Ask Dave Wentz and he’ll tell you that it’s probably safer to avoid regular nonstick pans whenever possible and opt for more natural coatings (like ceramic and sand) or use well-seasoned cast-iron skillets instead. Why? He explains that nonstick cookware is generally coated with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), a “polymer that can release potentially hazardous fumes and particles into the air under extremely high temperatures. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonstick pan at 680 degrees on a regular electric stove released six toxic gases, including two carcinogens.” While he says that these extreme high temperatures are unlikely to be reached on your stovetop, an empty nonstick pan left alone for a few minutes on high could reach that temperature. His advice is to play it safe.