Non-Stick Cookware

Any non-stick products that contain either of these substances is immensely dangerous to your birds and yourself. PTFE, or Polytetrafluoroethylene (try saying that 5 times fast) is a fluoropolymer commonly used in anything non-stick. It's commonly produced by the Teflon company.

"The reason PTFE is dangerous is because of its maximum use temperature, which the FDA lists as 260°C or 500°F. At these temperatures, PTFE releases an off-gas that is harmful when inhaled. As it heats beyond 500°F, eventually PTFE releases other particles. At a temperature of 240°C, release of PTFE particles is observable at:

- By 290°C emission of ultra-fine oxidized particles can occur
- At 360°C a cocktail of toxic and carcinogenic gases is given off
- Between 360-600°C there is release of TFE (tetrafluoroethylene), a reasonably anticipated human carcinogen
- Above 360-650°C there is emission of HFP (hexafluoropropene)
- Above 440°C COF2 (carbonyl fluoride) is released - a fluorinated derivative of phosgene, a chemical warfare agent
- Above 440°C, PFiB (perfluoroisobutene, a warfare agent 10 times more toxic than phosgene) is detected
- Above 650°C, decomposition releases carbon tetrafluoroide (CF4)

Independent tests have shown that a frying pan can easily reach a temperature of 390°C or higher in just a few minute on a conventional stove [when on the high setting]."

PFOA's are commonly used in conjuction with PTFE as it is a dispersing agent. PFAO, or Perfluorooctanoic acid, commonly known as C8 in the past, is known to be toxic and carcinogenic in animals when ingested. While many of the non-stick cookware you may find will list being PTFE free, it must also be PFOA free as well due to its health dangers as it accumulates in the body over time. In fact, studies have shown that 98% of Americans have PFOA in their system.

These two substances are highly toxic to parrots because of their sensitive digestive and respiratory systems. Please remember that while you may not be over heating your non-stick cookware that can result in extreme respiratory distress, any food you heat on a pan with PFOA's may become contaminated and then ingested. There's a good reason these substances are being phased out. Also, when PFOA is released into the air, polymer fume fever is what results in the death of many parrots.

Silicon Bakeware - UNSAFE
Silicon bakeware is becoming very popular due to its nonstick and easy to clean properties. You can buy liners, muffin pans, non-stick sheets, utensils, the list is endless. The FDA does list silicon as inert, non-reactive, and resistant to extreme temperatures, thereby making it safe. However, what may make silicon bakeware dangerous is the curing process used during their production. While a post-cure systems are in place to prevent any potential health hazards for humans, the byproducts left behind may be hugely hazardous for our parrots. The silicon may be non-reactive and produce no off-gases, but the by-products used during the curing might, which can result in extreme respiratory distress.

For example, one curing process is through Peroxide. One byproduct produced is all known to cause respiratory distress in humans when exposed to a large amount, whereas the other is not listed as a human carcinogen, but has caused cancer in rats during large exposure studies. Alternatively, if peroxide vapour is inhaled, it does cause respiratory distress in humans.

While I'm not 100% positive if this is what makes silicon bakeware so dangerous, I imagine it is part of the dangers associated with it. I'm unaware of what other binding agents are used during the production of silicon bakeware that could also be dangerous when heated to parrots. If anyone else finds anything, let me know!

Alternatively, parchment paper or baking paper is also dangerous to parrots. This is because of how it is made. It's made by running pulp through sulfuric acid or zinc chloride: "This process partially dissolves or gelatinizes the paper. This treatment forms a sulfurized cross-linked material with high density, stability, and heat resistance, and low surface energy–thereby imparting good non-stick or release properties." (Silicone Coated Baking Sheets | Sierra Coating).

Ceramic Coating - SAFE IF PTFE & PFOA FREE
Ceramic coating, sometimes referred to as Thermolon, Ceramica, etc., is a relatively "weak" non-stick coating being used in place of PTFE. This is because it does not produce any off-gases. It's made out of silicone oxide (SiO) during a process known as "Sol-Gel". Silicon is, as mentioned above, listed as a safe product. Most ceramic coated pans require only a single coat on top of a substrate, which is what makes them a weaker non-stick surface. They are more likely to wear and have a much shorter non-stick lifespan than PTFE. What is important to note, however, is that many companies do not list what the substrate underneath is. It may be the actual metal of the pan, or it may be something else to help with its non-stick properties that could be potentially hazardous. As listed on the Thermolon FAQ sheet, the interior Thermolon coating involves a "degrease substrate" and a sand blast substrate. What that degrease substrate is, I'm not sure.

While many parronts have been successful in using their ceramic pans, it's important to remember that overheating anything may or may not produce dangerous off-gasses, as we are currently unaware of what the substrate underneath the ceramic coating is. Please remember to use ceramic pans only on low-medium heats. If you notice that the ceramic coating is chipping, be sure to immediately replace it. And as always, ensure that your ceramic pan is both PTFE AND PFOA free. Some pans are listed as PTFE free but not PFOA, or vice-versa.

EDIT: The "degreaser" is probably just a solvent used to clean the pan before coating it with ceramic, and would evaporate in the subsequent firing, so I don't worry about that. My problem with those pans is the poor quality and short life. Cast iron, stainless steel, and porcelain coated cast iron are the best. (Thank you Kentuckienne!)

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