Some pots and pans have a non-stick coating that contains PFASs like Teflon. As a result, they emit toxic fumes. However, cast iron does not contain PFASs. Because of this, cast iron is completely safe for birds.
What You'll Learn
Many bird owners fail to realize the danger cooking in the kitchen poses to these sensitive animals. Cooking with pots and pans that contain PFAS can cause toxic fumes to spread as far as the length of three rooms.
As a result, your bird’s health can be severely affected, resulting in death. Because of this, many bird lovers have questions about cast iron utensils.
This article discusses the effects cast iron has on the health of your bird. We will determine if it is safe to use cast iron inside the kitchen or for any cooking purposes.
What is Cast Iron?
Cast iron contains 2-4% carbon and 1-3% silicon. It is made from iron that is melted in a blast furnace. This liquid iron is poured and hardened into ingots called pigs. These pigs are then melted with scrap and alloying materials into a cupola furnace. This allows the cast iron to be molded into different types of tools.
Types of Cast Iron
There are five types of cast iron: gray iron, white iron, malleable iron, ductile iron, and compacted graphite iron. While this article focuses on the effects that cast iron utensils can have on birds, we will briefly discuss each cast iron type.
Gray iron, the most common type of cast iron, has graphite below its surface which creates the gray color on the iron. It is not as malleable as other types of iron, but is a more thermal conductor and has a better vibration damping.
White iron is less common. It is a carbon-iron alloy containing more than 2% of carbon content in the form of cementite. This creates its white surface, which gives this type of cast iron its name.
To make the cast iron more workable, annealing heat is applied to the material. This creates malleable iron. This iron has less carbon content than other types of iron.
Ductile iron is a more sturdy type of iron. It is used for tougher terrains. Ductile iron is used for making sewer systems, water lines, tractors, trucks, and oil pumps.
Compacted graphite iron is a stronger and sturdier form of gray iron. It is used for cast iron machinery that needs better strength or lower weight.
Certain pan companies like Alesta, Dykor, and Emralon produce non-stick coatings. This means that food cooked on pots and pans using these products will have less food being stuck on the utensil.
To manufacture these non-stick coatings, chemicals that produce toxic fumes called Polyfluoroalkyls, or PFASs, may be used. Chemicals like Teflon, PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene), PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic), and PFOS (Perfluorooctanesulfonic) may be applied to this non-stick coating.
These PFAS chemicals can cause Teflon poisoning, a sickness that does not directly affect humans but is deadly to birds. Toxic fumes like Teflon poisoning can reach up to three rooms and could severely harm your bird. Such poisoning also affects parrots and even chicks.
How to Prevent Birds from the Effects of Teflon Poisoning
One of the first things bird owners want to do when they shop for pots and pans is to check if they contain PFAS like Teflon. Sometimes the product would say if they are free from some PFAS chemicals, but this does not necessarily mean it will be safe for your bird.
To determine whether or not products contain PFAS, be sure to check online or call the product manufacturer.
PFAS chemicals were banned by the Environmental Protection Agency once the studies showed that the effects of the chemicals lead to cancer.
However, there are still items imported into the US that have PFASs. Dangerous chemicals are still used for non-stick pots and pans, and you might even have them in your household.
If you are cooking with a utensil coated with PFAS, keep your bird outside or at least three rooms away. You do not want their cage to be near the kitchen. Never have your bird inside the kitchen when cooking with these products.
If your bird has Teflon poisoning, it will show the following symptoms:
- Breathing problems such as wheezing
- Open beak gulping
- Tail bobbing.
- Raspy breathing sounds.
- Falling off perch
- Signs of agitation
Sometimes your bird could be severely affected and never produce symptoms before having a rapid death. Death from Teflon poisoning can result within 24 hours. If your bird is displaying these symptoms, rush to a vet, who can have an oxygen cage applied for your bird. The oxygen cage will get dangerous fluids out of your pet and may save them.
Why Are Birds Sensitive To Teflon?
Unlike us humans, birds have much weaker respiratory systems. This means they are affected by toxic fumes significantly more. This is why bird death from Teflon poisoning can be rapid.
The size of the bird will determine if it can withstand Teflon poisoning for longer periods. A bigger-sized bird has a better chance of surviving than a smaller one.
Although the effects are not so direct. Humans are also affected by Teflon poisoning. Toxic fumes and Teflon poisoning can lead to cancer, respiratory problems, nervous system problems, and birth defects in humans.
When Do Effects of Toxic Fumes Occur?
The effects of such toxic fumes can happen whenever a pot or pan is cooking at over 500 degrees Fahrenheit. At 300 degrees Fahrenheit, a smaller effect can happen. This means that more times during cooking than not, such poisons affect your bird if they reach the animal.
Take notice whenever you are cooking with such utensils. Be sure to confirm that your bird is nowhere near that cooking area.
If your bird’s cage is near the kitchen, make sure to either put him/her outside or at least three rooms away. Make sure the poison doesn’t get to them, or death will most likely occur.
A wood stove or fireplace can also emit toxic fumes, so be careful that your bird isn’t around at that time. If you notice your bird producing the symptoms of Teflon poisoning, contact a vet immediately. This is because the effects of the toxic fumes can cause significant damage in a short amount of time.
Does Cooking With Cast Iron Effect Birds?
Cast iron utensils are always PFAS-free. This means it doesn’t have Teflon nor cause Teflon poisoning or emission of toxic fumes. This means that cast iron is a good choice for any bird owner who owns an indoor bird. Cooking with cast-iron pots or pans doesn’t affect the health of birds and is safe for them.
Even though cast iron doesn’t contain PFAS that some non-stick pans possess, cast iron is still a non-stick option. For all those trying to stop using non-stick pans to protect from toxic fumes, cast-iron pans are a great choice. Cast-iron pans can become non-stick by applying a coating of oil to the pan. When the pan is cooking, the fats reorganize themselves into a plastic-like coating and become bound to the metal of the utensil.
So next time you are shopping for cooking supplies at the store, make sure they are safe for you and your bird. Cast iron is a good way to go if you want a non-stick option that is safe to use.
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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.