Ceramic vs. Nonstick: Pros, Cons, Detailed Comparison
Nonstick cookware will give you an easier time when both cooking and cleaning up your pots and pans afterward.
And while Teflon or what many people simply refer to as nonstick was the pioneer or this coking technology, it is no longer the only option as ceramic cookware also provides adequate nonstick properties.
However, for many people, the choice between the ceramic and Teflon nonstick cookware is not always that obvious and many will just opt for what they can easily get or whatever they find more budget-friendly.
But, there are several differences between ceramic and regular nonstick cookware which you should know when trying to pick between the two. And here we explain these differences and also show you the pros and cons of buying either.
Ceramic is a more recent addition to the non-stick cookware category. However, it is slowly becoming more and more popular as many home cooks opt for it over the regular Teflon nonstick as it promises to be a healthier option.
With ceramic, you can either go for pure ceramic cookware or the ceramic coated cookware which will often have an aluminum base.
But regardless of the kind of ceramic cookware that you go for, you can be confident of getting a chemical-free and non-toxic nonstick surfaces given that modern ceramic cookware will not use any chemicals in their manufacture.
Also, ceramic is a more eco-friendly option, but what many users seem to love most about it is that besides being completely nonstick, it will also tolerate higher heat than regular Teflon cookware.
Better yet, cooking with ceramic uses significantly less oil and hence making it even healthier cookware. And you also get to choose from a wide variety of colors and designs when buying ceramic.
However, the material will require extra care to ensure it lasts long as it is often more prone to chipping and cracking, and cleanup will take more effort given that most ceramic cookware is often not dishwasher-safe.
Nonstick cookware is also what many people will typically refer to as Teflon which is the brand name of the company that first introduced the PTFE coating. Teflon is now what is widely used to give cookware a nonstick surface.
This type of cookware is made by coating regular aluminum cookware with Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) to form a nonstick surface which many people love for its lightweight and non-reactiveness to foods.
The super-smooth surface that this coating creates allows you to cook your food without using a lot of oil just like ceramic, and the nonstick properties are significantly better than what ceramic provides.
Also, this coating is much more durable and unlike ceramic, it is more resistant to chipping and cracking provided you do not use your cookware with metal utensils.
And because the base is typically made from aluminum, the nonstick cookware will also offer excellent heat distribution to allow for more even cooking with no hot or cold spots. In most instances, this nonstick cookware will also be more affordable than ceramic.
However, Teflon will come with a huge drawback because unlike ceramic, it often contains harmful substances like PFOA and PTFE. It will also not be very good for cooking at high temperatures.
How They are Made
Kiln-baked clay, minerals and sand mixture
Petrochemicals, synthetic resin
Prone to chipping and cracking
Tougher and more durable
Not very environment-friendly
Ease of Cleaning
Ceramic vs. Nonstick
With ceramic and nonstick cookware, you are assured of cooking food without sticking and using significantly less oil. But, the similarities probably end there, and so it should be pretty easy to choose between these two. And here are some of their key differences to help you out.
1. How They Are Made
Although both ceramic and nonstick or Teflon offer the best nonstick properties when compared to other cookware surfaces, they are quite different materials. They are also made using a different process, and to truly understand them, you should start by knowing how each is made.
Ceramic is the newer of the two nonstick materials, and it is made using more natural materials and in a relatively simpler process. You can get it in two forms which are the 100% pure ceramic cookware and the ceramic-coated cookware.
The pure ceramic cookware will be made by mixing quartz sand, minerals, and clay. This mixture is then formed in the desired cookware shape before being baked in a kiln at a temperature of around 1915 degrees Fahrenheit. The last step is to dip the cookware into a glaze to create a shiny look and make it resistant to staining.
With the ceramic coated cookware, regular aluminum cookware is given a mineral coating that is often derived from silica.
Teflon or the nonstick coating that you find in many cookware nowadays is usually a synthetic resin that is made using petrochemicals.
But, the process of giving cookware this coating is more complicated and takes longer than ceramic as several layers are required to create a smooth and extremely nonstick coating.
2. Heat Tolerance
Because heat tolerance will determine how you can use your cookware, it is important to know what ceramic and Teflon cookware can handle to ensure you make the right pick.
Generally, ceramic is the better material when it comes to heat tolerance. Something made from pure ceramic can withstand up to 850 degrees Fahrenheit which makes it perfect for almost any cooking method. There are also many top quality ceramic cookware that has been built to tolerate upwards of 2000 degrees Fahrenheit.
For Teflon, on the other hand, the best you can get is around 500 degrees Fahrenheit. It is also often advisable to keep the temperature below 460 degrees because going above this cause the release of harmful gasses and particles.
When it comes to the safety of the cookware, ceramic is the outright winner, and this is more so if it is 100% pure ceramic because this material will not contain any harmful chemicals. It is made from sand, minerals, and clay which are all-natural.
Also, even when heated at super high temperatures, ceramic will not release any toxic fumes or leak anything harmful into the food.
Teflon, on the other hand, comes with a myriad of health issues, and this is more so if it is the more substandard type that is full of PFOA and PTFE. And when using it to cook at very high temperatures, both the coating and aluminum base can release harmful fumes and particles.
Durability should also be a concern when buying cookware as you will want something that can serve you long enough so that you get value for your cash.
And while each of this nonstick material is fairly durable, each still has its few shortcomings that can affect its lifespan and how you use it will also determine how long it lasts.
When comparing pure ceramic cookware with Teflon coated cookware, the latter will probably last longer given that the aluminum base is almost indestructible. But while ceramic might be more prone to chipping and cracking, it will also last long enough with proper care.
Teflon, on the other hand, can also start peeling and wearing out over time which exposes the aluminum or stainless steel below it. And this can even happen faster than you think if you cook with metal utensils.
Hence, when it comes to durability, Teflon might have a slight edge, but here it is almost a tie as it will depend on how you use and handle either cookware.
5. Environmental Impact
Well, as a responsible home cook, you cannot overlook the impact on the environment that your choice of cookware will have.
But, there is no doubt that ceramic is by far the more eco-friendly cookware option. It is made of minerals and inorganic materials whose harvesting will hardly have any negative impact on the environment as they are more abundant.
Given that ceramic takes less time to make and will not require long curing time, it will not only save more energy but will also ensure less carbon dioxide is produced during its manufacture.
Teflon nonstick on the other hand will not only pose more health risk to humans but can also affect both animals and the environment at larger. Its manufacture involves more chemicals that end up contaminating the environment and cooking with it also releases more toxic fumes.
6. Ease of Cleaning
Because these are nonstick cookware, they will be way much easier to clean than other popular cookware materials like hard-anodized aluminum. In many instances, a simple wash with dish soap and water in the sink is all it takes.
However, of the two, Teflon seems to have a slight edge because it is not as delicate as ceramic, and so you can clean it fast and easily with no extra precaution required. Better yet, most Teflon cookware will be dishwasher safe to make them easier to clean.
Ceramic still gives you an easy time when cleaning. But, you will hardly find a dishwasher-safe set, and so you will always need to clean everything by hand which can be hectic when you have several pans and pots to cleanup.
7. Average Prices
There is a myriad of factors that will influence how much you end up paying for your one pan or a full set of cookware such as the brand you are buying from.
Hence, while pure ceramic cookware is generally more expensive than nonstick, there is still a few top brand Teflon-coated cookware set that will cost more than a simple ceramic set. Also, ceramic-coated cookware tends to be significantly more affordable.
You can expect to spend at least $12 to $50 on a simple 12-inch Teflon-coated coated frying pan while a pure ceramic pan of the same size will retail for around $50 to over $100 and a ceramic coated one will go for between $30 and $100.
Nonstick cookware is perfect when you want to cook food without having to use too much oil to prevent sticking. But, you no longer have to stick with Teflon. Unlike in the past, it is not the only options because now ceramic cookware also works equally well.
And while ultimately what you choose between the two options will depend on your budget and specific preferences, keeping the differences above in mind should help you make a wise choice.
Overall, ceramic is the best choice for those looking for healthier cookware that also comes in more pleasant colors and designs and can withstand higher temperatures. But, if you want something cheaper and do not plan to cook at very high temperatures, Teflon can still work for you.