Everyone who uses a rice cooker may encounter a problem, which is scratching the inner pot of the rice cooker.
The concern of scratched rice cookers is: is it safe?
Would scratched rice cookers bring health risks to our body?
Should we replace a new rice cooker instead of continuing using the old one?
Here I am going to discuss the rice cooker materials and how these materials could affect our health.
Is It Safe To Use A Scratched Rice Cooker?
A teflon is a non reactive material and will deteriorate when temperature reaches 260 celsius. Ingested teflon flakes most probably will just pass through the body. The amount of aluminum that will leach into the rice is insufficient to form health risks as well.
Rice cooker inner pot made of what materials?
Before we go deep into the safety of scratched rice cookers, let’s see the rice cooker inner pot made of what materials.
Rice cooker inner pot made of metal with good ability of heat conduction.
Aluminum, stainless steel, copper, and cast iron used to make the rice cooker inner pot.
But aluminum is mostly used as a material for rice cookers, as aluminum has high heat conductivity compared to other metals, and it is also cheap and abundant in nature.
Copper has better heat conductivity compared to aluminum, but copper price is 3 times more than aluminum price.
Aluminum costs higher than stainless steel, but aluminum heat conductivity is 16 times of stainless steel heat conductivity.
On the surface of aluminum, normally one layer of non-stick coating is added to prevent the rice sticking to the pot after cooking.
The non-stick coating is called teflon.
What is Teflon?
Teflon is a chemical coating also known as polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE).
A synthetic chemical formed by carbon and fluorine atoms.
Teflon is coated on the surface of a pot or pan to provide a non-stick characteristic to the cookware, it is also waterproof, non corrosive, and nonreactive.
Should I use a scratched rice cooker?
Teflon is a non reactive chemical substance, it will start to deteriorate when heated to temperature 260 celsius and decompose when it reaches a temperature above 350 degree celsius.
The rice cooker’s maximum temperature is 100 degree celsius, more than that the rice cooker will turn off or keep warm itself.
When the rice cooker inner is scratched, there is concern that the coating will flake off, drop into the rice, and be eaten into the human body.
Would this be harmful to the human body?
Most probably the coating material will just pass through the body.
As mentioned above, the Teflon is nonreactive and doesn’t react with body cells.
In the past, Teflon (Polytetrafluoroethylene-PTFE) was made with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).
Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is toxic and can cause some health risks like liver disease, testicular cancer, liver tumors, thyroid and kidney disorder.
But today most manufacturers already stop using PFOA to make cookware coating.
And PFOA has been replaced by GenX chemicals which claim to be as toxic as PFOA.
So always check the quality or specs of the cookware that you buy.
For safety, once a rice cooker inner pot is scratched, replace it with a new one, it is not expensive.
Or get a rice cooker with a stainless steel inner pot rice cooker, it could give you a peaceful mind instead of keeping worrying that teflon will toxify your body and cause you cancer.
Most of the rice cooker inner pots are made with aluminum.
When a rice cooker inner pot is scratched, the aluminum surface will be exposed to the outside.
Is Aluminum safe for our health?
The effect of aluminum on the body is poisonous to the nervous system, and links to several health problems like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, breast cancer, bone disorders, and autism.
The question is, will the exposed aluminum of the scratched rice cooker leach into the rice when cooking?
An average adult consumes about 7 to 9 milligrams of aluminum daily through food.
Aluminum is also found in some products like cosmetics, toothpaste, nasal spray, and other consumer goods.
Storing and cooking acidic food (example: tomato) with an aluminum pot will allow more aluminum to get into the food.
When you are using a non-coating aluminum cookware daily, you might consume extra 3.5 mg aluminum daily.
3.5mg of aluminum leach into the food is considered an amount that is not able to bring health hazards to the human body, according to a study published in the September 1985 issue of “Journal of Food Protection”.
Aluminum can cause health risks but in a large quantity, a large amount inhaled of aluminum can cause damage to the lung.
A scratched inner pot (aluminum) of a rice cooker does not bring a concern of health risk as the amount of aluminum leach into the rice is insufficient to bring harm to the body.
Moreover, rice is not an acidic food.
How to prevent scratching a rice cooker?
Non-sticking coated rice cooker inner pot easily scratched by hard and sharp objects.
When cleaning the pot, avoid using a hard metal cleaning tool like metal dish scrubber to brush the pot.
Instead of using a metal scrubber, using a sponge scrubber could prolong the inner pot lifespan.
Or you may use a soft fabric to rub the pot to avoid damage to the rice cooker inner pot.
When scooping the rice from the pot, do not use a metal spoon or any metal utensil, use a wooden or plastic scoop to scoop the rice.
The amount of aluminum that will leach into the rice is insufficient to cause health risk to the body.
Teflon is a non reactive material, it only starts to deteriorate when temperature reaches 260 celsius, and the rice cooker maximum temperature only until 100 celsius before it off itself.
Ingesting Teflon flakes will just pass through the body.
If you are still worrying about the health effects due to scratched rice cookers, I am suggesting to just replace the inner pot or switch to stainless steel inner pot rice cooker.
Scratched rice also comes with the problem of the rice sticking to the bottom of the inner pot and it is troublesome during washing the inner pot.