Safer Food Dehydrator Shopping Guide

Safer Food Dehydrator Shopping GuideMy 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 Amazon.com 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. AND…the booby prize goes to Good4U who did not answer four of our phone calls and had no way to leave a message.

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60 Responses to Safer Food Dehydrator Shopping Guide

  1. lynn hasselberger October 1, 2013 at 12:15 pm #

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

    • The Soft Landing Sisters
      The Soft Landing Sisters October 1, 2013 at 12:20 pm #

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

      • Mike December 28, 2014 at 4:38 pm #

        I just purchased the and am returning it now that I found out they use BPA!!! I just purchased the Sedona. HOPING that will be less toxic?
        Thanks!

        • Mike December 28, 2014 at 4:40 pm #

          I just purchased the excaibur and am returning it now that I found out they use BPA!!! I just purchased the Sedona. HOPING that will be less toxic?
          Thanks!

  2. Hears The Water October 2, 2013 at 7:24 am #

    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
      The Soft Landing Sisters October 2, 2013 at 3:14 pm #

      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!

  3. GreenDivaMeg October 4, 2013 at 8:42 am #

    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
      The Soft Landing Sisters October 4, 2013 at 12:48 pm #

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

  4. Condo Blues October 4, 2013 at 9:33 am #

    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
      The Soft Landing Sisters October 4, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

      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 December 23, 2013 at 9:23 pm #

        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
          The Soft Landing Sisters December 31, 2013 at 4:10 pm #

          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 December 23, 2013 at 9:39 pm #

        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
          The Soft Landing Sisters December 31, 2013 at 4:08 pm #

          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

  5. Beth Terry October 4, 2013 at 12:37 pm #

    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
      The Soft Landing Sisters October 4, 2013 at 12:46 pm #

      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

  6. Anna @GreenTalk October 10, 2013 at 1:14 pm #

    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.

  7. Michelle December 27, 2013 at 10:12 pm #

    So which one did you go with??

  8. Anton January 9, 2014 at 11:14 pm #

    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
      The Soft Landing Sisters May 10, 2014 at 10:27 am #

      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

  9. mhillgoth January 13, 2014 at 2:56 pm #

    Are ABS-AB+PP plastics suspect at all?

    • The Soft Landing Sisters
      The Soft Landing Sisters January 13, 2014 at 5:35 pm #

      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

  10. Kathy Elizabeth January 26, 2014 at 11:56 am #

    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

  11. ANGEL March 21, 2014 at 9:11 pm #

    what about PS TRAY?

    • The Soft Landing Sisters
      The Soft Landing Sisters April 9, 2014 at 3:37 pm #

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

  12. Robert Cotterill April 8, 2014 at 7:16 pm #

    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
      The Soft Landing Sisters April 9, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

      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

  13. Karen May 5, 2014 at 11:18 am #

    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
      The Soft Landing Sisters May 10, 2014 at 10:25 am #

      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
      The Soft Landing Sisters August 24, 2014 at 4:14 pm #

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

  14. ana August 13, 2014 at 7:57 pm #

    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
      The Soft Landing Sisters August 13, 2014 at 8:07 pm #

      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 August 14, 2014 at 4:01 pm #

        Thank YOU!!

  15. sarah September 2, 2014 at 5:45 pm #

    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 🙁

  16. mistiecharles October 9, 2014 at 8:09 pm #

    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.

  17. Cindy C December 11, 2014 at 9:06 am #

    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.

  18. Polly January 3, 2015 at 2:29 pm #

    Thank you for this information! Who would think? I was about to buy an Excalibur SS (to replace the much stackable returned Christmas present) and then I found your review and decided on the TMS D10. After researched this one, I saw you ended up with the TSM as well! I too am wary of any plastic, regardless of what the FDA says, and have switched to glass and stainless in my kitchen. I want the larger 10 rack size so I can also remove the racks to make yogurt (hopefully to get raw milk yogurt to firm up). This model goes down to 90 degrees and is better than the Excalibur which goes down only as low at 105.

  19. Polly January 3, 2015 at 2:30 pm #

    Thank you for this information! Who would think? I was about to buy an Excalibur stainless steel (to replace the plastic stackable returned Christmas present) and then I found your review and decided on the TMS D10. I researched this one and then saw you ended up with the TSM as well! I too am wary of any plastic, regardless of what the FDA says, and have switched to glass and stainless in my kitchen. I want the larger 10 rack size so I can also remove the racks to make yogurt (hopefully to get raw milk yogurt to firm up). This model goes down to 90 degrees and is better than the Excalibur which goes down only as low at 105.

  20. Naima January 29, 2015 at 11:02 pm #

    Great info! Thank you so much! I’m sooo glad to have stumbled upon your site and can’t wait to share 🙂

  21. GB February 8, 2015 at 5:30 pm #

    Thank you for doing a lot of legwork. I am down to the stainless version of the STX 1200 watt and the TSM 800 watt. Wavering between the two. I think I am leaning towards the STX. Pricing is a little more favorable and both seem to have good and bad reviews.

  22. A G May 17, 2015 at 11:23 pm #

    I’ve been reading reviews on the TSM D10 and some of them are expressing concern over the wiring inside being vinyl and emitting fumes. Have you heard of issues with this or have you personally found this concerning? I’ve found this page to be so helpful in my search for the right dehydrator (and so many other things… LOVE this whole site). Thanks for all the hard work you do to help people live healthier lives!

  23. thatgirlinnewyork July 1, 2015 at 3:51 pm #

    Thank you for the exhaustive exploration! No matter what plastic the trays and/or housing is, I keep reading consumer reviews that the trays often warp. That should tell you that the plastic has become pliable, and as such, is emitting fumes and imbuing the dehydrated foods within with petrochemicals.

    I’m committed to finding a machine that is not constructed of plastic, or houses plastic trays. Weston seems to make a few, but I’m hoping to find a 10-tray or under that has a smaller footprint than many they make.

  24. Nancy July 5, 2015 at 9:22 pm #

    Any idea if any of these stainless steel models are chrome plated?

    • The Soft Landing Sisters
      The Soft Landing Sisters July 14, 2015 at 4:18 pm #

      Hi Nancy, According to the manufacturers, all of the stainless steel models listed here are straight steel, no chrome. It’s because stainless steel doesn’t need to be plated like nickel does. Steel is extremely durable. ~Laura

  25. josie July 30, 2015 at 2:48 pm #

    Hi I just wanted to throw another stainless steel dehydrator out there that I have been looking at. Its called Raw Rutes and its actually manufactured by TSM for Raw Rutes (their design). I have been trying to figure out which one I want and with all the run around I have been getting from TSM with the order line being different than the customer service line and the customer service line never picking up and ringing through to the order line and never being able to get my questions answered I am thinking Raw Rutes is pulling out ahead cause I called and talked to someone for a quiet a while that answered all my questions and was very nice and honest. I told him I was contemplating the TSM and theirs and he said which ever one I couldn’t go wrong. Anyway I just wanted to put it out there cause there isn’t a lot of info on them but I have found some and what I have found has all been good. Let you all know what I pick and how I like it once I get it.

    • Benjamin D'Avanza December 29, 2015 at 8:27 pm #

      I looked at the Raw Rutes website, emailed their customer service with some questions, and ordered a 5 tray unit. They look really nice and are made in the USA under contract from TSM.

  26. judy November 7, 2015 at 8:43 am #

    The only problem with the stainless steal dehydrators listed here is the wattage. It is 1000 to 1200. That is very expensive to operate. I have not found one with low wattage.

  27. Pauly_Pants November 11, 2015 at 11:05 am #

    FYI, Hamilton Beach just told me none of their products contain BPA in the food zones. They also claim to be independently lab verified.

  28. The Soft Landing Sisters March 23, 2016 at 8:54 am #

    Hi MamaG, It appears the information we received several years ago has changed, and the racks of the stainless steel Weston dehydrators are indeed chrome plated. We took them off the list — thanks for pointing that out! The plastic Weston dehydrators are still on our approved list. ~Laura

  29. Jeffrey March 24, 2016 at 9:01 am #

    Thank you so much for all the hard work and research. This is a topic that needs more attention. You’re helping to make a huge difference out there.

    It’s been a few years since the original posting. The commons have also been really insightful.

    With me passing of time, it would be great to hear your thoughts on your top 3 choices for food dehydrators that are chemical free.

    Also, one of the commends mentioned the Raw Rutes stainless steel dehydrator. If you have any information or experience with this friend as well, it would be great to learn more.

    Thanks so much and looking forward to hearing from you.

    Jeffrey

  30. sim May 6, 2016 at 8:14 pm #

    Would it be safe to just buy a regular non stainless steel excalibur and use unbleached parchment paper on the trays to prevent plastic chemicals from leaching into the food?

    • The Soft Landing Sisters
      The Soft Landing Sisters December 6, 2016 at 12:54 pm #

      Hi Sim, We completely understand the stainless steel Excalibur is out of reach for most of us. The next best choice would be to purchase one of the “dehydrators made with safer plastic” for the list above.~Joanie

  31. The Soft Landing Sisters
    The Soft Landing Sisters December 6, 2016 at 1:46 pm #

    We sure do hear you, Tom! That’s exactly how we settled on the TSM too for our own personal use.

  32. dora December 29, 2016 at 5:29 am #

    Hi,
    I am also searching for a safer, preferably stainless steel dehydrator. Raw Rutes seems perfect, but is quite expensive for me, what do you think about this one: https://www.amazon.com/Aroma-Nutriware-Digital-Dehydrator-Stainless/dp/B01C3HVU2E/ref=sr_1_1?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1483010681&sr=1-1&keywords=aroma+nutriware+dehydrator ?
    Thank you for your article,

    Dora

  33. Aperson Inscarborough January 1, 2017 at 3:42 pm #

    cant you purchase a cheap plastic excalibur and then replace the trays with steel ones?

  34. jeff wilson March 23, 2017 at 12:26 pm #

    Thanks so much for your blog..AWESOME. Using your info for garden hoses and dehydrator. Looks like we’re going to get the STX. QUESTION: One reason we are getting it is that I Fermented about 12 gallons of pickles, and kept in the fridge specifically for ferments. THEN IT FROZE, so I want to make Pickle chips…., like fruit leather. My concern is the dehydrator sheets made for such a purpose. Are these safe? And what about parchment paper.

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  1. What's on My Christmas Gift List for Everyone? (And my wish list too) - ecokaren - December 18, 2013

    […] pictured above is totally PLASTIC FREE. You can read the research on different dehydrators on The Soft Landing. You’d be surprised what it said about the most popular […]

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