Toss the Teflon to Save Your Toucan - The Dangers of Non-Stick Cookware Around Birds & Parrots

Did you know that cooking with non-stick cookware such as Teflon-coated pans is dangerous for your birds and can have deadly consequences? Read this article to find out why bird owners should toss out their Teflon cookware ASAP. 

And don't worry, we have recommendations on alternatives to non-stick coatings that you can try out.

Teflon and Its Toxic Fumes

Patented by DuPont in 1941, Teflon (Polytetrafluoroethylene, or PTFE) is a popular coating used on cookware due to its amazing non-stick properties. You have probably seen how easy it is to keep these pans clean no matter what you are cooking!

However, this technology comes at a price to your feathered friends (and likely to us humans as well). When you turn the burner on too high and overheat your pan or skillet on the stove, toxic gases are released into the surrounding air. These compounds lead to the respiratory condition in birds known as Teflon Toxicosis (or PTFE Toxicosis). 

This condition occurs in birds because their respiratory system is extremely sensitive to any and all particles in the air. Birds have a different respiratory system from humans that is much more efficient at getting high levels of oxygen to their muscles, which is necessary during flight.

Have you ever heard the term "canary in a coal mine?" Miners would typically carry poor little canaries with them to help detect carbon monoxide in the mines. If there was carbon monoxide or any other toxic gases present, the bird would become sick and die before the miners were affected, alerting them of the dangerous surrouding air.

This same effect can occur on a smaller scale in your own home if you are using cookware coated in PTFE. The simple solution is to use non-toxic cookware instead of Teflon. We all want our birds to be as healthy as possible, and that process begins by steadily improving their surrounding environment.

Alternatives to Teflon

Now that you know why you shouldn't be using Teflon around your birds, it is time to decide on an alternative. Consider the 3 options below to add to your cookware arsenal in place of Teflon:

  1. Cast Iron. Used for generations, cast iron pans are durable and retain heat like it's nobody's business. Get your cast iron cookware pre-seasoned or enamel-coated so that they are as non-stick as possible (without the extra PTFE chemicals) and ready for use right away.
  2. Stainless Steel. Pure stainless steel pans are heavy, but you can also get ones coated in aluminum that are more lightweight. These pans generally won't stick if you use just enough oil or butter when cooking.
  3. Glass Bakeware. While not for use on the stovetop, glass bakeware is great for making specialties in the oven and for storing leftovers. Pyrex is a great brand to try out.

Bottom Line: Air Quality is a Must

This article points out the dangers of using non-stick cookware in your home and its potentially deadly effect on birds. However, cooking is only one potential source of health problems for your bird.

In addition to fumes from cooking, birds are also susceptible to carbon monoxide, aerosols, pesticides, and smoke of any kind. So be aware of everything in your bird's environment and take care of any potential problems before anything happens to your pet...and be sure to keep your own health and allergies in mind too!

Although most pet owners are concerned with providing high quality food and water for their favorite animal, it is also crucial to ensure that they are breathing clean air too. Not only does poor air quality affect your pet, it affects you too since you are breathing the same air!

Share this post

← Older Post Newer Post →

  • I wanted to ask a question, hope this is the correct place to do this.
    Regarding nonstick pans; There are new nonstick pans out now that are made of ceramic, and some State they are PTFE FREE. Are these ceramic pans toxic to birds too? Just wondering about this. I do not have any birds yet, but am planning on getting a parakeet, and wanted to ask about the new nonstick pans. Thank you, Janice

    Janice Leath on

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published.