What is cooking spray? It's an aerosol can that contains oil, an emulsifier and a propellant which is used to spray a fine mist of oil onto a surface to make it nonstick for cooking. Simple and convenient, right?
Yet cooking sprays are not universally embraced. This is in part due to lingering bad press from the days when cooking sprays contained more chemicals and spray cans were destroying the ozone layer with their CFCs. But things have changed. Aerosol cans no longer contain CFCs and these days you can get organic olive oil cooking sprays at almost any grocery store. Read on for more on what's actually in cooking spray.
What is in cooking spray? That depends on the brand and the type. Pam, a leading cooking spray brand, makes eight different cooking sprays, including organic versions of their canola and olive oil formulas. Of those eight, four simply contain oil, grain alcohol, lecithin and a propellant. (Propellants are either N-Butane, iso-butane, nitrogen, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide.) The other four, such as the one made for grilling, contains chemicals like Dimethylpolysiloxane and Phosphated Mono and Diglycerides. (Lable Watch
considers these to be safe additives.)
Some people avoid the whole thing and create their own cooking spray by using misters which simply use air to propel the oil into a fine spray. Misters are also more economical but they are prone to clogging, which can be a nuisance. Here is a post Faith did on non-aerosol misters a few years ago.
Related: The Science Behind Nonstick Cooking Spray