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Is there objective difference between copper core and aluminum core SS clad cookware?

davidahn Jan 9, 2012 02:42 PM

I have decided on SS clad cookware, but the choice of conductive core is still up in the air. Is there a visible/measurable difference between copper core and aluminum core SS clad cookware? I am dying to know whether I should pay $1800 for All-Clad Copper Core or $239 for Tramontina's Tri-Ply aluminum core (or something like it: Cuisinart Pro-Clad, Kitchenaid, etc.).

I have scoured the web, and while everyone agrees that copper is a MUCH better conductor than aluminum, to date objective, scientific comparisons have escaped my net and Google. The closest I've come is on cookingforengineers.com, wherefrom I infer it's a practical wash due to copper's higher conductivity being hampered by its heat capacity: http://www.cookingforengineers.com/ar..., see section "Pulling it together: thermal diffusivity"). But sadly, no measurements are done as to evenness, speed of heating/cooling, etc.

Does anyone have any firsthand observations or, better yet, measured differences between aluminum core and copper core? 'Cause I'm willing to drop the coin, but only if it's noticeably better. Please, help me out, o sage chefs!

  1. p
    PanKiller Nov 13, 2013 08:22 PM

    I have come in late to this discussion - wondered if the Cu++ lined pan was better than the cheaper Al lined one. (My name is valid - I kill pans - very little sense of smell and things burn).
    In any event splurged on this lovely pan by BonJour with a thick Cu lining - from Home Goods - and was wondering if I should keep it or return it, so thanks for all the information - I shall try not to abuse the pan. (For me, $70 for a pan is a splurge). It definitely is heavier, odd little copper disc on the bottom: visible where the SS has been cut away in the middle. Not sure why other than a really silly gimmick.

    2 Replies
    1. re: PanKiller
      Chemicalkinetics Nov 13, 2013 09:14 PM

      <wondered if the Cu++ lined pan was better than the cheaper Al lined one.>

      In most cases, not really.

      BonJour is good for its price, but I am nott sure if I would classify 1mm as thick copper.

      <if I should keep it or return it>

      You should keep it. $70 is fairly inexpensive for any cladded cookware anyway.

      <Not sure why other than a really silly gimmick.>

      You will be amazed that how many people do care about this kind of thing. They may not admit it, but many more people will buy a copper cladded cookware which shows the copper vs a copper cladded cookware which hides the copper.

      1. re: PanKiller
        GH1618 Nov 14, 2013 06:38 AM

        The Bon Jour looks like the same thing is the Anolon Nouvelle Copper/Stainless, except for styling. They are made by the same company.

        The visible copper disc is just so you know it's the model with copper in it. Everyone does something like this when the copper is buried inside.

      2. 4
        4plates2table Jan 22, 2012 07:26 AM

        For what it's worth, I have a mix of All Clad SS, Masterchef and LTD. I've had it for more than 15 yrs. I also have Le Creuset dutch ovens. I think your cookware collection should match your cooking needs. I don't think it should all be the same. Since copper heats up quickly and cools down quickly, having a copper saucepan for delicate sauces that need intense heat control would be great. But I've found that AC is a tried and true work-horse in my kitchen. I've gathered my collection over the years... just added a AC SS 12" skillet last week. For a home chef, I don't think you'd see that great of a difference in the copper core verses the other lines of AC. I can vouch that All Clad lasts forever. Mauviel is equally durable and a great performer.

        I think if you have quality cookware, how well it works is more about the cook. Heat control is the key. Never a need to have super high heat when you have great cookware. And nothing sticks to my SS interior pans. I always follow the rule "hot pan cold oil." Heat the pan first, then add your oil. It will keep the foods from sticking. Fully clad cookware constructed with a great heat conducting core, will heat evenly and maintain heat perfectly. Love my AC! And by the way, it's so easy to keep clean. If ever it gets stained, I just sprinkle a little bar keepers friend and it's shiny and new again. Amazing. Here's a cookware shopping guide to help if you haven't already taken the plunge.


        8 Replies
        1. re: 4plates2table
          Seitan Feb 9, 2012 06:14 PM

          Have you noticed any difference in heat response between the various All-Clads you own?

          1. re: Seitan
            SWISSAIRE Mar 8, 2012 10:37 PM

            Kaleo ( way back up at the top ) is spot on.

            Copper in this age, is very warm and attractive to look at. If one feels at home that it cooks better, then subjectively, so be it. Someone will do a lot of polishing to keep it looking sharp, and will be adding tin and other interior coatings ( which I prefer not to consume) almost as often.

            Most restaurants in Europe use copper for presentation serving of better more elaborate menu items. For others it may be a historical display of copperware, always interesting, to see as a decorative touch.

            A good restaurant desires the emphasis and attention made on serving good patrons and building new customers. Not in the kitchen, where if you look you will usually find the sparkling copper and brass serving pans or trays stacked ready and waiting, over a range or on a shelf somewhere. There are far better modern materials, and material combinations available, at realistic expense to do the job hour upon hour, month after month.

            It would be very interesting to read a comparison done by someone not in the cooking, vending or manufacturing industry. I would be interested in reading anything (link) that could be offered, but to date I haven't read any without some commercial attachment or sponsorship of some fashion.

            On the subject of copper and induction, I believe a solution is possible if not in the works using thin coatings on a good quality pan or pot exterior using stainless steel. Such coatings or finishes might be a little difficult to scrub very hard or dishwash.

            1. re: SWISSAIRE
              kaleokahu Mar 9, 2012 08:59 AM

              Guten Morgen Swissaire:

              I'm not sure, but I think we disagree on the issue of whether "far better" materials and combinations than copper exist. The rub is always in how one defines 'better'. If the definition includes minimizing acquisition cost, maintenance and repair, then reasonable minds can differ. But if it excludes those factors, and a fair comparison is made between tinned or silvered 3mm copper and any other available cookware material/combination, then I think it's incorrect; parity is as good as it can ever get.

              Then there is the convenience factor. My personal definition of "better" doesn't even take this into account, but I understand that I'm in the minority here. Still, I think that many people who decry the "inconvenience" of copper are merely reacting to--and repeating--what they've heard. That, or they've made one expensive mistake that has soured them. Those of us (including you?) who are habituated to minding the heat, hand-washing and using wooden ecumoires find little if any inconvenience. And frankly, IMO the convenience reasons to avoid copperware effectively ended with the advent of the SS-lined pans.

              How and why would anyone outside cooking do an interesting comparison? There are precious few real comparisons *at all*, aside from my feeble attempts posted here and several better-conceived efforts posted here by others. What I think would be fantastic is if a materials scientist would evaluate and rate specific pans on specific hobs/in specific ovens for a living, but s/he had better also be a decent chef or have one in tow.

              IMO, the major stumbling block to copperware use and sales worldwide is consumer unfamiliarity. The antidote for that is education and hands-on experience. To that end, there is promising loose talk happening right now about formation of a guild whose #1 goal will be offering that education.

              If I might draw an analogy with winemaking... There are many, many fine winemakers who believe that there are "far better" ways to make, age and store their wines than to use the best traditional ($$$$, inconvenient and maintenance-headache) barriques. On even a small scale--analagous to a small restaurant--the acquisition, care and maintenance costs can be tremendous. Production on a large scale (think large restaurant), well.... bring many fortunes. However, that a substantial number of VERY successful vintners *do* endure this cost and inconvenience, and whose bottles predominate in quality, scores and market price, cannot be disputed. Those wines are the models that others try to emulate (and sometimes succeed) by using other methods.

              Now then, skilled hobbyists (think self-chefs) can and do produce wines in the traditional and expensive ways without breaking the bank or compromising quality for convenience. Their acquisition cost may be higher than for someone vinifying (cooking) in SS, but it is nonetheless affordable. On such a micro scale, they can afford and "baby" their few barriques (pans), often buying used from premier wineries (eBay).

              Let me extend the wine analogy one step further, into the subjective (?) realm... Several psychological studies show that wines presented in pleasing ways (including testers' hinting at a high price) *actually taste better* than the same wines presented differently. Even professional tasters are commonly and easily "fooled" despite their best efforts to remain objective. The wine may be exactly the same, but the hedonic returns are very different, and the satisfaction differences are REAL. I think the same thing happens with food, and especially so, since the (sometimes steep) price is known, and set and setting are highly manipulated. I will be unsurprised to hear of a restaurant that becomes wildly popular with patrons and critics alike for offering special dishes--and at enhanced prices--cooked in 100-year-old hotel-grade copper, e.g., a piece once owned by a culinary luminary like Escoffier. The latest research on placebo effects calls into question the entire objective/subjective distinction!

              As for retrofitting copperware to induction, while I think that concept is backward, you may easily be right and prescient. There are already sprayed-metal technologies (e.g., Demeyere's "Silvinox") that produce very thin, highly durable surfaces. But I think doing this as one-offs to make one's batterie function on an induction appliance would be $$$$. We will need to wait for a manufacturer hungry enough for market share to make a line of perfectly good copper pans and then spray on a ferrous induction coat. To some extent it would be similar to the deBuyer Prima Matera line, anyway.


              1. re: kaleokahu
                SWISSAIRE Mar 9, 2012 02:17 PM

                Quite a vocabulary, Kaleo. You rob me of words.

                It is 22:00 hours here, and spring is on it's way. Good analogy with copper, viniculture, and wine making. My family is a cooperative-member of an old resuscitated vinyard nearby. Considering all the monies we have all poured into the venture versus the limited product, concur.

                Those members here appreciative of copperware, brainstrom with me for a moment with the attached illustration (In German, my apologies, but easy to understand ).

                Notice the three layers in the pot construction, illustrated on the right. 18/10 S.S., Alu. core, S.S. Now if the exterior layer be replaced with a copper coating, perhaps from the outside curve upwards, might that combination not work on induction, gas, electric, ceramic, and in an oven ? It might even be dishwasher safe as well ?

                Food for thought as I enjoy the last Nespresso for the night.

                1. re: SWISSAIRE
                  kaleokahu Mar 9, 2012 02:53 PM

                  Hi, SWISSAIRE:

                  I see no reason why you could not either: (1) *add* a full-height band of copper around the pan's walls (in which case it would be kupfer+inox+aluminium+inox in the walls); or (2) add it to the entire pan's exterior and then also add an 18/10 disc on the bottom. Both should work with induction, although I'm not sure either is an advantageous design.

                  As for DW, I think appearance is more of an issue than safety.


                  1. re: kaleokahu
                    SWISSAIRE Mar 10, 2012 12:29 AM


                    1. re: SWISSAIRE
                      tanuki soup Mar 10, 2012 01:05 AM

                      Hope you don't mind my jumping in.

                      All-Clad Copper Core is induction-capable -- it's 5-ply (SS-Al-Cu-Al-SS) all the way up the sides. I haven't tried it personally, but it seems really appealing to me.

                      I have a De Buyer Prima Matera frying pan (the line Kaleo mentioned previously) that is SS on the inside and Cu on the outside, with a bonded SS disk on the bottom to make it induction-capable. Saucepans, saute pans, and stockpots are also available.

                      Anolon Nouvelle Copper is also induction-capable cookware with a two-layer SS/copper disk bonded to the bottom. Both nonstick anodized aluminum and plain stainless steel versions are available. Very reasonably priced. I use a nonstick ANC frying pan for omelets and am quite happy with it.

                      1. re: tanuki soup
                        SWISSAIRE Mar 10, 2012 12:39 PM

                        Good information.

                        Any member out there with experience ?

        2. paulj Jan 21, 2012 10:45 PM

          If we had some realistic estimates of the thickness of various layers, it shouldn't be hard to construct a numerical model of a pan bottom, and calculate the heat distribution. It would be hard to get more objective than that. A 2 quarter engineering class in finite element modeling should be enough.

          It would take some discussion to come up with some scenarios that half way reflect the subjective impressions that we really want. The easiest thing to model would be a steady state case, say with heat over part of the bottom (simulating an electric stove), Then the heat capacity of the pan metal wouldn't matter. I''m thinking, for example, of the case where I am cooking pancakes or french toast in a pan that is larger in diameter than the burner.

          The would be other scenarios where the heat capacity of the pan materials does matter. But those time dependent cases are harder to model (not impossible, just more time consuming).

          19 Replies
          1. re: paulj
            GH1618 Jan 21, 2012 10:59 PM

            But since the pans exist, why model them. Just do some experiments and measure the heat distribution under various conditions. Since the material properties differ significantly, it ought to be possible to measure differences. The more important question, it seems to me, is whether there are subjective differences, not objective. In other words, can the cook tell the difference?

            1. re: GH1618
              Chemicalkinetics Jan 21, 2012 11:30 PM

              "In other words, can the cook tell the difference?"

              What is more interesting is: can the eater tell?

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                davidahn Jan 22, 2012 10:46 AM

                "What is more interesting is: can the eater tell?"

                While it's valid to consider the end result, it's akin to saying you should buy an AMC Pacer because it can get you to the same destination as a Ferrari. While it's true, I think this thread is about about cookware that could allow you to do it faster, easier, or simply with greater intangible satisfaction.

                1. re: davidahn
                  Chemicalkinetics Jan 22, 2012 11:02 AM

                  "it's akin to saying you should buy an AMC Pacer because it can get you to the same destination as a Ferrari"

                  Actually, it depends on individual's goals, which is why not everyone wants a Ferrai. If your goal is about which car gives you the best mile per gallon and most environmental friendly, then you should look at the gas gauge. If your goal is about which car is faster, then you can time the travel. If your goal is just trying to get to one point to another with the least investment, then the purchase cost and maintenance matters.

                  "I think this thread is about about cookware that could allow you to do it faster, easier, or simply with greater intangible satisfaction."

                  The end results do matter because the quality of the finish products should matter. Let me give you a very simple example. Objectively speaking, it is easier to cook in a Teflon nonstick pan. Of all the cookware there, nonstick cookware has the easiest learning curve. There is very little skill to handle a nonstick pan, and it cleans very easily. It is fast, easy and quiet a joy to use really, which is why it is still extremely popular. The problem is that the final food products are usually not the best. The truth of the matters is if Teflon cookware could produce the same quality of finished products as other cookware, then I would have used Teflon cookware. However, it doesn't, so I don't have a single Teflon cookware.

                  Based on what mikie wrote about KitchenAid and All Clad. If for some reasons, the KitchenAid actually produces better foods at the end (let's just say it does), then it should matter -- how important it is that will be different from individuals to individuals, but it should have some importance to it.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                    paulj Jan 22, 2012 11:54 AM

                    With the exception of searing meat till it naturally releases, I can't think of a food that would taste better in a not-non-stick pan. However, since I am aware that even a good non-stick surface does not last for ever, I try to use my other pans when ever they would work just as well. Beyond that my choices focus more on pan size, shape, and type of heat (induction, gas, electric, oven).

                    The thing I lack is a good 10" SS skillet. But my 10" aluminum dutch oven is nearly as good, though with deeper straight sides. 12" would be too large for any of my burners (though I do have a enameled steel paella pan in that size).

                    Enameled steel is an old kitchen workhorse that has yet to become a retro fad.

                    1. re: paulj
                      Jay F Jan 22, 2012 01:43 PM

                      paulj: <<The thing I lack is a good 10" SS skillet.>>

                      What would you buy if you felt like spending the money for one? This is something I also lack.

                      <<Enameled steel is an old kitchen workhorse that has yet to become a retro fad.>>

                      I have a Le Creuset stockpot that's enameled steel, and I have never owned anything with more chips and cracks.

                      1. re: paulj
                        Chemicalkinetics Jan 22, 2012 03:05 PM

                        Hi Paul,

                        "With the exception of searing meat till it naturally releases, I can't think of a food that would taste better in a not-non-stick pan."

                        That is actually a good point. So I will retract some of previous statements. For example, I would not imagine soups made in a stainless steel pot taste better than from a same size nonstick pot. Now, I think we both agree that meats (especially those sear to release) taste a bit better from other cookware than from nonstick pans due to caramelization and browning..etc . I would also argue one more case. Wok cooking. Wok cooking does not have requirement for natural release from browning, but it has a requirement for very high temperature cooking. While technically one can cook at very high temperature using a Teflon cookware, the cookware won't last very long and there is high chance of degassing the Teflon pan. The truth is that it isn't just wok cooking. It is true for any high temperature cooking, but especially for wok cooking.

                        Excellent points, Paul.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                          paulj Jan 22, 2012 03:38 PM

                          I gave up trying to approximate a high temperature wok a long time ago.

                    2. re: davidahn
                      kaleokahu Jan 22, 2012 06:18 PM

                      Hi, David:


                      Also relevant, if we continue the analogy, is to look to see what professional drivers drive on the street. I'm not sanguine with the conclusion that anyone driving a Pacer wouldn't lunge at the offer to trade it for a Ferrari. It's all about cost, cost priorities and appreciation of differences. Fortunately, everyone with even a basic income can have at least one "Ferrari" pan.


                      1. re: kaleokahu
                        paulj Jan 22, 2012 06:36 PM

                        Do they sell 'ferrari' pans for $30 as TJMaxx? :) I did get a copper sauce pan for about that a couple of years ago.

                        1. re: paulj
                          kaleokahu Jan 22, 2012 06:50 PM

                          Hi, Paul:

                          Absolutely. (As you know) if you're patient, and you look, and you enjoy learning, you can find fabulous deals that will put a "Ferrari's" wheel in your hands for very little money. As I've written here several times, I have only ever purchased ONE new copper pan at retail, and my whole batterie probably cost me less than what buying the same pieces new, at retail, that Staub, LC, and premier clad would cost.


                      2. re: davidahn
                        plainv70 Jan 23, 2012 06:58 AM

                        "should buy an AMC Pacer because it can get you to the same destination as a Ferrari."

                        However, there are some things you can do with a Pacer that you can't ever do in a Ferrari.


                        "...greater intangible satisfaction" is the tagline for all marketers of luxury products. Perception is reality.

                        1. re: plainv70
                          davidahn Jan 23, 2012 10:19 AM

                          Haha Touché. You definitely can't get 5 guys in a Ferrari singing Bohemian Rhapsody!

                          In my experience, most luxury products give you more than just the intangible satisfaction of the brand's superiority. They USUALLY (not always) give you higher quality materials, better construction, and tighter quality control.

                          My wife's Louis Vuitton purses get "banged around" by her and still look brand new after many years of abuse (inside joke for those who've followed the whole thread). Lesser brands (even Ferragamo) fall apart in less than a year.


                          1. re: davidahn
                            plainv70 Jan 24, 2012 11:53 AM

                            re quality I have to agree in principal. In my suit & tie days I always bought the better clothes and shoes (read more $$); most suits look good the day you buy them, the better brands looked good after the first year and beyond. That said, I still shopped carefully to satisfy my value criteria. It appears that there are a lot of very good pots and pans in the middle market at reasonable prices such that they have a very high value quotient.

                            Still, luxury goods do trade on perception (and manipulated scarcity). Consider two identical buildings, one on a tony block in San Diego, the other in an equally safe, clean middle market block in town. What is the difference that commands the higher price for the former? Same with pots & pans, at some point performance is no longer the criteria. Look at how the prices of some goods have changed when they became favored by the popular crowd. I think All-Clad has done a great job marketing (incl. managing perception)--as would I, if I was in their shoes, as their products become increasingly more commodity like with the growth in Asian competition.

                            Metal for thought: we like to criticize Chinese products and manufacturing, however the newest specialty metal plantsin the world are in China and SE Asia. They are capable of making state of the art laminates--as they should be as US and European companies were/are involved in many of them. I would not be surprised if All-Clad uses Asian SS cladded aluminum; they can still claim they're made in the US while using imported raw materials.

                            Meyer, the parent company of Anolon, has a subsidiary which, they claim, is the largest aluminum circular plate manufacturer in the world--with no US production, btw--as well as being a major world wide specialty aluminum products company.

                            1. re: plainv70
                              davidahn Jan 24, 2012 02:51 PM

                              You make some sound arguments. I think everyone buys based on value, but everyone has a different point on the price-quality curve where they are comfortable, hence the saying, "You get what you pay for." I'm higher on the curve than many, but way lower than some.

                              I agree that perception and emotion (desirability) play a significant role in purchasing decisions, which is why image is carefully developed by those brands that command the dearest prices. By extension, the perceived value or desirability of a product will increase that intangible: pride of ownership. Though you can't buy happiness, you can buy satisfaction... thanks to that "je ne sais quoi" carefully cultivated by the maker (sometimes over centuries).

                              You're right; it's unfair to say all Chinese products are "crap"; some of the world's best stuff is made there (e.g., Apple), but to achieve that requires management with a different philosophy. Thousands of Chinese factories churn out low quality garbage because clients demand it. No, they don't demand low quality, but it comes naturally as a byproduct of the low prices they demand. They're simply giving us what we asked for: rock bottom prices no matter the cost. We have met the enemy and he is us.


                              1. re: plainv70
                                mikie Jan 24, 2012 08:05 PM

                                Although perhaps China has the latent potential to manufacture state of the art products, my experience to date is that they have no intention of doing so. Any time I have looked at an item made in China, regardless of what it might be, and compare it to an item made in either the US or EU, I have found the China item to be of inferior construction and workmanship. Even the simpelest item doesn't seem to have the detial that the same product made in the US has. It seems that they try to pull every possible cost out of the product, so it's thinner, less defined, and in general more poorly made.

                                1. re: mikie
                                  davidahn Jan 24, 2012 11:41 PM

                                  I think everyone's had that experience with products made in China.

                                  I look forward to the day when the yuan is valued fairly and China will be able to compete on quality as a stronger yuan erases the cost advantage. It will give everyone else a fair shot at the manufacturing business China is monopolizing, and China will be able to overcome their reputation for producing cheap products.

                      3. re: GH1618
                        mikie Jan 22, 2012 06:12 AM

                        I agree, the method needs to use available equipment, other than for the sake of academic amusement, modeling items that don't exist isn't going to be of much help in selection of new equipment. For example, modeling ply construction where the aluminum and copper layers would be of equal thickness, does not represent what you can purchase commercially.

                        I also wonder about Chem's point below about the variable heat sink, aka food. A PhD in thermodynamics might be required to understand the interactions of various foods in a hot pan. And further, can the differences be so minute that subjectively you can't tell the difference in the cooking process or in the quality of the food?

                      4. re: paulj
                        Chemicalkinetics Jan 21, 2012 11:26 PM

                        "The easiest thing to model would be a steady state case"

                        That is true when heat in and heat out equal. I think it is easier to model heat in than heat out.

                        "The would be other scenarios where the heat capacity of the pan materials does matter. "

                        What is more difficult and more relevant is when foods are placed on a pan. When a heat sink is placed on a hot surface. It withdraws energy and now the pan has to equilibrate again with a heat sink which changes temperature. (a heat sink which does not withdraw at a constant rate).

                      5. m
                        mikie Jan 21, 2012 06:06 AM

                        I know this is really late to bring to the discussioon, however, I thought it was interesting and informative and will surely spark some debate as to its merits. We've been remodeling our kitchen (almost done) and I had bought some of the Consum Reports special kitchen remodeling magazines. I was looking through one earlier today and saw a section on "Value Priced vs Over Priced", and what should be in there but AC copper core cookware. I have no idea how CR does their testing or exactly how they come to some of their conclusions, but for what it's worth here's their take.
                        Value Priced Kitchedaid Gourmet Essentials for $150 (10 piece set) had more even cooking in their test than the Over Priced All-Clad Copper-core at $830 (7 piece set).
                        I don't know the construction for the KA set, I assume it's not copper core and I assume it's made in China, but it certianly raises the question of does more money for cookware really get a better pan and does the material of construction really make all that much difference when pot meets hob? If the copper layer in the AC can't make an improvement or at least be even with the aluminum core in a very inexpensive pan, then how much better is other cookware with various materials of construction? Again, I wish I knew just exactly how CR came to their conclusion, is it science where the test doesn't accurately reflect the real world, or is it the real world that doesn't get accurately reflected by science?
                        All this when I really want to get new cookware when the kitchen is finished.

                        16 Replies
                        1. re: mikie
                          kaleokahu Jan 21, 2012 10:08 AM

                          Hi, mikie:

                          As you said, we would need to know the test methodology. It would also be useful to know, from a quantitative standpoint, *how* much "more even" the cheaper set was. I'd add that it bears remembering that clad-v-clad comparisons are but a middle slice of the available market when it comes to evenness. Finally, I haven't found CR to be all that credible in general on cookware>

                          I'm excited for you with the remodel. What are you considering for pots & pans?


                          1. re: kaleokahu
                            mikie Jan 21, 2012 04:53 PM

                            I've never found product reviews either by CR or other publications to be the final word on anything. There are just too many variables and what someone may consider a valued feature, may have no value to me. I just thought what they had to say was interesting. What I didn't catch and Chem did, is that they weren't comparing apples to apples, as I didn't catch the disk bottoms on the KA cookware. I just assumed they were making that kind of comparison.

                            The kitchen remodel was extensive although not expansive, just all new cabinets, appliances, floor, lighting, counter top, etc. We now have what I would consider a proper range-top, a six burner Electrolux Icon gas. It's fantastic, but we need pots and pans to do it jsutice. The stuff we have is over 40 years old and has survived 4 kids learning to cook, so I don't think there's a flat bottom in the house. If it were just me, I'd get copper, but as with all things with a spouse, it's going to have to be a compromise and I don't think she's ready for copper. The one thing we do agree on is that it will not be made in China, so all those are definately out, which narrows down the list considerably. So, I'm a bit of a Euro Snob, I like the stuff made in Italy, France, Belgium, and Germany. I'm leaning towards Demeyere Atlantis, but no decision has been made and probably won't until we see if any money is left over when we're finished.

                            1. re: mikie
                              kaleokahu Jan 21, 2012 09:02 PM

                              Hi, mikie:

                              I'm excited for you with the remodel. I hope you focus on the fun, and getting the kitchen just the way you want, rather than the hassles that remodeling sometimes brings.


                          2. re: mikie
                            Chemicalkinetics Jan 21, 2012 10:59 AM

                            "is it science where the test doesn't accurately reflect the real world"

                            I won't say that. It is really about prediction vs experimental data. When making a prediction, one take into account a few variables. If too few variables are account for, then the prediction can be off. If certain variables are overestimated, then it can also cause problems.

                            KitchenAid is a disc bottom cookware (based on photo). It is easier to make a thin piece of bottom on a disc bottom cookware than a full cladded cookware like the All Clad. In other words, these may not have the same thickness. In addition, aluminum actually has much better ability to even out temperature than thermal conductivity suggests because as you know aluminum has much lower specific heat capacity (in volume). So while copper transfer more heat, copper need more heat to change its temperature. So they very much cancel each other out in term of their ability to create an uniform temperature.

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                              plainv70 Jan 21, 2012 11:40 AM

                              specific heat or heat capacity, which one? ;)

                              "copper need more heat to change its temperature." Really?

                              . (kJ/kg degK) (kcal/kg degC) (Btu/lb degF)
                              Aluminum 0.91 0.22 0.22
                              Copper 0.39 0.092 0.09


                              1. re: plainv70
                                Chemicalkinetics Jan 21, 2012 11:45 AM

                                Hi plainv70

                                specific heat capacity is usually used to describe the heat capacity per mass, like per gram or per kilogram. You are correct to point out the specific heat. I was actually thinking about heat capacity in volume. The reason is that usually we think of comparing cookware of the same dimension and less about comparing cookware of the same mass. In a sense, it is also more important to discuss "per volume" since thermal conductivity is described in dimension.

                                Copper has a higher heat capacity per volume.

                                So if you have a copper cookware and an aluminum cookware of the same size (not same mass), then it takes more energy to change the copper cookware.

                                Aluminum has about twice the specific heat capacity (in mass) as copper, but aluminum a third of the density of copper.

                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                  plainv70 Jan 21, 2012 12:50 PM

                                  "Copper has higher heat capacity per volume. So if you have a copper cookware and an aluminum cookware of the same size (not same mass), then it takes more energy to change the copper cookware."

                                  You say tomaytoes, I say tomahtoes... Why didn't you say we were talking about volumetric heat capacities?

                                  Nonetheless, i'll stick with mass. Layer thicknesses are rarely the same.

                                  This has all become very academic, bordering on the pedantic.The reality is how do they cook in your kitchen? We will never get objective performance data for these products (even if it was available). Application data is often the result of subjective and, yes, repeatable observations from contrived tests. But who cares? If it is useful, we run with it.

                                  Chef Boyardee needs to know if their high volume production lines could be cost effectively made to use less energy when making Beefaroni. Even a 5% (or less) difference would be of interest to them. At home--in the US, we don't care if we blow 20% of our heat out the hood or a particular set of pans takes 20% longer to heat up (how would we know anyhow?). They just have to cook consistently (whatever that is), look good and, most often, cheap.

                                  Metal for thought: a 4 lb copper pot has about $8-12 more metal than its Al counterpart.

                                  1. re: plainv70
                                    Chemicalkinetics Jan 21, 2012 01:05 PM

                                    "Why didn't you say we were talking about volumetric heat capacities? "

                                    If that was confusing, then at least I described it in details now.

                                    "Nonetheless, i'll stick with mass. Layer thicknesses are rarely the same."

                                    Well, it is even more rare to have same mass. It is much easier for me to find a copper pan the same size as a aluminum pan, than for me to find a copper pan and an aluminum pan to have the same mass. An aluminum pan which has the same mass as a copper pan would be three times as thick. In the case of the same mass (as you said), then more the reason the aluminum pan will perform better for temperature even distribution because it is three times as thick, as I have mentioned in the above post: "In other words, these may not have the same thickness"

                                    "This has all become very academic, bordering on the pedantic."

                                    mikie asked "is it science where the test doesn't accurately reflect the real world", and I answered that prediction can be off if important variables are not account for. In this case, probably dimension and heat capacity may not have been accounted for with the above statement. All I really wrote to mike is that thermal conductivity alone is not everything.

                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                      plainv70 Jan 21, 2012 01:41 PM

                                      "Nonetheless, i'll stick with mass. Layer thicknesses are rarely the same."

                                      Meaning: measure the mass of each component (layer) of a particular pot or pan and compare. Bulk properties, apples to apples...

                                      Let's move on.

                                    2. re: plainv70
                                      kaleokahu Jan 21, 2012 09:11 PM

                                      HI, plainv70: "Metal for thought: a 4 lb copper pot has about $8-12 more metal than its Al counterpart."

                                      Really good--and oft-overlooked--point. The same retinal blindspot was pointed out here recently in a discussion of silver-lined copperware. The cost of silver necessary to line a saute to a thickness of 15 microns is very small, yet everyone assumes that it costs tremendously more.


                                      1. re: kaleokahu
                                        GH1618 Jan 21, 2012 09:56 PM

                                        Economics is not merely a matter of materials cost. If you want a silver-lined pan, you are not merely buying silver, unless you are going to do it yourself. You are buying the services of someone who can and will do it for you. A person who is in the business of tinning copper may not have silver in stock, may have no experience with it, may need a modification to his process in order to do it. A person experienced with making silver jewelry may have no experience coating pans. The cost is not merely the price of the silver, but what someone will charge you to do it. I'm not going to try to get a quote, but I'll bet it will be substantially higher than the going rate for retinning, if it is available at all.

                                        1. re: GH1618
                                          paulj Jan 21, 2012 10:26 PM

                                          My is father is an electronics engineer who has designed and built high power radio transmitters. Some parts were oversized by familiar standards, like using cooling systems designed for mining trucks. And inductors based on 6" diameter metal pipes - silver coated for good conductivity. To do that, they turned to nearby band instrument makers (Elkhart Indiana).

                                          1. re: paulj
                                            GH1618 Jan 21, 2012 10:41 PM

                                            OK, call them up and get a quote for silver-plating a copper pan (interior only). Must inlude removing existing tin.

                                            1. re: paulj
                                              kaleokahu Jan 21, 2012 11:02 PM

                                              Hi, paulj:

                                              Great idea. Can you give me a better lead to the band instrument company? We'll see how much it costs. Retinning an 11" diameter x 3" tall saute these days can go for $112.


                                              1. re: kaleokahu
                                                paulj Jan 21, 2012 11:28 PM

                                                I don't known who they use. There used to be a slew in that area, though I'm sure many have closed. The area is now known more for RVs.

                                  2. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                    Chemicalkinetics Jan 21, 2012 01:24 PM

                                    "It is easier to make a thin piece of bottom on a disc bottom cookware than a full cladded cookware"

                                    Typo. Should be THICK piece of bottom.

                                2. davidahn Jan 19, 2012 02:34 PM

                                  Just peeked inside the box of my All-Clad Copper Core "Open Stir-Fry" (wok), which I will be putting up for sale since no one likes SS woks. :)

                                  I have to say the piece itself is BEAUTIFUL. Too bad about the material. But I do NOT like All-Clad's handles! I heard the flagship products had better handles, but I like the handles on the Anolon Nouvelle Copper SS WAY better. They're solid, comfortable, and don't dig into your fingers when you try to lift the pan. Granted, the SS clad copper is heavy, but the handle digs in when empty; I can't imagine what it would feel like when it's full of food!

                                  35 Replies
                                  1. re: davidahn
                                    will47 Jan 19, 2012 02:40 PM

                                    Do you hold the pan overhand or underhand, and do you use a side towel to hold it?

                                    Personally, I find All-Clad's handles cooler and comfortable than most.

                                    1. re: will47
                                      davidahn Jan 19, 2012 03:36 PM

                                      I hold it overhand; I suppose it would be more comfortable underhand and more functional for tossing. Still, it's hard to make a case for the thinner, U-shaped handle being better than a solid, fatter handle.

                                    2. re: davidahn
                                      Eiron Jan 19, 2012 03:25 PM

                                      It IS a stunning piece, isn't it? :-) I toyed with the idea of buying one a year ago, when I first saw it in person. But the realization that I'd never use it (& the price) kept that purchase at bay.

                                      1. re: Eiron
                                        plainv70 Jan 19, 2012 10:34 PM

                                        Real fun is cooking with a wok on a bona fide wok burner: 50K, 100K btus.

                                        I took the propane burner set up from a turkey cooker and used it with an ordinary iron wok--outdoors, of course.

                                        All I can say is fabulous.

                                        When cooking with a wok, it's not the pan; it's all about the heat source.

                                        1. re: plainv70
                                          davidahn Jan 19, 2012 10:56 PM

                                          Haha, nice. I hope my 23K BTU Capital Culinarian burners will be a close approximation in functionality to your 100K BTU burner.

                                          1. re: davidahn
                                            plainv70 Jan 20, 2012 08:30 AM

                                            Off topic, have you considered or are you installing a make-up air vent with your new stove and hood? A range of that capacity generates a lot heat requiring a hood that moves a lot of air, like 1000-1200 cfm on high, e.g. when wokking. That's all conditioned and or heated air depending on where you live and will significantly affect the temperature and humidity off your kitchen and adjacent rooms. Bringing in additional air will mitigate that. Also, if you have the oven going and 2 burners, that is the equivalent of a medium sized furnace; in addition to the fugitive heat, that requires a lot of combustion air. All these things directly affect your HVAC.

                                            1. re: plainv70
                                              davidahn Jan 20, 2012 09:47 AM

                                              I am considering MUA now, but was considering filtered but unconditioned air. I have that luxury in San Diego about 300 days a year. Any specific advice on how to get conditioned MUA in my house without spending an arm and a leg? I've only got one of each left.

                                              1. re: davidahn
                                                plainv70 Jan 20, 2012 01:14 PM

                                                Consider that typical residential hvac ducts & vents are designed (and hopefully deliver) 400-700 cfm to a room. A high capacity range hood has the ability to remove that much and more.

                                                If make up air is not provided, the hood will draw air from wherever it can get it: leaky windows & doors, fireplaces, hot water heater flues, other vents, any air gap. If the house is tight, the hood will be operating against a higher static pressure and will run at reduced capacity.

                                                If a house is leaky enough and the outside temp/humidity is not uncomfortable, you might be ok. I've never lived south of the Mason-Dixon line and wouldn't know about that. :)

                                                It might seem that the hood is not making much of a difference, but it has to; air volume in = air volume out, always. It may be that it is pulling from enough places, far enough away that it is diluted on its way through the house. If it is very hot or cold outside that air will have to be cooled or heated for the inside temp to be stable. The furnace and or ac will run more often. The bigger the house and air volume, the less noticeable it would be.

                                                A simple test is turn on the hood crack an outside door or window near the hood and hold a kleenex next to it.

                                                Even with my cheesy little hood (whose days are numbered), I can notice its effect if I crack a kitchen window.

                                                Make up air really doesn't have to be heated or cooled if it is brought in near to the range. I've seen floor vents added under or near the range; dampered so they can be closed when the hood is not in use (there are probably be electrically switched dampers available that can be tied into the hood circuit).

                                                Combustion gases are produced (co2 & water vapor mostly) and would offset some of demand for make up air, but it's can't be enough.

                                                By comparison, my 115k btu 90+% furnace has a 3" pvc fresh air intake for combustion. You could run a 3" pipe or 4-6" metal duct, or even seal off the space between the joices if you have basement or crawl space access. If those options are available, a 4" metal duct through a soffit or cabinets to the outside in your kitchen would do it. You just want to it to vent below the combustion site. The hood will draw air from the easiest source, so if you put the vent to close to the hood, it avoid the cooking fumes.

                                                All that said, in San Diego you can probably get by with cracking a window in your kitchen. lol

                                              2. re: plainv70
                                                will47 Jan 20, 2012 10:17 AM

                                                We are fine with the Culinarian with a 700-800 BTU range hood (that vents to the outside) and nothing else.

                                                1. re: will47
                                                  plainv70 Jan 20, 2012 01:39 PM

                                                  Wish i found this first...


                                            2. re: plainv70
                                              Chemicalkinetics Jan 20, 2012 08:52 AM

                                              "When cooking with a wok, it's not the pan; it's all about the heat source."

                                              Hmm, agree somewhat, and not agree somewhat. It is correct to say the burner plays a much much much greater role than all the other kind of cooking styles, but the wok matters very much as well. You can have a 100K BTU burners, but if you put a stainless steel wok, the foods will badly stick to the wok which can be very messy to deal with. If you use a tinned copper wok, the tin will soften and scratch the hell out, and may even melt on the high heat jet burner. If you use a heavy cast iron wok, like those made by Lodge, then you will have major problem tossing foods in the wok. If you use a ... You get a the picture.

                                              This only refers to the materials, but in fact, the shape and design of the wok also play important roles as well.

                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                Eiron Jan 20, 2012 09:24 AM

                                                I've never wok'd, & I've never cooked over that high of a burner, but I have to wonder how the All Clad Copper Core would perform (with sufficient oil) over that level of burner.

                                                1. re: Eiron
                                                  davidahn Jan 20, 2012 09:48 AM

                                                  Everyone says the key to cooking with SS is low heat, so I'm guessing 100K BTUs is the opposite of low heat and would NOT do well with the Copper Core piece.

                                                  1. re: davidahn
                                                    Eiron Jan 20, 2012 10:27 AM

                                                    True, but woking technique is so much different from conventional range-top cooking. As I said, I've never wok'd, but my understanding is that it's closer to flash-oil-frying than it is to cooking omelettes or searing chops. I'd think the difference might be important?

                                                    1. re: davidahn
                                                      Chemicalkinetics Jan 20, 2012 11:05 AM

                                                      "Everyone says the key to cooking with SS is low heat"

                                                      Really? I don't know about that. If that is the case, then one would argue that stainless steel cookware are for slow long cooking vessel like Dutch Ovens, which many people prefer something else.

                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                        davidahn Jan 20, 2012 10:35 PM

                                                        CK, I was responding to Eiron's question regarding the A-C Copper Core wok over a 50-100K BTU gas burner. Still, let me rephrase to not cause confusion for anyone.

                                                        Everyone says the key to NOT HAVING FOOD STICK ON SS is low heat. Edited portion is in all caps.

                                                        I've read multiple reviews of SS cookware as well as CH threads on how to avoid food sticking to SS cookware, and the consensus is: 1) preheat the pan, 2) coat with oil, 3) turn down heat, and 4) use low to medium heat settings to avoid food sticking to SS surfaces.

                                                    2. re: Eiron
                                                      Chemicalkinetics Jan 20, 2012 11:30 AM


                                                      I think the foods will stick. Also the whole selling point for copper cladded cookware is better heat distribution, but that is unnecessary for wok cooking. You may have watched many woking videos, but here is one I refer a lot:


                                                      When you move foods (in this case, rice), it really does not matter if you have an very uniform heating surface. All the foods get to experience the same average temperature in a randomized manner. In this sense, it is actually better to have a more concentrated heat at the bottom, then to spread the heat out for heat loss. It is also important to keep the cookware light-weight, so it will be easy to handle the wok. (on average, there is more handling of a wok than a frying pan). It is important to have a near stickless surface for the foods to be easily more around and toss around. Yet, a normal Teflon nonstick cookware does not work because Teflon cannot handle the high heat in typical wok cooking.

                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                        plainv70 Jan 20, 2012 01:38 PM

                                                        A wok being single layer plain steel can be subjected to intense heat, producing very high temps, without damage. Woks need a lot of heat because they are inefficient, they hold very little heat and dissipate it quickly. All by design to cook food quickly without over cooking. Historically, it was probably also easier to make a thin steel wok than a thick cast iron one--with varying thickness so that the top is cooler than the bottom.

                                                        Single layer stainless steel would be the same.

                                                        I think the concern arises when different metals are used together. Under a limited temperature range they're ok, but coefficients of thermal expansion being what they are, would lead to delamination at some some point.

                                                        High heat is ok, as has been noted elsewhere in these forums, as long as there is enough matter in a pot or pan to dissipate it.

                                                        SS or any other metal for that matter, would work fine, but it would have to be seasoned, just like carbon steel; hence, there is no reason to pay the added expense.

                                                        The Sn would melt. Last time I wokked on my big ass turkey burner I seem to recall that I had the bottom cherry red before I turned the burner down. oops.

                                                        I would never use anything but a plain old steel wok available for a song in Chinatowns everywhere.

                                                        1. re: plainv70
                                                          Chemicalkinetics Jan 20, 2012 02:00 PM

                                                          "Woks need a lot of heat because they are inefficient"

                                                          I won't say it is inefficient. The heat trasmission is definitely not low from a wok to foods. It could be low from stove to cookware depending the design of the stove.

                                                          "they hold very little heat and dissipate it quickly"

                                                          That is just because it has a low heat capacity, but it does not make it inefficient. Your toaster oven also heats up and cools down faster than your full size oven too. It does not make it less efficient.

                                                          "Historically, it was probably also easier to make a thin steel wok than a thick cast iron one"

                                                          I have to disagree with this. Steel woks are actually newer invention. Historically, cast iron is the way to go. It is just that Chinese makes their cast iron wok much thinner than American do:


                                                          vs http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I...

                                                          "SS or any other metal for that matter, would work fine, but it would have to be seasoned, just like carbon steel"

                                                          SS does not hold on seasoning material very well.

                                                          "The Sn would melt"

                                                          No question about it. If you and I are doing real wok cooking, Sn will melt.

                                                          "I would never use anything but a plain old steel wok available for a song in Chinatowns everywhere."

                                                          I am like you, but there are many who believe in the thin Chinese cast iron woks.

                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                            plainv70 Jan 20, 2012 02:24 PM

                                                            Inefficient from an overall process point of view; much of the generated/applied heat is just lost into the air. My toaster oven is poorly insulated and makes a nice space heater; in fact, I think I'll get rid of it now.

                                                            I just took a wild ass guess about cast vs formed metal. I've been to enough museums to not have missed that one. The cast iron wok looks interesting; have to remember to check them out next time in Chinatown.

                                                            Unpolished, or limitedly so, ss ought to hold a seasoning just fine. Heck, maybe even more highly polished stainless, too: I've baked oil onto my stainless pans enough so that I had to scrub with a Barkeepers Friend paste to get it off.

                                                            It's academic really, though, I don't own a ss steel wok and won't be getting one anytime soon. ;)

                                                            1. re: plainv70
                                                              Chemicalkinetics Jan 20, 2012 03:35 PM

                                                              "Inefficient from an overall process point of view; much of the generated/applied heat is just lost into the air. "

                                                              As opposed to other cookware?

                                                              "My toaster oven is poorly insulated and makes a nice space heater; in fact, I think I'll get rid of it now."

                                                              I can assure you that if you are baking a small quantity of foods (say 8-12 pieces of chicken wing), you will use much less energy with your poorly insulated toaster oven than your full size oven. It takes signficiantly more time and energy to bring a full size oven to 350 oF than your toaster oven -- even if it is poorly insulated. Your overall energy loss to the ktichen is still much greater with the full size oven. Your full size oven will heat up your kitchen much more.

                                                              "I've been to enough museums to not have missed that one"

                                                              They still make cast iron woks, and people still use them. It is not something you have to find in a musem.

                                                              "ss ought to hold a seasoning just fine"

                                                              I tried, and I have problem get it to build up on stainless steel.

                                                              "I've baked oil onto my stainless pans "

                                                              I can bake a bit of oil here and there on my stainless steel pans, but they don't build up to full blown black seasoning. Maybe it is just me.

                                                            2. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                              GH1618 Jan 20, 2012 02:39 PM

                                                              I believe plainv70 is using "inefficient" correctly. Efficiency is merely the percentage of heat energy transferred to the food being cooked. A wok radiates heat at a high rate for two reason: high temperature and surface area. The large surface area of the wok carries heat away from the center, where the source of the heat is, and radiates it away. This energy must constantly be replaced, in addition to the cooking energy, in order to maintain the temperature.

                                                              Thermal mass enters into it only in that it will take longer to bring a material with a larger heat capacity to a givem temperature. The radiation will be a function of the temperature and surface area, not the heat capacity. Emissivity also enters into it. Look up Stefan-Boltzman equation.

                                                              1. re: GH1618
                                                                Chemicalkinetics Jan 20, 2012 03:15 PM

                                                                "A wok radiates heat at a high rate for two reason: high temperature and surface area. "

                                                                The first one is definitely true, but you also have to account for cooking time. The second, is exactly why I think a carbon steel wok is better than something like copper wok. The real wok cooking is at the bottom anyway, so there is very little reason to spread the heat all the way to only lose the heat and lower the overall temperature. Another thing to account for is that the distane of heat to travel from the bottom of a wok to the food is thin by comparison to other cookware. This means the foods absorb much heat much more directly than if the material is made very thick. This allows the heat to be deliver to the foods before much goes to the side. plainv suggested that the wok is inefficient and cited its "they hold very little heat and dissipate it quickly". This, in fact, has a lot to do with heat capacity. A thicker and heavy wok has a greater heat capacity and would hold more heat and cool down lower. Yet, heat capacity alone should not be an indication of efficiency.

                                                                Stefan-Boltmann is certainly a fine equation and certainly explains your first point about increasing heat loss at higher temperature. Aside from the fact that we don't have a blackbody here, it is nevertheless a good starting point. (I don't think emissivity matters if we are talking about a true blackbody). So here it is. The rate of total photon emission is related to the temperature of the material and the surface of the cookware. (but don't forget about the total energy loss = rate of energy loss x time). The temperature change will be related to heat capacity. The amount of heat it can hold will also be related to heat capacity. When we talk about the efficiency of a wok, it is important to account for the cooking is done at a much shorter time scale than other cooking as well. I am quiet confident that average Chinese household use less energy on the stove than average American household (assuming they all cook).


                                                                Finally, don't forget that much of the heat is lost to the environment. Unless you are using induction cooking, over 50% of the heat is lost directly from stove to kitchen and never made it to the cookware So a shorter cooking time definitely help energy saving.

                                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                                  plainv70 Jan 20, 2012 10:22 PM

                                                                  "I am quite confident that average Chinese household use less energy on the stove than average American household (assuming they all cook)."

                                                                  Remind me, what does all of this have to do with the price of tea in china?

                                                                  1. re: plainv70
                                                                    Chemicalkinetics Jan 20, 2012 10:44 PM

                                                                    "Remind me, what does all of this have to do with the price of tea in china?"

                                                                    It does have something to do how much less or more energy efficient in using a wok to cook. If I am correct, you did write something along the line of "Woks need a lot of heat because they are inefficient". Unless you think what you wrote is irrelevant.

                                                                    Do you now understanding why your toast oven may use less energy to bake a few pieces of chicken wing even when its insulation is worse than that of your regular oven?

                                                                  2. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                                    paulj Jan 20, 2012 11:15 PM

                                                                    The reputed efficiency (less fuel per meal) of a wok probably has more to do with the prep time, cutting ingredients into bit size pieces, than the design or material of the wok. It's the short cooking time that makes a difference.

                                                                    For long simmering traditional Chinese cooking uses a very different pot, the earthenware sand-pot. Once up to temperature, it cooks with a very low flame.

                                                                    1. re: paulj
                                                                      Chemicalkinetics Jan 20, 2012 11:38 PM


                                                                      This is a very good point, and I actually agree.

                                                                      It does get a bit confusing. It was bought up that "A wok radiates heat at a high rate for two reason: high temperature and surface area" as explanations for low energy efficiency. I will discuss the high surface area a bit, but the high temperature suggestion certainly takes into account of the cooking style, and no longer are we just talking about the vessel. It was tough not to take account of the entire prep and cook time at that point. As for food size, again, I have no doubt that is a big contribution of faster cook time.

                                                                      On the other hand, if we prepared two batches of bit size vegetables (controlling the food size as a constant variable). One cooked at high temperature and for a short time. One cooked at low heat for a long duration. I am not sure the total heat loss is greater for the high temperature cooking. It certainly is not clear.

                                                                      The larger surface of a wok is not immediately clear to me as the same as higher heat loss either. Now, if we have two woks of the same design, then I will agree that a larger wok lose more heat. I have made that point in a previous thread before. However, if we are talking about a carbon steel wok and a cast iron skillet. It is a different story. A wok is thinner and heats up much faster. The thinner dimension has two implications. First, the heat travels more directly to the food. A 1 mm thin cooking surface delivers heat more directly and more efficient than say a 1 inch thick cooking surface. Second, the thinner surface also means less heat travel in the radial (or lateral) direction. While you can get the wok smoking hot at the center, the edge of a wok is usually cool to touch. This means we are not talking about a uniformly >500 oF hot surface radiating photons.

                                                                      1. re: paulj
                                                                        GH1618 Jan 21, 2012 11:17 AM

                                                                        Efficiency is the percentage of energy which goes into the cooked product. Your definition applies only for the same meal cooked to the same degree. Energy use per meal is another definition, which is not determined only by the efficiency of the cooking method. It is confusing when we use different definitions of efficiency.

                                                                        Food cooks fast in a wok because the wok is preheated to a high temperature. The preheating is part of the equation.

                                                                        1. re: GH1618
                                                                          Chemicalkinetics Jan 21, 2012 11:24 AM


                                                                          Efficiency actually can be defined differently depend what you want to put on the bottom of that equation. For example, you can have a truck which has a higher efficiency energy (convert more thermal energy into mechanic energy (kinetic energy)) than a 4-door sedan. Yet, you can also say it is a less efficiency car per mile. So how you want to define efficiency can be very different depending what you want to focus.

                                                                          It is, however, important to have a level of consistency. If we are just talking the cookware themselves, then we probably have to compare a wok to a skillet using the same temperature, same food, same...etc. If we want to including cooking style energy efficiency or the end-goal efficieny, then we have to account for the temperature difference and also the cook time....etc. In my mind, if we are talking different cooking temperature, then we should also talk about different cook time. One can define efficiency as "total energy use per meal" which is similar to "total energy required to drive you from point A to point B in a truck vs a car" In this a case, a normal truck can be less efficiency use of energy to do the job even if the engine may be more efficiency in converting that energy.

                                                                          This is actually not too different than the example I gave about a toaster oven and a regular oven. If you have to reheat a few chicken wing.... would you use a toaster oven or a regular full size oven? A toaster oven may have less insulation and more heat escape per time. However, you may still use more energy for a full size oven

                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                                            GH1618 Jan 21, 2012 11:29 AM

                                                                            Of course there can be many definitions of efficiency. I was using the simplest, most direct definition of efficiency of a cooking method, which I thought was obvious, but will define again here. Efficiency is the percentage of the total heat input which goes into its intended purpose, i.e. cooking food.

                                                                            Energy use per meal can also be called efficiency, but is another thing altogether. If you eat your food raw, that can be said to be more efficient in the use of fuel, but it does nothing to compare different cooking methods.

                                                                            I am an engineer, by the way, and understand various definitions of efficiency.

                                                                            Your point about the temperature gradient in the wok is well taken; the heat radiation is a complicated calculation because of it. My instinct still is that there is a lot more waste heat cooking with a wok than, for example, a sauté pan. I'm not going to do an experiment to find out, however.

                                                                            1. re: GH1618
                                                                              Chemicalkinetics Jan 21, 2012 12:11 PM

                                                                              "I was using the simplest, most direct definition of efficiency of a cooking method"

                                                                              If that is the case, then we probably should not use different temperature as a condition, right? I think it is rather unusual to take account of the different cooking temperature of a wok, but not different cooking time of a wok.

                                                                              Now, about the temperature gradient. I have one more point for you to think about (you don't have to reply). Just something to think about.

                                                                              Thermal energy transfer can be written in

                                                                              H = k A (delta T)/ x, where H is heat transfer, k is thermal conductivity, T is temperature, and x is the distance between the temperature gradient.

                                                                              Forget about the gradient across the radial direction for a few seconds. Let's just focus the temperature from the bottom surface of a wok (near the heat source) and the top surface (cooking surface near the food). A smaller distance, x, increases the energy transfer. So a wok with a relative thin cooking surface transfer more heat per time than a thick cast iron skillet.

                                                                              In addition, of course, the smaller x reduces the heat moving in the radial/lateral direction as well.

                                                                              A point I made early, which I still hold, that is the biggest problem of wok has to do with heat transfer to a wok. Most household stoves are NOT adapted for a wok, so I expect poor heat transfer from the stove to wok, but that is a different topic.

                                                                              "My instinct still is that there is a lot more waste heat cooking with a wok than"

                                                                              Now, now... heat is in form of energy... it is not power (energy per time). Total heat lost has to account for "time" ;D

                                                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                                                GH1618 Jan 21, 2012 12:56 PM

                                                                                The time does figure in. If you cook the same ingredients to the same degree, comparing two different cooking methods, the one with the lowest overall energy input is the most efficient. It might be the fastest method, but not necessarily. Energy is power integrated over time, so both factors contribute equally.

                                                                                1. re: GH1618
                                                                                  Chemicalkinetics Jan 21, 2012 12:59 PM

                                                                                  Ok. Got it. (I thought you didn't want to account for time).

                                                                          2. re: GH1618
                                                                            Chemicalkinetics Jan 21, 2012 11:30 AM

                                                                            "Food cooks fast in a wok because the wok is preheated to a high temperature. The preheating is part of the equation."


                                                                            This get back to the previous point, does it not? About heat capacity? A wok because of its thinner design can get preheated to a high temperature relatively fast. The thin surface also allow the heat concentrate at the bottom, so the edge is cool and is not radiating a lot of heat.

                                                            3. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                              plainv70 Jan 20, 2012 01:45 PM

                                                              <---see above--->

                                                      2. Eiron Jan 13, 2012 11:01 PM

                                                        Hi davidahn,

                                                        There's not much I can add to all of the others' comments. But I do use both a Calphalon ss/al/ss 10" fry pan & an All-Clad Copper-Core 10" fry pan. For breakfasts (99% of their use, so far), I'll say that the AC is slightly nicer to cook with, as far as evenness goes. But the MSRP is 2-1/2 times the Cal pan (the difference I paid between the two was actually 5x), & I don't feel the performance is the equal to the price difference. Would I buy the AC CC pan again? Probably. I enjoy using it for more reasons than just its cooking qualities. Many of those reasons have been listed in this thread, by both you & others.

                                                        Somewhere in this thread you mentioned a desire for a 20% difference. I think I get that from the AC over the Cal. Your foods are quite different from mine, so you may notice a different cooking difference. (man, I think I'm confusing myself...)

                                                        You've now purchased an 8" AC CC fry pan, yes? I think your best bet might be to stop guessing & buy an 8" ss/al/ss fry pan. Play with the two & see what you think. Then buy. I think you said you're in a time crunch to pick up the AC at a great price, but you've already decided the AC CC wok is useless, & I know how I'd feel if I spent what you're planning to spend on everything.

                                                        Anyway, just a thought or two...

                                                        20 Replies
                                                        1. re: Eiron
                                                          Chemicalkinetics Jan 13, 2012 11:08 PM


                                                          "you mentioned a desire for a 20% difference."

                                                          I read several times people quantify the cooking performance by %, but is that even possible? I can talk about a 20% price difference. I can even talk about 20% energy efficiency difference. However, I don't believe it is possible to talk about cooking performance in term of %.

                                                          Let's take knife for example. We can say your Kanetsune knife is X% more expensive than a Victorinox knife. We can say Kanetsune knife is X% harder than a Victorinox knife, but we can say your Kanetsune is X% higher performance.

                                                          This is very much a very subjective feeling thing. We can feel the difference, but we cannot quantify it. In my opinion, Tyra Banks is much prettier than Oprah. I cannot tell you in term of %.

                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                            Eiron Jan 14, 2012 10:57 AM

                                                            "This is very much a very subjective feeling thing. We can feel the difference, but we cannot quantify it. In my opinion, Tyra Banks is much prettier than Oprah. I cannot tell you in term of %."

                                                            I'm not a Tyra fan, but I think there are a lot of people who'd readily give you a %. :-D

                                                            I agree completely, it's very subjective. David's 20% difference might equal my 30%, or your 10%. I was just trying to give him a feeling that there is a small difference, but that's only in my own opinion. Is it worth the price difference? I don't know. The "performance" of the CC is definitely not 2-1/2 times the "performance" of the alu, but I got the impression from David's various comments that it's not the sole criteria in his decision. If that were the case, then full cu would be his only choice.

                                                            But you're right, it's a very difficult thing to quantify.

                                                            1. re: Eiron
                                                              Chemicalkinetics Jan 14, 2012 12:14 PM


                                                              Heidi klum?

                                                              Anyway, I wrote "Tyra Banks is much prettier than Oprah". Are you telling me that you think the reverse? That is Oprah is more attractive.

                                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                                Eiron Jan 14, 2012 01:09 PM

                                                                ROFL - uh... no.

                                                                Just not a big Tyra fan, that's all. Maybe it's the personality she displays...

                                                                Although, if she became a contributor to the CH Cookware Forum, I might (might) change my mind... :-)

                                                          2. re: Eiron
                                                            paulj Jan 14, 2012 09:02 AM

                                                            On what kind of cooking, and size of pan, do you see a 20% difference?

                                                            One claim of these expensive multi-ply pans is that they heat more evenly. That should be more apparent in a 12" skillet than an 8" one, especially when used on an electric stove (with 6 or 8" elements). Make something simple like pancakes or french toast, and note the difference in browning across the pan surface.

                                                            There are several ways to deal with less than even heat distribution across a pan:
                                                            - match the pan to the burner. Material 1" from the heat source is never going to get as hot as that directly above it.
                                                            - use multiple burners and pans
                                                            - move food around
                                                            - use the oven (to preheat or finish)

                                                            1. re: paulj
                                                              Eiron Jan 14, 2012 11:02 AM

                                                              Hi paulj,

                                                              From my post:
                                                              "I do use both a Calphalon ss/al/ss 10" fry pan & an All-Clad Copper-Core 10" fry pan. For breakfasts (99% of their use, so far), I'll say that the AC is slightly nicer to cook with, as far as evenness goes."

                                                              I'll add that we recently changed from a Cal-rod-style electric to a ceramic-top-style electric, & I haven't compared both pans on the new stove (I've been playing with my new full cu pan, instead). I used the CC pan this morning, & tomorrow I'll use the alu 3-ply pan. If there's any significant change in my perception of "performance," I'll report back.

                                                            2. re: Eiron
                                                              davidahn Jan 14, 2012 06:48 PM

                                                              No, I've only bought the 14" wok which will be replaced with a carbon steel wok. I will order an 8" AC CC and a 9" PM fry pans, and I'll try to see if there's a noticeable difference. I won't have an Al-core SS clad for comparison, but I'm looking a little upmarket from there anyway. The wok was a clearance deal that turnd out not to be a deal because SS is bad for woks. It's the PM there's a time crunch before the deals are gone.

                                                              1. re: davidahn
                                                                Eiron Jan 15, 2012 09:30 AM

                                                                Hi again davidahn,

                                                                Well, after cooking nearly the same breakfast this morning in my ss/al/ss pan that I did yesterday in my ss/al/cu/al/ss pan, I have a little more info for you. I'll also restate that I'm cooking on a ceramic top electric stove, which is different than the Cal-rod electrics I've been cooking on for the past 14 yrs (I used gas for 10 yrs prior to that).

                                                                Cooking performance: the response of the CC pan is slightly better, MAYBE 20% (maybe less due to my stove limitations?), but I have to move both pans off the burner to see ANY response.

                                                                Cooking results: no difference; both pans cooked both breakfasts equally well.

                                                                Cooking enjoyment: I enjoy using the CC pan more. Some of the reasons are tangible: slightly better response, heavier weight (doesn't slide around as much on the ceramic top when I'm stirring stuff), etc. Others are intangible: perceived higher quality pan, made in the US, etc.

                                                                So, for actual results (on a slow-to-heat, slow-to-cool ceramic top stove), logic says to buy high-quality, lower-cost ss/al/ss pans. Of course, as you've already pointed out, there are more factors at play than logic. ;-)

                                                                1. re: Eiron
                                                                  paulj Jan 15, 2012 09:54 AM

                                                                  Before buying it is easy to focus on things like material and # of plys, the things the manufacturer highlights. But in my experience, use is determined more by variations in feel, shape, and subtle things that I ignored before. Steeper sides give more bottom area, but make certain types of stirring more awkward. One handle is more comfortable than another. One lets me hang the pan on a wall rack, another has to be stored on a shelf in the pantry. One works fine on the coil stove, but not the induction burner. One does not balance well due to an overly large handle. Another handle gets too hot, etc.

                                                                  It ends up that some pans get used everyday, others (often the more expensive ones) are only used for special needs.

                                                                  1. re: paulj
                                                                    davidahn Jan 15, 2012 01:18 PM

                                                                    PaulJ, you're absolutely right, though you take a reverse logic approach that actually tackle a few issues. By reverse logic, I mean you start with the result of frequency and enjoyment of use, then work backward to the reasons why.

                                                                    1. Logic vs. subconscious. So much of the stuff my brain (logic/slow thinking) tells me makes a great bargain (e.g., great specifications, 90% of the performance at 20% of the price, great sale price on an item I don't really love), my heart (subconscious/fast thinking) rejects as bleh, yuck, and sits collecting dust.

                                                                    2. The pragmatic. Usability issues are a completely separate but very real concern. No matter how much you LOVE a piece of cookware, if it makes your job harder, eventually you will choose other cookware or love it less as you suffer through it. And as you said, if it's rack hangable and easily reached, it will be reached for more often, though that's not an option for our modern minimalist esthetic kitchen. Everything will be in a drawer, but hopefully in easy reach, but front row vs. back row will be a factor. Some pots work better on gas and some on induction, so that will affect day-to-day use as well, though for us, with both gas and induction hobs, rather than affecting cookware selection, it will affect burner technology selection.

                                                                    3. Physical possibility. Induction incompatible pots will obviously not get used if you only have induction hobs. This is a non-issue for us because we're ONLY buying all-surface pieces right off the bat, an advantage of getting in the game a little late. :)

                                                                  2. re: Eiron
                                                                    davidahn Jan 15, 2012 01:02 PM

                                                                    Eiron, thank you! Exactly the kind of real world testing I was looking for (along with objective measures)! And yes, I believe despite my analytical mind, I have an esthetic/emotional side that leans toward the intangible qualities like beauty, feel in the hand, etc.

                                                                    BTW, can I ask why you stick with resistive electric technology? There is a lot of induction vs. gas back & forth, I see very little advantage to resistive electric. Before induction, electric did offer the advantage of more BTUs and faster boil, but is there something I'm missing in your cooking technology?

                                                                    Thanks again!

                                                                    1. re: davidahn
                                                                      Eiron Jan 15, 2012 02:42 PM

                                                                      Cost - our last two houses were set up with electric ranges, & my wife spends so much money on decorating (& redecorating) items that there's little left for actual "useful" upgrades like gas stoves. A friend recently swapped out all of her black appliances for stainless, so she gave us her near-new ceramic top stove.

                                                                      I'd LOVE to install a gas range, but the cost-overruns in non-essential areas are too great for me to overcome right now.

                                                                      Was that diplomatic enough? :-)

                                                                      1. re: Eiron
                                                                        davidahn Jan 15, 2012 04:34 PM

                                                                        No shame in that! I was just wondering if there was some advantage to ceramic electric tops I was missing.

                                                                        1. re: davidahn
                                                                          kaleokahu Jan 15, 2012 04:42 PM

                                                                          Hi, davidahn:

                                                                          Well, in terms of power and evenness, resistant and radiant hobs can be quite good. Reponsiveness *up* is decent, and responsiveness *down* is even OK if you're willing to move the pan.


                                                                          1. re: kaleokahu
                                                                            Eiron Jan 15, 2012 05:04 PM


                                                                            Compared to the bare coils of a Cal-rod range, this ceramic top has MUCH slower heat-up times. I understand why (having to heat the ceramic covering the resistance unit), but it's a little disappointing to have to take a step backward in responsiveness (both up AND down). It is nice to have all of the pans finally sit level, & the stove cooks much nicer than the old builder's-grade unit, & the top's much easier to keep clean, & my wife really likes it over our old range, so I guess it's all good, right?


                                                                            1. re: Eiron
                                                                              kaleokahu Jan 15, 2012 07:59 PM

                                                                              Hi, Eiron:

                                                                              Hmm... My only deep experience with ceramic tops is my *really* cheap Frigidaire 'top in my beach house, which I consider pretty good on the upswing. It compete(d) favorably with my gas crab boiler in my boil-time and scorchprint tests (until I pimped the latter out over 50,000 Btu). What I have is called "radiant". Is that what yours is?

                                                                              Still eager to handle one of your prototype knives...

                                                                              After a few years with the beach installation, I can say I really like the smooth, uninterrupted expanse of kitchen island, so your DW might have a point.


                                                                              1. re: kaleokahu
                                                                                Eiron Jan 17, 2012 11:44 AM


                                                                                Well, this one doesn't appear to be cheap (at least not in my financial realm); the closest we can match it to is models around $1,000. It's a Maytag unit, with two "dual-element" burners (you can change the diameter of the heated area), two "single-element" burners (fixed diameter heated area), & one "warming center" burner.

                                                                                I looked thru the one manual we got with it, but there's no reference to "heat type." I can tell you that it IS radiant heat, as opposed to induction. There are no markings trumpeting "halogen," so I would assume the elements are resistive electric. The element configurations are more of what I would call "wrapped" rather than "spiral" (as in the traditional Cal-rod coil).

                                                                                The manual makes this statement:
                                                                                "[b]Smoothtop cooktops retain heat for a period of time after the element is turned off.[/b] Turn the elements off a few minutes before food is completely cooked and use the retained heat to complete cooking. When the hot surface light turns off, the cooking area will be cool enough to touch. Because of the way they retain heat, the smoothtop elements will not respond to changes in settings as quickly as as coil elements."

                                                                                Obviously, the last sentence in that statement is the one that identifies my heat-up/cool-down experience with this new range. I suppose it's the modern version of the new wood stove you just bought. ;-)

                                                                                The manual includes guidelines & instructions for using flat-bottomed, heavy gauge pans, & two tests ("ruler" & "bubble") for evaluating if your pans are flat enough.

                                                                                I also learned that the oven includes a "Sabbath Mode"! Who'da thunkit?

                                                                                I don't mean to sound ungrateful. It IS a very nice range; much nicer than the one it replaced. I'd just like to take a break from spending money on decorator items so that we can save up for functional improvements instead. :-/

                                                                                I still plan to send out prototypes knives to you & others. Careers/jobs are good, as they provide the income to explore various interests. But the other edge of the sword is that they prevent you from devoting more time to those interests...

                                                                                1. re: Eiron
                                                                                  paulj Jan 17, 2012 11:59 AM

                                                                                  Sabbath mode deactivates the 'auto off after 12 hrs' operation. It lets you leave the oven on for 72 hrs.
                                                                                  It has to do with the Orthodox Jewish concept of 'not doing work on the Sabbath'.

                                                                                  1. re: paulj
                                                                                    Eiron Jan 17, 2012 12:33 PM

                                                                                    Yeah, that's what the manual (& my rabbi) says; I just never knew they marketed these features outside of Israel, NYC, or Venice Beach! :-D

                                                                                    Thanks paulj!

                                                                                  2. re: Eiron
                                                                                    kaleokahu Jan 17, 2012 12:29 PM

                                                                                    Hi, Eiron:

                                                                                    I feel your pain... My ceramic-top takes a VERY long time to lose heat (the "hot surface" indicator stays on seemingly forever). And yes, I'm doubling down on a woodstove that will--hopefully--stay pretty much the same temperature (in stages) all the time. As Dickens described it: "The red-hot tyrant."


                                                                2. r
                                                                  rubadubgdub Jan 11, 2012 06:40 PM

                                                                  I can't comment on the Tramontina, but why not buy one of the lesser All Clad lines instead if you don't want to spend $1800? I have pieces from different All Clad lines: copper core, LTD, normal?, and I honestly can't tell the diffference between them when cooking. They all work wonderfully. I also agree with the comments about cast iron. If you want a pan for searing or nonstick, there is nothing better than a seasoned cast iron skillet. The dark surface means you don't have to scrub hard to make it look pristine again (which I have to do with the All Clad when I sear). Just never wash the cast iron with soap. And a seasoned CI pan just needs a smidge of oil to keep food from sticking.

                                                                  18 Replies
                                                                  1. re: rubadubgdub
                                                                    davidahn Jan 11, 2012 10:19 PM

                                                                    Thank you for your assessment of equivalent excellence among the A-C lines. A little disconcerting to me considering the superior materials and higher cost of Copper Core.

                                                                    The Tramontina was only a consideration based on the assumption it provided 95% of the performance and build quality of A-C's aluminum core (I'm assuming the Stainless Steel line?) at 25% of the price. However, the SeriousEats comparison cast doubt on the assumption of performance and quality.

                                                                    Comparing All-Clad's Stainless Steel (aluminum core) line vs the Copper Core line, I'm willing to give it a try at a 50% premium ($1499 vs $999 for the 14-piece set of CC vs SS).

                                                                    On the other hand, Kaleo has me seriously considering de Buyer's Prima Matera instead of A-C Copper Core. We'll see if I bite!

                                                                    1. re: davidahn
                                                                      khuzdul Jan 12, 2012 06:12 AM

                                                                      To expand on Kaleo's comment that you don't need to buy in sets, unless you or your wife needs every piece of cookware to match, you don't have to buy the same brands/lines for every pot...

                                                                      For example, I personally would put more money into the main pot(s) that I use and less in to the auxiliary pots. For me that means I would put more money into a Saute pan in the 9 to 11 inch range. This might not only be the objective benefits that you had asked for from construction materials or the form/function comment I had made, but also extra for a little joie de vie that comes from using a well-crafted beautiful item. In a legal sense joie de vie would have no proximate cause in improving the quality of what I cook. However, since I will be using the pot almost every day, investing in bringing some joy to my life during that significant fraction of my day/life may well be worth it even if it does not directly improve my cooking. Looking at it that way, a 400 to 500 dollar pot amortized over years is not too shabby - some possible direct improvement in the quality of what I cook from the materials, but a lot of happiness when I cook.

                                                                      Thus, if you do go for something like a Prima Materia for one good saute, conical saute or fry pan, then you might not need Prima Materia for your stock pot and sauce pots. You could then balance the budget by getting something like the Tramontina or Vollrath Centurion line with it's 6.6mm aluminum disk bottoms for those straight sided pots. The Vollrath Centurion line fulfills the need for induction and that you had mentioned that you thought Demeyere had made a decent case for their different construction for different pots. A 6.6mm aluminum disk bottom is pretty dang good at evening out those heat spots, even compared to clad copper.

                                                                      1. re: khuzdul
                                                                        rubadubgdub Jan 12, 2012 08:33 AM

                                                                        I agree with this sentiment. The full sets always seem to throw in a few sizes that aren't that useful. I'm looking at the ACCC line and the pot sizes seem small for instance. I'm an avid cook and regularly use 3 pots, 2 pans and a wok. Perhaps this part of your research that really needs to involve the cook?

                                                                        1. re: khuzdul
                                                                          davidahn Jan 12, 2012 10:24 AM


                                                                          Great advice. I'm all for NOT buying sets (thanks, Chowhounds!), but in the case of All-Clad where you can sell off the pieces you don't want, if the set contains a lot of useful pieces AND can be had at a hefty discount (at $1800-2000, no; but at $1500, yes, please!), it will save a lot. I will still end up with just the pieces I want, and someone else will (hopefully) buy the pieces I don't need but THEY need. :)

                                                                          Whoa, "proximate cause"? Lawyer alert! But you're right, a $500 pot over 30 years is only $16.67/yr. I pay that much for magazines I don't enjoy as much as I'll enjoy these pots! And it's hard to put a price on "joie de vivre," or de cuisiner, as it were. And in my case, as an esthete, the Prima Matera is some serious eye candy all polished up like cookware porn on the de Buyer premiere video (http://www.debuyer.com/video/video%20...).

                                                                          I'm definitely looking into Prima Matera now that Kaleo has assured me the maintenance and durability of copper aren't as bad as I'd feared. (Thanks, Kaleo.) And yes, I'm getting the 9.4 and 11" Frypans, and I'm looking at the 1.9 and 3.4 qt Saucepans and MAYBE the 3.4 and 6.3 qt Stewpans. It's true that with larger stock pots you reach diminishing returns as the cost of copper goes up and the advantages of copper become less dramatic. I'm getting the Anolon Nouvelle Copper Stainless set and 8 qt Stock Pot (25% discount, couldn't resist), which should cover the stock pot. But the Prima Matera stock pots are SO PRETTY!

                                                                        2. re: davidahn
                                                                          rubadubgdub Jan 12, 2012 08:58 AM

                                                                          I think it's hard to evaluate cookware without considering the cook and the range. The typical foods prepared, predominant style of cooking (steaming, sauteing, braising, etc.) and BTUs would influence me just as much as all the materials research you've done. I gather you have a high-end range. If so, you'll probably get more out of the CC than the average cook because of the greater range of heat you'll have. The superior conductivity translates to better control on the stovetop. What I really love about the AC lines is that food doesn't burn. For instance, I can sweat onions at a very low temp for a long time and really get the caramelization I deserve. So in this funny way, AC products are great both for beginner and advanced cooks because they help keep things under control. For big purchases like this I calculate the sunk cost of buying something iffy or not as good vs. the added cost of something great and find that I can usually justify the added expense (assuming I have the gold). Good pots/pans will last you a lifetime, so amortizing the cost that way makes it reasonable. That said, I doubt you need AC everything. This is where the cook's influence should come in.

                                                                          RE: The price diffs in AC lines: Not to be too cynical, but I'm sure AC needs to justify charging more by explaining a materials difference. Will the average cook notice this in their results? I doubt it, or at least I don't. My dad is a chef, and he's made great meals on cheap pots and pans and electric stoves. I'm not at that level so I protect myself with my AC armor. And it sure is pretty.

                                                                          1. re: rubadubgdub
                                                                            davidahn Jan 13, 2012 12:07 AM

                                                                            In response to your questions about our situation:

                                                                            The cook: my wife is a great cook, but not too gentle, bangs things around a lot
                                                                            Range: Capital Culinarian, six 23K BTU burners + 24" grill + two 15" Thermador induction 3.6 kW "wok" burners
                                                                            Food: pan-Asian vegetarian (Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, a lot of soups)
                                                                            Cooking style: most commonly sauté, would like to try true wok/stir-fry

                                                                            As for the difference between All-Clad Copper Core vs. Stainless Steel (aluminum core), I expect up to a 20% improvement in evenness of heat/heat response, as copper has about 20% better thermal diffusivity than aluminum. If I feel I can achieve cooking nirvana by going from very even heat to very very even heat, it's worth it to me. Either way, A-C Copper Core is SO PRETTY, haha.

                                                                            1. re: davidahn
                                                                              rubadubgdub Jan 13, 2012 10:46 AM

                                                                              Given the types of food that will be prepared, the AC SS will be more than adequate. In fact, I might say invest in an inexpensive steel wok (I have no idea if it will work on your burners) and spend your money on a gorgeous cleaver or a deep fryer instead (for velveting and the like, even if you don't eat a lot of fried foods). I'm Chinese and I use my wok for almost all of the Chinese cooking except for the soups obviously. And you will never gain the elusive wok hay if you buy an All Clad wok that you have to scrub out each time. I use the AC is for cooking that relies on European technique: reduction, long cooking over very low heat, etc.

                                                                              FWIW, many cooks I know love to cook but cleaning is another story. If you have a busy life, a family, a challenging job, etc., I would recommend staying away from cookware that needs to be polished. It's enough work going to the market, keeping the kitchen clean, and cookware scrubbed. Unless you tell me that that's how you like to relax.

                                                                              1. re: rubadubgdub
                                                                                davidahn Jan 13, 2012 11:52 AM

                                                                                Already ordered a carbon steel wok, looking forward to trying it out! Do I enjoy cleaning? Hell no. I'm Asian, which means growing up I NEVER had to clean (our only job is to get good grades, right?), and now I SUCK at it. I'm really seeing the wisdom of the low-maintenance nature of SS clad, especially the dishwasher compatibility!

                                                                              2. re: davidahn
                                                                                will47 Jan 13, 2012 03:36 PM

                                                                                I will say that, whatever cookware you end up using, the Culinarian already has very even heating compared to most stoves (because of the burner design). I am very happy with the evenness of cooking even with standard tri-ply or 5+ ply stainless cookware, and even on very large pans.

                                                                                While some are skeptical about 5+ ply cookware (and I do wonder if there's more danger of the layers delaminating somehow), I do think that the 5 and 7 ply cookware (I've tried All-Clad's D5 and CIA's "Masters Series", which has a copper layer, albeit a much thinner one than on All-Clad's Copper Core) seem to have a slight improvement in evenness and in heating efficiency over tri-ply, though usually they are noticeably heavier too. I have not done any scientific study on this, but that's what it seems like. The CIA 12" skillet, despite being so large, heats very evenly on my stove, but is a bit cumbersome to toss.

                                                                                Do you already have the CC's wok ring (which is quite nice / heavy-duty)? If so, make sure to get a round-bottom wok.

                                                                                I have a Bella Copper diffuser plate; the 10" one fits perfectly over one of the Culinarian's burners. It's useful to have around for super low heat cooking, or for fitting multiple small pans on one burner, etc.

                                                                                1. re: will47
                                                                                  davidahn Jan 13, 2012 09:59 PM

                                                                                  I watched the Culinarian videos online and was convinced of its superiority, efficiency, power, and sensible design. Why would other cooktops only have nozzles on the outside? Makes no sense. Definitely a case where someone set a precedent and everyone followed suit without questioning.

                                                                                  Anyway, I am aware that evenness of heating won't be as big an issue with the CC, but still, I want NO hot/cool spots. Also, for the fully clad pieces or solid copper like the Prima Matera, the better conductors will give me more even heat all up the sides/walls.

                                                                                  I have my doubts about the wisdom of 5- and 7-layer designs, but I'm open to seeing if it works. I believe a single thick conductive core would be ideal. Even if they work well for evenness, the reaction time would suffer with the SS layers.

                                                                                  No, I do not have the wok ring for the Capital Culinarian yet. I will though. I think I got a flat-bottom carbon steel wok; will a flat-bottom not work with the wok ring? Seems like it would work just fine, but if it's somehow incompatible, this is a $30 starter wok; it can easily be replaced.

                                                                                  I don't even have the Culinarian yet! We are renovating our kitchen and have nearly finalized the cabinet layout and are waiting for the structural engineers to OK the walls we're removing, then we will order the cabinets and appliances. I'm also getting the custom vent hood designed/equipment specced.

                                                                                  I will check out the diffuser plate. I've heard some debate about CC not being able to hold an ultra low simmer, and so far I have not needed to simmer anything at 130 F or lower. But definitely something to keep in mind in case I do need that!

                                                                                  Thanks, Will.

                                                                                  1. re: davidahn
                                                                                    rubadubgdub Jan 14, 2012 09:52 AM

                                                                                    A round bottomed wok is ideal. A flat bottomed one will be more pan like, less wok like. I'd get the ring and switch to round.

                                                                                    1. re: rubadubgdub
                                                                                      paulj Jan 14, 2012 10:01 AM

                                                                                      Rounded bottom v flat bottom wok - depends on your heat source. Over a restaurant quality gas flame, there's no doubt that a large steel round wok is best. But on electric or induction, flat may be better - unless the induction unit is specifically designed for a round wok (with matching radius).

                                                                                      By the way, with a wok, uniform heating is not the goal. The bottom should be hot, the sides cooler.

                                                                                      1. re: paulj
                                                                                        rubadubgdub Jan 14, 2012 10:09 AM

                                                                                        Agreed yet a flat bottomed wok is not the same animal. The concentration of heat is diff and also the amount of oil you need changes.

                                                                                      2. re: rubadubgdub
                                                                                        Chemicalkinetics Jan 14, 2012 12:17 PM

                                                                                        "A round bottomed wok is ideal"

                                                                                        Not sure if I entirely argee. I think if you have a stove which can handle a round bottom wok, then you are absolutely correct. However, most people do not have a wok stove. They have a flat stove in electric or in gas. In these situation, a flat bottom wok can capture significantly more heat and therefore the wok get much hotter.

                                                                                        In this respect, a flat bottom wok can be better because it can attain higher temperature and can transfer more heat per second. The last thing you want in stir fry is to put the foods in the wok and the wok cools down so much that you are starting to boil and simmer the foods.

                                                                                    2. re: will47
                                                                                      davidahn Jan 13, 2012 09:59 PM

                                                                                      I watched the Culinarian videos online and was convinced of its superiority, efficiency, power, and sensible design. Why would other cooktops only have nozzles on the outside? Makes no sense. Definitely a case where someone set a precedent and everyone followed suit without questioning.

                                                                                      Anyway, I am aware that evenness of heating won't be as big an issue with the CC, but still, I want NO hot/cool spots. Also, for the fully clad pieces or solid copper like the Prima Matera, the better conductors will give me more even heat all up the sides/walls.

                                                                                      I have my doubts about the wisdom of 5- and 7-layer designs, but I'm open to seeing if it works. I believe a single thick conductive core would be ideal. Even if they work well for evenness, the reaction time would suffer with the SS layers.

                                                                                      No, I do not have the wok ring for the Capital Culinarian yet. I will though. I think I got a flat-bottom carbon steel wok; will a flat-bottom not work with the wok ring? Seems like it would work just fine, but if it's somehow incompatible, this is a $30 starter wok; it can easily be replaced.

                                                                                      I don't even have the Culinarian yet! We are renovating our kitchen and have nearly finalized the cabinet layout and are waiting for the structural engineers to OK the walls we're removing, then we will order the cabinets and appliances. I'm also getting the custom vent hood designed/equipment specced.

                                                                                      I will check out the diffuser plate. I've heard some debate about CC not being able to hold an ultra low simmer, and so far I have not needed to simmer anything at 130 F or lower. But definitely something to keep in mind in case I do need that!

                                                                                      Thanks, Will!

                                                                                      1. re: davidahn
                                                                                        plainv70 Jan 14, 2012 04:32 PM

                                                                                        Hi David. I concur with a lot of what has been written here and would like to make the following suggestion: hold off on buying the big dollar pots and pans and get something like the Tramontina Tri-Ply (I got mine for $100 at Sam's Club on closeout; probably no longer available at that price at Walmart) , one of the Cuisinart products (I really like the French Classic Tri-Ply; a little more pricey, but 1/2 the cost of All-Clad Tri-Ply) or the All-Clad MC2 (more Al than the Tri-Py's and brush finish--i.e. no maintenance). Another possibility is some of the commercial SS stuff that is sold through the restaurant supplies. I've seen some nicely made stuff, for very reasonable prices including some nice SS non-clad with very thick encapsulated Al bases.

                                                                                        Whatever you get the first time around, in the long run you're probably going to want to replace it with the likes of Demeyere, Falk or Mauvier. The ones above will all be good enough for you to get the hang of cooking on SS and then you can decide later which pots and which make you really want. Who knows, you may even decide to keep them.

                                                                                        Want to have some real fun now? Indulge yourself with a good all copper frying pan and or sauce pan (ss or tinned, at least 2mm thick). You will keep it a lifetime, regardless, and will know what the all the other stuff is trying to emulate.

                                                                                        Yes, unclad copper takes a little effort to keep clean. It's no big deal and nothing looks better than copper.

                                                                                        I saw the Kenji Lopez-Alt's write up in Serious Eats. A difference of a few degrees is insignificant, even as much as 10F could be statistically insignificant. Even he admits (as he should, in another blog entry) that one data point does not make a fact. Unless I missed it, he does not specify the type of burner he used nor how he prepared the paper, if at all. Variability, e.g. moisture content, within the sheet of paper could account for a significant difference. His results look good, but are far from conclusive.

                                                                                        At some point, analytical paralysis sets in. There will always be measurable differences in cookware and the stoves, but are they significant when it comes to cooking? We're not doing analytical or material science here, we're cooking. A lot of fine dining restaurants cook on the same old-same old commercial stoves (that would scare you) with rather unextravagant ss pots and pans or worse.

                                                                                        FWIW, I'm disappointed with the current All-Clad SS, they look good and are made well (in the US, too!), but I would rather have a pot with more mass; their new Tri-Plys are too thin for my liking and telegraph the burner irregularities of my generic stove. IMO, they are not as good a value as they used to be; MC2 excepted, possibly.

                                                                                        My two cents; if you can afford a Capital Culinarian, forget my original suggestion, go for the DeMeyerer SS or Mauviel clad copper or the like and get cooking. It will be your last purchase and they are not getting any cheaper. You won't be looking back. :) Peter

                                                                                        1. re: plainv70
                                                                                          davidahn Jan 14, 2012 06:43 PM

                                                                                          Have you tried the AC Copper Core? If so, do you also think its too thin? I think at this point I'm inclined to try a couple of Prima Matera pieces to see if my wife likes them, but really leaning more toward AC Copper Core. It'll just be a process of experimentation... the journey begins next week. Long weekend of snowboarding this weekend.

                                                                                          1. re: davidahn
                                                                                            plainv70 Jan 14, 2012 09:51 PM

                                                                                            Nope, don't have any All-Clad copper core.

                                                                                            The deBuyer copper is very nice. They do get a hefty premium for the Prima Matera. You can get a induction disk to use with any pan for a lot less.

                                                                            2. u
                                                                              unprofessional_chef Jan 10, 2012 01:31 PM

                                                                              The All-Clad Copper-Core will have more heat capacity than any of the other cookware lines you mentioned. This important when searing where you don't want the cookware to cool down easily. AC has a slight advantage here.

                                                                              But I think where you really see AC shine is the SS interior lining. With AC, you are guaranteed that they will use the best materials. From my experience, their SS lining won't pit with proper use, harder to scratch, and will remain smooth as glass again with proper care. A smooth surface really helps when cooking delicate foods like eggs.

                                                                              I like to experiment and try different types of cookware. So I stay away from sets.

                                                                              18 Replies
                                                                              1. re: unprofessional_chef
                                                                                davidahn Jan 10, 2012 01:53 PM

                                                                                Thanks for the tips!

                                                                                It has begun... I just picked up my first piece of AC Copper Core, the 14" Open Stir Fry on clearance from Cutlery and More. This will be our highest quality cookware ever, the first attempt at quality cookware since a Calphalon anodized aluminum set which we hated and returned (we probably didn't use it right, but it stuck like stink). It's been $10-15 Wal-mart non-stick ever since!

                                                                                1. re: davidahn
                                                                                  Chemicalkinetics Jan 10, 2012 01:56 PM

                                                                                  "Calphalon anodized aluminum set which we hated and returned"

                                                                                  Have you used a stainless steel surface cookware before?

                                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                                                    davidahn Jan 10, 2012 03:59 PM

                                                                                    No, and my wife isn't excited at the prospect. But I hope it's as easy as other posters say... preheat, oil, lower heat, add ingredients, use low to medium heat? Maybe we should try this out before committing to more SS cookware.

                                                                                    1. re: davidahn
                                                                                      Chemicalkinetics Jan 10, 2012 05:22 PM

                                                                                      I am concerned based on your poor experience with the anodized aluminum cookware.

                                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                                                        davidahn Jan 10, 2012 06:15 PM

                                                                                        Thanks for your concern. I do worry that the transition will be less than trivial. My wife is somewhat resistant to change in general, and has already stated her distaste for the possibility of switching to SS. But I have hope that SS is significantly less sticky when used properly than anodized aluminum, and that we are more motivated to use SS than we were to use the anodized aluminum in the past given the link in peer-reviewed medical journals between non-stick chemicals (PFOA/PFAA/PFOS) and thyroid & renal disease, infertility, lung development in fetuses, immunotoxicity, tumors in rats (liver, testis and pancreas), etc. (Search PFOA at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed, one of the de facto search engines for medical journals).

                                                                                        I JUST bought non-stick griddle and grill pans which I will have to return. What a pain.


                                                                                        1. re: davidahn
                                                                                          olympia Jan 10, 2012 09:44 PM

                                                                                          Cast iron can replace both of those easily!

                                                                                          1. re: davidahn
                                                                                            Chemicalkinetics Jan 11, 2012 06:24 AM

                                                                                            "the first attempt at quality cookware since a Calphalon anodized aluminum set which we hated and returned (we probably didn't use it right, but it stuck like stink)"

                                                                                            "But I have hope that SS is significantly less sticky when used properly than anodized aluminum"

                                                                                            This is the part I am not sure, and why I asked if you had used stainless steel surface cookware. I have both stainless steel and anodized aluminum cookware, and I really cannot claim stainless steel is less sticky than anodized aluminum. Most people also find anodized aluminum cookware less sticky or about the same as stainless steel surface cookware.

                                                                                            So if you couldn't tolerate anodized aluminum due to its "sticky" problem, then it is something to be concerned. You can read ferallike experience from below:


                                                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                                                              davidahn Jan 11, 2012 11:42 AM

                                                                                              Thanks for the link. I posted on that thread regarding my specific needs, specifically tofu, veggies, and vege-meats.

                                                                                              Believe me, I have fear and trepidation, as my wife in warms to things rather slowly, though reliably. So I'm trying to break her down slowly about the dangers of non-stick chemicals. I also bought one piece of A-C Copper Core, and hope to practice the SS techniques with her and get used to it. I also ordered a set of Anolon Nouvelle Copper Stainless Steel (disk bottom) at a 25% discount as an affordable starter set. I'll let you know how it goes.

                                                                                              1. re: davidahn
                                                                                                Chemicalkinetics Jan 11, 2012 12:01 PM

                                                                                                "I also bought one piece of A-C Copper Core, and hope to practice the SS techniques with her and get used to it." I think that is a good and realistic approach. If the only problem you had with the anodized aluminum is that food sticks to it, then you would likely see the same challenge for stainless steel surface cookware, possibly worse to be honest. If we are talking about pure heat response, your old anodized aluminum cookware would have been faster (better) than the All Clad copper core cookware.

                                                                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                                                                  davidahn Jan 11, 2012 02:22 PM

                                                                                                  Yes, had we stuck it out, anodized aluminum would have been a fine cooking material. Unfortunately, we did not. :) I still feel SS clad is better for us simply because my wife isn't delicate with our cookware, and our anodized aluminum would have been nicked to heck by now. I think SS clad will stand up to abuse a heck of a lot better, and I hope we have a little more motivation to make the leap than we did 10 years ago. (I still have to convince the wife.)

                                                                                                  1. re: davidahn
                                                                                                    Chemicalkinetics Jan 11, 2012 02:34 PM

                                                                                                    "I think SS clad will stand up to abuse a heck of a lot better"

                                                                                                    I agree. At least chemical abuse.

                                                                                                    "I hope we have a little more motivation to make the leap"

                                                                                                    This is important. I wasn't discouraging you from getting stainless steel surface cookware. I just want you to be aware of its characteristics. I got concerned because you wrote that you returned the anodized aluminum cookware due to its sticking problem. I was like; "Wow... wait a minute there." :)

                                                                                                    "I still have to convince the wife"

                                                                                                    Yes, this is probably where you need to put most of your energy into. She is the cook, so the only things matter is what she is willing to use.

                                                                                                2. re: davidahn
                                                                                                  unprofessional_chef Jan 11, 2012 01:15 PM

                                                                                                  You're off to a good start. I have an Anolon Chef Clad skillet and good amount of AC cookware. Both of their SS interior lining is top notch. SS will last a lifetime so it will easily pay for itself. You have all the right tools.

                                                                                                  You should also familiarize yourself with techniques for cleaning. When water alone fails, vinegar or BKF will bring it back to like new condition. To keep the interior pristine never use anything other than a sponge.

                                                                                              2. re: davidahn
                                                                                                GH1618 Jan 11, 2012 12:20 PM

                                                                                                You don't "have to return" them. I have read some of these reports and have not found anything which suggests that I should stop using my nonstick pans. What they report is that PFOA and other such chemicals are found in many products, including clothing, and in the environment, including drinking water, which is probably the main concern for most individuals.

                                                                                                This is something that needs to be studied and it is being studied. Pollution of the environment by industrial chemicals is a serious problem, and I believe it is being treated seriously today. There is no need to panic about our cookware, in my opinion.

                                                                                                I'm not in favor of using only one type of cookware, anyway. I use two small T-fal pans for eggs and nothing else, and use them at very low heat. I cook bacon in cast iron at higher heat. I have SS-lined pans, SS-only pans, an aluminum-only pan, and steel pans. Even a tin-lined copper pan. When it comes to cookware, I am ecumenical.

                                                                                                1. re: GH1618
                                                                                                  Chemicalkinetics Jan 11, 2012 12:24 PM

                                                                                                  Yes, but do you have ceramic pans? :P

                                                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                                                                    GH1618 Jan 11, 2012 01:11 PM

                                                                                                    One Corning casserole and some glass.

                                                                                                  2. re: GH1618
                                                                                                    davidahn Jan 11, 2012 03:28 PM

                                                                                                    All our nonstick is cheap Wal-mart crap anyway, so it's OUT.

                                                                                                    This is completely off topic, but as for the safety of nonstick, you're right, there's no need to panic. Unless PFAAs have already given you thyroid disease, liver or pancreatic cancer, etc., then you can panic.

                                                                                                    I'm not suggesting that anyone panic, I'm simply not personally going to wait for solid evidence implicating cookware in PFAA exposure to quit using it, while it continues to build up in my body (it is persistent and not easily metabolized). PFOA/PFOS/PFAAs are in nonstick cookware, they're found in people's bloodstreams. Your food gets VERY intimate with your cookware. Do you need a map to show you where at least one source of PFAAs is?

                                                                                                    As for PFAAs and water, I have used reverse osmosis drinking water for years, and will now use reverse osmosis water for cooking as well.

                                                                                                  3. re: davidahn
                                                                                                    paulj Jan 12, 2012 09:30 AM

                                                                                                    Yes pubmed has lots of entries for PFOA, but do any of them look at cookware as a source? Aren't they all concerned about it being the environment, as pollution from various industrial processes. What do you find on pubmed when you look up PTFE? Are they about the dangers of this material, or about its usefulness in various medical applications (stints, meshes that are implanted)?

                                                                                                    http://www.epa.gov/oppt/pfoa/pubs/faq... EPA statement on PFOA - they are concerned but "At present, there are no steps that EPA recommends that consumers take to reduce exposures to PFOA."

                                                                                                    On the subject of anodizing. I have several pans with anodized exterior, and nonstick interior. I also have one with hard anodized interior. I would rate its 'stickiness' to be on the par with enameled surface.

                                                                                                    I have a whole range of pan materials and surfaces. I have no problems with using nonstick materials, but knowing that they wear with use, I try to limit that use to cases where it is really needed - such as scrambled eggs and sauteeing starches. The pans that heat most evenly are induction compatible cast aluminum (with nonstick), which I've bought at TJMaxx for $20 or less. But where sticking isn't an issue, stainless steel, enameled steel or carbon steel are just dandy.

                                                                                                    1. re: paulj
                                                                                                      davidahn Jan 12, 2012 11:21 PM

                                                                                                      I did NOT want this thread to go off on a PFOA tangent. I was mentioning MY rationale for switching to SS, not trying to proselytize. :) I hope this doesn't go much farther from here.

                                                                                                      The medical literature doesn't discuss cookware safety because epidemiology is a whole other discipline. I don't believe cookware is a major source of PFAAs, but lack of evidence of danger is not the same as proof of safety. I just want to eat yummy food, not the cookware.


                                                                                        2. m
                                                                                          mikie Jan 10, 2012 12:12 PM

                                                                                          I'm in a similar boat, I"m the main researcher and not the main cook, although I do spend my fair share of time in the kitchen and tend to prepare a more challenging dish. I'm also looking for new cookware.

                                                                                          My best guess is that objective differences will be impossible to find as you will never be able to find two pieces made esactly alike but of different materials. I think both Kaleo and Chem both eluded to this situation. I'll also agree with khuzdul that if the pieces are quality made, you will likely not be able to tell the difference in a blind test.

                                                                                          1. Robin Joy Jan 9, 2012 10:56 PM

                                                                                            If I were you, I'd seek out the opinions of Hounds who have and use both. Like me. And I can't tell the difference when actually cooking, so my advice would be not to lose too much sleep over the choice.

                                                                                            If you can source this range in the US then you will get both! Looks great too (£63 for this pot is about $100, and I'm pretty sure they would ship):


                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Robin Joy
                                                                                              davidahn Jan 9, 2012 11:57 PM

                                                                                              Robin, I actually WAS trying to enlist the Hounds' expertise. The wording in my original post sounds like I'm only soliciting objective evidence, but I am definitely open to the voice of experience!

                                                                                              Thanks for offering your wisdom. Do you mean there's no appreciable difference between ANY materials, or between aluminum and copper core fully clad, or between fully clad and disk bottom? At this point, ALL of these are still on the table, along with a price differential of $1500 (between AC Copper Core and Tramontina).

                                                                                              That's a beautiful set you linked to. It does not look like it's available in the US, but I'll check. It looks similar but better than the previous version of Kirkland's Signature (16-pc) SS 5-layer disk bottom set, which is discontinued. Anolon does have a new set that looks just like the Kirkland set (no reviews yet) http://www.amazon.com/Anolon-Nouvelle....

                                                                                              Thanks again!


                                                                                              1. re: davidahn
                                                                                                Robin Joy Jan 10, 2012 02:33 AM

                                                                                                Well, my 2 copper core s/s pans are fully clad (so I'm told, I haven't drilled them to prove this!), and my aluminium ones have 6mm thick disks which are the full size of the base but exposed at the edge between the s/s pan and a thin s/s bottom layer, to not technically "fully clad", I guess. These disk edges were an exact match for the s/s mirror finish when in the shop, but just a little use turned them aluminium matt grey, so maybe a small con there?.

                                                                                                1. re: davidahn
                                                                                                  khuzdul Jan 10, 2012 07:16 AM

                                                                                                  I have and/or have had tin lined copper pots, stainless steel lined copper pots, clad copper ply pots, clad aluminum ply pots, copper disk bottom pots, aluminum disk bottom pots, "hard" anodized aluminum pots, enameled cast iron, "blue steel" pots. I do the vast majority of my current day to day cooking using five pots which are fully clad 7 ply aluminum pots.

                                                                                                  For most cooking, matching the features of the pot to the dish being cooked, features such as pot type/shape/size, handle shape/helper handles, pouring lip, ability to sear/de-glaze/use metal cooking implements, over/broiler compatibility, etc. impact the cooking results more than if it is copper ply or aluminum ply, disk bottom vs fully clad, assuming that either are of reasonable quality. My cooking incompetence has a much, much larger effect on the end results. I have used otherwise identical pots side by side, one with copper and another with aluminum core. YMMV.

                                                                                                  1. re: khuzdul
                                                                                                    INDIANRIVERFL Jan 10, 2012 07:56 AM

                                                                                                    Couldn't have said it better myself. I have been using AC since it was first introduced in the mid 70s. Lived close to the factory. Designed for commercial use only. First saw it retail in New Orleans in 1982.

                                                                                                    I have cookware from all over Europe and Japan. Each has attributes peculiar for my intended use. If I were starting out today, I cannot see spending such a vast amount on AC unless my kitchen skills were comparable. And by that time, you have already accumulated your cookware.

                                                                                                    My daughter already knows that barring a few items, the vast majority of her cookware will be Tramontina, rather than All-Clad. She will have to pry my dead fingers from my 18 inch fry pan and 40 QT stock pot and the rest of the 3 rivet commercial ware that is designed for flat tops and large gas burners.

                                                                                                    1. re: khuzdul
                                                                                                      davidahn Jan 10, 2012 11:46 AM

                                                                                                      Thanks, khuzdul. Good to know it's hard to go wrong as far as the technology/equipment is concerned! I'll just have to keep honing my craft. If only I could prep faster, I would cook so much more! :)

                                                                                                2. k
                                                                                                  kaleokahu Jan 9, 2012 05:04 PM

                                                                                                  Hi, davidahn:

                                                                                                  Your question is a very good one (and important to the wallet), but there is so large a number of variables that a generalizable answer may be impossible without a very laborious A-B-C-D-E-F-G ad nauseum comparison and standardized test.

                                                                                                  However, I *will* give you my opinion that in clad design, the maker can scale their thicknesses of one conductive interior layer (e.g., aluminum) to approximate a given thickness of the other (e.g./, copper) so that a rough equivalence is obtained. This is definitely the case when it comes to evenness, although there may be other tradeoffs and parameters involved in heat capacity and responsiveness.

                                                                                                  If I were you, I'd seek out the opinions of dealers and buyers who have actual hands-on experience with both copper- and aluminum-cored clad lines from the *same* manufacturer, e.g., All-Clad or Demeyere. Even then you might find the comparison is "bananna vs plaintain", but it would be better than failing at getting meaningful answers from the whole fruitbasket.

                                                                                                  The only other generalization I'll make is that if the conductive layers are of substantial thickness, the aluminum-cored/scaled version is going to be lighter, yet a tad less responsive than its copper-cored cousin.

                                                                                                  I hope this helps.



                                                                                                  29 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: kaleokahu
                                                                                                    davidahn Jan 9, 2012 11:07 PM

                                                                                                    Hey, Kaleo.

                                                                                                    Granted, a truly valid test would be impractical (thermal infrared images at 15, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120 seconds on a standardized burner at the same BTUs and measured thickness of each layer via cross-sectional cut). But wouldn't it be glorious? Haha, oh well.

                                                                                                    I was fully ready to go with an aluminum core fully clad set, but the paper browning test on SeriousEats made me seriously question that choice (All-Clad OR Tramontina). Then I read a well reasoned breakdown by Sam Kinsey (http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?/...), particularly the final paragraph, that opened me up to the possibility of a disk-bottom set like the Kirkland Signature. But I found out tonight at Costco that while the heat must be VERY even with all that copper, I really don't care for how the bottom-heavy disk-bottom pots and pans handle. My wife isn't keen on the idea of spending $1500-2000, but I'm thinking the All-Clad Copper Core is the best of both worlds (even heat, balanced weight). It certainly beats the Cutco waterless aluminum core set we almost bought at $3400!

                                                                                                    BTW, I've been enjoying your posts on multiple other threads... clear reasoning, flawless spelling and grammar... a rare pleasure.


                                                                                                    1. re: davidahn
                                                                                                      kaleokahu Jan 10, 2012 06:48 AM

                                                                                                      Hi, davidahn:

                                                                                                      Just for sh!ts and giggles, have you considered reconsidering full clad? It sounds like cost isn't the deciding factor for you. If you are open, you might consider Falk, Mauviel or deBuyer Prima Matera. If not, perhaps Demeyere Atlantis or Apollo or Mauviel M'Cook?


                                                                                                      1. re: kaleokahu
                                                                                                        davidahn Jan 10, 2012 11:40 AM

                                                                                                        Cost is always a factor, but my budget is flexible if I see objective superiority. Fully clad copper is actually my top contender for now, then copper disk bottom, and fully clad aluminum core is at the bottom of my list (except for larger stock pots where even heat isn't as big an issue). Solid copper/lined copper is not in the running because we will have a 60" Capital Culinarian range top but also two 15" Thermador induction wok burners.

                                                                                                        Thanks for your suggestions. I had not seriously considered any of those brands. It appears Falk and deBuyer are out due to induction incompatibility (I only see SS-lined copper). Mauviel's M'cook line is beautiful but has aluminum rather than copper core. Demeyere makes a great case for different construction for different pieces (fully clad for heat up the sides for frying/sautéing, disk bottom for boiling/steaming to reduce heat loss through walls) but very few of their pieces use copper.

                                                                                                        So I'm now looking at All-Clad Copper Core for frying/sautéing applications and copper disc bottom for boiling/steaming applications, like the Anolon Nouvelle Copper. (BTW, as of today 1-10-12, Anolon.com is having a 25% off sale, code COPPER2.) Any thoughts?


                                                                                                        1. re: davidahn
                                                                                                          kaleokahu Jan 10, 2012 03:09 PM

                                                                                                          Hi, David:

                                                                                                          I know nothing about the Analon, sorry.

                                                                                                          I think you may have glossed over the fact that deBuyer's Prima Matera line IS induction-compatible, and it has received a glowing review from a consigliere of the Pan Mafia here, tanukisoup. I included that line in my prior suggestion just in case you used induction, but as with all the un-fully-clad suggestions, I did not know if dishwasher-safe is a a must. PM is $$$ however, so I don't want to be responsible for you overspending.


                                                                                                          1. re: kaleokahu
                                                                                                            davidahn Jan 10, 2012 03:57 PM

                                                                                                            Hey, thanks for pointing out that Prima Matera is indeed induction compatible. You threw so much high quality cookware at me, I tried to skim through the salient points. I saw the copper color and ass-umed (ahem) it was not induction compatible. It looks BEAUTIFUL. I WANT it!!! Damn you, Kaleo, Damn you!

                                                                                                            I can virtually guarantee that my wife will NOT be OK with spending Prima Matera kind of money. She's already grating at AC Copper Core prices. Also, I just bought a 14" open stir-fry from AC Copper Core (at $249 w/ free shipping, too good to pass up). Am I "pot" committed? Probably not, but my wife is certain to veto the PM.


                                                                                                            1. re: davidahn
                                                                                                              kaleokahu Jan 10, 2012 04:44 PM

                                                                                                              Hi, David:

                                                                                                              No problem. I was a little confused by your price talk, is all. I mean, if your DW was considering the $3400 waterless set, she can't be heard to complain about Prima Matera, can she?

                                                                                                              Perhaps this is an opportune time to point out that you don't necessarily need a *set* of anything. Tanuki started out with just a skillet in PM, and I think he and many others are content to mix-and-match. If you can justify/sell one piece of PM, you can compare it with the A-C piece you just got. Maybe a skillet or saute, then you might know which you prefer and which might be the better value...

                                                                                                              A last note: At that level of performance, you might not get hurt too badly to resell either the A-C or the PM in a lightly-used condition. Falk, for instance, can be had used, but it commands a nearly equal if not greater a price than new (Falk's US rep almost seems like he wants to make people work to find him).

                                                                                                              I'm sure you'll love whatever you get.

                                                                                                              Happy Cooking,



                                                                                                              1. re: kaleokahu
                                                                                                                davidahn Jan 10, 2012 09:23 PM

                                                                                                                Haha, nothing to be confused about. Tale as old as time, I wanna spend money, my wife doesnt. About the waterless cookware: I'm a sucker for great salespeople, my wife's a sucker for interest-free payment plans.

                                                                                                                Still, I'm not the money is no object type. My mantra is 99% of the performance at 1/2 the price. In the case of the AC Copper Core, it's way BETTER than the waterless cookware at less than half the price.

                                                                                                                I have to say I LOVE the look of the Prima Matera. Hand-made, French, SEXY. That Youtube video on the production was like cookware porn! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fn8KRz....

                                                                                                                I have come here for the wisdom of those more experienced than I. Do you have firsthand experience with both? and if so, do YOU think the PM is significantly better performing than AC Copper Core? I worry about tarnishing issues. The video doesn't show any protective coating, and even if there were a clear coat I'd worry about nicking.

                                                                                                                I did find a PM 9.4" fry pan for $229 on eBay (among various other pieces under $300), I don't know if it's genuine, or first quality? Seems too good to be true.

                                                                                                                1. re: davidahn
                                                                                                                  kaleokahu Jan 11, 2012 07:50 AM

                                                                                                                  Hi, David:

                                                                                                                  My experience with these is limited to handling them, reading up, and hearing others' reports. Based on that, yes, I think PM would perform substantially better than A-C, but implicit in your question was "substantially better *enough* to justify the higher price". I think you can see that I can't answer that question for you. I will say that if it were me, I would rather have 3 pans in PM than 5 in A-C.

                                                                                                                  Tarnish.... Well, I have a lot of copper on display in my kitchen, cook now with it in >90% of applications, and don't even notice the patina. I polish once or twice a year like for holidays or special occasions. I do not believe the PM is coated with anything, inside or out, so yes, it will develop natural patina. In the unlikely event it shipped with a protective coating (like Baumalu), you would want to remove it before use anyway.

                                                                                                                  A PM on eBay would be protected by the eBay Buyer's Protection Guarantee--you get the right to return it no matter what the seller says about not accepting returns. Unfair sometimes for the sellers, but all you'd be out would be return shipping.

                                                                                                                  The markups on all cookware of good quality are huge, so I wouldn't take it as a danger sign that the price is a lot lower than MSRP. Frankly, if a small scuff or ding gets you a $400 pan for $200, I'd be elated. You're cooking in these things, not worshipping them.

                                                                                                                  Have you read tanuki's review? Even so, ask him; he might have more to add now that he's had it awhile.


                                                                                                                  1. re: kaleokahu
                                                                                                                    davidahn Jan 11, 2012 10:29 AM


                                                                                                                    I couldn't find any review per se by Tanuki Soup, but I did find his conduction experiment thread. Fascinating, but alas, he did not test any fully clad aluminum core or copper core pans. The small difference between the PM and the induction-compatible aluminum pan tells me I'd get little benefit of copper core over aluminum core, but what I really want to know is how much performance would I LOSE by going copper core fully clad over a 90% copper pan. I've requested it now, but I doubt he would buy a pan simply out of scientific curiosity. Would you, Tanuki Soup?

                                                                                                                    In any case, I'm still leaning toward Copper Core because I'm not the neatest, most organized guy, nor is my wife the neatest gal. And yet in a cruel twist of fate, I'm wired to quite appreciate, almost need, shininess. Therefore performance would have to be pretty fantástico to get me to put up with tarnished cookware, or heaven forbid, polish my cookware on a regular basis. :)


                                                                                                                    1. re: davidahn
                                                                                                                      kaleokahu Jan 11, 2012 11:45 AM

                                                                                                                      Hi, David:

                                                                                                                      You've asked me to quantify something that would take careful experimentation to do--with pans that I do not own.

                                                                                                                      I think as a general principle, if you're comparing A-C Copper core with the PM, you need to look at the fact that A-C puts .92mm of SS between your burner and your food, PM less (I know this is less of a factor when you're using your induction hobs). Then there's the thickness differential in the copper itself. Then there's the issue of the bonded steel disk on the bottom of the PM (which I view as more of an equalizer if you're comparing the two on gas).

                                                                                                                      It's OK to recognize your preferences for shininess and convenience. Lots of people are that way. I'm just one of the people who likes to remind the rest of you that these factors aren't really culinary, and the price to be paid for convenience is usually *some* reduction in performance. I see this tradeoff at work even with PM, since I view the bonded disk as a drag on performance on non-induction hobs.

                                                                                                                      Good Luck, it sounds like your mind is made up.


                                                                                                                      1. re: kaleokahu
                                                                                                                        davidahn Jan 11, 2012 02:56 PM


                                                                                                                        Sadly, convenience matters to me quite a bit, and esthetics matter a lot more than they should (I'm the artistic type). If I were a more fastidious person, I'd love to stock my kitchen with Prima Matera and polish it on a regular basis, but honestly, that's not who I am. There's no question these are not culinary factors; I'm just trying to get a sense for how much the tradeoffs will hurt the performance.

                                                                                                                        It sounds like your passion for cooking is such that you place practical or esthetic considerations farther down your priority list than do I. My wife and I take considerable pleasure in cooking, but when it's done 1-2 times a day, 50 times a month, 600 times a year, it often feels unpleasurable and even kind of like... work. That's why we need to choose cookware that requires little maintenance.

                                                                                                                        Sorry to disappoint. I'm just not that hard core, I guess. I truly appreciate all the great advice you've given, and I hope to keep learning. It was all very much helpful and carefully considered, if not all heeded. Who knows? Maybe I won't like the A-C Copper Core stir fry pan and be back here bugging you about Prima Matera. Maybe I'll get the PM and hire a maid just to polish it! LOL (Hmmm. Not a bad idea.)


                                                                                                                        1. re: davidahn
                                                                                                                          kaleokahu Jan 11, 2012 04:38 PM

                                                                                                                          HI, again, David:

                                                                                                                          No problem, and no apology necessary. Convenience does matter, to differing degrees, to all of us. If the inconvenience of handwashing (or the imagined inconvenience of semi-annual polishing) destroys your enjoyment of cooking, that tells you everything you need to make your purchase.

                                                                                                                          The odds are good that you will enjoy your A-C copper core very much--it is good stuff, and I don't mean to deprecate it.




                                                                                                                          1. re: kaleokahu
                                                                                                                            kaleokahu Jan 11, 2012 06:10 PM


                                                                                                                            I neglected to mention that there is a ton of A-C listed on eBay right now, most of it NIB.


                                                                                                                            1. re: kaleokahu
                                                                                                                              davidahn Jan 11, 2012 08:56 PM

                                                                                                                              It just felt like you really wanted me to get the Prima Matera. :)

                                                                                                                              We'll be hand washing anyway because the A-C CC has that copper band that turns gray/black in the dishwasher. I also ordered the Anolon Nouvelle Copper Stainless set + 8 qt stockpot, which has the copper band in the base.

                                                                                                                              I watched the PM world premiere video again, and the induction layer on the bottom is scraped off in the center for the laser engraving. As small as it is and as conductive as copper is, it will heat up just fine, but worth noting. Also, I note that PM does not have the flared pouring lip like the Copper Core, a minor usability issue.

                                                                                                                              I have to say the PM is still tempting, especially those cheaper pieces on eBay. Do you think in addition to hand washing, semi-annual polishing is all it will take to keep it looking pristine and shiny? I also worry about the possibility of chips/dings in the softer copper as opposed to SS. Did I mention my wife likes to swing things about roughshod? She's a door slammer, NOT gentle with stuff. Something to keep in mind as far as material choices go.

                                                                                                                              About eBay, thanks, I have seen a BUNCH of A-C Copper Core on eBay, and it's more expensive than on Amazon. Also noticed that a FEW P-M pieces are really cheap, everything else starts at $400 and goes up quickly.

                                                                                                                              1. re: davidahn
                                                                                                                                kaleokahu Jan 11, 2012 09:03 PM

                                                                                                                                Hi, David;

                                                                                                                                In truth, if you want the copper to look like the wares in Downton Abbey, you're going to be polishing more. As for the chips/dings go, either copper or SS is harder than your head, so let the wife swing away.


                                                                                                                                1. re: kaleokahu
                                                                                                                                  davidahn Jan 11, 2012 11:55 PM

                                                                                                                                  I'm in the process of softening my wife up on the cost (I think it's working), and negotiating on the price of some Prima Matera pieces.

                                                                                                                                  If we do buy some PM, yes, I would indeed like the copper to look shiny and new... all the time. So I hope it doesn't require too frequent or too involved polishing. Truth is, as not-too-neat neat freaks, we'll just do what we always do... polish when we have people over. Haha!

                                                                                                                                  eHow says (http://www.ehow.com/way_5317921_carin...) to only use wooden or plastic utensils regardless of lining. Do you think this is true of Prima Matera? I guess 0.2 mm of SS (10% of 2 mm) is pretty thin, but isn't SS nearly indestructible?

                                                                                                                                  They also state it will warp in cold water when hot. Yikes. My wife and I are both very absent-minded. I can SO see us doing that. If we get PM, I hope we learn quickly! I don't want to repeat myself, but... yikes. Shudders.

                                                                                                                                  eHow also says to polish every 2 months, more often in humid climates; I hope San Diego isn't considered one of those places! Either way, I guess every 2 months is not so bad to keep those bad boys gleaming.


                                                                                                                                  1. re: davidahn
                                                                                                                                    kaleokahu Jan 12, 2012 10:39 AM

                                                                                                                                    Hi, David:

                                                                                                                                    No need to worry about metal utensils. If you, your kids and their kids scraped with metal at every use, yes you could theoretically wear through the pan. That would be the end of it (no retinning equivalent). But we're talking multiple lifetimes of normal home use. Frankly, I hate the feel of metal utensils against metal pots, so it was easy for me to throw out most of my metal. Then again, I cook mostly in tinned copper.

                                                                                                                                    I do not understand the eHow warning about warpage. Straight-gauge *aluminum* is notorious for warping on commercial hobs, but I have never heard of a warpage problem with copper bimetal at home. Sounds like you like the science and physics of cookware, so look up the coefficients of thermal expansion. If I recall correctly, copper and the SS alloys that are used are quite close, aluminum and SS not so much.

                                                                                                                                    Polishing... Let me save you some grief. Lots of things work, but many of them result in the patina returning quickly, especially in marine environments. For instance, the traditional flour+salt+vinegar paste is quite effective, but IME the shine doesn't last. Likewise 0000 steel and brass wool. The Mauviel polish is crazy expensive. The longest-lasting results I have gotten is with a product called Flitz (the polish of choice for vintage aluminum airplanes and Airstream trailers). Flitz seems to micro-polish copper so smooth that water beads up like on a windshield treated with sealant. A Flitz-polished pan can sit in my Seattle kitchen for months and still look mirror-like (it isn't, but unless you have a just-polished one sitting right next to it, you can't tell). BUT, I'll warn you in advance, if you use a copper pan every day AND you want it to ALWAYS look like the pans on Downton Abbey, you will be polishing more often. How often will depend on how anal-retentive you two are.

                                                                                                                                    Another key to a good polish is to polish a very small area at a time and not to rub the dirty polish into the metal (i.e., change microfiber or paper towels frequently, and buff well before moving on).


                                                                                                                                    1. re: kaleokahu
                                                                                                                                      davidahn Jan 12, 2012 11:59 PM

                                                                                                                                      Regarding metal utensils, that's a relief. We don't want to handle our cookware with kid gloves; they should be workhorses, not showpieces. Though I still want them to look like showpieces! As for warping, the one source I looked at showed identical thermal expansion for SS and copper, so I think warping is a minimal concern. But we'll still take care with them.

                                                                                                                                      I've been feeling guilty about wanting to buy the Prima Matera "for my wife," because it's really for ME. I think my wife will be much happier with the A-C Stainless Steel. (Even the Copper Core would be more for me than for her.) She can bang them around without worry, toss them in the dishwashers when she's feeling tired. I know she'll get used to the copper cookware, but I don't want to once again force my decisions on her!

                                                                                                                                      I'm torn, but it's really for her. If we do end up getting the Prima Matera, I will print out your polishing instructions and post them in the kitchen!

                                                                                                                                      1. re: davidahn
                                                                                                                                        kaleokahu Jan 13, 2012 12:36 PM

                                                                                                                                        Hi, David:

                                                                                                                                        Based on your descriptions, I have conjured a picture of your DW as an Olympic hammerthrow medalist! If your decision isn't glass or crockery, pretty much everything would hold up well to minor banging and tossing. Time to get in the game and try something. You can (and probably will) always change it up.

                                                                                                                                        Have Fun.


                                                                                                                                        1. re: kaleokahu
                                                                                                                                          davidahn Jan 13, 2012 09:31 PM

                                                                                                                                          Haha, you would think she's this 6 foot, steroid-injecting mountain of a woman, but in fact she's this beautiful petite, sweet looking woman... who slams doors, drawers, utensils, cookware, and pretty much everything else. But she produces the most delicious food! She's an amazing cook who deserves the best quality cookware. The best, armor plated cookware. :)

                                                                                                                                          I'll let you know how it goes. Looks like my first Copper Core piece is already a casualty before it even arrives. Everyone's poo-pooed the notion of a SS clad wok. So I'll probably either sell it or use it as a wok-shaped sauté pan, which is how we use our nonstick aluminum woks anyway. So next up: 8" copper core fry pan. We'll see if it's usable for eggs or whether like so many others we'll leave the eggs to the nonstick pans.

                                                                                                                                          I'll also post reports of how the Nouvelle Copper Stainless Steel set is working out. It's arrived at my office but we're out of town until Wednesday.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: kaleokahu
                                                                                                                                        davidahn Jan 17, 2012 11:52 PM


                                                                                                                                        After all my waffling, I decided that if my wife doesn't like the Prima Matera pieces due to maintenance issues, she can use the Nouvelle Copper pieces. I'll use the PM! Anyway, just thought you'd like to know that I bought 4 PM pieces to start (9.4 and 11" frypans, 1.9 and 3.5 qt saucepans), and I'm researching what pieces to buy next.

                                                                                                                                        Thanks to all who contributed their wisdom!


                                                                                                                                        1. re: davidahn
                                                                                                                                          plainv70 Jan 18, 2012 02:01 PM

                                                                                                                                          You da' man. I think you will be very happy and, if not, I know a copper pan rescue that will take them.. ;)

                                                                                                                                          A few suggestions;I apologize if they were already covered in this thread. No metal utensils; aside from the cosmetic problems, scratches lead to sticking. Nothing more abrasive than blue scotchbrite, no green or copper or brass pads. Barkeepers Friend is mildly abrasive and enough so to dull any polished metal; the softer the metal, i.e. copper, the more so. I use it sparingly and avoid making a paste with it on my SS interiors; I avoid it entirely with tin and copper. All other powder cleaners, e.g. Ajax, are out.

                                                                                                                                          If you are thoughful about your temperatures, you will not have any problems with cleaning. I wash my SS and copper then dry them immediately to avoid excessive spotting. Every so often, I get out the metal polish and tidy them up. There are lots of polishes available, don't get conned into the fancy french stuff (read $$$); they're all pretty much the same. Just be sure they say they are for copper. Salt and lemon juice is the traditional way, but salt is also abrasive and will dull a nicely polished surface.

                                                                                                                                          So, actually, the incremental maintenance effort with copper compared to polished SS is pretty marginal.

                                                                                                                                          As far as other pans, I find my 4 and 6qt saute (straight sided) very useful. If you don't have any french ovens, a 5.5qt and the next size up are handy.

                                                                                                                                          The nouvelle copper line probably has enough copper in it to justify marketing it as containing copper, but at its selling price, not enough to physically make a difference. Since most of us aren't doing direct comparisons with our cookware, they get away with it. Not to say that it is not perfectly functional cookware, just that it (and many or most of the other cu-ss laminates) is not in the same league as 2mm copper and the like.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: plainv70
                                                                                                                                            davidahn Jan 18, 2012 02:57 PM

                                                                                                                                            Thanks for the tips, plainv! Re: towel drying, I'll definitely do that. I'm a little anal retentive. I did get a water softener which I have to have installed this week or next (San Diego has some pretty hard water), which I hope will help reduce the spotting. I got a couple of different pointers on the copper polish, so I'll try one out and see.

                                                                                                                                            We have a 3.5 qt Le Creuset French oven, but I'll definitely look into a 6 qt size.

                                                                                                                                            Actually, there's another thread where we discuss the Nouvelle Copper, Meyer's customer support says 4 mm of copper capped with aluminum and stainless steel; I'm expecting great, even heat in applications where I only need the bottom of the pot hot!

                                                                                                                                    2. re: kaleokahu
                                                                                                                                      rbraham May 7, 2012 01:18 PM

                                                                                                                                      Idiotic question from someone not too interested in copper fry pans (yet):
                                                                                                                                      When you sauté, you sauté--bring the pan in the air and do the arm pull.

                                                                                                                                      With copper, does it screw up the pan simply to run the base back and forth over the hob?

                                                                                                                                      Second question: if professional restaurants usually use thick aluminum, how do they deal with the hotspots created by the inevitable dents?


                                                                                                                                      1. re: rbraham
                                                                                                                                        kaleokahu May 7, 2012 02:04 PM

                                                                                                                                        Hi, Rob:

                                                                                                                                        Not idiotic at all... Sure, scraping and banging the bottom of a copper pan on a gas hob's spider or a calrod coil scars up the bottom some. But ideally, you're not Jiffypopping or hammering--you take most of the weight with your arm when you jump it, and don't slam it back down.

                                                                                                                                        I'm less clear about your second question. A dent or bend in an aluminum pan isn't going to hot spot on a gas hob, and it takes a *lot* of abuse to make much of a dent anyway. Of more concern is warpage, which can ruin the pan, especially for use on a placque or coil.


                                                                                                            2. re: davidahn
                                                                                                              rbraham May 7, 2012 07:23 PM

                                                                                                              But hasn't Kaleo, here or in another thread, said, basically, the copper in that line of All-Clad does basically diddly?

                                                                                                              I know I've been in a copper-porn mode recently, but am now considering heavy-gauge aluminum for replacement pans.

                                                                                                              Chefs use them in almost all cases; they're in a business. My favorite, most common sense chef, Steve Burton at stellaculinary.com, said somewhere in a video (hence unsearchable) that he uses Calphalon. I didn't even know they made non non-stick pans.

                                                                                                              I cook at home, and never will my pans get use like these guys.

                                                                                                              So, what's the heaviest gauge aluminum pan out there that still, at least, has all those good thermal properties closer to copper than SS?

                                                                                                              1. re: rbraham
                                                                                                                rbraham May 7, 2012 07:40 PM

                                                                                                                At Broadway Panhandler they sell (as do probably every restaurant supply store) Atlas pans as the normal high-end kitchen pan.

                                                                                                                Here are the specs from Atlas's site:

                                                                                                                . NSF listed. Extra-heavy 3/16"(.157") thick aluminum. Thicker than standard 8 gauge (.125") pots. Reinforced top rim provides extra rigidity and strength; keeps top round so cover always fits properly.125") pots. Reinforced top rim provides extra rigidity and strength; keeps top round so cover always fits properly.

                                                                                                                Comments? Is this a contender; ie are the specs as good as they get?

                                                                                                                Sorry I don't have the prices (my iPad is complaining because I have too many windows open). But they're really low.


                                                                                                                1. re: rbraham
                                                                                                                  kaleokahu May 7, 2012 08:33 PM

                                                                                                                  Hi, Rob:

                                                                                                                  I think what I said (and stick by) is that the cladsters (the good ones anyway) scale their aluminum layers to approximate a decent thickness of copper. I think this is fair dinkum, as far as clad goes, so I'm not of the belief, e.g., that Demeyer Atlantis is clearly better than Apollo. At least the better makers are trying to do the right thing.

                                                                                                                  FWIW, to approximate 3mm of copper, I think you're talking about 5-6mm of aluminium. Probably more if you want the same heat retention.


                                                                                                                  1. re: rbraham
                                                                                                                    Chemicalkinetics May 8, 2012 12:07 AM

                                                                                                                    <So, what's the heaviest gauge aluminum pan out there that still, at least, has all those good thermal properties closer to copper than SS?>

                                                                                                                    You should read the original post on


                                                                                                                    It depends what you are seeking for. While copper has a higher thermal conductivity, aluminum requires less thermal energy to change its temperature. This evens out the difference. Think of it this way. Yes, a mustang GT may have a much greater horsepower (8 cylinders), but a Honda S2000 (4 cylinders) requires less force/power to accelerate. A similar situation here. You have to know what you are looking for and what you are holding down as your restrictions.


                                                                                                                    Aluminum is also very light in comparison. For the same mass, aluminum has a greater specific heat capacity (0.9 J/g K) than copper (0.386 J/g K) -- more than twice.


                                                                                                                    For the same volume, aluminum has 2/3rd the heat capacity as copper since aluminum is lighter. So when you ask these parameters, it is important to know what you are comparing. Pound for pound, aluminum has more than twice the heat capacity and therefore a great heat retention. Volume by volume, aluminum is 2/3rd of copper in term of heat capacity, and therefore has a lower retention.

                                                                                                                    <So, what's the heaviest gauge aluminum pan out there that still, at least, has all those good thermal properties closer to copper than SS?>

                                                                                                                    It is also important to know that once you have cladded the aluminum or copper inside 2 layers of stainless steel. Some of the thermal properties are heavily changed.

                                                                                                              2. Chemicalkinetics Jan 9, 2012 04:46 PM

                                                                                                                Very unlikely to have a heat response difference. Possibly a bit more even heating surface, but a minor difference.

                                                                                                                "wherefrom I infer it's a practical wash due to copper's higher conductivity being hampered by its heat capacity:"

                                                                                                                Agree, if we are talking about an empty pan.

                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                                                                                  davidahn Jan 9, 2012 09:24 PM

                                                                                                                  Thanks. I was leaning toward the Tramontina (I love a great bang for my buck) until I saw the SeriousEats comparison (http://www.seriouseats.com/2010/08/eq...); the paper browning pattern doesn't look good for Tramontina (I wasn't impressed with either), though I'm not sure how evenly paper browns, though... I'd prefer to see thermal IR imaging.

                                                                                                                  The truth is, the paper experiment really soured me to aluminum core. I'm now leaning heavily to copper core or even copper base (though I handled the Kirkland Signature and didn't like the bottom-heaviness).

                                                                                                                  I love your succinctness, but can you please expand on your "empty pan" statement? As opposed to...? Thanks.

                                                                                                                  1. re: davidahn
                                                                                                                    Chemicalkinetics Jan 9, 2012 10:01 PM

                                                                                                                    I think Tramontina is a great deal for its price. I don't think people really think it is better than All Clad. Keep in mind, that most of the time, we move the foods around when we cook. The more the foods are randomized on the pan The less this difference makes.

                                                                                                                    Your original post bought up a very good point that many do not understand or discuss. Copper has a noticeably higher thermal conductivity than aluminum, but copper also has a much higher heat capacity by volume.

                                                                                                                    So let’s say we have a temperature differential gradient along a copper rod vs an aluminum rod. More thermal energy is transmitted through the copper wire due to its higher thermal conductivity, but this does not mean the copper temperature will change faster. Like you accurate described, the copper’s heat capacity by volume is higher, so it takes more heat to change the same degree of temperature. These two characteristics cancel each other out for the temperature change.

                                                                                                                    In fact, here is a simpler example. Let’s say we have a copper rod of 5 cm2 cross section area and another of 10 cm2 area. The 10 cm2 will deliver twice as much heat due to its doubled cross section, but the temperature change is not doubled. Without heat lost to the surrounding, there is NO difference at all (let’s not discuss heat loss for now). There is another easier way to see this. The 10 cm2 rod has the same cross section as two independent 5 cm2 rods, right? Two independent 5 cm2 rods will deliver the twice the thermal energy as one 5 cm2 rod, correct? However, the two independent 5 cm2 rods will not double the temperature change rate. Why? Exactly what you wrote earlier. The total heat capacity has doubled, so they canceled out.

                                                                                                                    What you wrote in your original article is very insightful and “to the point” – thermal conductivity alone can be misleading. The article you first cited used thermal diffusivity. It is a more useful term to predict the temperature evenness of a pan. How the temperature will response as oppose to how the heat will flow.

                                                                                                                    This will be a bit different if we imagine another object coming into contact with the hot pan, let’s say a piece of meat. A piece of meat acts as a heat sink. Heat will flow from the hotter aluminum or copper pan to the colder meat. In this case, the copper’s thermal capacity (by volume) will come into play. In addition, the higher thermal conductivity will kick in a bit too. Without going too complicated, keep in mind that the meat absorbs the energy in the form of heat, not in temperature. Therefore, the copper’s greater ability to transmit heat (not temperature) matters. Nevertheless, thermal conductivity alone is insufficient to describe the picture.

                                                                                                                    I am going to throw another curved ball though. For a cladded cookware, this difference really matters less.

                                                                                                                    P.S.: I enjoyed your second linked article quiet a bit. Thanks.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                                                                                      davidahn Jan 9, 2012 11:21 PM

                                                                                                                      Thanks. Maybe I'm over thinking this. I don't have much to lose by trying out the Tramontina (or the copper disk base cookware); I could always upgrade to Copper Core if I really find it doesn't meet my standards.

                                                                                                                      The truth is that my wife does most of the cooking, but I do most of the research, haha. She's leery of switching from the convenience of nonstick to SS, but I do worry about the fumes. Why risk it if there are cleaner, proven safe alternatives?

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