Instant Pot: The Non-Toxic Pressure Cooker (Are They Safe?)

The Instant Pot has gained popularity as a versatile electric pressure cooker that can perform multiple functions in the kitchen. It can replace a slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, yogurt maker, and more. With different models available, it offers programmable options that are time and cost-efficient for cooking.

Although the Instant Pot is considered to be convenient, safe, and reliable, individuals who are unfamiliar with the device may have concerns regarding its use of toxic chemicals similar to those found in Teflon pans.

Instant Pots are safe to use for cooking purposes as they are not toxic. The inner pot, steam rack, and lid of the Instant Pot are made of food-grade stainless steel without any chemical coatings.

Contrary to other pressure cookers, rice cookers, and slow cookers available in the market that have lead and cadmium in their non-stick coatings.

Do Instant Pots Contain Any Lead?

Although other pressure cookers have non-stick coatings containing lead and cadmium in the inner pot, the Instant Pot is free from lead in or around the food sections of its design.

The Instant Pot has two areas that harbor lead, which are

  • The Heating Unit Disk: The heating unit disk in the Instant Pot does contain lead and cadmium, with lead levels at 1,400 (PPM Lead) +/- 90 and cadmium levels at 46 PPM +/- 11.

  • The Safety Button in the Base: The safety button located at the bottom of the Instant Pot also has lead, which is present at a level of 303 PPM =/- 36, but it does not have any traces of cadmium or mercury.

The Instant Pot consists of several components including a stainless steel inner cooking pot, lid, and steam release valve, as well as an anti-block shield, power cable, float valve, steaming rack, plastic tools, and exterior pot.

The Instant Pot has been tested for lead, cadmium, and mercury and all tests show that these heavy metals are “non-detect,” indicating that the majority of the appliance is free from these toxins, making it a safe and non-toxic pressure cooker to use.

Creative Green Living’s blogger Carissa and lead safety activist Tamara Rubin conducted tests on the Instant Pot for metal contaminants, with the following results:

  • The inner cooking pot made of stainless steel has been tested and found to have no detectable levels of lead, cadmium, and mercury.
  • The lid’s exterior made of stainless steel: Shows no presence of Lead, Cadmium, and Mercury upon testing.
  • The steam release valve’s interior: No traces of Lead, Cadmium, and Mercury were found.
  • Shield against blockage: Does not contain Lead, Cadmium or Mercury
  • Power Cord: Free from Lead, Cadmium, and Mercury
  • Float Valve: No traces of lead, cadmium, and mercury were found.
  • Steam Release: No traces of Lead, Cadmium, and Mercury were found.
  • Steaming rack: Free from Lead, Cadmium, and Mercury
  • Plastic utensils: Free from Lead, Cadmium, and Mercury
  • Outer container: Free from Lead, Cadmium, and Mercury
  • The disk that generates heat: contains 1,400 parts per million of lead with a margin of error of plus or minus 90, and 46 parts per million of cadmium with a margin of error of plus or minus 11.
  • Base of the unit has a safety button: Lead levels are at 303 PPM with a variance of +/- 36, while Cadmium and Mercury are not detected.

What about the presence of lead?

Despite the presence of lead in the heating unit disk and safety button in the base, the quantity is comparable to what you would typically find in a coffee cup from popular coffee shops such as McDonald’s, Tim Hortons, or Starbucks.

Do Instant Pots Have Teflon?

Irrespective of the specific type or edition of Instant Pot that you purchase, all components designed to touch food are constructed from stainless steel.

Instant Pots are non-toxic pressure cookers that do not use Teflon or any harmful coatings on their inner pots. Although some parts of the Instant Pot may be made of plastic, there is no non-stick surface on any of its components.

What are the reasons to steer clear of Teflon?

In the 1930s, non-stick cookware gained popularity due to its smooth surface that facilitated easy cleaning, required minimal oil or butter, and was non-reactive; it is coated with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) or Teflon, which is also utilized in cable coating, wire production, and waterproofing materials such as raincoats.

Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) was utilized with Teflon during its creation and has been associated with various health issues.

  • Thyroid Disorders,
  • Testicular Cancer,
  • Liver Disease,
  • Kidney Disease,
  • Infertility,
  • Low Birth Weight.

Although PFOA was previously utilized in the production of Teflon, it has been discontinued. However, many people prefer not to use cookware made of Teflon due to the possibility of the material breaking down and releasing harmful chemicals at temperatures exceeding 570 degrees Fahrenheit.

Using Teflon at high temperatures can lead to the breakdown of the material and cause polymer fume fever, which is characterized by symptoms such as fever, body aches, headaches, and chills.

What Are the Current Substitutes?

  • Stoneware has been a popular choice for years due to its scratch-resistant properties and ability to distribute heat evenly.
  • Silicone Cookware refers to a type of synthetic rubber that is commonly utilized in kitchen utensils and bakeware.
  • Ceramic Cookware is highly regarded for its non-stick properties, although the coating may be susceptible to scratches.
  • Cast-iron Cookware; is innately non-stick and has a prolonged lifespan due to its ability to withstand high temperatures.
  • Stainless Steel is a long-lasting, dishwasher-safe material that resists scratches and is ideal for achieving a golden-brown sear on your food.

Are Instant Pots Safe For Your Health?

Using the Instant Pot for cooking is completely safe and healthy as its non-coated stainless steel inner pot does not release any harmful chemicals into your food.

When using an Instant Pot, a stainless-steel pressure cooker, it is important to remember that the material may leach out when cooking acidic foods.

When cooking acidic foods in a pressure cooker, it is important to keep in mind that the seepage of chromium, nickel, and iron into your food may cause allergic reactions in some individuals, although this is not a major concern as the body requires chromium and iron.

The safety features of the Instant Pot ensure your physical well-being

The Instant Pot was designed with various safety features to avoid explosions, overflowing, burning, and scorching.

  • The Instant Pot is equipped with a control panel that keeps track of the time, temperature, internal pressure, and heat intensity.
  • Each pre-programmed button is specifically calibrated to apply the appropriate pressure, heat level, temperature, and cooking time for a secure and accurate preparation of your food.
  • The Instant Pot has safety features that will automatically shut off the electrical and temperature fuse if it becomes overheated.
  • The Instant Pot is equipped with an automatic regulator that can adjust the pressure as needed, and its pressure release valve ensures that any excess pressure is safely released to prevent dangerous build-up.
  • The Instant Pot has a safety feature that notifies you if the lid is not securely locked in place.
  • The shield against blockage assists in preventing the vent holes from becoming obstructed.
  • The Instant Pot has a safety feature that detects lid leakage and will automatically switch to the “keep warm” setting if it takes too long to preheat.
  • If the pressure cooker is still pressurized, the lid will remain locked to prevent any unintended opening.

Do Instant Pots Destroy Nutrients?

When cooking food, there is always a certain degree of loss of nutrients, regardless of the cooking method used. However, some methods are more effective than others in preserving the nutrients.

Although pressure cookers are quick, they do not have as much of a negative impact on the nutritional value of food compared to grilling and broiling, which are high heat methods.

Contrary to popular belief, the pressure cooker does not cook food faster by using high temperatures; in fact, it uses lower temperatures than most other cooking methods. The key to its efficiency lies in the increased pressure that it creates.

The pressure cooker is efficient in preserving nutrients as it operates.

  • The Instant Pot cooks food quickly, resulting in minimal nutrient depletion.
  • The Instant Pot doesn’t function at extremely high temperatures.
  • Retains the nutrients that are released from the food in the liquid within the Instant Pot. Utilizing this liquid to prepare soup or broth guarantees that some of the lost nutrients are still assimilated.

According to a study conducted 20 years ago, pressure cookers were able to preserve up to 90-95% of the nutrients, which is an uncommon feat for most cooking techniques.

What Instant Pot Model Should You Buy?

I’ve been using the Instant Pot Duo 60 on a regular basis for a long period of time with no issues. The very affordable price on Amazon is just a big bonus. It’s been awarded the Amazon’s choice badge and has received praise both on and offline.

The Instant Pot has the ability to automatically adjust temperature and pressure levels as required.

Although I remain nearby during the cooking process, I often use this time to unwind or attend to other tasks, as the Instant Pot has a safety feature that automatically turns it off if it detects any hazardous conditions.

Although I am currently utilizing the 6 Quart version, there is an option to upgrade to either the 8 Quart or Plus 8 if a bigger pot is required.

How Do Instant Pots & Pressure Cookers Work?

An Instant Pot consists of two primary components, namely the main unit and the lid, along with additional parts like the stainless steel insert, sealing ring, float valve, and release hole.

Once the ingredients are added to the Instant Pot, both the lid and main unit are securely sealed. As the Instant Pot heats up, the liquid inside begins to warm up and eventually reaches boiling point, resulting in the production of steam.

Due to the sealed container, steam has no outlet, leading to a rise in pressure within the vessel. This elevated pressure causes water to boil at a higher temperature than 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Without this increased pressure, the water would evaporate immediately.

The Instant Pot utilizes increased pressure to force heat to penetrate foods, resulting in faster cooking times.

Pressure cooking is especially advantageous for those living in high altitudes. More information on the advantages of high altitude pressure cooking can be found here.

Are Aluminum Pressure Cookers Healthier Than Stainless Steel Cookers?

When considering buying a pressure cooker, you may have some inquiries.

  • Should I opt for an electric pressure cooker or a stovetop version?
  • How big should it be?
  • What should be the material of construction?

Regularly, I receive these inquiries and in this article, I will address the final one.

Choosing the right pressure cooker from the vast array of options available can be challenging, especially if you have specific requirements.

Typically, pressure cookers, whether electric or stovetop, are constructed using one of the following materials.

  • Stainless steel
  • Aluminum

Regarding stovetop pressure cookers, the entire container is made from a specific material.

Electric pressure cookers differ from traditional ones in that the material used for the insert, where food is placed during cooking, is what determines whether it is made of stainless steel or aluminum.

Durability is the main distinguishing factor between these materials, followed by differences in price and weight. Each has its own set of pros and cons. As far as safety is concerned, both are completely safe to use as long as you follow the instructions provided in the manual.

Aluminum is less expensive and lighter than stainless steel, and it also has excellent heat conductivity, resulting in faster cooking times. However, aluminum is not as long-lasting as stainless steel.

Stainless steel is a long-lasting material that can maintain its appearance even after years of use, provided it is handled with care, but it tends to be pricier than aluminum.

As previously stated in the article, the Instant Pot is constructed with stainless steel, specifically in areas that have direct contact with food.

Conclusion: Are Instant Pots Safe or Are They Toxic?

Undoubtedly, the Instant Pot pressure cooker is a secure and practical choice for individuals seeking a quick and healthy way to cook food.

The Instant Pot is constructed mostly of stainless steel, lacks non-stick coatings, and does not release lead, cadmium, or mercury into your food, in addition to being a time-saving kitchen appliance.

One of the drawbacks is that due to the abundance of models available, it will require additional effort on your part to determine which one suits your needs.

You can also check this video about “Instant Pot: The Non-Toxic Pressure Cooker (Are They Safe?)”

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See also
Why Do Pressure Cookers Work Well at High Altitudes?

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