Is Nylon Safe for Cooking?

I love having a plethora of kitchen utensils that enables me to cook using various techniques.

I own cookware made of different materials and make sure I have all the right accessories for extracting the maximum benefit.

Recently I have been mulling over purchasing Nylon utensils.

I decided to find out whether they are safe for cooking. Let us get down to what I found.

Is Nylon Safe for Cooking?

Nylon cooking utensils are safe to use in the kitchen only up to 400° F.

You need to be careful while using them at higher temperatures as they begin to melt. 

Once the temperature overshoots, the components inside the nylon material start to break down and leak out into the food.  Nylon is toxic to consumption and can cause health issues. 

As long as the temperature remains in the range of acceptability, they are a safe option to use while cooking. 

To use them safely, you need to take the right precautions. Allow me to elaborate. Let us first briefly understand Nylon utensils.

What are Nylon Utensils?

Nylon is a food contact material that is widely available in the cookware market. You will find spatulas, turners, and tongs made of Nylon.

Nylon does not occur naturally. It was invented in a lab in 1935 by an organic chemist. It is a thermoplastic that is made from renewable and natural substances. 

The basic structure of  Nylon consists of several units of polyamides joined together by amide linkages.  

Unique Characteristics of Nylon Kitchen Utensils

Here are some of the unique characteristics of Nylon utensils : 

  1. Nylon cooking utensils are great for non-stick cookware as they do not scratch. You can use them safely for your delicate dish coatings, enamel coatings, and even cast iron.
  2. Nylon is slightly flexible so it reaches all corners and scrapes effectively.
  3. Despite being flexible, they are not completely bendable. Rather they are quite sturdy and strong to move hard and solid foods and liquid batters.
  4. Nylon utensils are durable and very easy to clean and maintain.  Light cleaning with any ordinary soap can make it sparkle. Most models are dishwasher safe so you don’t have to worry about cleaning up. 

The above features are the reason why nylon is preferred by many cooks in the kitchen. 

Why is Nylon Not Considered a Safe Utensil?

Nylon utensils may not be your safest choice for cooking. They can cause harmful effects on your body.  Here is why

As I mentioned earlier, Nylon has low heat resistance. When exposed to high heat for a long duration, they will start melting in your pots and pans. 

Once they start melting, they will begin to lose shape and start distorting. It becomes dangerous when the compounds start to migrate into the food. 

Food contamination by the breakdown of Nylon chemicals may lead to serious health issues. 

Let us understand the harmful compounds inside Nylon. 

Harmful Substances Inside Nylon Utensils 

There are two harmful substances inside Nylon that make it unsafe : 

  • Primary Aromatic Amines 
  • Substances that are added Non- intentionally 

Primary Aromatic Amines

Primary aromatic amines are also known as PAA. These are the most toxic chemical compounds found inside Nylon. 

The derivatives of primary aromatic amines (PAA) are carcinogenic and allergenic. 

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, DDM, also known as diamino diphenylmethane, is a carcinogenic derivative of PAA. 

This is frequently found in black nylon kitchen tools. 

According to research, CDC revealed its harmful effects and association with 

  • Cancer 
  • Liver cirrhosis 
  • Lesions in spleen 
  • Hepatitis 

Their migration into food from nylon kitchen utensils is worrisome for food authorities.  

The first discovery of hepatotoxic properties of DDM in humans was in 1965.

Eighty-four people ingested DDM contaminated bread and were diagnosed with hepatocellular damage. 

From 2010 to 2015, the Rapid Alert food and feed system in the EU created more than a quarter of its notifications on the migration of PAA into food.

Nylon cooking utensils were found to be the most common source. 

Let us move towards other harmful substances found in Nylon.

Substances Added Non-Intentionally

Research conducted by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment concluded that Nylon kitchen utensils are poisonous.

They have the potential to damage your liver and thyroid. You are at a risk for cancer, cholesterol, and even infertility! 

Consuming a very minute quantity of ninety micrograms is sufficient to cause damage to a 60kg person. 

According to the study, when nylon utensils are exposed to heat beyond 70C, toxic byproducts called cyclic Oligomers are released. 

Oligomers are produced unintentionally and not added by the manufacturer.  This is the reason they are called NIAS (non-intentionally added substances). 

A cyclic condensation reaction of two or more monomers in nylon production gives rise to oligomers. 

Due to their nature, it becomes easy for them to migrate from the food contact source into your food.

The researchers found a high quantity of oligomers transferring from kitchen tools into food. 

The findings also concluded that if several food preparations were made using them, the release limit increased beyond 5mg/kg of food. 

Some More Hazards of Using Nylon Kitchen Utensils

Apart from Nylon having toxic side effects, there are some other cons of using Nylon for cooking. 

  • Nylon kitchen utensils are not biodegradable. 

Some researchers from Japan did a study on the biodegradability of Nylon. 

According to their published review, Nylon which is used to make kitchen utensils fares poorly in biodegradability. 

When compared to polyesters, nylon or nylon polymers cannot be degraded. 

  • Nylon kitchen utensils are prone to damage due to frequent heat exposure. This causes them to crack or chip easily. The food that gets lodged inside the crack eventually contaminates any food you use it on. 

It becomes difficult to remove the rotting food particles from small nooks leaving you with a very unhealthy kitchen utensils. 

Two Bestseller Nylon Cooking Sets

Here are two of the bestseller sets of Nylon cooking utensils in the market : 

Oxo Good Grips

This toolset features four pieces: a spoon, a square Turner, a slotted spoon, and a spaghetti server. 

OXO Good Grips 4-Piece Nylon Tool Set

Each piece has non-slip handles that offer you a good grip. They are heat resistant up to 400° F. 

You can use them comfortably on non-stick cookware. Easy to clean, these flexible spoons are dishwasher safe. 

Anolon SureGrip Nonstick Utensil Cooking Tool Set

This nylon cooking set has six pieces. It contains spatulas, ladles, and spoons of different shapes.

Anolon SureGrip Nonstick Utensil Kitchen Cooking Tools Set, 6 Piece, Gray

Each piece is designed to reach corners and edges and flip food comfortably. 

These are scratch proof and you can use them comfortably on non-stick pots and pans. 

The silicone handles offer a strong grip while you cook. All the Analog utensils are dishwasher safe and easy to maintain. 

BPA-free, these cooking utensil sets are heat resistant up to 450° F. 

How to Use Nylon Kitchen Utensils Safely?

A casual exposure when occasionally cooking with Nylon utensils poses little risk. 

Even though the risk is quite small, it exists. Allow me to tell you how to reduce any risk of toxic exposure to harmful compounds. 

  • Try using it for low-temperature food preparations 
  • Do not leave the spatulas and spoons on the pan
  • Reduce the time of contact by using it occasionally on food for particular meal preparation. For example, mix and remove. 
  • Look for a high heat resistant set. Choose Nylon utensil sets that can be used up to 450F. 
  • As soon as you notice any deformation, melting, or cracks in your utensil, discard use immediately. 

Alternatives to Nylon Cooking Utensils

Here are three non-toxic alternatives that are completely safe and healthy to use 

Wooden Utensils

Wooden utensils are natural and eco-friendly. 

They are durable and cheap. Some wooden utensils can last for years. 

If they break down you don’t have to worry as you can easily get a new set well within your budget. 

Wooden Utensils will not react with food. They will not scrape so you can easily use them on non-stick cookware.  

Wood has an inherent natural antibody nature, so it will never rot or spoil. Here is a link to one wooden cooking set you can purchase on Amazon. 

Stainless Steel Kitchen Tools

Stainless steel kitchen sets are great options for cooking as they are non-reactive.  They are dishwasher safe and easy to maintain. 

They can, however, cause scratches on the non-stick layers so you need to be careful. They do not rust, break or fade with time. Stainless steel can last for decades. 

The sturdy and rigid steel helps to mix tough batters easily. They can withstand all temperatures and will not melt. Here is one good stainless steel kitchen tool for you to purchase. 

Bamboo cooking utensils

Bamboo sets are becoming a rage in the market due to their unique antibacterial properties.  

Another reason is that bamboos grow fast and do not require a lot of nutrients. This makes it a sustainable, easy-to-grow resource, unlike wood which takes years to grow. 

They are biodegradable and eco-friendly. Bamboo does not harm or contaminate your food. 

Being less porous bamboo offers you a solid and sturdy utensil set for all your cooking needs. You get to use natural bamboo, unwaxed and uncoated. 

BPA-free and organic, they are the best choice to cook food safely. Here is a link to a bamboo utensil set for you to purchase. 

Also read: Do Air Fryers Cause Cancer?

Conclusion

Nylon cooking utensils are safe to use up to 400° F. It is best to use them occasionally as they tend to degrade, melt and contaminate food when exposed to high temperatures.

Avoid prolonged exposure to heat as Nylon tends to leach out harmful compounds that are toxic to the human body. 

If you have not purchased a Nylon cooking set yet, I would advise you to go through the alternatives like wood, bamboo, and stainless steel.

If you wish to go ahead with the Nylon cooking set, don’t forget to read the safety instructions above. Happy shopping!

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Hey there! I'm Sasha, just your regular mom-turned-kitchen-appliances enthusiast. When I gave my kitchen a makeover, I took a shine to new kitchen appliances like Induction Cooktops, Air Fryer, Instant Pot, Microwave, and Oven. I'm always up to some fun experiment, whipping up a storm, and writing about common questions people have about the efficient use of these kitchen gadgets