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Jan 29, 2007 03:47 PM

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!