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Mar 10, 2009 05:47 PM

Hard Anodized Aluminum vs Stainless Steel?

Is there much difference in conductivity between the two exteriors if they both have aluminum interiors and stainless steel cooking surfaces?

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  1. Who makes a stainless steel inner, HA Aluminum exterior pan?

    2 Replies
    1. re: paulj

      All-Clad LTD... Assuming HA Anodized = plain old anodized.

      1. re: mateo21

        Cuisinart too. There are a couple manufactures of HA exterior, stainless interior pans.

    2. I'm a little confused by your terminology, since interior of a pan is the cooking surface, and thermal conductivity is a property of the metal, not the pan. I'm thinking maybe you just want to know which pan will heat up faster, which is thermal conductance. Thermal conductance depends on both the conductivity and the thickness the metal (or each layer for composite pans), so a thin steel pan might actually heat up faster than a thick aluminum one, even though aluminum has better conductivity.

      Anodization will have little or no effect on conductivity, so a solid aluminum pan will have greater conductance (i.e. the cooking surface will heat up faster) than a layered aluminum/stainless pan if they have the same total thickness.

      There are so many factors to consider when selecting a pan, but if you want one that heats up quickly and easily, I suggest anodized aluminum. The anodized surface is not really non-stick, but it is a bit easier to clean than bare aluminum. Nothing wrong with a good stainless pan with an aluminum or copper bottom, though.

      And they said I'd never use anything I learned in thermodynamics.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Zeldog

        If a particular pan comes in three possible materials: Stainless Steel, Aluminum, and Hard Anodized. The suggested retail prices are equal for the Stainless Steel and Hard Anodized and the Aluminum is about 33% less. Supposing the Stainless Steel doesn't have an aluminum or copper core, would the best choice be the aluminum because it's cheeper than the anodized and that anodization doesn't actually add anything? If, however, the stainless steel does have an aluminum or copper core would it be equal (in terms of function) to the aluminum (regular or anodized)? Supposing a non-stick coating on the actual cooking surface of all three options, would the choice between anodized, stainless (with a core), and aluminum be purely cosmetic (and/or price)?

      2. I chime in with Zeldog. "Anodized" usuallly means
        a pan composed entirely of aluminum.
        anodized on the inside and outside.

        An all-aluminum pan should have a bit
        better conductivity than one with stainless
        steel and aluminum .layers. In actual use, however,
        you won't find much difference. With any material,
        you'll still need a little personal experience
        for optimal results.

        1. Can't answer your question directly, but I want to share my experience with HA, stainless, and all-aluminum pans (not HA). I've been using Calphalon HA since the early 90's and never really liked the skillets/saute pans for cooking eggs, breaded or floured meats, poultry, fish, and the like because everything sticks. Experienced the same thing with stainless. I haven't ever had the good fortune to have a gas stove, only electric coils or, currently, ceramic top so the fuel source may have something to do with it.

          But out of desperation and loathing for my calphalon skillets and for non-stick I recently bought an aluminum skillet at a restaurant supply store - the pan is cast aluminum with a polished interior that makes it look like stainless, but it's not stainless. And let me tell you this pan cooks like nonstick. Eggs, scrambled or fried, don't stick, at least no more than they do in a nonstick pan, and finally when sauteeing I can obtain the lovely fond that I couldn't get from non stick and that that ended up not brown but blackened and inedible in stainless and HA.

          As an aside I've had a similar experience and eureka moment when I purchased aluminum half-sheet and quarter-sheet pans. These are so great, nothing sticks, easy to clean, and so far superior to any other sheet pan, cookie sheet, or jelly roll pan that I've ever purchased. I really don't understand why such cookware isn't easier to find.

          Anyway hope this helps.

          5 Replies
          1. re: janniecooks

            I've built restaurant for many years and have in recent years developed a fondness for learning to cook more. I was interested in the aluminum skillet method but cautious about where to buy, as most aluminum has lead in it. What was the brand of aluminum skillets you purchased?

            1. re: burgerbuilderLA

              The brand is Adcraft, which was the only choice at the restaurant supply store I went to. I'm still very happy with this pan, despite it being made in China, whose products I try to avoid.

            2. re: janniecooks

              Calaphon now makes two series of HA, slide and sear, I have the sear grill pan and it is awesome, it is textured so you do develop the wonderful fond that you desire, they are expensive but worth it, I bought it from williams sonoma on clearance, will buy more

              1. re: robertjblais

                The outside is HA, but the inside is non-stick.

                1. re: robertjblais

                  I had considered the new Calphalon series, but for some reason I couldn't figure out the distinction between the slide and sear, and which I would use when. So I bought neither. But since I wrote about my experience with my 30+ year old hard-anodized Calphalon, I have to revise what I wrote last January. I no longer loathe my calphalon pans. I have both saute pans and skillets, and over time both types of pans have developed a good patina, especially the skillet I use all the time for pan roasting nuts. I love my calphalon cookware, and still love the other aluminum pans as well. The stainless, not so much, but it is good for browning ground beef and for making poached eggs. That's all I use it for, otherwise I turn to either type of my aluminum skillets.

              2. I have a set of old Calphalon Anodized cookware (before they added nonstick stuff on the inside). Yes, the solid aluminum transfers heat more quickly and evenly. These pans are thick, not chintzy thin aluminum. The anodized surface browns food better. It releases the food when it is browned, if you mess with it before it is ready, it sticks like crazy. Not the pans for impatient cooks who need to mess with their food.