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Aluminum free cookware (stainless steel)

Hi everyone-first time poster, but long time lurker here!

Can anyone help me find aluminum free cookware?? I own an old saute pan I can no longer use because it was severely scratched, it was a Cuisinart Everyday Stainless piece, that was simply stainless steel with a copper core, but they don't make this line anymore. I have been searching high and low for similar pieces, but have only found the Sitram catering line to be similar. Does anyone know of a store in the New York metro area that sells Sitram Catering cookware? I'd like to see the cookware first, as opposed to blindly ordering it online.

Anyway, I'm willing to try any line of cookware, as long as it is stainless steel with a copper core only-no aluminum core or discs. Can anyone provide me with any suggestions?? Many thanks in advance!

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  1. Check out Bowery Kitchen in Chelsea Market. They list Sitram on their website:
    http://www.bowerykitchens.com/

    Bridge Kitchenware should also have it. They used to be in Manhattan, but it looks like they moved to East Hanover, NJ:
    http://www.bridgekitchenware.com/

    You could also troll around the restaurant supply district in the actual Bowery.

    Out of curiosity, why do you need it to be completely aluminum free?

    1. Is there some reason you are opposed to aluminum cores?

      1. For copper, to convey any of it's even-heating characteristics it should be around 3 millimeters thick -- anything thinner will result in a pan with hot spots and cold spots (relatively speaking). There is simply NO line of stainless clad cookware on the market that has a 3mm copper core. It does not exist. Anything with a "copper core" on the market these days is, well, marketing hype.

        So, that leaves you with the option of going to copper cookware that has an interior of stainless steel, such as Falk Culinair, etc. Très expensive, but great performers. Wouldn't want to have to outfit an entire kitchen with it, though.

        Or, you can tell us why you're afraid of aluminum, even when it's fully encased (clad) in a shell of stainless steel. You do realize your food won't be touching any of it, right? You do realize that the link between aluminum and health issues is tenuous at best, right?

        13 Replies
        1. re: Joe Blowe

          Thanks for the responses!

          To be honest, I'm afraid of aluminum since watching one my grandparents suffer through Alzheimer's disease. It was a truly sad, heartbreaking illness that I would do anything in my power to prevent from getting myself.

          Yes, I'm a fairly educated young woman who understands the "link between aluminum and health issues is tenuous", so I guess I'm taking the better safe than sorry route, even if that does sound irrational to some.

          Anyway, thanks for telling me about Falk Culinair-one day, when I'm hopefully earning more money, I intend to get some of those pretty pieces!

          In the meantime, I'm starting to really learn, and like, a lot about the Le Creuset line. I've got my eye on this pan:

          http://www.williams-sonoma.com/produc...

          Does anyone have any good feedback to offer about this item? How do you think it will compare to a stainless steel saute pan? Thanks again in advance for all the help!

          1. re: cookiegirlnyc

            Yeah, Alzheimer's is pretty miserable -- having seen it first hand with my grandmother, I do not believe it is irrational to do whatever you think you can do to avoid. The aluminum discs in multi-ply cookware should never come in contact with your food, so those should be OK.

            Comparing the LC cast iron saute pan to a stainless steel (or about anything else for that matter) is like comparing apples to oranges.

            .An ideal saute pan will be fairly light so that you can handle with one hand. Tthe handle should stay cool so that you don't have to work with oven mitts on. The bottom, though, should be thick -- if stainless, it should have a ply of copper or aluminum to help distribute heat. It needs to be able to respond quickly to heating

            Please be aware that the LeCreuset is gonna be HEAVY. It will retain and distribute heat like a son of a gun (everything including handles will be HOT. It will take a long time to heat up, and a long time to cool off -- it is not very responsive. The Le Creuset probably isn't too much of a saute pan, but it would be awesome for braising. I would personally prefer an LC dutch oven to get a little more volume.
            .

            1. re: cookiegirlnyc

              It's a little puzzling that you are afraid of an aluminum core, but not a copper one. People knew they had to line copper pots with tin long before they could even make aluminum ones.

              Complicating any effort to minimize the intake of aluminum is that fact that the element is the third most abundant one on earth. Who knows how much we ingest from clay and dust.

              1. re: cookiegirlnyc

                I'd be much more worried about copper poisoning then any dangers from aluminum. Copper poisoning is real and documented, aluminum leading to Alzheimer is junk science.

                In reality, you don't have to be worried about either. Especially in this case when no aluminum is going to be touching your food.

                1. re: vanillagorilla

                  Aluminum in nature is almost always in its oxidized form (primarily in the form of feldspar rock). Metallic aluminum has only been commonplace in the last 100 years, and its use in cookware is even more recent.

                  That might seem like a long time, but it is fairly short compared with the experiences working with copper or iron. Aluminum (and stainless steel for that matter) is new and how it impacts our bodies over a lifetime is just not well understood.

                  While no cause-effect relationship between Alzheimers and aluminum has been established, aluminum is found in the diseased brain tissues of Alzheimers patients. It WOULD be junk science to assume cause-effect. it would also be prudent to be very suspicious.

                  Maybe you want to wait 20-30 years for the conclusive scientific research to come in -- the rest of us, especially those who have dealt with Alzheimers, choose to err on the side of caution.

                  1. re: MikeB3542

                    The surface layer of bare aluminum pans is also the oxidized form. In another thread we discussed iron intake from cooking in cast iron pans. The difference in iron has been measured and reported for various foods (I found data from a 1986 study). Has there been a comparable study for aluminum?

                    1. re: paulj

                      This is where things get tricky. Normally, oxidized aluminum is fairly strong and tough (compared to iron oxide -- rust -- which is weak and brittle). That is why things like airplanes hold up so well -- the thin layer of oxidized aluminum protects the bare aluminum.

                      The trouble is that it is soluble: the oxidation dissolves leaving bare metal. Thus the classic gray mashed potatoes (blech!).

                      Anodized aluminum gets around this by using electrolysis to form a thicker more crystalline layer of aluminum oxide which is insoluble and non-reactive.

                      Realistically, people probably get way more aluminum into their systems using anti-perspirants and antiacids than by using even plain aluminum cookware.

                      One last twist to this is that aluminum is one of the very few commonly occurring elements that has no function in human biology. Since it isn't metabolized, it is harder to track.

                      The big question that noone can really answer is whether very small quantities can accumulate and cause tragic mischief.

                      Personally, I am not so concerned that I would chuck all my aluminum stuff. I understand and respect those who do.

                    2. re: MikeB3542

                      I don't want to rehash this, but you are about 1000x more likely to die in car crash than you would be to get alzheimers from an aluminum pan, even if I concede that there is a link (which I won't). Yet, I'm assuming you still ride in cars?

                      1. re: vanillagorilla

                        No one knows what causes Alzheimer's for sure but 50% of people above the age of 85 have it and in the US ~40,000 people per year will die in a car crash while ~100,000 people/year will die of Alzheimer’s. This means that it will affect and eventually kill many more people than a car crash. Taking steps to prevent it form happening is probably a good thing. Personally I'd take the fast death in a car crash any day over having to spend many years suffering with Alzheimer's and hoping you'll have support (people and money) needed to get you by in a life you can’t understand anyway. I don't know why you are being so critical of someone trying to do the best they can for their body. If it bothers you so much you could quit using aluminum yourself or just not pay attention to the aluminum and Alzheimer's reports but no amount of denial or stubborn dedication to any particular way will change the relationship that aluminum has with Alzheimer’s be it good, bad or indifferent.

                        Sources:
                        http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler...

                        http://www.comcast.net/video/what-is-...

                        http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,1...
                        I would not trust Fox or MSNBC with anything political but since this is not a political issue I figure it is safe to trust them on this one and other sites quote similar numbers.

                    3. re: vanillagorilla

                      A review article, published earlier this year, compiled the research on the link between aluminum (Al) and Alzheimer's Disease (AD). When they looked at manuscripts published between 1990 and 2005, they found that "68% established a relation between Al and AD, 23.5% were inconclusive and 8.5% did not establish a relation between Al and AD." They even make the bold statement that "scientific evidence has demonstrated that Al is associated with the development of AD".

                      You can read the abstract here http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18...

                      However, I think that the potential for aluminum to leach into the cooking liquid from a tri-ply core is negligible. I would be more concerned with what's in the tap water you use.

                      1. re: Joe MacBu

                        I would advise caution when reading scientific papers -- ESPECIALLY when you're simply reading an abstract. There are a lot of questions here -- was the Al exposure in those 68% of studies high exposure (e.g. someone working in an Al recycling facility for instance)? Were these amounts commensurate with the scant absorption rates from cookware? Etc. This meta-analysis was about evaluating, within existing literature, a RELATIONSHIP, they have not stated whether that relationship is causal or correlative.

                        1. re: mateo21

                          upmc's website has a decent writeup for public consumption.

                        2. re: Joe MacBu

                          My Dad cooked in cast aluminum for decades (at least 40 - 50 years).

                          When I did, finally, sadly, lose he and my mom three years after another - he passed of the after affects of cancer and a heart attack, sharp until the night he died, and my mom died of COPD and spinal compression.

                          Both could have matched or beat me on awareness and sharpness till their last breath. (And I and not too shabby.)

                          So I am not full on sure that aluminum is bad.

                          Life, maybe. Aluminum - not so much.

                  2. A couple iof notes in response to some of the posts, most of which I agree with:
                    - Stainless steel pots and pans with thick aluminum core disk bottoms are not the same as aluminum pots and pans. NONE of your food touches aluminum, and since it is completely encased in stainless steel, there is no chance of it getting to your food. There are some great brands out there that are completely safe in this regard, ranging from Paderno Grand Gourmet (5 mm aluminum bottom) to Cuisinart to Demeyere to Sanbonnet and Tramontina. You can even find less expensive brands with similar construction. Use any ss with encased aluminum cores with no reservations;
                    - Most copper pans, even the "professional" models, are 2.5 mm thick. This includes the top Mauviel, Bourgeat and Falk. I have never tried Ruffoni, but I have some of each of the previous three. There are differences in the lining (tin vs. stainless steel, I prefer SS) and the handles (cast iron vs. brass, I prefer cast iron because the handles don't heat up as quickly). If anyone can recommend a 3 mm copper, please let me know what that is. I would love to try a piece out;
                    - Very thick aluminum bases perform nearly as well as any copper, and there are tests out there on the internet that show why and how heat gets distributed. If you get a pot with at least a 5mm aluminum disk at the bottom, it is a great piece.
                    - Most pieces advertised as copper core use too little copper to make a difference.
                    - 2.5 mm copper pans may actually be heavier than comparable LeCreuset pieces. This was a surprise to me when I first started buying copper - it weighs a TON.

                    1. I recently purchased some commercial cookware made by Lincoln Smallwares, under the Optio trademark. They feature a very thick SS/Al base that cooks very evenly under moderate heat. Boiling water does show "burner ring", but that is expected at high heat, with just about all other thick bottom/base pans.

                      1. My recollection is that the Cuisinart Everyday stainless had a copper disc sandwich bottom, not a copper core; and your likening it to Sitram Catering seems to bear this out. If you want to look at the Sitram, try Chef Restaurant Supply, on the northwest corner of Bowery and Houston. Some of the other restaurant supply places in the area may carry it too. Chef's prices aren't bad, but you can do better online. Also, as others have said, if your cookware has an aluminum disc bottom or an aluminum core, the aluminum will never touch your food.

                        1. I'm with you on the Alzheimer's, my mother died with it and I'm old enough to remember bare aluminum pots and pans, although I don't ever remember them in our house. Althugh I think it's still a doted line connection, I'm not real crazzy about bare aluminum cooking utensels either. However, I think you would be hard pressed, well you'd have to look for them anyway, to find bare aluminum pots and pans for kitchen use. We have some for back packing but they are almost 40 years old now and I can't remember the last time they were used. The point being, and it's been made already by many others, SS/Al/SS tri-ply pots and pans are constructed so the aluminum never touches the food and in fact it is only there for the purpose of thermal conductivity. It's not as good a copper, but much less expensive.

                          There's always the All-Clad copper core, if you don't mind loosing an arm and a leg. That's kind of what I'm leaning toward at this point.

                          14 Replies
                          1. re: mikie

                            "However, I think you would be hard pressed, well you'd have to look for them anyway, to find bare aluminum pots and pans for kitchen use. We have some for back packing but they are almost 40 years old now and I can't remember the last time they were used."

                            You mean like many of these aluminum pots?

                            http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_nos...

                            1. re: athanasius

                              Let me jump in here :)

                              I think it is difficult to find bare aluminum cookware in typical customer kitchen stores, especially high end ones like Williams Sonoma or Sur La Table. It is very easy to find bare aluminum cookware in professional kitchen stores and ethnic stores (like Chinese or Mexican stores).

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                And folks here are frequently directed to professional kitchen stores as an economical outlet for knife purchases. :-)

                                I've also seen "professional grade" raw aluminum cookware at Marshall's, TJMaxx, & Ross.

                                mikie's comment made me realize that every time I eat out, I'm probably getting food cooked in bare/raw aluminum pans. Due to low cost, it's what most kitchens use. :-(

                                1. re: Eiron

                                  First, there's less than zero evidence that aluminum consumption causes any sort of health problem. There's lots of scare mongering, but it's just that scare mongering, mostly by people with an agenda (usually, not always, "make money from suckers").
                                  Second, even if there were health concerns with aluminum, cooking utensils and pots are a pretty negligible source. You breath a whole lot more of it than you get from pots.

                                  1. re: dscheidt

                                    don't spread disinformation. among healthy people, aluminum is just fine.
                                    http://www.upmc.com/healthatoz/pages/...
                                    among those with kidney issues, it can be a problem.

                                    1. re: Chowrin

                                      Yes, but one can make the same argument for iron and carbon steel cookware too. Among healthy people, iron intake from these cookware is fine and can be beneficial, but a very few population of people can get iron overload.

                                      General statements are not meant for special cases. I don't think it is misleading to say "cast iron cookware are safe to use" even though this is not true for everyone or to say "salmon is healthy for consumption" when some people are allergic to seafood... etc. These statments may not be univerisally true, but I won't call them misleading.

                                      1. re: Chowrin

                                        For dialysis patients, orange juice and milk are potentially dangerous -aluminum pans are just one of the many, many new issues you have to deal with, and not a huge one at that, seeing as most of a renal patient's aluminum intake is typically from medication. Once you're in kidney failure, many of the rules change.

                                        Thanks for the link though. It's a decent general summary of current information for people concerned about dementia.

                                  2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                    And in restaurants where they are used a lot

                                  3. re: athanasius

                                    I'll concede I didn't do an internet search for bare aluminum pans, however, as Chem states, I haven't run across one in department stores, or WS or SLT. I'll admit, I'm a snob and don't shop for cookware at Wal-Mart, it's all made in China, or I'll be shocked if it's not, and I don't buy stuff made in China. So my experience is limited to more expensive establishments. I'm getting a little paranoid, so if you decide to call Wal-Mart or Target department stores, that's not who I'm refering to. I'll admit I didn't look at the entire 1,600+ items your link took me to, but many of these although they are aluminum, are not bare aluminum, looks like mostly very large stock pots, some outdoor stuff, and a few odds and ends that would be non-comercial kitchen appropriate. The others are nonstick, so are coated.

                                    1. re: mikie

                                      I did go a few pages deep into the results, and there is a 4-quart pot on the first page. But there are also clearly still some aluminum (non-coated) sets available with standard pots and pans for consumer use. This is the first one that shows up:

                                      http://www.amazon.com/Magnalite-Class...

                                      I didn't mean to imply they were common. But, as Chem said, they're still common among commercial stockpots and such. And you can still easily find the kind of outdoorsy ones you mentioned pretty easily.

                                      (I wasn't trying to be argumentative, by the way -- I was just pointing out the stuff still is out there.)

                                      1. re: athanasius

                                        I'm good. Like I said, you did have to look for it ;) It's not jumping off the shelves at you like it once was, or at least I don't believe that to be the case. But, yes it's still there.

                                        Eiron, restaurants crossed my mind, and I just didn't mention it as it was a bit off topic, but you are absolutely correct.

                                        On the board right now we are talking about the potential dangers of Aluminum cookware and PTFE coated cookware, and most of this centers around our own kitchens, but when we go out to eat, only God knows what's being used, and even He may not be certian. Aluminum for sure, PTFE I don't know maybe.

                                        1. re: mikie

                                          It's been a few years since I've worked in restaurants (OK, more than a few years), but I can't imagine Teflon-coated pans ever being used in that environment. It's simply too abusive. Cheap & durable is the call in the typical restaurant kitchen.

                                          Sure, the cooks throw the pans around & can't take any extra time just to baby a special surface. But at least they have it in the backs of their minds that they're potentially damaging their own tools. It's the dishwashers that really trash the stuff. They simply don't care. It's production-line cleaning at a frightening pace, & eqpt casualties are a common occurance.

                                  4. re: mikie

                                    My grandmother died of alzheimer's, as did my uncle. and my aunt has it now. So I know how devestating it can be.

                                    However, I think I can trust the Alzheimer's Society (UK) when they say, for starters:

                                    " * Aluminium has been shown to be associated both with plaques and with tangles in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease (Crapper et al 1976). However, the presence of aluminium does not mean that the aluminium was the causal factor − it is more likely to be a harmless secondary association.
                                    * Some have claimed that people with Alzheimer's disease have a higher than average level of aluminium in their brains. However, other studies find no difference between the overall amount of aluminium in the brains of people with Alzheimer's and the amount in normal brains (Trapp et al 1978).
                                    * Studies of other sources of aluminium, such as tea, antacid medications and antiperspirants have also failed to show a positive association with Alzheimer's disease (Flaten and Odegård 1988).
                                    * People with kidney failure are unable to excrete aluminium, and yet they frequently have to be treated with compounds that contain aluminium. Aluminium accumulates in nerve cells that are particularly vulnerable in Alzheimer's disease. However, even after years of high exposure to aluminium, patients with kidney failure are no more likely to develop dementia or the hallmark pathological changes of Alzheimer's disease (Netter et al 1990).
                                    * Treatment with desferrioxamine (DFO), a drug which binds aluminium and removes it from the body, also has a major effect on iron stores in the body. Therefore the effects of DFO may have nothing to do with aluminium (Gomez et al 1998).
                                    * There have been many experimental studies on animals and on isolated cells showing that aluminium has toxic effects on the nervous system, but in almost all cases the doses of aluminium used were much higher than those occurring naturally in tissues (Gitelman 1988)."

                                    more: http://alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts...

                                    1. re: taos

                                      My grandmother, two aunts, and my mother all died from or with alzheimer's. My grandmother imagrated to the US from Italy in the late 1800's. My youngest aunt just passed away without any sign of alzheimer's and lived to be the oldest of the siblings. I'm going to be hard pressed to believe they weren't all eating the same food made in the same cookware. I don't know if that cookware was aluminum or not. I'm not an aluminum cookware historian so I don't know how prevelent it was, if it was available at all back then. I know my mother cooked in copper bottemed Revereware which is stainless.

                                      From what I've heard taking statons (sp?) for high cholestrol helps prevent alxheimers as well as anything.

                                  5. I'm opposed to aluminum cores because they can explode when used on electric ranges. I was lucky. I had two where the core overheated merely bowed the bottom of the pans. Other people report actual explosions which sent molten aluminum flying all over their kitchen.

                                    Going to cast iron or copper core.

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: dargie

                                      http://www.cpsc.gov/PageFiles/82571/c...

                                      CPAC.gov reports from around 2000. None involve 'exploding'. All involve pans that were left to boil dry. In several cases it looks it was the bonding alloy the melted, not the aluminum disk.

                                      1. re: paulj

                                        Mine was full of water and pasta. And no, they didn't explode, but the noise they made was pretty terrifying and they rose up off the burner because the bottoms bowed so badly.

                                      2. re: dargie

                                        The melting point of aluminum is 1221F. Any food in a pan would catch fire way before the aluminum melted. I would take a very very careful look at any report of exploding molten fry pans before believing it. Aluminum by itself does not explode and at those temperatures there would be no water in the pan.

                                        1. re: PinchOfSalt

                                          http://www.home-ec101.com/the-curious...

                                          "My husband who is an electrical engineer in the steel industry, finally figured out a potential reason for this freak occurrence. I’ll share his reason and then translate it from engineer1 to English.
                                          His:
                                          The basic premise of electric range operation is to pass current through a resistive conductor thereby transforming electrical energy to heat energy. Another effect produced by this is a rapidly expanding and collapsing magnetic field. This is the source of the magnetic lines of flux, which interact with the non-ferrous metal layer in the pan through the Lorenz effect, to produce Eddy Currents (Note: You may be thinking that Hysteresis losses would play a big part in this, but you’d be wrong). It may be this centralized inductive build up of heat due to the excessive eddy currents in the aluminium layer that is causing temperaturess to exceed 1220 degrees fahrenheit and the eventual catostrophic failure of the cooking vessel.
                                          My version:
                                          Aluminum is a nonferrous metal, meaning it cannot interact with magnets, but it can conduct a current, this current can create a magnetic field and sometimes the electric current in the burner can create a magnetic field. And once in a while these magnetic fields can interact. Have you seen the newer ranges that use magnetic induction to heat pots while the surface of the range stays cool? This freak accident happened due to the same principle, only it happened in an uncontrolled way causing the temperature to surpass the melting point of the aluminum."

                                          1. re: dargie

                                            I'm pretty sure that a typical electric burner will get hot enough to melt aluminum without considering the effect of eddy currents. On the "high" setting, electric burners glow red-hot, which is hot enough.

                                            1. re: dargie

                                              Your post brings back evil memories of Maxwell's equations, which I was subjected to as an undergraduate.

                                              Yes, electric ranges work based on electrical resistance. On the other hand, magnetic fields are used by induction cooktops to heat pots and pans without directly heating the cooktop itself. Induction cooktops do not work on aluminum cookware. A sufficient amount of iron or steel (or, I suppose, any other material that a magnet would stick to) must be present.

                                              Seriously, if your husband were correct, exploding cookware incidents would be common enough that we'd all know about it and nobody would use steel-clad aluminum pots and pans.

                                              FWIW, here is a link to an explanation of Maxwell's equations. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maxwell&... Sweatshirts with the equations used to be pretty popular on campus.