Safer Food Dehydrator Shopping Guide

Dried Fruits. Dry Pear Fruit

My sisters and I are revelling in the fresh, organic produce at our local farmer’s market.  We can’t stand to think that the season for so many of our favorites is coming to an end already, so we’ve been scouring the planet for the best food dehydrator to helps us preserve some of the goodness.

When we first started discussing which one to purchase as a family, the stainless steel Excalibur immediately came to mind because we’ve seen so many rave reviews and giveaways on our favorite real food blogs lately.  But as you know – just because something looks and sounds amazing, doesn’t always mean it is.  So before investing $400, we began our normal in-depth review process.  And boy, am I glad we did!

Dehydrators Made with Toxic Polycarbonate (BPA)

It was a big bummer to learn that the Excalibur and a few other brands/models are made with polycarbonate plastic.

  • We were told by Excalibur’s customer service rep that all of their dehydrators (including the stainless steel ones) are lined with polycarbonate.  So even though their listing says that BPA-free trays are included, that doesn’t apply to the structure of the dehydrator.
  • Omega dehydrators are made by Excalibur and have the same polycarbonate construction.
  • The Oster dehydrator is made of polycarbonate. Laura (aka The Extractor) had to work hard for this info.  The two people she spoke with at the company said there was no information available about the type of plastic the Oster dehydrator was made of, but that it’s FDA approved.  She told them that answer wasn’t good enough because a lot of questionable things are FDA approved.  She ended up really having to press them to get the information.
  • The Presto Dehydro dehydrator has a polystyrene housing with polycarbonate trays.

TAKE ACTION: Click here to let Excalibur know you’d love to see them switch their polycarbonate parts out for plastic with a well-established track record of safety, or revamp their stainless steel model to remove plastic altogether.

UPDATE from Excalibur 5/8/14: We just learned that a plastic-free Excalibur dehydrator is in the works from a friend of ours who contacted them. Here’s what they said:

We have a complete stainless steel unit in the making, I have heard that it will be released this summer. However that is not guaranteed and I do not have an exact date yet to when we will be releasing this. If you would like an immediate notification once it is available you can submit your e-mail address thru our website for the newsletter and will get notice on not only that but sales specials and dehydrating tips and tricks also.

Dehydrators Made with Safer Plastic

Quite a few companies make dehydrators with safer plastics like polypropylene (PP), low density polyethylene (LDPE), silicone, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), and Acrylonitrile Styrene (AS).  A food dehydrators internal temperature typically maxes out at 158°F and the lowest melting point of the plastics mentioned here is 221°F (and upwards of 500°F for silicone).

  • All Nesco dehydrators are made of PP. This includes the Snackmaster Express and American Harvest Gardenmaster models sold at local retailers.
  • TSM Products dehydrator trays and housing are made of ABS.
  • Weston Supply dehydrators have AS trays and ABS housings and silicone netting sheets.
  • STX International dehydrator trays are made of AS and the housings are ABS.
  • All Ronco dehydrators have AS trays and ABS housings.
  • Tribestlife Sedona dehydrator trays are made of PP with LDPE mesh screens. The housing is ABS and they make two types of drying sheets, either PP or silicone.
  • The Waring Pro dehydrator housing is ABS and the trays are AS.
  • L’Equip dehydrator trays and housings are ABS with polypropylene mesh inserts.

Stainless Steel Dehydrators

We were very happy to confirm several plastic-free options too.

P.S. Aroma finally called back and they can’t locate any additional information other than the dehydrator is made of some kind of thermopolymer.  Um, thanks.

P.P.S.  The booby prize goes to Good4U who did not answer four of our phone calls and had no way to leave a message.

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: Our articles may contain affiliate links and/or may be sponsored.  Any purchase you make through our affiliate links helps to support our website, our research, and the free content we provide.

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Laura Saville had years of experience as a manager in the restaurant industry before becoming a wife and mother of three. She was born to handle our special projects (read difficult jobs) since she is a researcher extraordinaire. We count on her to keep us abreast of the latest research studies and findings, so you'll find her helping parents reduce their family's exposure to toxic chemicals in everyday products.

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  • lynn hasselberger

    Great info. I’m still trying to master my pressure cooker. So maybe I’ll move on to this next!

    • The Soft Landing Sisters

      Thanks, Lynn – so glad you found it helpful! It was a real eye opener for us. ~Alicia

  • Hears The Water

    Any info on the chrome trays? I have been thinking of ordering a stainless steel model from TSM, and am glad to hear they are plastic free inside. There is a HUGE price difference based upon the trays. The chrome ones are cheaper and the stainless steel ones are several hundred dollars more expensive. I am allergic to nickel, so I am thinking that chrome trays are not good. Any thoughts or research into chrome?

    • The Soft Landing Sisters

      We haven’t done extensive research on chrome, but from what we know right now, the safer choice is stainless steel. There can be issues with nickel in stainless steel as well, but it’s much easier to avoid there as opposed to chrome.

      Chrome is porous and normally has a layer of nickel underneath, and low-quality chrome is especially concerning because it’s known to readily expose the nickel layer by flaking off through repeated usage.

      The good thing is that dehydrators work at very low temperatures, so the time it takes for a higher quality chrome plated trays to degrade enough to cause concern about nickel will be far more lengthy than chrome used in a high heat setting.

      We suggest you contact the manufacturer and ask if their product is 100% stainless steel or is bonded with any other materials. They should be able to tell you what grade of chrome their trays are made of as well, and that will help you determine if the quality is high or low.

      Hope that helps!

  • GreenDivaMeg

    THANK YOU!!! i’ve been looking for a non-plastic or at least non-toxic plastic dehydrator and this is a perfect post for my search. :)

    • The Soft Landing Sisters

      You’re welcome Meg, so glad we were able to point you in the right direction! ~Alicia

  • Condo Blues

    Whew! My husband gave me a Nesco dehydrator to replace the cheap one I killed. I was a bit concerned about the plastic trays but since almost all of them have plastic trays, it seemed like I didn’t have a choice about questionable plastic. Thank you for your research! I feel better giving my dog dehydrated carrots as a treat now.

    • The Soft Landing Sisters

      Super happy to hear that you scored a non-toxic dehydrator Lisa! It’s crazy to think that we have to worry about this stuff in such expensive appliances. ~Alicia

      • Jennifer

        Yes, THANK YOU! I bought a Nesco dehydrator, and then I heard about the excalibur. I almost returned mine for an excalibur even though I didn’t want to pay the price. (I’m pregnant and one of my twins was born with brain cancer, so I take all these toxic chemicals seriously these days.) Their website said it was the safest, but I thought I would do a search online. I have switched out so many products in my home because of your website. I appreciate your work more than you know. You have taught me so much!

        • The Soft Landing Sisters

          Good for you Jennifer! I’m thrilled to hear that you’re taking steps to protect your family by switching out products little by little. We’re all at different places in our journey, but even simple changes make BIG impact. Hoorah! ~Alicia

      • Jennifer

        Just making sure. Even though Excalibur’s website says this, you would still go with Nesco?

        “Yes. The case material is safe and doesn’t give off harmful fumes when used under 160F. Other manufacturers use a lower-quality plastic that does give off harmful fumes. The polycarbonate we use is recognized as safe by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Food, United Kingdom Food Standards Agency, Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, and other regulatory agencies Worldwide. *Always be sure you have FDA approved food contact polycarbonate. There are many different types of polycarbonates.”

        • The Soft Landing Sisters

          Yep, we sure would Jennifer. We’ve been hearing that old song and dance about polycarbonate being “safe” for years. The FDA continues to be so far behind on their research and action that we don’t expect much helpful info from them. ~Alicia

  • Beth Terry

    Thank you, thank you for this research. I had no idea there was plastic inside dehydrators. I’m looking into buying one soon.

    • The Soft Landing Sisters

      You betcha Beth! We were certainly shocked to learn that even stainless steel models can have an entirely plastic skeleton that you can’t see. ~Alicia

  • Anna @GreenTalk

    I have a weston. I wish their trays were stainless. They are chrome. I did find one with both stainless throughout but so expensive. Weston’s price is nothing to sneeze about.

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  • Michelle

    So which one did you go with??

    • The Soft Landing Sisters

      Would you believe that we still haven’t settled on one?! We think we’ve narrowed it down to this one though: ~Alicia

  • Anton

    Wow that is really insightful and a shame for Excalibur they produce such great dehydrators, but at the cost of our health I guess in term of really healthier dehydrators Nesco’s come at first place

    • The Soft Landing Sisters

      I agree Anton, but we did hear some good news about a plastic-free Excalibur dehydrator from a friend of ours who contacted them. Here’s what they said:

      “We have a complete stainless steel unit in the making, I have heard that it will be released this summer. However that is not guaranteed and I do not have an exact date yet to when we will be releasing this. If you would like an immediate notification once it is available you can submit your e-mail address thru our website for the newsletter and will get notice on not only that but sales specials and dehydrating tips and tricks also.”

      Looking forward to that! ~Alicia

  • mhillgoth

    Are ABS-AB+PP plastics suspect at all?

    • The Soft Landing Sisters

      ABS and Polypropylene (PP) appear to be stable plastics according to our research, and without major endocrine disrupting chemicals (assuming they haven’t been combined with BPA or other worrisome additives). ~Alicia

  • Kathy Elizabeth

    Hi. I gratefully stumbled into your research when I began my Dehydrator research a few days ago. Curious as to which one the Sisters’ landed with in the end? Thank you for your thoughtful research and information !! ~kathy elizabeth

    • The Soft Landing Sisters

      It was a tough decision but we finally narrowed it down to this one: ~Alicia


    what about PS TRAY?

    • The Soft Landing Sisters

      We’re not fans of polystyrene (PS), as it’s not a very stable plastic and is closely related to styrofoam. ~Alicia

  • Robert Cotterill

    Hello all you wonderful people! Thank you for your brilliant site and for this insightful article – I emailed Excalibur to let them know that I wouldn’t be rushing to buy one of their dehydrators anytime soon! Keep up the good work – your dedication and honesty shines out. Long may you continue and long may you get all the support you need. Sincere regards from the UK!

    • The Soft Landing Sisters

      Oh Robert, I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to hear such amazing feedback! And thanks for taking quick action to let the good Excalibur folks know we’d like to see their products revamped to use something other than polycarbonate. ~Alicia

  • Karen

    I’m ready to buy a stainless steel dehydrator but I mostly dehydrate nuts/seeds. I’m finding that all the “liners” to prevent the nuts from falling through are made from plastic. So, if I invest big bucks for the dehydrator, I hate to use plastic liners. any ideas?

    • The Soft Landing Sisters

      Wow, Karen – that’s a really good question! I’m afraid we haven’t contacted the stainless steel dehydrator makers to see what options they have for plastic-free liners, but I’d sure love to know if you end up finding some alternatives. ~Alicia

    • The Soft Landing Sisters

      My sister Joanie just suggested trying unbleached parchment paper. Just a thought! ~Alicia

  • ana

    Thank you for this amazing post – like all of your shopping guides! I always use them before I shop! I just checked out Excalibur’s website and it looks like they have the stainless steel units now. There is one with Stainless Steel outer case, Stainless Steel trays, and a glass door… would love to get your take on this as well!

    • The Soft Landing Sisters

      Thanks for the sweet compliment Ana! And we’re thrilled to hear that Excalibur may have their new stainless steel unit out! We’ll contact them asap to confirm, and then we’ll update the guide. Woohoo! ~Alicia

      • ana

        Thank YOU!!

  • sarah

    I just checked on their site and it looks like not only is the door made of polycarbonate, but the inside is lined with such as well :(

  • mistiecharles

    The Weston Supply stainless steel model is more affordable at $225, but it has chrome plated stainless steel trays. What do you think of chrome plated?

    The new Exalibur all stainless steel model is $1000 :( I also called them.

  • Cindy C

    Thank you for this info. We bought a food dehydrator (I don’t recall the brand) as a gift last year for our daughter and the first time she used it the plastic trays warped. We were able to exchange it as defective. I was very curious as to how hot it must have gotten to warp the plastic (low 221* F). Now I know.

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