Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >
Jan 30, 2012 07:39 AM

Aluminum exposed on the rims of tri-ply cookware

Hi everyone. I am a college student in NY who wants to buy some saucepans for daily use. Even though I'm not a phenomenal cook in any way I want to buy some durable cookware that will carry me long after my school days. Mainly I'll be boiling oatmeal in the morning, making noodles for lunch, and boiling veggies. I may have inclinations to experiment out of my normal methods.

I think I've just about looked at every brand available to me in the US, at least on the internet. Brands such as:
Cuisinart, Calphalon, All-Clad, those expensive brands at the department stores
Commercial cookware from restaurant(Vollrath, Johnson Rose, Sitram(if it can be considered as it?))

Basically I've narrowed it down to stainless steel, either tri-ply or disk, with a metal lid(I don't liked how the glass lids get dirty and fogged up). So now I'm considering Cuisinart Multiclad and Tramontina tri-ply. Yes I really want to try this tri-ply and see if it actually is more efficient and 'even cooking' as people have said.

I'm on the brink of taking the plunge for a Tramontina 1.5 qt saucepan, which I've read is good for it's price and will let me test it out without shelling out too much money. Unfortunately I am worried about the rims of tri-ply cookware which I believe expose the layer of aluminum. I am a frequent pourer and I don't want the aluminum to get in contact with my food, or to rust, chemically change in anyway. I know some like the Multiclad have flared rims, but the question of chemical change still stands. Also I will be handwashing and I don't want aluminum to stick from the sponge and 'infect' the rest of my utensils.

So my question is, should I be worried about any of this?
And also, do you have any recommendations in cookware for someone of my predicament? I don't have a SET price per se, because I am willing to pay for something that will last me for my life and it is JUST a saucepan after all so I assume even the most expensive saucepans won't be too over the top. I will take care of the pans insofar as using wooden utensils and soft sponges, even refraining from acidic foods(not that I eat them much) but I definitely am not going to 'polish copper' or anything of the sort(even the copper All-clad has exposed copper...which could get into food I presume even with the flared lip).

More preferences: I really like the shape of a saucier and I imagine it'd be easy to mix in it, but I'm ok with the cylindrical pan. If disk bottom pan serves well, I will probably get that, although I liked the clean lines of a tri-ply.

Hehe, I hope I didn't put too much information; I just wanted to provide enough information so I could get specific, to the point answers. Thank you very much for reading. And please don't hesitate to knock some sense into me if you think I'm getting too crazy over this

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Just a couple of thoughts:

    I can't believe that aluminum would be exposed in a tri-ply pan, but if you think there is a chance, just buy the disk bottom. There can't be that much difference in performance. I own a disk bottom Tramontina and I think it is a very nice pan.

    Buy a saucier later.

    It isn't realistic for a pot to last your lifetime, unless you buy a vastly more expensive pot and take exceptional care of it. Often we buy and then rebuy, in our lifetimes. I've been cooking for 40 years, and I've replaced all of my older pots, some of them twice. If they don't wear out, they get burned up, get lost in moves, get stolen by roommates, etc. Buy a nice pan and use it. You'll learn what you like in a pan.

    I have mostly stainless lids, but I really like a nice glass lid because you can see into the pot as it cooks.

    One of the benefits of stainless, is that you can use metal utensils, and everything can be dishwashed.

    I recommend visiting stores, and picking up pots. A good pot should be balanced in your hand. not too heavy or too light, and pleasing in its appearance. Its handle should be comfortable.

    Good luck.

    2 Replies
    1. re: sueatmo

      Is it possible for stainless steel to become so scratched that the middle layer would be exposed?

      1. re: Curiousiti

        not under anything remotely resembling normal use.

    2. "So my question is, should I be worried about any of this?"

      In my opinion, no.

      "Infection" is invasion of body tissues by microorganisms. Aluminum does not "infect" anything.

      On the subject of the saucier, these pans are excellent. The gentle curve does make for easier mixing, and it is important for some sauces prepared in this type of pan to distribute the heat evenly, including up the sides, by the use of aluminum (usually) or copper in the construction of the pan. My saucier is my favorite pan.

      1. Aluminum is the most abundant metallic element at the Earth's surface. Here is an article from the World Health Organization on the subject of aluminum in the environment:

        1 Reply
        1. re: GH1618

          I just skimmed through this right now but I will take time to read it later.

        2. You worry too much. It's aluminum, not plutonium. You'd be safe cooking in 100% aluminum pans, too, but I'm not going to try to convince you of that. If you don't want aluminum "infecting" your food, do not eat in any restaurant, hotel, school or hospital ever again.

          3 Replies
          1. re: kaleokahu

            Such a way with words. Short, to the point and 100% correct. Perhaps in an inexpensive pot they may have left the cross section exposed at the rim, but in better cookware, that's not typically the case. And even if it were, you are actually talking about incidental contact with the food and as such incidental contact isn't even covered by the FDA.

            Keep in mind, a good pan will last a lot longer than an inexpensive pan, so spend your money wisely. A good pan typically has better construction, heavier materials, and better workmanship.

            1. re: mikie

              I disagree that this is a matter of construction being "inexpensive" or "better." A multi-ply pan clad with SS on the interior and exterior exposes the inner layers at the rim merely because covering the rim with SS would add expense without adding any value. Such a pan would be more expensive, perhaps, but not "better."

              1. re: mikie

                Many of my all clad pans have the cross section 'exposed at the rim'...and they are anything but inexpensive.

                With all due respect to the OP...I think this is all much ado about nothing.

            2. Every tri-ply pan (All-Clad, Calphalon, etc) that I have ever seen has had all layers exposed at the rim edge, presumably so the consumer can see that the sandwich does extend all the way up the sides.

              Personally, I don't use aluminum cookware anymore, but I am not at all concerned about the little but showing in the tri-ply. If I were hyper-concerned, I would get the flared rim tri-ply pans, like the D5 or the Calphalon Tri-ply, because when pouring off a flared rim the food will not contact the aluminum. All-in-all, I think the exposed aluminum in a tri-ply pan is no biggie.

              5 Replies
              1. re: jljohn

                We have had West Bend InKor cookware for 40 years, it was expensive stuff back when my wife bought it. It is multi ply and there is no exposed edge on this cookware. See pictures at the following link: The lip of the pans have been roled over and essentially sealed so that the inner layer is not visible. Perhaps I should have said old as opposed to expensive, or perhaps just that some ply cookware does not expose the inner layer, or at least not all multi ply cookware exposes all the layers. I obviously have not inspected all cookware manufactures methods of finishing a pan, but all of this is really mute as the aluminum contact is irrelevent.

                I should add, that I've just been looking at new pans and frankly didn't even look at the edge to see how it was finished as that amount of exposed aluminum is certianly not a concern. I can say I have looked at the edge of the All Clad copper core, and I don't recall seing the copper core in those, the only place you see the copper is in the band that is exposed near the bottom. I thought the copper went all the way up the sides, am I incorrect there?

                1. re: mikie

                  I have one piece of All-Clad Copper Core — the small braiser. The copper core is clearly visible at the rim.

                  1. re: mikie

                    Construction of the Inkor (and others) waterless pans described:


                    1. re: GH1618

                      Perhaps this is a better view: I know ours are not disk bottoms, but you can see from this photo that the edge is rolled and not just cut off and left raw. It rolls all the way to the under side of the rim. That's assuming the link works.

                      1. re: mikie

                        I don't see your link, but from the link I posted, it does appear that while there is a disk in the base, there is also aluminum sandwiched in the sides as well. I edited my post to reflect that.