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Jan 6, 2011 08:30 AM

What gauge aluminum is considered "heavy gauge"? -> need a stock pot

I'm looking to get a 20-24 quart heavy gauge quart stock pot for making beef stock on a residential gas burner. I saw on a video not to use thin aluminum or stainless steel because it will impart a metallic flavor to the stock after extraordinarily long periods of cooking time.

Some websites say "heavy duty", some give the gauge and some give the thickness in inches. I'm looking to sort that out.

Another question, how large (quarts) can I go on a residential natural gas stove?


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  1. Zod: You're covering a lot of issues here, and I get the sense that you may have been somewhat misinformed by others.

    Let's start with thickness. Stockers typically don't need to be thick (except enough not to bend, or have handle rivets tear through). This is because your 20-24Q of liquid will be heated predominantly by convection currents--the hot liquid at the very bottom circulating to cooler, higher regions. The only exception I can think of, where you would want thicker, is if you plan to also brown your bones or stew your aromatics in the same pan. And this can be done in a thin stockpot with a thick BOTTOM.

    I'm unaware of any metallic taste-imparting that comes with simmering stocks in thinner pots vs thicker.

    A thinner pan will cool a bit faster for any given material, but in the volume range you picked, unaided cooling will take the better part of a day and raise safety issues, so you should plan on chilling anyway.

    How large can you go? Unless your stock recipes require a quick or vigorous boil (most don't), or your hobs are very weak, your 20-24Q should be fine to bring the full vessel to at least the verge of a boil with a lid. I have a 5-gallon copper stocker that works on a mediocre home gas hob, and a 10-Imperial gallon copper one that works if you put it astraddle two. I doubt either of these big pots would work well if left unlidded, though.

    Finally, to try to answer your title question, I do not think there is a recognized answer. But for comparsion to "fort" grade copper's evenness, to equate with 3mm copper, a pure aluminum pan would need to be 5mm, and cast aluminum a bit over 8mm in thickness.

    Hope this helps.

    5 Replies
    1. re: kaleokahu

      Hi K,

      I've been looking at the Vollrath and (I think the same company) Wear-ever labels.

      I have found only one supply store, God bless 'en, that put complete stats including the guage for each pan:

      I still can't figure out the differences between the "Arkadia" and the "Professional" line. And I've learned that 3004 grade Al is a magnesium alloy, which is good for a Jeaporday answer and nothing more as far as my knowledge goes.

      Both those lines range from 8-10 guage, which according to you, then kicks them into the Ferrari-like (”fort,"="strong") 2.5 areas of copper.

      It just doesn't respond as fast to change and has a lower specific heat per volume: meaning, an ice cube on a hot Al pan will take its sweet time melting, but on a cast-iron Lodge thing at the same temperature itwill be gone in two blinks (can't remember where I learned the basic thermo. Probably on CH.

      I have a Craigslist lead on some Mauviel Williams Sonoma Bronze handle (1.5 thick?) stuff. Mauviel site claims its M'Heritage 150 B (what an idiotic name) boasts, unsurprisingly, 1.5 mm of copper.

      Trade-off between heavy-guage aluminum and copper? My head is spinning.

      Obviously aluminum is cheaper by about 9 billion%, so this is all theoretical.

      1. re: rbraham

        Arkadia is imported. Vollrath has a few imported lines to battle against other imports. The Made in USA products are clearly identified on their website.

        1. re: SanityRemoved

          Do the two lines/brands have the same specs? I hope so.

        2. re: rbraham

          Hey, Rob:

          No need to overthink it... Those thick Al stockers are nice, but you don't need them to boil water. If you're doing aromatics, bacon or the like in the bottom, a thick disk-bottom is nice.

          Oh, and ice melts pretty fast on an aluminum trivet. You ever try one of those As Seen On TV ones? I actually have a big chunk of thick aluminum (a porthole or scupper cutout) that I use to thaw meat. I think you'd be longer with CI. The Bella Copper one would work well, too.

          I'd also urge you to stay away from the 1.5mm copper. Save your money.


          1. re: rbraham

            The post above was about guage and 3001 and 3004 aluminum (pure and mang. alloy, right?) relative to cooking.

            It's not like I'm calling for a metallurgist.


        3. Stock pots don't need to be too thick and heavy . Plain aluminum is just fine as long as you aren't cooking things that are acidic. Anodized aluminum and stainless steel (more expensive) should not be an issue in terms of imparting off flavors or colors, no matter how long the stock simmers away.

          A stock pot that large needs to have a healthy pair of handles, and my preference would be riveted handles. They need to allow you to safely handle a container of boiling hot liquid weighing as much as 40 pounds.

          I wouldn't get a pot more than 12-13 inches diameter, mostly a matter of stability. A residential burner will take a LONG time to get that much water up to a boil, but should be able to manage a simmer once there.

          Best advice is to get thee to a restaurant supply house and check out the stock. Often, you can get a deal, and it's nice to be able to see/touch/smell the merch.

          12 Replies
          1. re: MikeB3542

            You don't want riveted handles on a stock pot that big. A welded joint is stronger, and will never leak. Rivets will.

            Don't forget to buy a cover; stockpots this size are sold without them.

            1. re: dscheidt

              dscheidt: "You don't want riveted handles on a stock pot that big."

              NOOOOOOO. Please don't advise that. Quite the opposite. Even if welds are theoretically stronger than rivets, they do fail sometimes, especially if the pot's been banged around. When they fail it is usually a complete break, which can result in scalding and serious injury. When rivets fail, they tend to deform and loosen first, and their shear strength is very high. This is why girder bridges are riveted, not welded. I have acquired large riveted stockers in original condition that are 100+ years old and they don't leak, the handles are solid. Even with thin modern pots, a a leak is better than a couple of months in a burn ward.

              But the OP should try to find a stocker with at least 3 (and preferably 4) rivets per handle.

              1. re: kaleokahu

                Bridge construction has nothing to do with stockpots. I've seen lots of large stockpots discarded because their rivets leak. I've never seen one with a failed weld. Not one.

                What your antiques are like isn't relevant, either. If they've survived 100 years, they were of good quality when made. On modern stocks, rivets are sign of cheap junk, or in some cases, very expensive junk, but still junk. It's cheaper to drill and rivet, and poorly set rivets will leak. Most of the ones I've seen have been aluminum rivets; in stainless pots, that's a recipe for galvanic corrosion.

                1. re: dscheidt

                  True. Bridge construction is not the same as cookware construction, but I have read many incidents about welded handles fall off from measuring cups.


                  Now, I know a measuring cup is not build to the same standard as a stock pot, but it illustrate some of the problems. I have never read a rivet handle fall off from a measuring cup. They can both come off, but I think a welded handle can suddenly come off, while rivet handles tend to come loose first long before they literally come off. Respected brands like All-Clad and Calphalon and others make their cookware with riveted handles. Now, I understand people dislike rivet handles because they are difficult to clean and they get in the way.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    Chem & dscheidt: WELDED HANDLES BREAK OFF STOCKPOTS, TOO, causing what the U.S. Goverment calls a "serious burn hazard" to consumers.


                    We can get into WHY this happens if you want...

                    1. re: kaleokahu

                      I'ts not a recall of "all stockpots with welded handles". It's a recall of "these particular junk products." There's a non-subtle difference. I'm sure, if I could be bothered, that there's a recall for riveted handles.

                      Riveted joints have all sorts of sudden and catastrophic failure modes, too.

                      1. re: dscheidt

                        dscheidt: "Riveted joints have all sorts of sudden and catastrophic failure modes, too."

                        Find us a recall or a scald instance where rivets on a stockpot tore through suddenly and catastrophically. There are several instances here on CH where welded handles on cookware have failed, and none that I can find with rivets tearing completely through.

                        Here's what can happen when we rely on welds:

                        Thick aluminum can be dependably welded, and presumably that's why Volrath risks it. But thin SS is difficult to weld dependably unless you have the inert gas shielding present on BOTH sides of the weld, and the amps precisely right. If the penetration side is not also shielded, it will "sugar" which is a slang word for oxidize. Granulation is another descriptive term that accurately describes what happens. These joints fail in service because there are deep pits and crevices that are bound to develop into cracks.

                        1. re: kaleokahu

                          I'm not quite sure what your point is. The Titantic sank because her builder used defective rivets. What's that, or some oil rig failure, got to do with stock pots?

                          As I said, I've seen lots of discarded riveted pots, but not one with welded handles.

                          1. re: dscheidt

                            dscheidt: My point is that people naively assume that welds are stronger and safer than rivets, and that catastrophic failures result.

                            LOL. There are many historians and naval architects who will sleep easier now that you have determined the reason Titanic sank. I thought it was an iceberg.

                            I'm still waiting for an instance of a recall or catastrophic failure because of stockpot rivets letting go.

                            1. re: kaleokahu

                              A giant lettuce sunk the Titanic? This site is a real education.

                              Anyway, my 22 litre (about 19Q) aluminium pot takes about an hour to get up to boiling on my (UK) domestic range when lidded and fairly full. The stock from it has no taste issues compared with my smaller SS or enamelled CI pots. Got it second hand from a charity shop for about $6

                                1. re: Robin Joy

                                  RJ: Upon further research, it comes to light that RMS Titanic was indeed sunk by a giant lettuce, but it was not an iceberg. It was a Romaine!


                                  Sixth course. Steerage had cabbage, of course.

                                  Ironically, my 10 Imp. Gallon stockpot was made by Elkington, and was standard issue for the ships of the White Star line in 1912.

            2. Zod: Since you want heavy-gauge, I found you a pot:


              At 32Q, it might be a little big, but it's 6mm thick all over. Check around if you like it, maybe thaey make it in the 20-24Q range.

              4 Replies
              1. re: kaleokahu

                How does NSF certification relate to this pot. I generally avoid aluminum with any cookware unless it is anodized because I might want to cook tomatoes or something else acidic and want to avoid picking up the aluminum.

                1. re: wekick

                  wekick: I don't know with regard to this specific pot, but a Googling of "NSF certification stockpots" yields a bunch of aluminum stockers that are NSF-rated.

                  Edit: Actually, the link I supplied states the Thiunder Group pot is NSF.

                  1. re: kaleokahu

                    I was wondering if it referenced the actual material it was made of or how easy it is to clean. I went to the NSF website and couldn't tell.

                    1. re: wekick

                      wekick: I think it is straight aluminum, but I don't know the degree of finish/polish.

                1. So, Zod, what did you go with?