Ceramic pans are completely safe to use around birds. However, non-stick chemicals are extremely dangerous. To keep your bird safe, ensure that the ceramic pan is not coated in non-stick chemicals. If the ceramic pan is advertised as non-stick, it’s not safe for birds.
What You'll Learn
After spending hours preparing a tasty meal, it’s great to have an easy clean-up. An easy clean-up means more time relaxing on the couch after dinner!
However, grabbing the non-stick cookware is not an option if you have a pet bird. Cooking with chemically treated pans, pots, and baking dishes can cause PFA poisoning, a very serious and often deadly consequence.
How to Know if Your Cookware is Safe For Birds
Teflon is not the only type of pan that can cause PFA or Teflon poisoning, so knowing what to look for when buying cooking and baking items is essential.
As described by the CDC: “The per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of chemicals used to make fluoropolymer coatings and products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease, and water.”
When heated, these substances produce toxic fumes which are dangerous to birds. Almost all marketed non-stick cookware and bakeware use these substances to coat their product to give you that nice quick cleaning experience that is all too convenient.
Luckily, there are great options to ensure the health and safety of your feathered friend. This includes ceramic (as mentioned above), cast iron, enameled cast iron, carbon steel, stainless steel, and glass cook and bakeware.
There is still a possibility that these options may have dangerous non-stick coatings, so you should check all cookware and bakeware before buying it.
Can Non-Stick/Teflon Be Used Safely?
Let’s say you already have a collection of non-stick cookware you adore. Is there a way to safely use your beloved non-stick cookware with your brand new bird in the house?
Unfortunately, the answer is no, a BIG NO.
There is no safe way to use this type of chemically treated cookware with birds in your home. Birds have an extremely efficient respiratory system different from that of humans.
The capillaries in birds’ pulmonary systems are much thinner and more uniform, allowing the gas exchange to happen more efficiently. Normally, the gasses exchanged are oxygen and carbon dioxide. But when there are other chemicals introduced into the bird’s lungs, these chemicals enter their blood much faster and more efficiently than they do in humans, or other animals for that matter. Not to mention birds are much smaller than humans and other common household pets.
This is why coal miners would use canaries to detect carbon monoxide and other toxic gasses. It would affect the bird much quicker than a human.
Some say that as long as the non-stick pot or pan is not overheated for a long time, there is no off-gassing, which means your bird would be safe. However, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), this is not true.
The EWG found that conventional stoves heated non-stick cookware to temperatures exceeding those known to cause the breakdown and off-gassing of the toxic chemicals.
One of the studies performed showed that a generic non-stick pan continued to rise in temperature after the test was completed, already well past the breakdown temperature.
The EWG has also documented some normal cooking uses that have resulted in bird deaths. These include:
- A Teflon lined oven used to bake biscuits killed the owner’s baby parrots
- A self-cleaning feature on an oven was used, and the owner’s bird died
- An electric skillet heated to 300 degrees and a space heater were used simultaneously, which killed the owner’s bird
This shows that Teflon and other non-stick items, including treated ovens and space heaters, are dangerous to birds at normal operating temperatures.
The conclusion: These products should be avoided at all costs if you have birds in your home.
What Does Teflon Poisoning Look Like?
There are some signs to watch for if you accidentally expose your bird to these types of chemicals:
- Rapid or labored breathing
- Tail bobbing
- Poor coordination
- Loss of balance, falling off perch
- Sluggish behavior
- Slow response
Smaller birds have more severe reactions to being exposed to these chemicals, and because there is no antidote for the poison, the birds will often succumb to the damage caused by the chemical exposure.
Birds have a very efficient respiratory system which makes the inhalation of these gasses a serious concern for bird owners. When they inhale these fumes, their lungs hemorrhage and fill up with fluid, which causes the symptoms listed above, and eventually death.
Are Other Household Appliances Dangerous For Birds?
Unfortunately, there is a wide variety of household items and appliances covered in this dangerous chemical, resulting in a deadly level of exposure for your bird.
Heat-generating appliances or those that are waterproof and stain-proof are often coated in these chemicals. This includes: ovens, toasters, portable heating units, heat lamps, hair tools, ironing board covers, irons, popcorn makers, roasters, coffee makers, drip pans, grills, skillets, air fryers, electric kettles, non-stick bakeware, non-stick cookware, woks, scented candles, air fresheners, fumes from new carpets, furniture, and paint, glues, household cleaning products, mothballs, hairsprays, nail polish, insecticides, weed killer, scotch guard, deodorants, even overheated cooking oil and butter can cause your bird distress.
Although learning about the dangers of non-stick cookware can be frightening, we should be happy that we have the knowledge to protect our birds. This knowledge will help us make sure we are providing the healthiest and happiest life possible.
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I am Bryan Powell and I own BirdHour.com. I love bird watching; in fact, I have a parakeet of my own. I enjoy spending time outdoors and observing the natural world around me. This website is a means of sharing my passion for birds with others who may be interested in this activity.