Let me tell you, navigating the world of non-toxic cookware is a QUEST. A quest that I have been on for years. Not only are there learning curves when it comes to actually using the cookware but there is a lot of greenwashing that you have to avoid too. While there are numerous types of baking and cookware that I use on a daily basis, I want to introduce one in particular to you today, 360 Stainless Steel Cookware!
This post contains affiliate links. I purchased from 360 myself and they also gifted product to me. This post reflects my honest thoughts and is a brand I truly recommend!
Why Non-Toxic Cookware Matters
The main issue with mainstream pots, pans, bakeware, etc. is the non-stick coatings. Yes, it’s convenient, but for me, the risk is NOT worth it. Essentially, chemicals such as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA or C8) and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) are commonly found in these non-stick coatings. You might know it as Teflon.
When heated, these chemicals release toxic gases. A 2010 study found that almost all people in the United States (98% of the general U.S. population) have PFOA in their blood and the half-life of it is about 3 years. That’s SO wild to me! This chemical also does not break down in the environment. This study also found PFOA to have toxic effects on the immune, liver, and endocrine systems.
I highly suggest watching the documentary The Devil We Know which exposes the dangers of Teflon and the chemicals in non-stick cookware 🥘
I personally use a combination of cast iron, glass, pure ceramic, and stainless steel cookware/bakeware in my kitchen depending on what I’m making. You can check out this blog post for more details on those 👇
Related post: “A Complete Guide to Non-Toxic & Eco-Friendly Kitchen Supplies”
About 360 Cookware
But let’s just focus on stainless steel today! The brand 360 Cookware has been on my radar for a few years now, so I finally bought a pan to try. A few reasons why I like this family-run company:
- Can be used in the oven up to 500℉
- Dishwasher safe
- Handcrafted in West Bend, Wisconsin (about 30 minutes from where I live!)
- Offer a lifetime warranty on the products claiming “this is the last cookware you’ll ever have to buy”
- Prioritize providing livable wages for their workers
- Recognized as a Green Power Partner by the EPA and use green manufacturing protocols (no harmful chemicals or VOCs used)
- Use surgical-grade, non-leaching 18/8 stainless steel
- Utilize a dry sanding process to give the products a non-porous surface and eliminate the need for chemical PTFE coatings
NOTE: While 360 is made in Wisconsin, they do currently outsource some of the bonded materials from South Korea and China. This is because one of their US suppliers shut down. They do hope to return to fully within the US by 2023! I appreciate how transparent they are about sourcing which you can read more about here.
In addition, 360 is considered “waterless” Vapor® cookware which means that cooking with the lids retains heat and moisture and is meant to be used at lower temperatures. The result is food that cooks faster in its own juices! In turn, the food is more flavorful and nutritious.
To sum it up, not all stainless steel cookware is created equal.
I kind of avoided stainless steel cookware for a while because I had concerns about metals leaching into my food; specifically acidic foods or at high temperatures. But after doing some more research, I discovered that the quality of the materials is what really matters!
For example, some stainless steel cookware will use low-quality steel or scrap metals so that’s why I love that 360 is surgical-grade!
In addition, some stainless steel cookware brands will talk about how many layers they use. But actually, more layers do not necessarily equal better. You ultimately want to look for thickness! You might hear this referred to as clad or multi-ply.
Here’s what comprises 360’s layers:
- T-304 18/8 surgical-grade stainless steel for the innermost layer that comes in contact with your food (18/8 refers to 18% chromium and 8% nickel)
- Aluminum alloy for the middle layer (it helps conduct heat throughout the cookware so food cooks evenly and there are no hot spots; the layers are bonded with a .110 gauge of thickness so your food never touches the aluminum)
- T-400 steel on the outside layer which is what goes on your stovetop; this layer has a lower nickel content and high carbon steel content
Overall, this is truly impeccable quality and I feel confident using it in my kitchen knowing that it’s safe and healthy and not leaching anything weird!
You can use coupon code ORGANICALLYBECCA25 for a 25% discount on your order!
Related post: “16+ Simple Ways to “Greenify” Your Home”
How to Use Stainless Steel Cookware & Prevent Sticking
If you’re new to non-toxic cookware that doesn’t use non-stick coatings, there is a learning curve and a lot of people get frustrated or give up when food sticks. There are tricks!
- Let the pans preheat on medium-low heat for a few minutes before putting any food on them and do NOT use high heat! (stainless steel is really efficient so you don’t need high heat, but also, food will be more prone to stick if it’s too hot)
- Splash the pan with some water droplets to see if it’s ready; when the water beads up and rolls across the surface, it means the pan is ready to go!
- FATS are your friend and help prevent sticking! Things like butter, avocado oil, ghee, or tallow. These are especially important if you’re cooking with foods that don’t already have a lot of fat in them. But if you’re making something like a juicy steak, for example, you might be able to use fewer oils and fats because they’ll naturally seep out of the steak 🥩
In my experience, the stainless steel pans are especially great for searing. The food may stick a bit initially, but as the food cooks in its own juices, it becomes less sticky. That being said, I will say that stainless steel occasionally needs more oils/butter when you cook things like pancakes or eggs compared to other cookware methods I use!
It takes some practice but you’ll figure it out 🧈
How to Take Care of Stainless Steel Cookware
Thankfully, stainless steel is rather durable and you don’t have to be overly cautious about chipping it, unlike ceramic. But it’s not indestructible. Here are some tips for maintaining the quality:
- Cook on low or medium heat; the materials are great heat conductors so high heat often isn’t necessary and can cause burning or sticking
- Wash with hot, soapy water after each use (it’s dishwasher safe but hand washing is always best)
- Use a sponge or non-abrasive scouring pad to remove stuck-on food
- Avoid letting acidic foods or salt sit on the pans for extended periods of time
- Stainless steel is also susceptible to white spots which are essentially mineral deposits from food or water. They’re harmless but not pretty! For these, I like to apply the Branch Basics all-purpose spray and Oxygen Boost powder, let it sit for a few minutes, then scrub away 🧼
Similar to the white spots, I do notice that streaks can form on my stainless steel cookware. Even though it’s clean, the material is just more prone to water spots drying unevenly and not looking perfectly streak-free. It looks like a residue but it’s just a cosmetic thing; I don’t personally mind it because I know it’s clean!
Products I Own from 360 Cookware
Now I wanna share more about the individual products I have! I hope to expand my collection in time, but here are some basics that I have for now:
This is one of their most popular pans and I feel like this would be a good one to start with (or any of the smaller fry pans) 🍳 It’s the first one I bought from 360. It’s really large and can hold a lot of food, but I like that it’s not super heavy (I’m a small person, so dealing with clunky cookware is difficult haha).
It has a long ergonomic handle that stays cool even while cooking which is nice!
How cool is this?! My previous slow cooker was a wedding gift and just a generic brand, so it likely had some sort of funky glaze or coating on it. Not this one!
This set is three separate pieces: an electric base (a steel plate that heats up), a 6-quart stock pot, and a cover. This is the largest one but they also have 2.3 and 4-quart cookers. It has four different adjustable heat settings. It’s awesome that you can use the stock pot on its own without the slow cooker base!
Since this one has a lid and the Vapor seal activation, it definitely keeps food moist and doesn’t dry it out, even after cooking for long periods of time!
My only wish is that this was bigger, but maybe eventually I could get their 8-quart stock pot to put on top. Because you can actually purchase the heating base separately and use whatever stock pot on top!
This is another one that would be nice to start with because everyone needs a saucepan! 2-quart is the perfect size, too.
I don’t know why but the name of this is so funny to me 😆 It’s basically a cookie sheet but has a rim to prevent spills. So you can use it for tons of things like roasting veggies, baking, cooking bacon, you name it. The dimensions are about 13×9. My only complaint is that I wish it were larger; they do have big cookie sheets but those don’t have a lip on them.
I appreciate that this is dishwasher-safe and has a water-resistant handle! I was previously using a wooden/silicone spatula that I had to tediously hand wash.
On my wishlist from 360:
Don’t forget to use code ORGANICALLYBECCA25 for 25% off your purchase!
Cookware is always a big investment, but we use it almost daily and it comes in direct contact with what we consume, so I reallyyyyyyy think it’s important to choose safer materials. The stainless steel products from 360 are of amazing quality and totally something I trust and recommend checking out. Have any questions? Drop ‘em in the comments!