Balsam Hill


The Ultimate Toxic-free Coffee and Tea Maker Shopping Guide

Brominated flame retardants with your coffee, ma’am?  One lump or two?

Who’d have guessed that so many coffeemakers come pre-loaded with hazardous chemicals before you ever even make it to the pesticides in the coffee itself?

The flame retardant chemicals most commonly used in coffee and tea makers (PBDE) have been implicated in developmental, reproductive, neurotoxicity and thyroid effects in rats, mice and fish, and may also be carcinogenic.

The problem – as usual – is that manufacturers aren’t required to label their products with the materials/chemicals used during production.  We’ve been searching for a coffee maker confirmed free of toxic flame retardants for the last two years since we first learned about the problem from EWG.   We still haven’t found a single manufacturer who can give us a clear answer after spending countless hours calling to find out if any use safer, non-halogenated flame retardants.

You’ll almost always run into flame retardants in the electrical cords of nearly all appliances, but at least they’re not coming into contact with your drink.  So while switching your coffee and tea makers out for a less toxic option may require making changes to your morning ritual, it’ll be worth it to stick with products made from mostly glass and stainless steel.

Looking for even more safe coffeemakers?  Find all of our favorites in one place!

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Alicia Voorhies is a Registered Nurse who decided to take a break to relax and enjoy her young kids after 13 years of working with disabled adults. She began to explore the world of alternative health ideas and was immediately attracted to the mysteries of endocrine disruptors and their effect on children. In 2007 she founded The Soft Landing along with her mom and sisters to help parents provide a safe, natural home for their children without drowning in an overwhelming sea of information.

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  • Denise Beall

    Any regular sized coffee pots and not percolators? Percolators are supposedly bad or high cholesterol. Or am I just destined to die? :-P

    • Laura

      Hi Denise, We listed one regular-type maker from Hamilton Beach, and it’s possible they make a full-sized version as well. They may even have the information readily available, so you could give them a call for the details. ~The Soft Landing Sisters

  • ann

    Thank you. You guys are amazing!
    We already use a Chemex (for design reasons.)
    I love EWG, but never came across this. Thank you for your research !

    • Laura

      You’re very welcome, Ann! ~The Soft Landing Sisters

  • http://mindfulmixture.wordpress.com Maurie

    Thanks for this post. I found it surprising that I hadn’t considered the coffee maker as a potential toxicity issue… I mean it IS plastic! So thanks for the little nudge. The old one is now down in the pile of stuff to get rid of and I’m ordering the stainless steel perk pot you showed in the post. I went and looked at it at a local store and discovered that the clear piece at the top is plastic, but online, you can order a glass replacement… so that’s what I’m doing. I didn’t know if you knew that detail about the plastic top so thought I’d share. We were planning on replacing our little aluminum perk pot that we’ve been using as a tea kettle too since the tea kettle died. This means we’ll just be simplifying in the process – one item where their used to be two!

    • Laura

      Thanks, Maurie! We didn’t realize there was a glass replacement for the plastic top. Even better :) ~The Soft Landing Sisters

  • Alison V

    we use a stainless teapot and make instant coffee.  are there any chemical hazards in instant as opposed to actual ground up beans?  that is, in addition to any pesticides.

  • Emily

    So.. what about the elephant in the room; the Keurig. Almost everyone I know has one. I’m assuming the pods themselves aren’t very environmentally friendly or toxic free. If we use the disposable pods, it’s normally organic coffee and the pods are recycled. But we mainly use the steel reusable pod and add our own coffee. Can you tell me specifically the toxic agents at work in this convenient-style coffeemaker? Greatly Appreciated!!

    • http://thesoftlanding.com/ The Soft Landing Sisters

      Hi Emily,

      You asked for it, so here it goes ;-)

      We spoke with Keurig a while back and they would only confirm that the cold water reservoir and K-cup holder assembly was BPA-free and would not share what plastic was used (see more at http://bit.ly/18OCgST).

      That leaves us with two main concerns:

      1) Is the plastic used actually free of endocrine disruptors?

      2) Are there brominated/halogenated flame retardants built into the plastic housing to prevent fires (this is rather common).

      I guess it’s time for us to revisit this topic again since there are SO many people using Keurig coffeemakers, huh?

      In the meantime, I’d recommend sticking with a stainless steel reusable pod like you mentioned (here’s my favorite: http://amzn.to/18OBbur).

      Alicia

  • RML

    What about vintage stainless steel Farberware coffee makers? I’ve just recently heard about stainless steel leaching metals into the food. Also that if it is “real” stainless steel then a magnet should stick to it. So I’m wondering if my Farberware coffee maker which is not magnetic at all is leaching nickel into my coffee! I bought it because there was no plastic and no filters.

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