yeah, it does kind of feel like you’re undoing all the hard work, but cookware is a big topic. Especially if you’re starting to get into appliances, that’s something that somebody has to spend a lot of time and money investing in the right gear. Hopefully, this will be helpful, but I don’t want anyone to feel overwhelmed. Whenever I talk about topics like this, I want to encourage people that you can always start one thing at a time. If you’re listening to this and you’re like, “Ah, I’ve got to toss out all my cookware,” don’t do that. Just maybe pick the item that you use the most, and work on replacing that first. Then over time, one by one, you can go through all the rest.
Lisa Bass Yeah. And with something— I might be getting a little ahead of ourselves— but like cast iron, you can also find that thrifted. Those are things that you can pass down for generations, and so those are possible to source in a less expensive way. But yeah, I find that for most of our cooking, I do use the same couple pans over and over and over again. So if there was an issue, I could just replace a couple.
Molly Hill Right. I think that’s most people; we all have our go-to.
Lisa Bass Yeah, definitely. I just leave my cast iron out. Like I was telling Molly before we got on, I make basically everything in cast iron. There are a few exceptions. I would say I make things like soup a lot of times in stainless steel, and if it’s anything real liquidy. But for the most part, I cook everything else in cast iron. We can dive into that topic first: cast iron, caring for it, selecting it. I know that on your podcast episode, you mentioned something about certain brands coming pre-seasoned with a GMO oil, which I had never even thought about before.
Molly Hill Yeah. So the most popular, the one I get asked about the most is Lodge, and that’s the one you’re going to find if you go to most big box stores or Amazon or anything. It comes with, as they put it, pre-seasoned with soybean oil. Of course, if you are in any type of the natural world, you know that most of the soybean oil out there is going to be GMO and heavily sprayed. There is a way you can unseason it. I do have a link to that in a cookware post on my blog. But I think the easiest way is if you just hop on YouTube and search for “how to unseason or re-season a pan.” You’ll see there’s people doing demonstrations about how to do that. So you can season it. There’s different recommendations, but I think if you take a look and see what works best for you as far as what oil to re-season it with.
Lisa Bass Yeah. So basically, are you taking a stainless steel scrubber or something like that and hot water and removing a lot of that finish? I’d be worried about some of it sinking down in, not that ultimately that’s probably going to make that big of a deal, honestly.
Molly Hill Yeah, it’s mostly going to have an impact for the first few times you’re using it that that oil is going to be seeping into your food. But the tutorials I’ve seen, they actually take the cast iron pan, and you flip it over upside down in your oven, and you put another baking sheet underneath it to catch anything running off. Then you’re going to cook it, and I’m not going to say what temperature because I’m forgetting right now, but you basically heat it up so that it actually is melting off some of that seasoning and then you go on to scrub it off. And then, of course, you don’t want to leave it unseasoned for too long because you don’t want any rust or corrosion. So then you would go ahead and re-season it with your selected oil.
Lisa Bass Yeah, okay, that makes sense. A lot of people have a fear of cast iron and find that it’s really difficult to use. Personally, I think once you get the hang of it, it’s simpler than anything else. It’s truly nonstick. It does not have to be re-seasoned. I’ve had the same pans for years; I’ve never had to add any more seasoning. Have you found that to be the case as well?
Molly Hill Oh yes. I think it’s super easy. My husband is still a little bit nervous about washing them, which we can talk about that in a second. But, as far as cooking, I cook so much. You can fry eggs; they slide right off. It’s completely nonstick. I’m a pescatarian, so I don’t cook a lot of meat. I do cook fish, and I like cooking fish in it if I’m going to pan fry something because, once again, it’s nonstick. I feel like it gives it a nice brown edge to it, and then I can flip it over.
Lisa Bass Yeah, like sear it.
Molly Hill Yep, and I’ve cooked all sorts of things. You can even put it in the oven. If you start something on the stovetop and then move it to the oven, or want to cook a frittata or something like that. I feel like that’s probably one of the most versatile pots or pans that I own.
Lisa Bass Yeah, I agree. I actually just recorded a video for my YouTube channel. It’s coming out next week, and it’s where I take everyone through a week in the life of my cast iron skillet. So basically, every time I use it, I show what I cook on it and then how I clean it afterward, because that is always— people want to know, “What about this? What about this?” And I’m like, “Well, how do I? I know just the way to share this. I will just take you through an entire week.” Whether it be something like meat or bread or whatever. If it’s not sticky at all, or if it is, how I would care for it. I’m a big fan of the stainless steel scrubbers. To me, those are the ticket with cast iron. What do you find is something— if something is stuck on, what is your go-to?
Molly Hill So I have a little scraper. It’s just a plastic scraper that’s actually meant for cast iron or stone cookware or whatever. So if I cook something and there’s bits left in it, I usually just use a scraper to scrape off anything. It comes right off and then I either use a scrubber or even just a dish brush with no soap or anything because you never want to use it with cast iron. And I just use hot water and scrub it out, and it always comes out perfectly clean.
Lisa Bass Yeah, yeah. Same. Also a lot of the time, I get concerns about sanitizing. How do you truly sanitize it without soap? Me personally, I’m not a super neat freak or germophobe at all, probably to a fault. This doesn’t bother me, but for people who are concerned about that, what would you say?
Molly Hill Well, I don’t know that it really makes a lot of sense to be concerned about that. I mean, if you’re going to cook a piece of raw chicken in it, obviously it’s sanitized. It’s killing the germs and the bacteria in the chicken enough for you to eat it. Anything that would be left over— say you cook something, you wash it, you put it up for a day or how long and take it out, once you start cooking again, the heat is going to kill anything that’s there. So I don’t know that I’d be concerned about something left over on it.
Lisa Bass Yeah, that’s what I usually tell them too. The heat is what’s going to kill that. Because some people said, “Well, what about when you’re cooking meat, and how do you sanitize it after?” Well, you ate the meat. So clearly you weren’t that worried about the bacteria that was on that. And then if you give it a good scrub under hot water with a stainless steel scrubber or whatever and then dry it off, then you’ll be good to go. That’s always what we found, too. We haven’t had any issues with that whatsoever.
Molly Hill We haven’t either. I’ve never gotten sick from my cast iron. It’s a classic for a reason.
Lisa Bass Yeah, it is. It’s been around forever. It’s so sturdy. It’ll last forever. Once you get a good season on it, it is just the go-to pan. I like cooking on it a ton, which is why there have been some people talking about iron overload. And actually, Molly and I were chatting a bit about this before we got on, and she was telling me that you can get a simple blood test from your doctor to see if you are having any overload in iron. But in some cases, I almost imagine that it could be a benefit to add a little bit of iron if you’re low in iron.
Molly Hill Yes. Obviously I’m not a doctor, but from what I’ve read, most people skew to be lower in iron, but certainly some people can have trouble being higher in iron depending on how much you’re using it. If you’re cooking every single thing in it and you’re concerned about maybe iron overload, next time you go for a checkup, they can just pick your finger and do a quick iron test on that. But otherwise I think the amount would be not enough to be concerning if you just have normal levels or you’re just cooking maybe a few items a night or a week in it.
Lisa Bass Yeah, that is definitely my go-to choice. For tips on using cast iron, if I do wash it, which a lot of times I don’t, I’ll just wipe it out with a like a dark colored rag so it doesn’t get it all dirty, and then just leave it on the stove. But if it does get washed, I always will put it on my stove with heat. That way, any water evaporates because I find that if you don’t just get the littlest bit of water, sometimes it’ll still rust. And so just the heat will take care of that. I never have any trouble with the cleanup. It’s really simple. Also, as far as nonstick, preheating the skillet is so key. I thought I would just mention that because I think if anybody does miss that tip, then it turns out a lot of times that stuff sticks on even a well-seasoned skillet. Preheating is totally key. Do you have any other tips for getting things to not stick?
Molly Hill I honestly use my pan so much, it’s seasoned very well. So I think if you’re having trouble with sticking in the beginning, I would just keep going with it because the more you’re using it, the more seasoned it’s going to get and the easier it’s going to be in the long run.
Lisa Bass And I even do a low-key season often, so I’ll put it on the heat, put it with a little bit of coconut oil or really any kind of oil. I find that olive oil gets a bit sticky, but coconut oil, or avocado oil, rub it off and then just put it on a little heat every time after you cook for a while, you will be basically seasoning it a little bit each day, and soon it’ll have such a nice finish. You almost can’t even mess it up. It gets better over time. If we’re talking about what is good, that is on the good. We can talk about some other options. What are some other of your favorite cookware options as far as in the safe zone?
Molly Hill In a safe zone, I would say stainless steel, as long as it’s a good quality stainless steel. A lot of people think it’s just steel that you’re getting, but it’s always going to be an alloy, and it’s going to have chromium and nickel. As far as health concerns, you probably want the nickel to be on the lower end. So sometimes you’ll see a rating on it like 18/10. That means it has 18% chromium, 10% nickel. Then they 18/8, 18/0. So the chromium is always going to be at 18%, but you can change how much nickel is in it, or see the amount of nickel in it and decide which one you want based off of that. I also do recommend, if you get stainless steel, that it’s made in the USA simply because sometimes other metals do make it into the alloy, especially in areas that it’s not as well regulated. I think finding a good quality stainless steel pan made in the USA is a good way to go.
Lisa Bass I was looking at my stainless pans before we got on, thinking about some of that information. Is there a way to see once you already own it? If you bought something, say, 10 years ago, and you’re not researching it as a new product, or you found it at a thrift shop or something? Is there a way to tell just by looking at it?
Molly Hill That’s an excellent question. Once in a while, if you flip it over, you can see some information on the back. There’s another way it’s rated, which it’s rated from 200, 300, 400 and several numbers in between. If you see that type of rating, four hundred and up is a great stainless steel. Otherwise, I don’t know if there’s a way you can test it, but I will say stainless steel is very durable, and as long as it’s not scratched or damaged in any way where you might be getting into some coatings underneath, sometimes the metal is added on top of other metals, things like that. As long as it’s in good shape and not damaged, I wouldn’t worry about it as much as maybe some of the other options out there. I think it would still be a pretty good option.
Lisa Bass Okay, something new in my kitchen that you mentioned in your article is copper. Copper is one of those things that I hear a lot about in natural or maybe more like homestead type of content. So this is all new to me that copper is not a good choice. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Molly Hill Well, as with any metal— and we’ll talk about some of the things that aren’t great choices here in a minute— but the problem with a lot of metals is not so much the metal itself, but what you’re going to be cooking in it and what it can cause a chemical reaction where it’s causing the metal to leach out more. So copper is going to be fine to cook a lot of things, but anything that’s very acidic, it leaches a high amount of copper. So a lot of people warn against cooking acidic foods with copper. The FDA even recommends not cooking acidic foods with copper. But if you want to boil spaghetti in a pot or something like that, I don’t think you would have a big issue with copper. I think I would just be mindful to make sure you’re not cooking tomato soup in there.
Lisa Bass Okay. A lot of copper is— I think it’s called tinned. The copper that I have is not copper colored on the inside, only the outside. So I don’t know that I’m really cooking on copper. I think the copper just makes it to where it evenly heats, whereas I think the inside is coated with something else. Are you familiar with that?
Molly Hill Well, I don’t know that that would be standardized. I think you would have to look into it exactly your pot and what the metal would be. Because it might be just one metal, it might be an alloy of some sort.
Lisa Bass Okay, yeah, that’s something to definitely think about. I assumed it was safe, what I was using, but I’m not totally sure that it is. Now, for the most part, it hangs in my pantry as decoration and I essentially just use stainless and cast iron for absolutely everything when it comes to cookware. What are some of the other options that you use? Do you have any other go-to?
Molly Hill Yeah, I have a great brand that I love. I do use stainless steel and cast iron. I have one cast iron pan that I use the most. But I also love Xtrema. That is 100% ceramic, and they are dedicated to making a healthier product, so they’re very transparent with all of their testing. The problem you get into with some ceramics is that it can have not only coatings on top of it, which now you don’t know what’s in the coating, but also the ceramic itself can have heavy metals. They continuously test their batches and what they’re producing, and all of it falls well within the safe levels, and they publish the third party testing on their website so you can take a look. They just launched a whole new line of bakeware as well. They have so many different options. If you’re looking for tea kettles, sauté pans, anything. They have a really wide assortment. I really like them just because of how versatile all of their items are, and how much they have to choose from.
Lisa Bass That’s something I was thinking about, too. I have my cookware pretty much nailed down. It’s all just cast iron and stainless steel. But our cookie sheets— now, normally I’ll put a layer of parchment paper for something like cookies, but I’m pretty sure it’s just aluminum or something. I don’t know what it is. And then I do some casseroles in glass, which I’m assuming glass is a safe option. But there’s a few applications, like muffin tins where I don’t have anything that’s a good option for that.
Molly Hill Yeah, they do make a muffin tin. Now I’ll caveat that I feel like their cookware, especially the bakeware, is pricier than— you can go to Target and get a muffin tin for, I don’t know, ten bucks. And their’s is heavy duty, full ceramic. It’s meant to last for decades, so it’s something that would be an heirloom piece that you could pass down. But the price reflects that. As far as other things— cookie sheets, you can find great quality stainless steel cookie sheets in several places. And then also Pyrex glass is very safe. They make a variety of all sorts of baking dishes, bread dishes, things like that. So those are also great options.
Lisa Bass Yeah, lots of glass I have in my kitchen as well for food storage, for casserole dishes, all that kind of stuff. A pretty good collection of that. Let’s dive into the bad. I guess Teflon is probably our first place to start on that. It’s like a solid no.
Molly Hill Solid no. I get a lot of questions about it because it’s a little confusing because some people think it’s been banned, but then they still see it on the shelf. They don’t understand, is that the same one or is it safe now? I could fill a whole podcast about Teflon, so I’ll try to just do the CliffNotes. It was phased out in 2014, but what they did is they just took out what they considered to be the bad chemical and replaced it with another chemical and relaunched it in 2015. Last year, you probably saw a lot of news about PFAs. If you’re not sure what that is, that’s anything that says it’s waterproof, stain-proof, or nonstick— it’s a class of chemicals that comprises of the things that make up those type of attributes. They swapped one PFA for another, so it’s already not looking great, according to some of the tests. So there’s advocates trying to get that pulled off the shelf again. It took 40 years of advocating for DuPont to pull the first Teflon off, so we’ll see. I would definitely skip any Teflon, any type of nonstick coating like that that’s like a knockoff Teflon. That would definitely be a no-go.
Lisa Bass On your podcast episode that you did, you or your friend were talking about somebody’s pet bird that died?
Molly Hill Yeah, so I know it’s terrible.
Lisa Bass That was really fascinating.
Molly Hill Well, I find it fascinating because I knew the story of the canary in the coal mine. People hear that phrase and may not be aware, but that is literally before they had things to test the air quality and things like that, they’d bring a canary down in the coal mine because birds are very sensitive. So as soon as a toxic substance enters the air, they’ll die. And so the miners would know, “Okay, the air has gone bad in here; we need to get out.” So a friend of mine— this is probably 15 years ago— was cooking breakfast one Saturday morning and heating up the pan and her little birdie dropped dead, and it was so sad. So she went to the vet and the vet said, “Well, are you using Teflon?” And she said, “Yeah.” And he said, “Well, you can’t do that around birds. It emits a toxic fume when you’re cooking with it. As soon as it starts heating up, it goes into the air and off-gases. I was already on my path to natural living at that point, but I was just floored because I was like, “How is this able to be on the shelf?” Because sure, it’s toxic enough to kill the bird, but it’s surely doing something to us as well, right?
Lisa Bass Yeah, that’s our sign. Like the canary in the coal mine.
Molly Hill Exactly. The sign is right there. Yeah. I don’t think we had much at that point, but I stopped using it for sure then. But I find it very interesting that they knew, even vets knew. Her vet said they’d seen that for years. So they knew for years, but it still stayed on the market. And actually the new version, the “safe version” that they have out now, you’re still not supposed to heat it up around any small animals.
Lisa Bass I’ve learned that just because something is legal and approved doesn’t necessarily mean that you should use it. There’s so many things that are approved and the evidence kind of leads otherwise. So it doesn’t necessarily mean just because it’s on the shelves that it’s necessarily a good option for your kitchen at all. It’s a really easy swap to make. I can already picture a little bit of resistance because I’ve gotten resistance online with switching just basic nonstick pans with cast iron. That is an easy, inexpensive switch. It really is. That isn’t actually something that’s going to be a hard thing for anybody to do or expensive.
Molly Hill Yeah, I totally agree. I think even stainless steel, we use that quite a bit. Like you had mentioned with cast iron, if you heat it up, it’s not going to be totally nonstick, and cast iron is a great option. But even stainless steel can be quite nonstick if you heat it up before you use it. So there’s a lot of good options out there. And talking about coatings, I also want to mention— and this is something that I think makes people angry because there’s been a wave of the green and eco nonstick pans that have come out in recent years. While those may be better options than say a Teflon or a Teflon dupe, it’s still unclear a lot of times exactly what’s in the coating, and it’s not always disclosed. So I would steer away from those. If you’ve just invested in a whole set and they’re brand new and they’re in good shape, I’m not telling you to throw them away by any means, but I think as soon as you see any type of wear, any chipping, cracking, peeling or like one person said, “Oh, it looks like my coating is just disappearing.” And I’m like, “It’s not disappearing. It’s probably leaching into your food.”
Lisa Bass Yeah, it’s not going anywhere except your body.
Molly Hill It’s going into your food as you cook. Any time you see damage on any of those, you want to go ahead and get rid of them because it is getting into your food at that point.
Lisa Bass Yeah. And I know that can be hard with anything. Anytime you’ve bought anything and then later realize. We all do it. We buy something for our home that we think is going to be beautiful, and it’s not. It’s so hard not to hold on to, “Well, I wasted money on this thing.” But I think with the cookware thing, I would jump to, “Okay, but I’m spending all of this money and time on healthy food. It’s not going to kill me to go to a thrift shop and find something that’s a little bit safer.” And it is hard to part when sometimes you think that you’ve wasted money on something, but sometimes that just happens and doesn’t mean that you have to use this for the rest of your life.
Molly Hill Well, that’s right. And I think to add to that, not only are you taking the money to buy good nourishing food for your family, but I’m betting most people listening to this podcast make an effort to cook at home more than they’re eating out. That takes time and diligence and planning and effort, and you’re putting a lot of energy into that. If you’re thinking about it that way and you’re like, “Well, I’m kind of undoing that cooking with these things that aren’t as healthy for me.” It does add to it that maybe I can go get a stainless steel pan or cast iron pan to cook my main stuff in, and I’ll just keep the other pans for things here and there or something like that.
Lisa Bass Yeah, or if you have a lot of people over and you need to use a lot of cookware, using something every once in a while— like, I’m keeping my copper, and I’ll just probably use it less often, but it’ll just be hanging in as pretty in my pantry. I’m definitely not getting rid of it, but I’ll know not to use it as much as some other options. Something that just popped in my head— what about enamel coated cast iron.
Molly Hill I’m glad you brought that up because I was going to if you didn’t. I think it’s kind of sneaky that people do that because— I guess it makes it lower maintenance because you can wash it. You could probably literally throw it in a dishwasher. But the problem with the enamel coatings is they often don’t disclose everything that goes into them, and they have been known to have heavy metals in them as well. So I know there’s some popular higher-end brands that have that. I would say if it’s a very nice brand that you’ve invested a lot of money in, contact the company directly and see if they’ve done any testing on it and what information they can provide to you about that. There are some brands, particularly a popular French brand, and honestly, that’s probably less of a concern than if you’re just at TJMaxx and it’s some off-brand with an enamel coating. Once again, not that one country is better than another, but countries do have different sorts of regulations and purity standards of what is going into products. Something that’s made, say, in France may be different than it’s made in another country that maybe there’s more heavy metals even just prevalent there, so they make it into the enamel coating as well.
Lisa Bass Yeah. I didn’t know this information actually, and I do have some enamel-coated cast iron Dutch ovens, but I definitely do not find that they are easier to clean. I have one that I’ve used for years, and it’s all chipped up. My other cast iron Dutch oven that doesn’t have enamel coating obviously is still perfect because it’s just cast iron. I actually don’t find it easier to clean or care for than cast iron. I’m just fine with my plain cast iron Dutch oven, and I normally cook on it with parchment because it’s usually for bread. But going forward, I won’t cook soups. I’ve definitely cooked big batches of soup in it, and now I’m thinking, “Okay, I probably just boiled all of that coating into my—” and it was a cheap brand too. It was a Walmart one, but I’ll still be using it for bread with the parchment lined.
Molly Hill Yeah, like you said, I think you can find uses for the things that might not be the best options. Find a way to use it, or use it once in a while when you have family over and you need more cookware or something like that.
Lisa Bass Yeah, that makes sense. There’s definitely times whenever that happens. I actually have one that’s coated with enamel, and because they do wear so quickly— at least I find probably at the temperatures I cook in them, they wear pretty quickly. I actually have one that’s just for photography, so I’ll bake my bread in my other cast iron Dutch oven, and then I’ll transfer it into this pretty white one and then take the photos because they get damaged and messed up really quickly.
Molly Hill Oh yeah, I know. I have stuff I save just for photos, too.
Lisa Bass Yeah, yeah, exactly. When you have a blog, it’s a thing you’ve got to do.
Molly Hill Exactly. So a couple of other substances that I just wanted to talk about, as far as the bad list, would be aluminum. I mean, that’s something that I think some people are right on top of and understand that it’s bad and some people are like, “Wait, what?” But a lot of metal and metal alloys do have the aluminum in them for cookware. And also a lot of people cook with aluminum foil. Alzheimer’s patients have been found to have higher amounts of this specific type of aluminum that’s in aluminum foil in their brains. And overall, we do see from research studies that it is leaching into the food that’s being cooked with it. That’s pretty much all food. But once again, going back to what you’re cooking, some foods are interacting with it even more and leaching even more of it out. I would say avoid any pots and pans made out of aluminum or cooking with aluminum foil. If you need something that’s more of a liner, you mentioned parchment paper. We use unbleached parchment paper all the time. You can even find silicone mats to put down that are for bake sheets and things like that. And then if you’re looking to cover stuff, that’s one thing I’ve struggled with. Because if you’re making like, say, a lasagna or something that you need to have a layer over, sometimes what I’ve done is I’ve used the foil but I’ve tented it up, so it’s not actually—.
Lisa Bass That’s what I typically do. I do use some foil in my kitchen, but I do try to be aware that it’s bad and only use it in situations where it’s covering a dish that’s in the fridge or it’s not touching the food, like you said, creating some kind of tent. Now I’m sure the steam might hit it and it might sort of, you know— but it’s definitely not all the time.
Molly Hill Right, and it’s progress over perfection. At least that’s my motto. I mean, we could spin our wheels all day trying to have everything perfect in our house and perfectly healthy. But there’s only so much you can control, and sometimes we have to make small sacrifices here and there. So I think that’s fine.
Lisa Bass Yeah, and I find our bodies are so, so resilient, which isn’t necessarily a cop-out. But as long as you’re not being overloaded with something all the time, it can deal with a little imperfection with pretty much everything. I find that even if you eat sugar here and there, as long as your body has a chance to deal with that and not be bombarded with it again in five minutes, it actually can handle a lot. Certain old people are like, “Well, they always did this and this,” but they didn’t do it every day and their bodies could deal with that.
Molly Hill That’s right. They had a lot less overload with all things probably than we do right now.
Lisa Bass Yeah, so we have to be more mindful for sure with everything that’s in our houses. And that would be another podcast episode talking about furniture and paint and rugs and all the things, wi-fi, all of it.
Molly Hill Oh yeah, there’s a lot. There’s a lot. So don’t get overwhelmed. Just one thing at a time. As far as the cookware goes, I think if you take a look at stuff— like I had said before, the old fashioned methods, when you think about cast iron, stainless steel, things like that— those are still, to this day, the best options. You know, I’m trying to think if there’s any other bad ones out there that I skipped over. There’s so many different coatings right now. I walk through the store and everything has a different type of coating, whether it be nonstick or enamel or whatever. I think just overall, I would just really be wary of anything with any type of coating on it.
Lisa Bass Yeah. You were talking about the certain brands that come off as green and healthy, and there’s a lot of marketing behind that. I know that’s the same thing with a lot of home products. There’s that greenwashing. I think that’s what they call it— greenwashing— where you think it’s healthy just based on the marketing and the packaging, and then you don’t really dig any deeper to figure out if it actually is. And turns out, a lot of it really is just marketing, so it does pay to dig a little deeper.
Molly Hill It does. And honestly, if they’re proud of what it’s made out of, you can easily find all the substances that would be in it on their website, or they’d be happy to share that with you. It’s always a red flag if you reach out and you want to know, “Hey, what is this coating comprised of? What chemicals make it up?” And they come back with something like, “Well, that’s proprietary,” or “We can’t share that,” or something like that. That’s a huge red flag, because usually that means there’s something in there that they don’t want made public. I would definitely avoid that.
Lisa Bass Yeah, that makes sense. What about appliances? Things like Instant Pots, Crock-Pot, microwaves. We probably could go on and on. Small appliances that we might not be thinking about.
Molly Hill Yeah, that’s a good question. My first concern with any appliance is going to be PFAs, which is what I talked about with the Teflon. Now that’s a huge umbrella that has a lot of chemicals underneath it, but all sorts of PFAs are used especially in like a self-cleaning oven has it. A lot of toaster ovens. I don’t think Instant Pot, that brand has it. But some cookers like that do have coatings on it. So you’re going to look for if it says it has a nonstick coating. Crock-Pots— it’s debatable. Depending on what you get as far as, is it that brand name? Is it another type of slow cooker? You may want to investigate what’s in the ceramic. I’d mentioned Xtrema being a great ceramic cookware brand, but they also test for the heavy metals. You want to make sure if you’re using any type of ceramic that it’s been tested and doesn’t have heavy metal contamination, especially for something like a slow cooker. Because that’s really going to get into your food. Your food is sitting in there, heating for hours. I have seen some slow cookers with coatings like Teflon, so just be mindful of that and really take a look. I’m going through this right now because I thought I found a great option for an air fryer that was supposed to be all stainless steel inside, and now going back and forth with the company. I realize a lot of the internal parts and accessories are stainless steel, or they’re steel but dipped in aluminum, which I’m like, “Great. So all the stuff that’s having contact with the food is aluminum.” So you know, it can be tricky. Things can look one way online and then you get it in your home and you smell a funny smell. Or you can it doesn’t look like it’s all it’s cracked up to be. So you just have to be mindful. And then I think you have to think about where is your line? I, for me, PFAs is definitely a no-go. I don’t want any of that in my house, any of those coatings, because it does get into the air. And my whole family, my dog’s breathing it in. But some people are fine. Say, that air fryer— some people might be fine that there’s some aluminum parts in there touching their food, and they might just be happy that they found one that doesn’t have any coatings. You have to decide for yourself. And how many appliances do you have that have that particular substance? If it’s just one area that you’re going to just be using sometimes, maybe that’s okay.
Lisa Bass So you mentioned the self-cleaning oven. Is the whole inside of the oven coated with something that maybe gets out into the air whenever you cook? That’s something I’ve never heard about.
Molly Hill Yeah. From my understanding— and I may not be entirely correct here, but from what I’ve read— any oven that claims to be self-cleaning is coated on the inside with some type of nonstick material that can get into the air, but moreso at higher temperatures. So if you’re broiling something or if you have the self-cleaning feature on— because I think in some ovens that gets up to over 500 degrees— that would make it happen. I don’t know how to find an oven that— unless you go retro— we have an oven that needed to fit in a very specific wall size because we have it built in and we were replacing what was there. The one I have is self-cleaning, but I don’t ever turn it on the self-cleaning mode because it takes the temperature up so high. I just clean it by hand. And I definitely smelt some new smells when we first got it home. But I’ve researched and I don’t know of any new oven brands on the market that don’t have that type of coating on the inside.
Lisa Bass Yeah, I was thinking, that’s probably just standard, but you’re saying mostly if it’s just at a certain temperature, that it would be problematic, otherwise it’s probably not a problem at all.
Molly Hill Yeah, and I don’t know— somebody would have to literally test the air at different temperatures to have some sort of read out. But even with Teflon pans, which people actually have done a lot of testing with that, as far as how much is getting into the air while you’re cooking, it’s really at those higher temperatures over 500 degrees that it’s really becoming— it does get into the air lower than that, but if you have it cooking over 500 degrees is when you’re really going to see a lot of it, mass amounts being released into the air.
Lisa Bass Okay, is there anything with— when you’re saying the air fryer, would there be any advantage to buying one secondhand? Does the aluminum at some point do all of its leaching and then it’s done? I don’t know. Maybe not.
Molly Hill Yeah, you know, that’s a great question, because actually with stainless steel, I’ve read that the first 10 uses are really when you’re going to see the most amount of interactions with the metal. So the same could be said for aluminum, but I haven’t read any specific stats about that, that say that, so I couldn’t say offhand. Air fryers— the problem with most of them is that they’re heavily coated in nonstick substances. They’re kind of a newer item. Within the last decade, for sure. But I think they just popped up in the last five years. So I don’t know that you’d be able to find an older one without them.
Lisa Bass Yeah, that’s true.
Molly Hill Yeah, the one I thought was good, it doesn’t have the coatings, but it looks like more of a toaster oven, so it’s not the type— some of them are like a bucket that goes into it or a bowl.
Lisa Bass Well, yeah, I’ve never used one, but yeah, I was just thinking that might actually be a possibility, like with furniture or mattresses and things like that, like if you’re not going to buy organic or whatever or real wood or something like that, you’d rather buy old because it’s done a lot of its damage.
Molly Hill Oh yeah. So as far as that goes, and I know we’re not talking about that in this podcast, but that is for sure. Way better. You can even look at floor models who have already done the majority of their off-gassing if they’ve been on the sales floor for a month or two. And I know that’s not as appealing to get something brand new and bring it home to your house, but you can either buy used, you can buy floor models. Another option if you get something that’s like almost nontoxic, like IKEA does a great job of keeping a lot of stuff out, but they’re still not perfect. I would not call them nontoxic. You can get furniture like that that’s better, but not the best. And if you have a place like a garage or shed, or somewhere where you can air it out for a few weeks before you bring it into your home, a lot of that initial off-gassing is going to occur, so you’ll be better off.
Lisa Bass Lucky for me, I love vintage and old, so I think everything pretty much— it’s my style. But if you wanted the modern style, that would be a really good option because otherwise, you’re not going to be able to find it. All right. What about your— not cookware, but your like plates and bowls? I have Pyrex, but I’ve been told that the painting on the Pyrex can be quite problematic, like the little designs.
Molly Hill I know what you’re talking about. I think it has lead contamination in the ink for the paint. But say you have a casserole dish, a Pyrex one, and it just has the paint on the outside, like the little design on the outside. I don’t think that would be a problem for plates, if it’s on the edge and you’re not eating directly off of it, I don’t think that’d be a problem either. That’s me personally. I know there’s people who go overboard and don’t want anything that could have a trace of lead in their house. But if it’s not coming in direct contact with your food, I don’t think it’s a problem. Glass is a great option. Anything that’s ceramic or clay or anything like that. Once again, you’re going to run into the problem with potentially having heavy metals, especially if it’s, say, a ceramic item that’s glazed as well. But bear in mind, you’re not cooking with it. You will have hot food on it, but I think cookware, I would more prioritize that because of the prolonged heat and the food sitting in it, whereas a plate, the food is going to be on it for, I don’t know, 20 minutes and you’re not cooking at high heats, and things like. There is less of a chance for things to transfer. For kids, I am a huge fan of stainless steel because it’s so durable and safe. There’s so many great cups these days that have universal silicone lids that go on top and straws that can go on it. So it’s perfect for toddlers or small kids on their stainless steel plates. My kids still love— we have a set of stainless steel plates that have dividers in them, and I don’t know why that’s so fun to have their food all divided up, but they love that. As far as other options, I think as long as it’s just a normal type of glass or bone China, something like that, I think you’re fine.
Lisa Bass Okay, so with plastic, brands will tout BPA-free. Is this kind of like the whole coating thing, or you were saying they no longer use certain things, but instead there’s other bad things? Something tells me plastic is the same way. I haven’t done a whole lot of research. But is BPA the only thing to be concerned about when it comes to plastic?
Molly Hill No. If it says BPA-free, that means they replaced it and the thing they’re using to replace it with actually is starting to look like it’s worse for you than BPA.
Lisa Bass Oh, go figure.
Molly Hill Yeah, so that’s fun. I think with plastic, I’m not going to say it doesn’t have its place. There’s certainly uses for it here and there. But overall, with any prolonged food storage or any prolonged contact with food, I would err against it. We don’t use it especially for food storage. I know a lot of people use Tupperware or plastic containers. I find the glass to be just as easy. But knowing that it doesn’t stain or contain smells after you’ve used it, which some of the plastic storage containers— once you store certain things in it, it’s like almost ruined forever.
Lisa Bass Yep, yep. If you store something like tomatoes. These are such easy swaps. It goes back to earlier when I was talking about just get rid of your one nonstick pan and get one cast iron. This is really not a hard swap because there are such great options. You don’t really have to have plastic plates because they make stainless steel plates. You know you don’t wanna get your kid glass. We actually do. We give them Corelle. But there are like glass and stainless steel options that are pretty easy to come by. So it doesn’t have to be a hard swap to make.
Molly Hill Yeah, that’s right. And I know a lot of people get hung up on like the sippy cups and stuff. Personally, we never really use sippy cups just because it’s not necessarily recommended by dentists and speech pathologists and things like that. But if you did, for some reason, need to get a sippy cup, there are brands that are stainless steel and have a silicone top that’s kind of the sippy cup shape. There are plastic-free versions of that as well. For us, we’ve always preferred either the open cup or the straw. I think even toddlers, usually, you’d be surprised at how fast they pick that up if you give them a chance to.
Lisa Bass We do too, and it’s not so much a conviction on, “We don’t use sippy cups because of this reason or because of plastic.” It’s really just we’re very unorganized and we will lose every lid, every bottom. There will be no matches. And so to have just, “Here, child, here’s a mason jar. Just don’t run around with it.” It’s always worked out. Except for maybe my first child. They can figure it out. I remember that one time my sister-in-law was like, “He can drink from a cup?” I’m like, “Oh, that’s just what he gets. Poor kid doesn’t have a sippy. We don’t bring that with us.”
Molly Hill Yeah. There’s definitely options. I mean, even if you do want a sippy cup, there’s options like I mentioned, but even going down to baby bottles, they have such great options now. I did glass with my first. I had to go back to work for a while, and they heated up great. People were like, “Oh my gosh, a glass bottle. I’m supposed to give this to them,” and it was fine. And they have sleeves you can put over them so they don’t break.
Lisa Bass Yeah, little silicone sleeves.
Molly Hill Yeah. My daughter, I was home full time with her and so she really never wanted to take a bottle. If I had to leave, for some reason, I had a big, squishy silicone bottle that was completely plastic-free that kind of felt like a boob, I guess. She could use that. But there’s all sorts of options. I feel like every time I look, there’s even more plastic-free options for babies and kids.
Lisa Bass Yeah, these days there’s so many easy ways to swap these things out. There really is. Once you know what’s in them and the damage they can do, it’s really pretty simple to make some easy switches, even just here and there. That way, you don’t have to spend a whole bunch of money at one time. Check out thrift shops, things like that. Put it on your Christmas list. A lot of times people ask what you want. Say your kids all want a stainless cup or something.
Molly Hill Yeah, that’s a great idea.
Lisa Bass All right. Well, tell us again where to find you, best places, maybe any resources you specifically want to direct people to?
Molly Hill Sure. Well, you can find me at my blog MaisonPur.com. You can find my podcast on all major podcast platforms, and that’s the same, Maison Pur. And then I am on Instagram @MaisonPur. I am on TikTok, but I’m not great at it.
Lisa Bass I’m just starting that too. I’m like, “Ugh.” I just started my TikTok.
Molly Hill Yeah, it’s a lot of fun. It’s just a lot to do the videos, but I do have some educational videos up. I try to frequently put educational stuff on my Instagram as well. Just little tidbits about creating a healthier home, how to find safer products for you, for your family, for your kids. This month, well, January, when we’re recording this, I’ve published a few blog posts about how to find healthier home furnishings, and I have some things on my Instagram about that. So whenever you’re listening to this, you can go back and find those easily.
Lisa Bass Awesome. Well, thank you so much for all of your knowledge. You definitely taught me a few things that I hadn’t thought about. Give me some things to think about in my home as well, so we appreciate you sharing all of your knowledge.
Molly Hill Well, thanks, Lisa. This has been so much fun to be on here.
Lisa Bass All right well, thank you so much for listening to this episode of the Simple Farmhouse Life podcast. Make sure to go check out Molly and all that she has to offer on her blog, Instagram, and YouTube channel. As always, thank you so much for listening, and I’ll see you in the next episode of the Simple Farmhouse Life podcast.