Is Aluminum Cookware Safe?

Is Aluminum Cookware Safe?

Much has been written about the dangers of uncoated aluminum cookware. The concern, of course, is that the aluminum can leech into the food. This concern comes from the fact that aluminum is a reactive metal, but research has shown that the amount of aluminum that leeches into food is insignificant from a health standpoint. Cooks are cautioned not to use aluminum pots and pans with foods containing a high acid (corn, olives) or alkaline content (greens, onions), but primarily because it can change the taste of the food. However, there are no additional health precautions necessary when cooking with uncoated aluminum pots. The perceived elevated dangers of cooking with aluminum have proven to be largely unfounded.

Also read: Best Cast Iron Cookware Sets

Uses for Aluminum Cookware

Another reason to avoid using aluminum to cook acidic foods or foods with high levels of alkaline in them is that the reactive qualities will leave pits in the pots and pans. If your aluminum cookware develops pits, consider replacing it, as the pits harbor bacteria and will cause more aluminum to be released into the food. Again, the amount of aluminum that is released into the food isn’t enough to be dangerous, however, your food will take on a metallic taste.

Uncoated aluminum cookware that does not have padded or plastic handles can be used in the oven, but at low heat. For example, it can be used to keep food warm prior to dinner being served. However, do not store food in aluminum cookware, as it will always leave the food with a metallic taste.

Aluminum Cookware Costs

Aluminum is one of the most common elements found on the planet, and because of the abundance of the resource, uncoated aluminum is one of the least expensive type of cookware available. For those who are looking for a really cheap way to stock a kitchen with pots and pans, the price point makes aluminum an attractive option. A single un-coated aluminum frying pan can be purchased for as little as $7.

Also Read: Best Non-Stick Cookware Sets

Ideal Consumers of Aluminum Cookware

Since aluminum cookware is reactive to acidic and alkaline foods, it’s not ideal for those who often cook with red sauces, wines, or citrus. Aluminum pots and pans do distribute heat well though, and are good for preparing gravies and boiling foods, including rice and potatoes.

Compared to other cookware materials, such as glass and cast iron, aluminum is relatively lightweight. So, if you suffer from arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, or any other physical condition that limits your ability to grasp and lift heavy objects, consider purchasing lightweight aluminum cookware.

The price point of aluminum cookware also makes it the ideal cookware solution for those who are just starting out, or otherwise on a budget. The price also makes aluminum a good choice for a backup cookware set, or for travelers looking to stock up an RV with kitchen supplies.

Durability of Aluminum Cookware

The durability of uncoated aluminum isn’t particularly high. The pots and pans won’t fall apart after the first use, but since aluminum is so lightweight, it scratches, dings and dents easily relative to other metals. So, if you do choose to purchase uncoated aluminum pots and pans, be prepared to either treat them with kid gloves in order to preserve their integrity, or understand when you purchase them that they will need to be replaced a lot sooner than if you were to buy cookware composed of a more durable material.

Cleaning Aluminum Cookware

When used properly in cooking, aluminum isn’t difficult to clean. Since it is so lightweight, it’s not recommended that aluminum be cleaned in the dishwasher though. Instead, if your aluminum pan has dried or burned on foods, simply soak it in hot water and soap to loosen the foods, and then wash it by hand. Do not use abrasive scrubbers, though, or you will permanently scratch the pan’s surface.

Aluminum cookware is suitable for preparing dishes that require low heat and are made with neither acidic nor alkaline foods. The price of uncoated aluminum also makes it an attractive option for the cook on a budget. Aluminum won’t last a lifetime, but you can ensure longevity through mindful care and cleaning of the cookware.

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