Is aluminum cookware safe?

More than half of all cookware sold today is made of aluminum because it is lightweight and because it heats evenly. According to the Cookware Manufacturers Association, aluminum cookware sales accounted for almost 60% of all cookware sold in the USA in 2015. Aluminum is a great conductor of heat. It is very easy and simple to clean thus making it an ideal choice for cookware. Despite all of it, there is a growing concern among the masses regarding the use of Aluminum that its link to Alzheimer’s disease and to other brain-related problems which are becoming more and more common. People are genuinely concerned about the health aspects of using aluminum. So we look into it whether using aluminum cookware is safe or not?

Problem of Aluminum

The major problem that is associated with the aluminum is that it reacts with the acidic food such as tomatoes, vinegar, and citrus and causes it to leach into the food. Cooking these in an aluminum can alter the food’s flavor and appearance and leave the pan with a marked surface. Aluminum deposits get into your food when you cook with this metal though chances are, you’ll never taste them. Most people consume 7 to 9 milligrams of aluminum each day. The amount that leaches from untreated aluminum cookware is not enough to cause a health hazard. People think that aluminum can cause Alzheimer’s disease but according to Alzheimer’s Association that this is a myth and there is not any proof that aluminum causes Alzheimer’s. But still using untreated aluminum cookware can be unhealthy. 

Solution 

There are various solutions to tackle this problem of untreated aluminum. The aluminum cookware that has been anodized or clad in a non-reactive material, such as stainless steel or a nonstick coating, does not leach into or react with foods.

The solution to problems of aluminum are the following: 

  • Anodized Aluminum Cookware.
  • Non-Stick Aluminum Cookware.

Anodized Aluminum Cookware

The Anodized aluminum cookware is treated with an acidic solution that changes how the metal behaves. Anodized aluminum is easier to clean, can have “nonstick” qualities, and supposedly doesn’t cause leaching of aluminum into your food to the extent that regular aluminum does.  If you leave aluminum exposed to the air, it will naturally form a thin layer of aluminum oxide on the surface. While this layer is very thin, it is strong and hard. 

It prevents the metal from further oxidation by forming a barrier between the aluminum and the air.  Scientists call this process ‘passivation’ meaning it makes the metal passive vs reactive. Now in order to make the layer of aluminum oxide thicker, the metal is subjected to an electrochemical process called anodization.  This forms a much thicker layer of the non-reactive aluminum oxide, creating what is known as anodized or hard-anodized aluminum. 

If you prefer to use aluminum, anodized may be a safer choice. Anodization seals aluminum making it scratch-resistant and easy to clean. The process modifies the molecular structure so that aluminum is not released into food. Acidic foods cooked in anodized aluminum do not react with the cookware, and most authorities believe that anodized aluminum cookware is safe. At this time, there is no evidence to the contrary. 

The layer of aluminum oxide in anodized aluminum is not like paint or a coating but is completely fused into the base metal.  Meaning it’s a part of it.   This means that it cannot peel away or chip off.  According to some, it’s almost as hard as diamond. This is why it does a great job of preventing scratches and exposing the aluminum core inside.  The anodized aluminum cookware is low-sticky but not totally non-sticky.

Non-Stick Aluminum Cookware

Non-stick aluminum cookware is aluminum cookware with a non-stick coating.  The non-stick coating can be PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) based like Teflon or Ceramic based. It may or may not be hard anodized aluminum.  A nonstick coating is applied to anodized aluminum cookware to make it non-sticky.

 Aluminium non-stick cookware combines lightness and excellent conduction abilities with the advantage that it prevents food from sticking to the bottom even in the absence of salts. The result is safer cooking because the food ” since it does not stick to the bottom” does not develop harmful substances due to the combined effect of overheating and dehydration, and is also healthier since cooking without oils and fats brings undoubted benefits for any daily diet.

The quality of the coating, together with the thickness of the bottom, is essential to ensure the durability and, above all, the performance of non-stick pots and pans. The coating, which can be applied by spray or a roller, usually consists of several layers, including an indispensable base layer (primer) ” which acts as an adhesive ” and a final layer (finishing), the actual non-stick surface.

Naturally, an important role is also played by the heaviness of the bottom: a sufficiently high thickness allows better distribution of the heat and the absence of overheating points (hotspots), which can damage the coating. Pots, pans, skillets, and casseroles with non-stick coating are versatile utensils, suitable for any context and the cooking of any type of food: having been designed to prevent food from sticking, they are ideal for quick cooking and stir-frying, since there is, of course, no need to add fatty condiments.

The tendency to return to products that more resemble a natural appearance and to recover tradition has recently led to the development of special coatings that recall the appearance and culinary attraction of cooking on stone.

The bottom, in a non-stick material, is reinforced with hardened mineral particles, which make it exceptionally resistant to wear, cuts، and scratches, while perfectly preserving its non-stick properties.

Stone-Coated Non-Sticky Pan

The stone-coated pans guarantee cooking that is healthy and light, since there is no need to add condiments, and at the same time rich in flavor, since they release the heat gradually making it possible to cook at a low temperature, thereby preserving all the pleasant smell and natural taste of the foods inside them.

The stone pans are a good choice for every type of cooking and are ideal for fast and tasty preparations: they heat up very quickly and, thanks to the heaviness of the bottom and the special particles it is made from, retain heat longer.

Also read: Are Cast Iron Skillets Safe?

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