You Should Think Twice Before Cooking with Parchment Paper: Here’s Why

Parchment paper is a versatile type of paper that’s resistant to heat up to 400 degrees F. It’s also used to protect from grease and humidity.

It’s non-stick and helps keep cookies or cakes from sticking on the base of sheet pans or other baking surfaces. Parchment paper is the “king” of preventing food items from sticking to surfaces. 

People also use it for kitchen hygiene: they place sheets of parchment paper on top of kitchen scales or panini presses and use it as a barrier between the surface and food. 

Parchment paper isn’t the same as wax paper. The latter isn’t suitable for heat and it’s not designed for use in ovens.

 And, it’s important to note that even if you can safely use parchment paper at higher temperatures, you shouldn’t use it for frying! Even if this means more dishes that you will have to wash later. 

Parchment Paper for Frying Can Cause Grease Fires

Although parchment paper is heat-resistant, it’s not flame-resistant. So, you shouldn’t use it for frying, particularly with gas stoves. Many experts like Traci Weintraub and Shawn Matijevich agree with this.

Gas stovetops produce open flame and this can spread to the parchment paper. Using this paper for frying may be safer on electric stoves; however, even then, you should avoid filling the pan or pot to the top. 

If the oil bubbles over the side, it may cause a grease fire! Frying on parchment paper isn’t practical. If you punch even one hole in it accidentally, you won’t just have a greasy pan, but a soaked and oily paper as well. 

Also, you’re risking pieces of paper in the meal and paper isn’t tasty at all. 

Is Parchment Paper Safe? 

Parchment paper is the product of the parchmentization process during which it’s made durable and resistant to oil and heat. Parchment paper produced commercially is often treated with silicone as a means to improve its qualities. 

Although it’s convenient and simple to use, parchment paper should be used with caution. The first issue has to do with the bleaching process which is done during the production of parchment paper.

Bleached parchment paper may have dioxin inside. This is a toxic chemical that is released when it’s heated. Moreover, dioxin studies have associated dioxin with reproductive and developmental illnesses. According to research, when it’s ingested, this chemical may enter the fatty tissues and stay there for seven to 11 years.

Another cause for concern is the silicone coating that parchment paper has. Silicon cookware is usually made from carbon, oxygen, and/or silicon to create a rubber-like substance. Although silicone cookware is better at resisting heat than plastic, the synthetic rubber used in manufacturing, in ideal cases, shouldn’t come into contact with food. This is particularly the case when it’s heated with oils because it can release chemicals. 

According to the FDA, silicone dioxides were recognized as safe for food-grade contexts back in the 80s. But, there haven’t been any additional studies done to assess if silicone leaches out of cookware and enters food. 

Also, there’s a concern associated with siloxanes. According to research, siloxanes were found leaching from silicone nipples in bakeware and baby bottles. They have a carcinogenic potential and may also cause endocrine disruptions. A different study associated silicone gel with lethal cancer in lab mice which opens up a debate about the safety of silicone in any form.

Safer Alternatives to Parchment Paper 

Considering the health concerns associated with parchment paper, it’s essential to take a look at alternative cooking and baking options. 

Let’s take a look at some safer and more durable materials that don’t carry a risk of chemicals leaching into food:

  • Ceramic baking dishes are great for heating and also make lovely serving dishes 
  • Stainless steel bakeware is safe, non-reactive, durable, and a great choice for different baking needs 
  • Silicone non-toxic mats are eco-friendly and safe options that can withstand high temperatures and boast great non-stick characteristics 
  • Glass dishes are easy to clean and are highly versatile 
  • Copper bakeware heats evenly and quickly and makes a great option for baked goods that need their temperature to be precisely controlled