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All-Around Saucepan, NOT Stainless ....

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Hi y'all,

<Sigh> Okay, long story short: My SS skillet and saucepan have bitten the dust so it's time to replace 'em. Just learned that my nickel allergy MAY be a problem with using stainless steel; there seems to be a raging debate on this. With my COUNTLESS allergies, to be on the safe side I've opted to avoid SS as much as possible. (I am even replacing my SS flatware with silverware.)

Aluminum and anything nonstick are out: no thanks, no Alzheimer's or cancer for me.

At any rate, I need some suggestions about what material(s) conduct heat well for a good all-around saucepan for boiling water, cooking pasta and rice, heating soups, stews, reheating, etc.

Many years ago I used the Corning Ware Visions crap but if memory serves it wasn't a very good heat conductor (also I'm clumsy and tend to drop and break things). Cast iron is slow to heat, isn't it?! Besides I think I am done with cast iron -- I am going through the growing pains of learning to season my skillets, and I don't want any more (except for a cornbread pan). Plus there is the "acidic food limitation."

Copper is just used on the bottoms of SS pots, right?

What does that leave -- enameled cast iron, enameled stainless, and soapstone (which requires a diffuser)? Any comments on these?

Or am I overlooking something?

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  1. I really like the new Chantal Copper Fusion line. It's copper fused into carbon steel and enameled inside and out (black enamel inside and red or platinum gray outside). They have stay cool stainless handles. It's awesome - heats and cools quickly, retains heat really well, no hotspots...it's stick resistant (not nonstick), nonreactive with acidic foods, and you can even put it in the dishwasher. It's heavy-ish, but not terribly so, and the 3 qt. size has a helper handle.

    I have the 11" fry pan, but I'm going to buy the 3 quart saucepan soon. I've had mine for about a month. I sell them at work and I've heard nothing but positive feedback from other people. Amazon.com carries the line and they probably have the best prices.

    To answer your other question, a good quality stainless pot will have usually have copper or aluminum fused throughout, not just on the bottom...however, stainless itself is not a good heat conductor, so I don't know of any stainless cookware that has something else on the cooking surface (unless it's nonstick). Hard anondized is another option.

    2 Replies
    1. re: foodpoisoned

      foodpoisoned, Chantal's description of it has been very interesting, but distribution of the product has been limited to date. You are the first person I have encountered who actually has _used_ Copper Fusion, so it is good to hear of your experience in the "field." A question: given that the pan is completely covered in enamel, is it possible to estimate how thick the copper disk at the bottom is, or whether it extends all the way to the full diameter of the pot/pan?

      On another point, I have to disagree that "a good quality stainless pot will have usually have copper or aluminum fused throughout, not just on the bottom." Excepting conical sauteuses, almost all Demeyere lines -- Apollo, Sirocco, Atlantis -- use aluminum or copper disks at the bottom only, and stainless only up the sides; the same is true of Sitram. Demeyere and Sitram certainly qualify as "good quality stainless" pots. Those pots that put aluminum and copper all over usually have such a thin layer sandwiched between the stainless outer layers that the aluminum or copper layer is more for bragging rights than for function.

      1. re: foodpoisoned

        Chef's Resource is running a sale now on Chantal Copper Fusion. Lower prices than Amazon, though less selection. Check under the Clearance items.

      2. Apartment,

        Wow, you are really ruling out a lot of materials. A good saucepan need good heat conduction, assuming you use it to make sauce. I would say saucepan rely on even heat conduction more than other cookware. The two best materials for heat conduction is copper and aluminum. Copper actually has a greater health adverse effect than alumium. Whereas theory of alunium causing Alzheimer is inconclusive, copper poisoning is unquestionable. Usually, stainless steel is used to clad with copper or aluminum, but in your case, you do not want stainless steel. Well, then go for a plain steel clad with aluminum or copper, plain old carbon steel. But carbon steel like cast iron requires seasoning. The only thing I can think of is an enameled saucepan but you cannot be gentle with it which you said you are clumsy, so I really do not know.

        The only thing I can think of is a tinned saucepan. A tinned copper saucepan. You are ok with "tin", right?

        http://image.become.com/imageserver/s...

        This will have good heat conduction. No aluminum or copper contacing your foods. No nickel contained stainelss steel. No fragile glass or porcelain. No seasoning required cast ion and carbon steel.

        It is the only thing I can think of.

        1. Apartment dweller, in Italy and Spain they've come up with a ceramic that can be used on the stove. My friend used to import the ones from Italy. I found ones from Spain in my local Marshall's, believe it or not.

          http://www.mysonproducts.com/Terra-Co...

          3 Replies
          1. re: pdxgastro

            Pdx,

            Terra Cotta cookware have existed for thousands of years before human written history record. Chinese, Mexicans and Northern Africans are well-known for using these.

            http://www.gourmetcookshop.com.au/sho...

            http://www.chefzadi.com/images/2007/0...

            http://www.wokshop.com/HTML/products/...

            I own two terra cotta cookware. These terra cotta cookware are great for many things, but they are not good as a saucepan because they are poor heat conductor. They are also fragile, which may not work well for the author of this original post.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              Thanks for your responses, ChemKine.

              Agreed: Terra cotta is great for certain applications, just not this one.

            2. re: pdxgastro

              That's some good-looking stuff. Unfortunately I don't think it will suit my needs at this particular time, but no doubt someone reading this will benefit.

              Thanks so much for taking the time to post the link.

            3. "Aluminum and anything nonstick are out: no thanks, no Alzheimer's or cancer for me"
              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
              There is No/None/Zero Credible evidence/research to support this ~~~ It's Myth/Conjecture/False Assumption/Not based on facts!

              4 Replies
              1. re: Uncle Bob

                Hi Uncle Bob,

                There are plenty of studies to support the Alzheimer's-aluminum connection. Read Dr. Michael Savage's book on the subject. Also, I used to transcribe necropsy reports for the Cole Neuroscience Foundation so know all about neurofibrillary tangles. Do you? The connection between neurofibrillary tangles and aluminum is well established.

                The nonstick/teflon-cancer link is more tenuous, but I don't care. :) The nonstick crap can be avoided so I will do it.

                We could do an "infowars"-type battle here but it would take all day, and frankly I have better ways to spend my time.

                1. re: ApartmentDweller

                  Thank you for your comments..I hardly consider Michael Savage as a Credible source on the subject...I'm sorry, but that's laughable. ~~ I stand by my statement.."There is NO Credible evidence/research to positively support such a claim......

                  http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/site/scr...

                  Happy Halloween........

                  1. re: Uncle Bob

                    I went through the same research pattern in terms of elderly relatives. It seemed from my scientifically cursory examination that cause and effect were confused. Alzheimer's caused the deposition of Aluminium, not the Aluminium causing the Alzheimer's. Al is so ubiquitous that it you cannot avoid ingesting it. The front page band wagon jumped all over the connection causing the kerfuffle.

                    Stainless steel pots should cause a lot less nickel to enter your system than certain foods. I suspect you would get a higher ingestion of 'stainless' nickel from detergents reacting with the stainless steel liner of your dishwasher, or the high temperatures in an electric kettle. Here is a previous thread that may make for interesting reading: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/576519

                    Another non-chow thread mirrors your worries and ends with the same result as Tanuki's excellent suggestion below: http://www.finishing.com/307/01.shtml

                    The most stable compound is silica glass - which is why it is so frequently used to store chemicals. However I have no idea what additional compounds they put in glass pans . So we have products such as: http://www.visions-cookware.com

                    I have used such pans, and they are not very good for cooking or cleaning.

                  2. re: ApartmentDweller

                    I know your intentions are good, ApartmentDweller.

                    However, there is no sound evidence that cooking in aluminum causes either Alzheimers or cancer. As for a nickel allergy, I am assuming you have an allergy to nickel that you touch, such as in jewelry. This does not translate into an allergy to the small percentage of nickel in cookware. If your hands develop a rash from touching the SS cookware, though, that might be a reason to avoid the SS cookware.

                    My concern is that in your attempt to avoid these substances you'll be steered toward cooking with materials like unstable polymers that actually may be dangerous.

                    Anyway, If you still insist on staying away from both aluminum and stainless, the only thing I recommended is glass. I"m not sure what's on the market now but you might try shopping online at a scientific supply company.

                    Enameled cast iron is another choice, but again you are trading the myth of a danger for real danger, in this case lead in the enamel glaze, so make sure you buy a reputable brand. If the enamel is chipping off, don't use it.

                    Good luck and good health.

                2. I'd suggest that you check out Silit Silargan cookware. One of its big selling points is that it's nickel-free and therefore suitable for people with allergies. (You can order it from Amazon.)

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: tanuki soup

                    The Silit interiors might not fit the OP's demand for non-stick nor do these appear to be entirely aluminum free, though the company website is not very detailed.

                    http://www.silitcookware.com/html/ene...

                    1. re: taos

                      I think if you reread the original post, there is no demand for non-stick. In fact, the OP is replacing SS saucepans/skillets and specifically says "aluminum and anything nonstick are out".

                      Silit Silargan cookware is ceramic over a steel core. I guess it might contain some traces of aluminum, but everything else in your house probably does too. It's nothing like plain aluminum cookware.

                      1. re: tanuki soup

                        I could be wrong but I Stilit says their Silargan pans have a non-stick coating:

                        http://www.silit.com/englisch/service...

                        whether they call it "ceramic" or something else, I can't imagine this is something that the OP would want.

                        Also, given that the Silit is marketed toward people who don't want scary ingredients, if their pans did not include Aluminum, they probably would nave said so.

                        I agree that everything in my house contains aluminum (including, most relvantly my All-Clad MC2 and Calphalon hard anodized stock pot). I'm not the OP and I'm not the one afraid of cooking in Al.

                        1. re: taos

                          It seems that Silit's non-stick coating is called Silitan (a confusingly similar name), which is different from their Silargan coating. From what I read at their site, Silitan seems to be a lot like Excalibur (Teflon bonded to a roughened base - in the case of Silitan, ceramic coated).

                          I have a Silit Silargan Fry-N-Serve pan. The inner surface looks a lot like that of a Le Creuset enameled cast iron DO (only shiny black rather than cream colored), and it cooks pretty much the same, too - definitely not non-stick, but kind of stick and then release.

                  2. Enameled cookware, in my experience is hard to use. It sticks and food can bond to it. Aluminum causing Alzheimer's has never been shown. That it does, is a myth. If you can't use stainless, then look into a good quality anodized aluminum. Cast iron is great as a skillet. I use my pieces. frequently. But I wouldn't use cast iron as a saucepan. You could use solid copper if the pan has no lead in it. I can't remember whether the lead comes from --the copper itself or the stuff that soldiers it together. But surely high end copper would be safe.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: sueatmo

                      In my experience, enamel, like glazed ceramics, is relatively non-stick. Better than bare aluminum or stainless steel, not as good as well season cast iron or PTFE. Anodized aluminum is on the part with enamel.

                    2. Just by some Pyrex scientific glassware and stuff everything into a microwave

                      1. I was thinking of the type of pan I use to dye wool in (for the rugs I make).
                        They are porcelain clad, mostly found in white. I'll post a picture below. Other pots used for the same purpose are porcelain clad canning pots and lobster/clam steaming pots. In other words, the pots we use must be non-reactive. One does have to take care not to chip the surface but that's easy to do. FYI: we never use dye pots to cook food in, but a pot such as this can be dedicated for food alone. In fact I have a few of my grandmother's pots.

                         
                        1. I second chemicalkinetics...copper lined with tin. A Mauviel professional line is about 2.5mm thick plus a tin wash. The handle is cast iron and stays relatively cool. For sauces it will excel. Mine has nearly put my double boiler out of business. It heats a mean pack of frozen beans, too. You can probably pick one up cheap on that e place. Even if you spring for full price, you will not regret it. If you are not into making sauces and/or want something that is both less expensive and more forgiving if abused, I'd go with enameled cast iron. And as for the "no conclusive evidence" debate on various controversial materials, if you can find something that is noncontroversial and works really well, why not go for it? Of course on the other side of the argument, if the controversial property does things you really like and it is worth it to you to take on what may not be a conclusively proveable risk, this is America and we are allowed to do that. I tend to be thoroughly satisfied without resorting to nonstick. In fact, I prefer seasoned blue steel pans for things like omelettes and loaf pans. I believe tin-lined copper has been pretty well field tested, but it is in relatively limited use and for all I know it presemts risks.

                          As for the Copper Fusion line, you will see threads debating the properties of pans from here to kingdom come. I'd be loathe to pay copper pan prices for anythng that would compromise its qualities But the pitch for this line sounds pretty good. I think I will go check them out.