For those new to this website:
Tamara Rubin is a multiple-federal-award-winning independent advocate for childhood Lead poisoning prevention and consumer goods safety, and a documentary filmmaker. She is also a mother of Lead-poisoned children (two of her sons were acutely Lead-poisoned in 2005). Since 2009, Tamara has been using XRF technology (a scientific method used by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission) to test consumer goods for toxicants (specifically heavy metals — including Lead, Cadmium, Mercury, Antimony, and Arsenic). Tamara’s work was featured in Consumer Reports Magazine in February of 2023 (March 2023 print edition).
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The test results for most of the consumer goods reported on this website are from items that have been sent in by Lead Safe Mama readers for testing. This is a collaborative effort (with our readers) to help you make informed decisions for your family (so you can have an idea of what to look for — and what you might want to avoid — in making safer choices for your home).
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Continue reading below the images. All Specific Metals Detected in This Pan (20 in Total):
- Aluminum (Al)
- Antimony (Sb)
- Barium (Ba)
- Bromine (Br)
- Cadmium (Cd)
- Chromium (Cr)
- Cobalt (Co)
- Copper (Cu)
- Lead (Pb)
- Indium (In)
- Iron (Fe)
- Manganese (Mn)
- Mercury (Hg)
- Molybdenum (Mo)
- Nickel (Ni)
- Platinum (Pt)
- Tin (Sn)
- Titanium (Ti)
- Vanadium (V)
- Zinc (Zn)
Metals noted above in red are considered toxic (even in trace amounts) by most standards.
Tuesday — August 3, 2021
I have to start by sharing how I feel about this. This is boring. This has got to be among the most boring things I do at this point. It drags me down and depresses me because it is so d*mn routine! It’s always the SAME headline: “Big company (that makes pots and pans and sells them with greenwashing marketing language and gimmicks) makes products that test positive for all the toxic metals.” So boring — I really could have written this article without even testing the pan (almost) but by having the exact test results for each and every component of the pan (see below). For tests (by a freshly-calibrated XRF instrument) that we repeated multiple times to confirm the results, I ensure the company cannot sue me for publishing the truth about what’s in their products.
Results as Expected
I don’t have a lot to say about this particular product, other than the test results are exactly as I would have expected at this point. The one thing I would like you to consider is: what does their marketing slogan, “without the chemicals,” mean, exactly??
- What does it really mean?
- What does it mean to you?
- What are the manufacturers trying to make it mean?
- What does a customer buying these products expect these statements and promises mean?
It’s a big inquiry — and the answer might be best answered by a 25-page thesis on the subject, but I assert the following: the customer expects, based on the marketing language used, that there are no toxic heavy metals in these pans (none at all). Yet this is simply not the case.
Below are some of the images I recently shared on Instagram, to give context to the concern for the marketing language this company uses (and help address the above questions).
First some insight in response to the fundamental question: “What is a chemical?”
… and separately, an answer to the question “Are metals chemicals?”
And then evidence of the specific claims from the Caraway Home website — see images below:
NOTE — NONE OF THIS ACTUALLY MEANS ANYTHING!
- “Healthy Cooking”
- “Ceramic-coated cookware” (hint: it’s not really “ceramic!”)
- “Mineral-Based Coating” (That’s “code” for metals — metals are minerals!)
- “Discover A Healthier Way To Cook”
- “No Harmful Chemicals”
- “Free of PTFE (such as Teflon), Lead, Cadmium, and other toxic materials…” (Nope! tested positive for trace Lead & Cadmium!)
- “High Quality” (Who’s to judge?)
- “Caraway products are made without any toxic materials…”
- and more specifically: “Made without any toxic materials or … other hard-to-pronounce chemicals.” (Can you say Molybdenum? — I would say that’s hard to pronounce, I always have trouble with it and I have a college degree — lol!)
What’s really wrong with these pans, though?
The levels of toxic heavy metals found are relatively low, aren’t they?
Is it really a problem?
- Main Problem: This company is engaging in greenwashing that verges on false advertising (since no one really has a definition for what “cookware without the chemicals” means, as a standalone statement they might assert that it is not false advertising!).
- While these pans may not be leaching any toxic metals at the time of manufacture, all bets are off when they start to wear, and the coating is no longer perfect.
- The levels of Lead found seem to indicate that the aluminum base is (like similar pans) a Lead-contaminated-Aluminum substrate (this is not unusual to find, especially with recycled aluminum products). We cannot know for sure without destroying the pan (which I will ask the person who purchased it if I have permission to do — and if she says “yes” I will write a piece with test results from the destructive testing!).
- These aluminum-based (mixed metals) pans are also created as disposable cookware — cookware that will eventually wear out — so you’ll have to buy it again, which makes them awful for the planet on so many levels (in addition to any potential direct long-term impacts on the user). So their “60% less CO2” claim is irrelevant — considering you’ll have to buy 3 or 4 over time, as each replacement wears out.
- I also have concerns about the Titanium-based surface coatings in these pans (and so many others like them, made today). Others in the “environmental activism”/non-toxic products space as well as myself are quite concerned about the consistent wear of these Titanium-based coated surfaces and the fact that there do not appear to (yet) be long-term studies about the health impacts of ingesting micro-particulates from Titanium-based coating with your food every time you cook in these pans (as the coating wears off). That is not to say they are definitely harming you, but for me, the science is not yet settled as to whether or not they are definitely safe as a long-term cookware piece for your family.
- A recent alarm raised about Titanium dioxide found in certain candies (and the fact that this substance is not considered safe for human consumption in Europe) further supports my concern here — that I believe this type of Titanium-based cookware needs more study before it can be determined safe.
Continue reading below the image
What should we use instead?
If you would like my recommendations on how to purchase a truly Lead-free pan (what my personal “safer choices” are when cooking for my own family), please click through and read my recent overview on pots and pans. Here’s the link to that article. Continue reading below the image. You don’t even have to buy any specific pots and pans I recommend — just follow the GUIDELINES set forth in this article for buying ANY pots and pans, of any brand that adheres to these guidelines:
And with that, here are the full XRF test results for the cream-and-gray colored Caraway pan pictured in this article. Please continue reading below each of the images to see the reading set for the components featured in each image.
#1.) Silver-colored metal of bottom of pan (image above)
Stainless Steel 430/40
- Bromine (Br): 28 +/- 5 ppm
- Chromium (Cr): 162,700 +/- 400 ppm
- Vanadium (V): 943 +/- 95 ppm
- Manganese (Mn): 4,490 +/- 303 ppm
- Iron (Fe): 828,700 +/- 700 ppm
- Nickel (Ni): 1,775 +/- 121 ppm
- Copper (Cu): 945 +/- 69 ppm
- Zinc (Zn): 65 +/- 21 ppm
- Titanium (Ti): 170 +/- 109 ppm
- Tin (Sn): 35 +/- 10 ppm
- Barium (Ba): 117 +/- 38 ppm
Below, I have included three separate reading sets of the surface as a way of demonstrating that the levels of Lead and Antimony found are replicable. The balance of makeup on these readings is Aluminum (approx: 850,000 ppm).
#2.) Gray Food Surface reading #1 (image above)
- Lead (Pb): 44 +/- 4 ppm
- Chromium (Cr): 14,400 +/- 300 ppm
- Manganese (Mn): 2,846 +/- 116 ppm
- Iron (Fe): 4,628 +/- 93 ppm
- Copper (Cu): 5,218 +/- 71 ppm
- Zinc (Zn): 342 +/- 12 ppm
- Titanium (Ti): 118,100 +/- 1,100 ppm
- Tin (Sn): 12 +/- 3 ppm
- Antimony (Sb): 45 +/- 5 ppm
- Platinum (Pt): 159 +/- 14 ppm
#3.) Gray Food Surface reading #2
- Lead (Pb): 51 +/- 4 ppm
- Chromium (Cr): 14,900 +/- 300 ppm
- Manganese (Mn): 2,967 +/- 113 ppm
- Iron (Fe): 4,791 +/- 91 ppm
- Copper (Cu): 5,237 +/- 69 ppm
- Zinc (Zn): 342 +/- 12 ppm
- Titanium (Ti): 120,200 +/- 1,100 ppm
- Tin (Sn): 11 +/- 3 ppm
- Antimony (Sb): 45 +/- 5 ppm
- Platinum (Pt): 150 +/- 14 ppm
#4.) Gray Food Surface reading #3
- Lead (Pb): 48 +/- 3 ppm
- Chromium (Cr): 14,200 +/- 200 ppm
- Manganese (Mn): 3,117 +/- 93 ppm
- Iron (Fe): 4,726 +/- 74 ppm
- Copper (Cu): 5,078 +/- 55 ppm
- Zinc (Zn): 358 +/- 10 ppm
- Titanium (Ti): 115,300 +/- 800 ppm
- Tin (Sn): 11 +/- 2 ppm
- Antimony (Sb): 42 +/- 4 ppm
- Platinum (Pt): 159 +/- 11 ppm
#5.) Cream-colored exterior reading #1 (images at the top of this article)
- Lead (Pb): 47 +/- 4 ppm
- Chromium (Cr): 392 +/- 94 ppm
- Manganese (Mn): 5,219 +/- 121 ppm
- Iron (Fe): 2,766 +/- 71 ppm
- Nickel (Ni): 33 +/- 21 ppm
- Copper (Cu): 381 +/- 16 ppm
- Zinc (Zn): 409 +/- 12 ppm
- Titanium (Ti): 156,900 +/- 1,300 ppm
- Tin (Sn): 12 +/- 3 ppm
- Antimony (Sb): 11 +/- 4 ppm
- Platinum (Pt): 183 +/- 14 ppm
#6.) Silver-colored metal of handle of pan (image above)
Stainless Steel 201
30-second reading (over logo area)
- Chromium (Cr): 163,100 +/- 600 ppm
- Vanadium (V): 1,463 +/- 153 ppm
- Manganese (Mn): 64,100 +/- 700 ppm
- Iron (Fe): 712,100 +/- 1,100 ppm
- Nickel (Ni): 41,600 +/- 500 ppm
- Copper (Cu): 16,600 +/- 300 ppm
- Molybdenum (Mo): 706 +/- 52 ppm
- Tin (Sn): 49 +/- 15 ppm
#7.) Silver-colored exterior flat portion of handle rivets (image above)
- Lead (Pb): 14 +/- 2 ppm
- Cadmium (Cd): 3 +/- 1 ppm
- Mercury (Hg): 26 +/- 4 ppm
- Chromium (Cr): 1,046+/- 93 ppm
- Iron (Fe): 3,572 +/- 63 ppm
- Nickel (Ni): 73 +/- 18 ppm
- Zinc (Zn): 120 +/- 6 ppm
- Indium (In): 3 +/- 2 ppm
- Platinum (Pt): 339 +/- 13 ppm
#8.) Silver-colored interior rounded portion of handle rivets (image above)
30-second reading — Stainless Steel 321
- Chromium (Cr): 180,600 +/- 700 ppm
- Vanadium (V): 1,259+/- 193 ppm
- Manganese (Mn): 11,600 +/- 500 ppm
- Iron (Fe): 718,800 +/- 1,200 ppm
- Cobalt (Co): 995 +/- 628 ppm
- Nickel (Ni): 79.500 +/- 800 ppm
- Copper (Cu): 2,608 +/- 176 ppm
- Zinc (Zn): 106 +/- 41 ppm
- Titanium (Ti): 2,973 +/- 292 ppm
- Molybdenum (Mo): 1,026 +/- 66 ppm
- Barium (Ba): 471 +/- 77 ppm
Some additional reading that might be of interest:
- A piece discussing the testing methodology used on this website.
- An article discussing how to send in an item for testing.
- Things that you can test at home.
- Things that might be better tested with an XRF instrument.
Thanks for reading. Thank you for sharing this work. As always, please let me know if you have any questions and I will do my best to answer them personally as soon as I have a moment (which may not be right away — but I will try!).
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