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Is anodised aluminum any good?

I always thought stainlessteel was the way to go, but I'm open to other options. Albertsons is having a special promotion where you collect their stamps with purchase and then get free cookware when you have enough... It seems sturdy enough on the display (I hefted them to check their weight) and I'm tempted to get them because they're all-metal so I could put them in the oven (I've never ever had a pan that could go from stovetop to oven!) It SAYS it's oven-safe, dishwasher safe etc, but is it really? Is anodised aluminum safe? (I thought aluminum was supposed to be a kitchen bad guy...) Opinions please...

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  1. The almuinum myth has been disproven, it is in almost everhthing we ingest, it is the most abundant (bauxite) mineral in our soil so vegs etc. all contiain it as well as stuff like anti-perspirants. The bad guy element is aluminum is that it is highly susceptible to pitting when in contact with acidic foods like tomatoes or apples. Acids like that will pit the surface and make it very stick prone. For the annodized stuff, well after time the annodization wears off. I bought into Calphalon and Magpro in rthe past 20 years and am now replacing that expensive cookware with stainless. I am not buying into the hype about All-Clad. Cuisinart at TJ Maxx is just fine for 2/3's less in price.

    1. I've had both Magnalite and Calphalon anodized aluminum and use both, in addition to stainless steel. The anodyzed pan I most often use is a skillet and my sauce pots get regular and consistent use. I have absolutely no qualms about cooking with it. The study back in the 1970s about aluminum and Alzheimer's (which I think is the bad guy you're referring to) involved ONE person's autopsy. There are many more dangerous things out there.

      1. I wasn't expecting it to give me alzheimers disease (I know that yesterday's 'cutting edge research' is usually today's codswallop)... I'm more concerned about cookability - does it burn stuff more or less easily than stainless steel? How does anodised aluminum go at spreading the heat? How easy is it to trash the coating while you're cooking?

        7 Replies
        1. re: Kajikit

          Regarding health issues, I'll leave that up to you to decide. Aluminum is the best INEXPENSIVE material for pots and pans because it is an excellent conductor. Tinned copper is better but it is extremely expensive and requires more care in use plus periodic re-tinning. As mentioned earlier, the anodizing makes the aluminum non-reactive to acidic foods, ie. as long as the anodized surface is not compromised the food should not react with the aluminum pan.

          1. re: Kajikit

            I have a full set of the original Calphalon Anodized Aluminum. The thick base and walls are wonderful on the stockpots and smaller pots. (Avoid metal tools for scratches). But, while I love the stockpots, I almost never use the frypans. They simply do not pass the egg test as well as my cast iron or the dedicated teflon eggpan, nor do they "release" meat as well as does a thick-bottomed stainless steel or cast iron frypan. My relationship with the anodized frypan is limited to sauteing a mirepoix or steamsauteing fish.

            For a "stovetop to oven pan", I always say get a Lodge 10" and a 12" castiron, (15 and 20 bucks) and respect their need for care and seasoning in the early months. The only time I have had a problem with cast iron was on a camping trip when my old 12 incher bounced out of the pickup truckbed due to an Interstate pothole. The 60 mph concrete impact did indeed snap the handle off, but the body did not crack.

            1. re: FoodFuser

              "(Avoid metal tools for scratches)"

              The scratch is actually metal from the tool being deposited on the anodized aluminum, not the other way around.

              1. re: meatme

                That's a common misperception -- although that happens too, my old calphalon saute pan is covered with real scratches and outright gouges.

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  Perhaps, but one observation does not for a "common misperception" make. My 20-y/o MagPro pans, for example, are well-used, but unscratched. Was the old Calphalon softer? Did yours perhaps scratch after the surface had worn thin?

                  Edited to add: I have seen chips in the surface of a friend's new Calphalon everyday pan, the one manufactured in China. It looked like a poor plating job.

                  1. re: meatme

                    I used to sell the stuff -- the "doesn't scratch" line was part of the sales pitch.

                    Although there are lots of versions of calphalon pans around, an anodized aluminum surface is not a "coating" or a "plating" -- it's the actual surface of the aluminum that's been chemically changed (anodized) through a special process. Supposedly the calphalon (at least, the original) was the same material all the way through, thus there's no coating or surface to wear off. As far as I can tell, this is true: there's nothing coming through the surface of my pans (although it does sometimes appear that way when you get those metal transfer "scratches" you talked about), they're just scratched and gouged.

                  2. re: Ruth Lafler

                    Mine too and my 2qt & 4 qt saucepans are now silver inside. The anodization wears off no matter how careful you are so I am going back to stainless. It will scratch tooo but it won't wear off. I am not going with All-Clad it just is not worth the hype and $$$. I am buying Cuisinart stainless which I can get a t TJ Maxx for very little

            2. I have some pieces of the older Calphalon Commercial (far superior to the CalphalonOne IMO)--a round griddle, 2Q saute pan, 10" fry pan and 1Q Windsor saucepan. These were my post college "single guy" cookware. I've enjoyed them immensely, and they've held up for a decade's worth of use. I've never had any problems with seared meat releasing, and the 10" fry pan is still my preferred pan for pan roasting chicken breasts.

              All that being said, when it came time to expand and broaden my cookware, I went with All Clad LTD and have seen a significant performance increase. Considering that All Clad is only slightly more expensive than the Calphalon One, to me it's a no-brainer. Depeding on the task, I use a combination of All Clad, enameled cast iron or Lodge cast iron.

              1. I too have the old commercial calphalon cookware. This is before they ruined a good thing by adding a non-stick teflon type coating to a surface that was already the best non-stick there was. Anodized aluminum is harder than stainless steel, It bears no resemblance to silver-colored alumnium most people think of when they think aluminum cookware. You won't wear the finish off but you can re-oxidize it. Scratch marks are usually due to softer metals leaving part of themselves on the anodized surface and can be cleaned off. You can't use oxidizing cleaners on anodized like barkeepers friend or chlorine bleach. You can scrub away at it with steelwool with no fear of scratching it. It has superior browning qualities over any other cookware materials. The old calphalon is really thick and heats really evenly, even on an electric burner. I have some all clad ltd and some other tri-clad pots and none of them are as nice to cook with as the old calphalon, nor are they as easy to clean. I do not believe they sell these pots anymore, they sell the non-sticks nd the infused anodized. The infused has some sort of polymer coating infused into the surface.

                3 Replies
                1. re: kayakado

                  Then why is it that my old commercial calphalon has actual scratches and gouges in it, and my stainless doesn't? Put me on the list of people who "bought into" anodized aluminum and is switching over to stainless. Plus, I really hate the clunky design of those old pans with their thick rims. They're heavy, hard to clean, etc.

                  1. re: kayakado

                    I agree with you on how evenly the old Calphalon Commercial heats up--although in my experience not quite as well as All Clad LTD. You also could scrub it with a green scrubby and some Comet when necessary. Unfortunately, you often had to. Cleanup on the old Calphalon to me was one of its biggest drawbacks. Mine has lasted for over a decade and hasn't de-anodized, or scratched through to raw aluminum.

                    IMO, it was great cookware with a few tolerable flaws--I even didn't mind the old "hot as hell" handles.. Calphalon certainly ruined a good thing by replacing it with Calphalon One.

                    1. re: kayakado

                      You're right, kayakado, Calphalon stopped making the Commercial Hard Anodized a few years ago and replaced it with Calphalon One. But you can still find bits and pieces of their older stuff out there in kitchenware shops and some e-tailers. I was in Le Gourmet Chef last week and saw a new Professional Nonstick skillet for sale, and if I'm not mistaken that line is even older than the CHA!

                    2. I do like my small 1 qt. Calphalon sauce pans. They are heavy enough that I do not need a double boiler when making things that need gentle heat.

                      1. I cook with stainless steel--it conducts heat well and if properly cared for-lasts for years--so the initial investment is worth it-
                        is it true aluminum pots and pans do not contribute to alzheimer's???I thought it did???

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: marlie202

                          If aluminum contributed to Alzheimer's, the human race would've died out eons ago.

                          Aluminum is EVERYWHERE. You actually breathe and consume it everyday in not insignificant amounts. It is, after all, the most abundant metal on Earth.

                        2. I have anodized aluminium pots over 30 years old which are absolutely unchanged. Both inside and out they are standard dark grey, no scratches. There is some residue from cooking and roasting, but other than that they are pristine. Because I know how durable anodized aluminium is, I treat them with complete abandon. The only no-no is not to put them in the dishwasher but then I don't do this with any of my pots. I'm amazed that anyone has worn out the anodizing layer. My Magnalite pots come with a lifetime warranty against wear and I'm sure I'm going to wear out before they do.

                          FTR stainless steel is a terrible conductor of heat. The thermal conductivity of aluminium is 170 Watts per meter-Kelvin. For stainless steel it's 15.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: cheryl_h

                            Yes, many of my original Calphalon are nearly as old as your pans and all save one are still in good condition. The exception was my fault, don't have a serious family emergency when you have a small saucepan boiling down sugar syrup (to a flaming lump of 'charcoal')!

                            You are correct about the relative conductivity of stainless steel versus aluminum. That's why the higher quality ss pans always have a layer of Al, to improve the comductive properties/even distribution of heat.

                            1. re: cheryl_h

                              Hi Cheryl-
                              I too have Magnalite, which I love, but ti seems as though one of my pans has developed a pinhole leak - I know that Magnalite has a lifetime guarnatee, but since I have heard they are out of business, do you have any idea whether it is possible to get a replacement? lindaht

                              1. re: cheryl_h

                                I have a 10-year old Magnalite anodized aluminum skillet that used to perform beautifully, but in recent years the finish has become dull and stained, and everything sticks to it now. It's never been in the dishwasher, and I don't use metal utensils on it. Anyone know how to revive this awesome pan?

                                1. re: HollyBelle

                                  Try Bon Ami cleanser and/or a green Scotch-Brite pad, both recommended by the manufacturer.

                              2. I have Magnalite and Calphalon saucepans dating back 20 years that still look new. But don't believe the claim that's it's OK to use metal utensils. I discarded a Calphalon fry pan whose interior wore off (and replaced it with a couple of carbon steel restaurant pans). I just use wooden spoons in the pots except for getting stuff out of the corners.,.

                                1. I would never put anodized aluminum cookware in the dishwasher, even if the mfr. says you can.

                                  1. I know we're not supposed to put our anodized aluminum cookware in the dishwasher, but is anyone a good enough chemist to explain why?

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: johnhicks

                                      Anodized aluminum is susceptible to caustic chemicals (ph > 7). Dishwashing detergent is usually quite caustic, and will remove or damage the anodized layer.

                                      The Anolon Titanium line, which is anodized aluminum, claims to be dishwasher safe. There is also the Jamie Oliver Italian Series, which is brushed aluminum, and the Swiss Diamond brand, which is anodized aluminum.

                                      1. re: Shazam

                                        They can't claim it if it isn't so. Meyer cookware company is the manufactor of circulon and anolon & I don't think they would make a statement if it wasn't so. I contacted Circulon customer service, they stated Circulon Titanium as well as their new Infinite line have patented titanium composite on the cookware to make it dishwasher safe. The reason why you can't put hard anodized cookware in the dishwasher is becuase of the chemical process it goes through to give the aluminum it's color ,durablity and make it twice as hard as stainless steel ( lol I sound like a comercial). I don't have room to put my cookware in the dishwasher but some do. Besides being non-stick clean up is much easier. Happy cooking

                                    2. My only anodized experience was with Calphalon . I bought the hard anodized everyday pan and I admit I loved the pan shape, versatility and performance. However, it began to de-anodize almost immediately and I did not use metal utensils or dishwashers OR cook anything highly reactive in it. I returned it to Calphalon and they replaced it. The exact same thing happened almost immediately with the replacement pan. So I replaced with the tri-ply stainless version of the pan. I am quite happy with that pan, very useful as a roaster, paella, poaching, in fact almost every possible application works well. I don't know why the pans de-anodized like that, but I have to say it made me resolve to never again use anodized aluminum and stick to stainless. I understand that people do go on using them when the silver starts to show through but it made me uncomfortable with the idea of what might be going on and that aluminum was peeling off into the food.

                                      11 Replies
                                      1. re: knet

                                        The pan doesn't really "de-anodize". Anodizing is the name of the process that's used to cause a thin layer of aluminum oxide to coat the surface of the pan, not the name of the coating itself.

                                        What they do is take the aluminum pan and dunk it into some acid. They hook up a positive charge to the pan and a negative charge to a metal plate also in the same acid tank. Apply a large voltage. This causes the surface of the aluminum pan to oxidize much faster than it would if just sitting in the air. Oxidizing aluminum is exactly analogous to rusting iron with one main difference being that rusted aluminum is actually much harder than unoxidized aluminum.

                                        When the oxidizing process has gone on for a while, the pan is removed from the acid and rinsed off. At this point, it's all dull greyish. Then the pan is dipped into a black dye. Or sometimes a colored dye -- that's how they make those brightly colored aluminum key fobs and things. The black dye is what is coming off your pan.

                                        None of this is to disagree with the point you were making; ~something~ is coming off into your food and that couldn't be good.

                                        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anodizing

                                        1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                          You are probably right on the science - 'de-anodized' was the term Calphalon used to describe what had happened with my pan. It's interesting that people have posted indicating that the insides of their pots are now silver and/or gouged but continue to use them. I don't know how safe or not it is, I can only say that it makes me very uncomfortable and obviously it isn't something we need to worry about with stainless so I will only use stainless now, except for one non-stick for eggs.
                                          However, I don't think it was only the dye that was coming off because if so, the affected places should have been just a dullish grey again ( or no?) if I understand your post correctly. Mine had some discolouration but also had places where it was clearly the bare metal showing. And as I said, in both cases very new pans, no metal utensils, dishwashers or very reactive food - nothing that could be pointed to as a culprit. No more hard anodized for me!

                                          1. re: knet

                                            Whether consuming food, with trace amounts of aluminum leached from the cookware, is a good thing, I will leave up to you. There has been no scientific research that has shown any causal link between aluminum cookware and any disease, including Alzheimers. None. Whatever you read on the internet that claims otherwise is crap. That doesn't mean that there might not be a problem. To put things in perspective, a serving of tomatoes cooked in aluminum will increase your daily consumption of aluminum by 10%.

                                            Just know that plain aluminum cookware (unanodized) is EVERYWHERE in many if not most restaurant kitchens. It's cheap, distributes heat well enough, and won't rust. (There are a few things they won't cook in aluminum due to off colors or flavors.)

                                            If your anodized cookware is becoming bright and shiny, that isn't dye that has worn off, that is where the anodized layer has eroded. The pot or pan is still probably OK, but won't look as nice and is more likely to react with certain foods.

                                            I like my Calphalon stuff well enough, but I have become more aware of its limitations, particular with what to expect in terms of its longevity. When treated GENTLY anodized cookware will look great and perform great a long while but not forever. It WILL NOT tolerate hard use. At all. Not even a little. If your Calphalon is wearing out, just accept (as I do) that it won't last more than a few years of every day use. If that bothers you, steer clear of anodized stuff and buy stainless.

                                            1. re: MikeB3542

                                              Don't they replace it for free if it wears out?

                                              1. re: meatme

                                                They should -- however, here is the warranty language:

                                                "Calphalon will replace any item found defective in material or workmanship when put to normal household use and cared for according to the instructions. Minor imperfections, surface markings as a result of shipping, and slight color variations are normal. This excludes damage from misuse or abuse, such as improper cleaning, neglect, accident, alteration, fire, theft, or use in a commercial establishment."

                                                My guess is that you might have a hard time making this case that there wasn't some use or abuse that voided the warranty.

                                                1. re: sylvan

                                                  You will find the tri-ply stainless everyday pan very useful. I use it for all the same things and also as a roaster. It makes a great roaster, I sometimes use a small round roasting rack in it too. I don't think there's any need for a clad stock pot, after all it is just used for boiling water basically and you'll find a good deal if you look around. Don't forget saucepans - one small and one large should do quite well but of course the sizes you need are personal choices.

                                                  1. re: MikeB3542

                                                    Actually Calphalon sent me the pre-paid courier labels to return the pan each time; and also were very quick to replace them. No issues at all with the warranty. I can't fault the way they honoured the warranty - only the repetitive problems with the hard anodized surfaces. And as I said in earlier posts, each pan was brand new, neither had seen any reactive food, metal utensils, dishwashers etc etc etc. NO use or abuse that would have voided a warranty and Calphalon was actually good about replacing them. It's just that after two defective pans I was off hard anodized forever so I chose to go with the stainless tri-ply version.

                                                    1. re: knet

                                                      hello, knet
                                                      I also purchase a Calphalon Hard Anodized Everyday Pan with lid.
                                                      I loved the way it cooked, looked. After my first use cooking chicken, rice and lemon, it cleaned up easy.
                                                      After it dried I was surprised to see it had turned silver inside, it had deaonodized. In the Amazon description it said that it was non-reactive.
                                                      Calphalon is going to replace it. When I get the replacement, I'm going to send it back to Amazon and get the Calphalon Tri ply SS Everyday pan.

                                                      1. re: sylvan

                                                        As I said in another post responding to you, I think you'll like the tri-ply everyday pan. It's a really versatile shape. I bought it for it's versatility and I haven't been disappointed in that. I use it for one dish meals; poaching, braising; mussels, sauteing and even as a roaster. It makes a great roaster if you have a small oven ( as I do). I could have just gotten a small roaster but I like things that are good multi taskers since I don't have a lot of space and the shape and size of the everyday pan are just really useful in a kitchen. I hope you enjoy it.

                                                        1. re: sylvan

                                                          Your experience with the calphalon commercial "everyday" pan from amazon is decidedly in the minority.
                                                          Calphalon also might replace your pan with a Calphalon One equivalent (if there is such a pan) which might be worth keeping. Even if you get the same Commercial model pan back, I'd recommend giving it another shot.

                                                          Also I've found Calphalon triply cookware to be just "okay". The aluminum core layer is noticeably thinner than the all-clad stainless lineup and definitely not as thick as Calphalon's anodized aluminum lineup.

                                                          1. re: Cary

                                                            Greetings...July 10 received the replacement for the 12' hard anodized calphalon everyday pan that had deanodized with a beautiful 14" infused anodized calphalon everday pan. If it works at least with eggs, I'll keep it.
                                                            I'm concerned to use it for tomato sauces, chili, lemon, etc, I'll relegate it to non acidic foods as soon as I google what foods are acidic. I'm tired of all the shipping back and forth. Eventually, I will definately get the tri-ply SS everday pan with glass lid...the less-expensive one from Calphalon will do for me. I see some styles have a little hole in the lid to let hot gas escape and keep the contents from spilling out.

                                          2. Well, I have soem anolon pans. Haven't had them as long as some of the guys here (just a few months), but I think they're great. I haven't ever used the stir fry pan, but the 3 saucepans are great (much bigger than any I've used before) heat up quickly compared to the last (SS) ones we had. I have a Le Creuset frying pan that I prefer for meat and that, but for anything liquid related, they're knockout.

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: Soop

                                              Hi Soop - If I understand it correctly, Analon Advanced is hard anodized WITH a non-stick coating over the hard anodized? You wouldn't likely see much 'de-anodizing' if that is the case.

                                              1. re: knet

                                                Oh right! Didn't realise that. That's nice then :)

                                                1. re: Soop

                                                  I happened to be driving by Bed Bath and More today: checked out cookware. I saw the Calphalon tri-ply SS I want and it does seem a bit thin as you mentioned. Nearby was a similar 12 inch try ply SS pan from Emeril and a bit heavier. I like both. The 14 inch Calphalon sent me to replace the de anodized hard anodized 12 inch is Calphlon One Infused Anodized. One almost needs to bone up on science.

                                                  1. re: sylvan

                                                    Keep the Calphalon One you received. I believe Emeril's cookware is not tri-ply "clad" cookware; it should just have just a copper/aluminum base.

                                                    1. re: Cary

                                                      actually there are a couple variations on the Emeril line now.
                                                      All of which are designed by allclad but manufactured overseas.
                                                      There is Emerilware which has the impact bonded base you are referring to, there is the Emeril ProClad which is the full triply, and I believe there is ananondized line now too.
                                                      I picked up the proclad 8" triply nonstick on sale to mix in as I didn't want to pay higher AC prices for nonstick. I have to say the pan is a good value and feels nice.

                                                      The other Emerilware with the impact base, is cropping up like crazy at Tjmaxx and Marshalls here right now.

                                            2. good Morning..
                                              On a related note, I was asked to house sit/ dog sit for a friend recently and I put a pan of his in the dishwasher and when he returned he harshly scolded me and said it was a certain type of aluminum that should not go into the dishwasher. Pardon my ignorance, but, I carefully examined the very sturdy pan, and I saw nothing wrong with it. It looked the same as before?? He said it was "ruined". I would use it. He pointed out a slight discoloration on the outside of the pan (I couldnt really see the difference). And exclaimed..It is totally ruined. WOW. I am a simpleton I guess, but after watching his home and two untrained dogs for 13 days (both of which chewed up and consumed my cell phone, two pairs of my shoes, my watch... etc) all I got was scolded for "ruining a pan. Does anyone have any advice on how to fix the pan? Even though I dont see anything wrong with it anyway. (Please go easy on me for my lack of knowledge about priceless cookware) Thank you all, and P.S. I enjoy all your posts, I am learning a lot.
                                              -Christopher.