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Aluminum exposed on the rims of tri-ply cookware

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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

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  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: http://www.ebay.com/itm/INKOR-MULTI-C... 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: http://www.ebay.com/itm/INKOR-STAINLE... 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.

                2. Like everyone said. Don't worry about it. You are fine. To be very frank, some of the premises of your questions are not impossible. In other words, you are asking if something impossible can happen. The answers are no's.

                  1. Some people actually have cookware that's made of 100% aluminum. Restaurants also have big aluminum pots and pans. So if you ever ate at a restaurant your food was exposed to aluminum at some point.

                    The surface of aluminum forms aluminum oxide. I too don't like the idea of getting a little dose aluminum oxide in my food. But I don't think you have anything to worry about.

                    It sounds like you're making personal meals. I would suggest you get at least a 2.5 to 3 qt saucepan with a glass lid which will be less susceptible to boil over. A 1.5 qt has you filled to the rim most of the time. Unless you don't eat very much. A saucier or chef pan can do double duty, saucepan and fry pan all-in-one.

                    TJ and Marsh have a good selection of brand name saucepans always at a discount and sometimes on clearance. The heaviest saucepan with the widest bottom will be the best one.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: unprofessional_chef

                      The colanders in most restaurants are aluminum, too.

                      1. re: unprofessional_chef

                        On the other hand, there are just 2 of us in my household and I use a 1 1/2 qt s/pan more than any of the other sizes. In fact, I don't use larger s/pans often anymore. It all depends on your style of cooking, and the servings you produce.

                        If the OP buys the small s/pan, and he doesn't like it, then he has spent less to find out. On the other hand, if he does like it, then he has the confidence to purchase a larger size which requires a larger outlay of money.

                      2. I never thought about this before, but it makes perfect sense. Sure enough, I checked mine (Emeril Pro-Clad) and I can see the layers. What surprised me is that the pans are essentially aluminum with a very thin layer of stainless on the inside and outside.

                        I have a couiple of small aluminum fry pans that I use for crepes, so I'm not all concerned about food merely touching the aluminum for a second - actually, that seems a little over the top.

                        Aluminum doesn't rust BTW.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: ATL_Brad

                          Aluminum does oxidize, we just don't call it rust.

                          1. re: GH1618

                            Actually, some do ;) ;)

                        2. As most everyone has said, the exposed aluminum is a non-issue. But I noticed that you said you are a frequent pourer... I assume you mean that you often find yourself pouring a sauce or stock out of the saucepan. If that is the case, I strongly suggest you get a pan with a rolled rim. These will allow you to pour without dripping down the sides of the saucepan. All-Clad D5, for example has the rolled rim, whereas the original All-Clad tri-ply does not. It really makes a big difference.

                          34 Replies
                          1. re: MelMM

                            I would think that this would be a far bigger issue than any possible contamination, real or imagined, from that small strip of exposed anything.

                            EDIT: that ***being able to pour without making a mess*** is a bigger advantage than avoiding any contamination issues.

                            1. re: sunshine842

                              Actually I was in my school dining hall the other day and I happened to notice that the serveware was All-Clad tri-ply lasagna pans. I checked out the rims and you could see that the aluminum layer was damaged(pretty minimal but there nonetheless) while the stainless steel edges were a bit damaged but less so than the aluminum.

                              1. re: Curiousiti

                                that's because aluminum is typically (but not always) softer than SS.

                                The fact that it's dented or scratched does not mean at all that there is potential damage or corrosion -- if that were true, every car with a dented fender would have a hole from where the damaged metal dissolved and washed away in the rain.

                                Think about it - if the metal were being dissolved enough by food passing over it for a second or two to even detectably contaminate what you're cooking, your pans would all dissolve and disappear within a few months. (and "contamination" by SS is suspect to begin with -- you do know they make surgical implants out of stainless steel, right? Like it's put into your body and stays there for decades without dissolving or poisoning anyone)

                                1. re: Curiousiti

                                  And to what do you contribute this damage to the aluminum and stainless steel? Stainless is much less reactive and considerably harder than aluminum, so this could be damage from handeling, or it could be damage from harsh cleaning chemicals used in an institutional kitchen. If you have fears of being contaminated by aluminum you need to check out what kind of pots they boiled the lasagna in, good chance it was aluminum. I think what most people here are trying to say is that aluminum has been used for cookware for many years and there is no hard scientific evidence linking it to shortening your life expectancy or quality of life. So, worrying about the relatively insignificant amount of aluminum that your food would contact as it crosses from the SS interior of the pot to the vessel into which it's being tranfered isn't necessary. That translates into multi ply cookware is extremely safe to use.

                                  1. re: Curiousiti

                                    Others have already said pretty much all there is to say about why tri-ply (or even plain aluminum) cookware should give you no cause for concern, so I have nothing to add there. Just want to express my astonishment at reading that your college dining hall is stocked with All-Clad lasagna pans. Obviously the school is putting your tuition money to good use!

                                    1. re: Miss Priss

                                      LOL, maybe they were gifted by a student's family? Or maybe somebody thought, "Jeez, it costs so much to replace pans every year! Why don't we just buy something we'll never have to replace? It'll be cheaper in the long run..."

                                      But yeah, without any back-story it looks a little funny, doesn't it? :-)

                                  2. re: sunshine842

                                    Seems like most people are telling me that my question was stupid, but I posted it because I couldn't find any other mention of it on the web. It's a detail that I thought warranted at least a little consideration.

                                    1. re: Curiousiti

                                      nobody said your question was stupid -- but you don't seem to want to accept anyone's explanations or assurances that you might be giving it a little more consideration than it warrants, either.

                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                        Ok after reading these posts I am mostly reassured about aluminum but I don't think I'll truly be at ease until I use it with own hands and see how it behaves...

                                      2. re: Curiousiti

                                        >Seems like most people are telling me that my question was stupid, but I posted it because I couldn't find any other mention of it on the web. It's a detail that I thought warranted at least a little consideration.<

                                        What some seem to think is stupid is the idea that aluminum could be harmful to our health and they seem to have a mission to convert those that are worried about the use of aluminum. I don't know, maybe they own stock in aluminum? I don't understand why they care.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

                                        Now, I like triply pots better than the disk bottom. I don't know if they cook any better, but I like the feel of them. The balance of them. I find disk bottoms to be be out of balance and bottom heavy. I have one disk bottom pot and I rarely use it.
                                        I have try ply cookware with rolled rims for the ease of pouring. However, my old tryply that I cooked with for almost 30 years did not have the rolled rims and I don't remember noticing the exposed aluminum at the rims. But it may have been there.
                                        My new timonitina stock pot does have the aluminum exposed at the rim, but it is a large stock pot and I mostly dip out whatever is in it. If you are worried about the exposed aluminum I would just get one with a rolled rim. It makes pouring so much easier too.

                                        For the record, I avoid aluminum contact with my food too. And yes, I know restaraunts use aluminum. But I rarely eat out. I prefer my own food. Thankfully there is a lot of non aluminum cookware to choose from. It is easy enough to avoid.

                                        1. re: dixiegal

                                          "For the record, I avoid aluminum contact with my food too."

                                          We all have our phobias, some based on scientific fact, some on error on the safe side, and others on cynisism. I'm a made in China cynic, I don't trust that is concerned about our welfare, so I don't want food from China, or anything else for that matter. Although there is evidence that China continously breaks the public trust with tainted products, I don't have evidence that every product is dangerous to public health. I couls say the same for aluminum and a number of other things.

                                          1. re: mikie

                                            I will tell you when I decided against the use of aluminum. My mother in law sent some meatloaf home for us to eat and it was wrapped in aluminum foil. The next day when I took it out to eat it, the aluminum foil on top had melted into the meatloaf. As in, the aluminum foil had become one with the meatloaf. The aluminum foil had disintegrated. Yes, I know that had something to do with the acid in the tomatoes. But, my use of aluminum and food together is only when I don't have another option.

                                            1. re: dixiegal

                                              aluminum foil and solid aluminum are about as much alike as a roll of plastic wrap and a bulletproof window.

                                              Yes, it was the tomatoes.

                                              No, you cannot draw any comparison between tinfoil and an aluminum pan.

                                              and while it might have looked unpleasant, it wouldn't have hurt you -- or you could have scraped it off with no ill effects whatsoever.

                                    2. re: MelMM

                                      Wow, the d5 2 qt saucier seems to be my ideal pan however now that I'm truly considering purchasing it I find myself frozen by sticker shock. I don't think I've ever spent that much for a single item except for my laptop, tuition). Since I already have a relatively small loan I don't know how to justify buying this...(Some that I've thought of are: This will compensate for not attending my high school prom(which was about the same price), I will not spend on clothing/eating out/going out for x number of years,etc etc). Also if I do end up buying it, I will be bringing it home during the breaks and will be questioned and reprimanded by my mother.

                                      When I added the pan to my cart and checked out there was a message: available to ship May 15, 2012. So I could maybe hold off on buying one now until I build tolerance to the high price? Hehehe...

                                      1. re: Curiousiti

                                        As mentioned above -- find the addresses of the TJ Maxx, Marshall's, Ross, Home Goods, and Tuesday Morning near you -- start haunting their kitchenware departments.

                                        When you have time, go troll through your local Salvation Army and Goodwill.

                                        You can score fabulous stuff for a song...it takes patience, but it will almost always pay off...then your Mom will be proud of you for being smart with your money.

                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                          I agree. You could probably buy a couple or three pans for the price of one All-Clad. Handling different pans in whatever venues, helps you understand what you want.

                                        2. re: Curiousiti

                                          The All-Clad D5 LTD2 or A-C MC2 2-qt saucier is available for about $110 from various sources. Why do you want SS on the exterior?

                                          1. re: GH1618

                                            I read the reviews which say it scratches easily. So basically I'm worried about the durability of something not SS. Even though I also read somewhere that anodized aluminum is harder than SS, I haven't used it so I'm not sure...plus SS is nice and shiny whereas the anodized aluminum looks like it would feel like a blackboard(screech). But the anodized aluminum would conduct better, no?

                                            1. re: Curiousiti

                                              It's not really a question of durability, but appearance. An aluminum exterior will not look new after it has been used awhile, and will require more work if you want it to look as new as possible, but it will last forever regardless and cook just as well with scratches as without.

                                              1. re: GH1618

                                                Would you say that anodized aluminum heats up faster than the tri-ply?
                                                And noneof the two that you mentioned seem to have that flared lip I now want, based on the pictures from the web.

                                                Edit: Actually I know the cuisinart multiclad unlimited saucepan with anodized exterior has the flared lip and that is also one I have been looking into.

                                                1. re: Curiousiti

                                                  "Would you say that anodized aluminum heats up faster than the tri-ply? "

                                                  A definite yes. Except for some strange exceptions.

                                                  1. re: Curiousiti

                                                    I mentioned those two only for comparison to the A-C D5 SS which you mentioned, since they are variations of the same thing from the same manufacturer. I see now that the D5 SS saucier has a flared lip, which distinguishes it from the other lines.

                                                    I see how the lip could be an advantage on a saucier. I have the MC2 version, with a straight lip, but don't see it as a problem. My saucier is my favorite pan, but I don't see it as general purpose.

                                                2. re: Curiousiti

                                                  Stainless steel will scratch, just like every other substance known to man.

                                                  1. re: Curiousiti

                                                    Why are you worried about scratches?

                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                      I am worried that it would take away mass from the pan(like erosion) and affect its function and lifespan.

                                                      1. re: Curiousiti

                                                        Like I said above -- a scratch is an imperfection in the surface -- more often than not, it doesn't represent any reduction in the mass of metal -- the metal just moves around. (just like wake of a motorboat -- but metal doesn't flow back across the wake)

                                                        If it were true that pans eroded every time they got scratched, there would be stories of pans that had dissolved and run down the drain.

                                                        It doesn't happen - on the rare occasion you'd actually remove any of the material, it would have to be a shockingly big gouge to even *remotely* affect its function or lifespan.

                                                        Metal is not soluble at a rate that you need to be concerned with -- there are metal ships, and metal navigation buoys, and metal radio towers standing in the water, and metal piers, and many times,they surround the support pilings for docks and buildings built overhanging the water with metal -- it doesn't dissolve.

                                                        1. re: Curiousiti

                                                          Hi, Curiositi:

                                                          Again, with respect, you worry too much. Especially if you are on a tight budget, it would be impossible to get more bang for the buck than with aluminum, bare *or* anodized. I daresay it would take you more years than you have ahead of you to wear through/down any decent aluminum pan. Probably several lifetimes.

                                                          SS is put inside pans for one, almost-exclusive reason: CONVENIENCE. From a cooking standpoint, SS is more of a drawback than an advantage. Frankly, the only culinary reason I can think of to EVER favor a SS-clad pan over a bare aluminum one is if you cook a lot of sulfurous things like eggyolks, onions and brussel sprouts (these can discolor *slightly* in bare aluminum).

                                                          I wish you instant wisdom to distinguish real issues from non-issues, but these things take time. You may find, as you age in years and experience, that you value your pans' scars, blemishes and foibles as much as other things about them. And *that* lesson is infinitely extendible.


                                                          1. re: Curiousiti

                                                            Curiositi, what's your course of study? Now you sound like the Nuclear Safety Qualification guys I have to deal with! :-D

                                                            1. re: Curiousiti

                                                              This is so true. As you scratch the pan, it can get lighter and lighter. I estimate that the cookware will get only half of its weight after a few million years or so. So when the dolphins evolved to take over the homo sapiens, the new dolphins will no longer able to use our cookware.

                                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                and thanks for all the fish...

                                                                1. re: sunshine842


                                                                  I don't know if you mean (a) we human will ruin the ocean for the dolphins or (b) citation of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which of course is very funny


                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                    the citation... So long, and thanks for all the fish.....

                                                                    1. re: sunshine842


                                                                      I have never read the book, only watched the film.

                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                        Oh, you have to fix that soon -- the book is so much better than the movie...but don't forget your towel.

                                                  2. Let me chip in here. People have mentioned that aluminum gets coated with a layer of aluminum oxide. This is not a cause for concern as the oxide layer is pretty durable and more or less inert. If it weren't for the layer of oxide, metallic aluminum would be a lot less durable and a lot more reactive than it is. Frankly, all the concerns about aluminum are overblown - it's a lot safer than many other things we encounter on a daily basis.

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: kagemusha49

                                                      are you saying that on the rims of tri-ply pots, the little bit of aluminum exposed is actualy coated with aluminum oxide?

                                                      1. re: Curiousiti

                                                        All exposed aluminum has a surface layer of aluminum oxide. The normal oxide layer on iron, what we call rust, is porous and flaky, and can grow deeper and deeper, eventually consuming the whole piece. The normal oxide on aluminum is hard, and blocks further interaction between the oxygen and aluminum. So once formed the layer does not grow, and protects the aluminum from further oxidation.

                                                        Stainless steel does not rust for the same reason. Metals like chromium in the alloy (mixture) form a stable oxide layer. In other words, all the steel surfaces of that tri-ply pot are covered with an chromium oxide layer.

                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                          Yep - I couldn't have said it better myself.

                                                        2. re: Curiousiti

                                                          Yes, exactly. Google or Wiki "passivation layer".

                                                      2. You've got a lot of good replies from knowledgeable people -- if I may chime in one more. The "aluminum is dangerous" thing is a folk theory, sort of like an urban legend. There are chemical substances that leech into our food and theoretically do damage, for instance, BPA in can linings. The aluminum thing is basically a non-issue.

                                                        1. "So my question is, should I be worried about any of this? " No. "And please don't hesitate to knock some sense into me if you think I'm getting too crazy over this" Ok, consider yourself knocked. There is nothing you should consume that will do enough damage to the aluminum in a tri-ply pot that you should be concerned about that won't kill you first. So, don't pour sulfuric acid out of your pot it will damage the aluminum it comes in contact with. Acidic foods on the other hand, they just aren't acidic enough to react in the time frame you are concerned with. Since you are a college student, I highly reccommend a good physical science class as an elective, skip the art history, you will find science to be much more valuable. Click on the link and see why you should take such a class: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;rc... I'm particularly fond of this part: "Course Philosophy
                                                          I want you to enjoy Chemistry/Physics 101. The material we will be covering is fascinating and applicable. Its implications can be observed in almost everything you interact with everyday. "

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: mikie

                                                            Bravo on the science class recommendation.

                                                          2. I personally wouldn't worry about that much bare aluminum coming into contact with food. But if it really bugs you, you could always season the rim with cooking oil. It may end up looking sloppy but here is what you do:

                                                            Put enough oil in the pan to cover the bottom. Just about any oil besides extra virgin olive oil will do. Turn the heat to medium and wait till you see the oil shimmer. Turn off heat and remove the pan from the burner. Using tongs, dip a folded up paper towel in the oil and run it around the rim. Let the pan cool, dump out the oil and wipe it down with a paper towel. Repeat as needed.

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: SanityRemoved

                                                              I would like to thank everyone for their opinions(the sarcasm included). Thanks to you I now feel confident enough to purchase a pan. Over and over people have pointed out the non-issue that my question brings up. I am not fully reassured(maybe 98.9% assured) because nothing in the world is definite, but am definitely more informed and comfortable when selecting pans.

                                                              @mikie and sunshine842
                                                              In my defense:
                                                              From my experience in a high school physics class I don't remember there being much relation of the textbook material to real life. For example, we were only expected to know of the elements, their atomic number, mass number, etc etc. Nothing like, so what materials make up a bridge or computer or stove? Not to mention, we were only told information and read information from a textbook(with a few overly specific examples that I couldn't relate to). The best way to learn I think, is to witness with your own eyes and deduce the truth.

                                                              That's why I'm going ahead with buying something and trying it out for myself- this was one of the first comments posted I believe...funny.

                                                              1. re: Curiousiti

                                                                Curiousiti here's something from chemistry class that you DO NOT want to experience in real life. Specifically, you do not want to test hot concentrated sulfuric acid on skin - it chars instantly. You can experience this in real life if you are careless with drain cleaners with names like "liquid fire" that are just sulfuric acid. They work great but you need to be extremely careful that you are adding acid to water and not the other way around - you also need to make sure the water you add the acid to is not alkaline. Good luck with whatever you chose - and ignore any BS your read about seasoning the pan to protect yourself from aluminum - what I wasid about the oxide layer is all you need to know (unless you plan to saute up some sulfuric acid - !)

                                                                1. re: Curiousiti

                                                                  so the recommendation to take a physical science class stands -- sorry you had a rotten experience with a half-assed teacher using a lousy curriculum. Obviously it wasn't a good class.

                                                                  But physical science really does teach you about the world around us and why things do the things they do -- like the fact that metal, for all intents and purposes, does not dissolve in water -- otherwise we'd have no ships or bridges in the world, because they'd have all dissolved.

                                                                  Physical science IS definite. It's why gravity works, electricity flows, water runs, and iron rusts and soap makes suds. Every time. No exceptions.

                                                                  Please remember that neither of us said you were inferior in any way -- only that your exposure to the physical sciences wasn't as good as perhaps it could have been -- there was no blame laid anywhere -- and that while you're in college is a really good time to take a class that you pretty obviously were shortchanged on the first time around.

                                                              2. Aluminium residue in the body has been linked to some serious illnesses including cancer and alzheimer.
                                                                Many health experts advise against using any kind of aluminium cooking utensils.

                                                                Some say there is no connection between aluminium and cancer. However, many also say that there is no connection between nutrition and cancer, which is false. For that same reason many advise against using deodorants which contain aluminium, as substannces get absorbed into the body through the skin as well.

                                                                Some agree, some disagree.
                                                                Why take the chance ?

                                                                35 Replies
                                                                1. re: tinyTinyKitchen

                                                                  Citation to a study, please.

                                                                  1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                    Or even name just one "health expert."

                                                                  2. re: tinyTinyKitchen

                                                                    "Aluminium residue in the body has been linked to some serious illnesses including cancer and alzheimer."

                                                                    I do recall that being reported at one time, but then I thought that was recanted a number of years ago.

                                                                    1. re: mikie

                                                                      Hi, mikie:

                                                                      There was an *association* found with Alzheimer's--the diseased sections of brains from cadavers were found to have higher-than-normal concentrations of aluminum. From this, people jumped to the conclusion that aluminum *caused* the disease. In fact, though, current studies indicate that it is the diseased cells themselves which have an affinity for grabbing and holding aluminum, i.e., no causal connection.


                                                                      1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                        Hi Kaleo,

                                                                        Thanks for the clearifacation. There have been a number of scientific studies out over the years that "upon further review, the ruling on the field has been overturned" and a number where "the ruling on the field stands", you just have to wait and see how it comes out "after further review". This of course stated by someone who believes very strongly in science.

                                                                        1. re: mikie

                                                                          That alzheimer study (by Crapper et. al.) was never overturned per sa because it was never established in the first place. The moment it came out people have already questioned its implications. In other words, the "Aluminum causes Alzheimer's diease" was a neat idea but was never established as a standard theory.

                                                                          You can think of it much like the Teflon case as well. Few people have implied Teflon cookware causes cancer, but this theory has never came close to any solid proof and has not been accepted by the medical or science community.

                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                            People were afraid of aluminum for other reasons, before it was blamed for Alzheimer's. People talked about aluminum in the 1970s. I remember an old pharmacist advising me against using the ingredient in antiperspirant, aluminum chlorohydrate. He as much as told me it would cause breast cancer. I've heard cooking gurus on the radio in the 1970s say that you should not wrap foods in aluminum foil--the foil should not touch the food. Balderdash, all of it.

                                                                            I am not sure how something like this gets started. But I also remember people being vehemently against adding flouride to the water because the plan to do so was a communist plot.

                                                                            At any rate the aluminum thing is urban folklore.

                                                                            1. re: sueatmo

                                                                              I've read claims that some rumors about aluminum in the early part of the 20th century (1930s?) were started by competing stainless steel pot manufacturers. But I don't know if there is good evidence of that or not.

                                                                              1. re: paulj

                                                                                I'm really sorry I let loose with a rant about this. There are so many other bad things to eliminate from our lives. Aluminum is just distraction.

                                                                                I wouldn't be surprised about the truth of what you have heard, except in the early 20th, where were the stainless steel pans? Was Revere Ware making them that early?

                                                                                1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                  "Was Revere Ware making them that early?"

                                                                                  The answer to that question is easy to look up. SS Revere Ware was developed in the 1930s and introduced in 1939 at the Chicago Housewares Show.

                                                                                  1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                    Must be true, I found a Snoops article on the topic. :)
                                                                                    did Rudolph Valentino die from eating from aluminum cookware?
                                                                                    They blame the 1920s scare on one Howard J Force. Whether true or not, some people do promote scares for their own financial gain.

                                                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                                                      You beat me to Snopes! Thanks for the link.

                                                                      2. re: tinyTinyKitchen

                                                                        Here's the latest advice from the US National Institutes of Health on the subject of cookware materials:


                                                                        1. re: GH1618

                                                                          Hi, GH1618:

                                                                          Aye-yi-yi! Wow, this official pronouncement hardly inspires confidence. Among tje doozers:

                                                                          Bare aluminum pans "can easily melt..." Really? If 1200F is easily, why aren't we seeing slagpiles in all restaurants? And why would an anodized pan *not* melt? And what do they think 98% of the PTFE pans are made of, special non-melting aluminum?

                                                                          Likewise, bare aluminum can "increase the risk of burns if it gets too hot." NS Sherlock! Whew, good thing other materials can't burn like that.

                                                                          Likewise "Avoid using metal or hard plastic utensils..."?

                                                                          Likewise, anodized aluminum is "sealed"?

                                                                          But my favorite is: "Older copper cookware may have tin or nickel coatings and should not be used for cooking."

                                                                          I pray the person who wrote this is not in charge of anything that matters at NIH.


                                                                          1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                            An aluminum pan can indeed melt if left on a high burner and it boils dry. Of course, so can an anodized alumunum pan or a SS lined aluminum pan, I expect. It is an odd statement, I agree.

                                                                            I don't have a problem with the advice against tin or nickle-lined copper. I have one tin-lined pan and my experience with it is poor. In my opinion, SS-lined copper has made these pans obsolete. I know you and many others love them. You can have them.

                                                                            1. re: GH1618


                                                                              You know this. For metals, there is a temperature zone between solid and liquid. Remember the whole argument of the jet fire melting steel and Twin Towers? Anyway, an aluminum pan does not have to reach its true melting point (660 oC) before it deforms and "melts". Meanwhile, a stainless steel clad cookware would hold its shape.

                                                                              As for aluminum cookware increases burn injury, it has to do with the fact that it is easy to heat up. An entire aluminum pan heats up fast due to its high thermal conductivity and low heat capacity. For people who are worry about aluminum leaking into their foods, anodized aluminum cookware offers the advantage of sealing the bare aluminum from the foods.

                                                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                "there is a temperature zone between solid and liquid" - really? I thought metals just went through phase changes as crystals would switch between say austenitic and martensitic structures. And the world trade center did NOT collapse because the steel melted - what happened is that the steel was heated above ther Curie temperature - it stayed solid but became a lot less strong. On the issue of "bare aluminum" I'm assuming the cited source read something about aluminum with the oxide layer stripped off. All in all, a whole lot of noise and fuss about nothing.

                                                                                1. re: kagemusha49

                                                                                  Your point about the WTC is exactly what ChemK meant, although he didn't spell it out because it wasn't necessary.

                                                                                  1. re: kagemusha49

                                                                                    kagemusha, What I meant is that many people associate steel deformation with steel melting -- which is not the same. Same as aluminum cookware. Many people will associate a deformed aluminum cookware as a melted pan. Nonetheless, from a cooking kitchen point of view, a deformed aluminum pan is all that matters to the person -- let's it be melted or twisted or whatever.

                                                                                    So in my view the person who wrote "aluminum cookware melts" really meant aluminum cookware deforms and weakens.

                                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                      Yeah - I wasn't really trying to dump on you - merely add a little clarification.

                                                                                  2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                    Although I agree there is a window, ah but a very small one, where all of the molacules have not yet made the phase change, metals, almost all of them, under go a typical crystaline transition going from solid to liquid in a relatively short time once a specific temperature is reached. There is a range where even though the metal is a solid, it is more malleable, that's what forging is all about, that's why the blacksmith gets the iron red hot, so that it's easier to form with pressure. Although this is not the same as a Vicat softening point for amorphous materials, I can see how one can draw similarities.

                                                                                    Here is some of what the CRC Handbook has to say about aluminum: "It is light, nontoxic, has a pleasing apperance, can easlily be formed, machined, or cast, has a high thermal conductivity, and has excellent crrosion resistance. . . . It is extensively used for kitchen utensils ..."

                                                                                    Obviously, not written by the same rocket scientist that wrote the reference above. Yes sarcasm is a form of humor.

                                                                                    1. re: mikie

                                                                                      A problem with welding and heat forming aluminum is that it does not get red-hot like iron. That is, there isn't that visual sign it is getting soft and close to melting.


                                                                                      But I don't think that's a problem for the home cook, or even most restaurant uses. There's no need to get a aluminum pans blazing hot, especially if it has a non-stick coating. And any material will be dangerous if heated to 500F or more.

                                                                                      1. re: mikie

                                                                                        Mike, Sorry about bring back the WTC again, but if I am correct, that steel melts around 1000+ oC, but it is soften above 600+ oC. So there is a fairly large window there. For many people, they associate soften of a steel pan or an aluminum pan to outright melting, which as you know is different. As for the CRC handbook, I agree with it .... except where the heck "pleasing appearance" comes from? I personally agree, but isn't that a very subjective statement?

                                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                          I don't think the delta for aluminium is that great, but I can't find a softening point for aluminium. I wasn't really addressing steel, but assuming your numbers are correct that is a fairly large window.

                                                                                          Getting back on subject, I suppose one could melt aluminum on a stove top, after all we did see the photo of the LC with a melt ring on the bottom from an exposed electirc element left on high overnight. Don't know if I would include that type of rare instance in a report on the viability of a material, but I suppose it could happen. Those resistance elements get much hotter than I ever thought.

                                                                                          1. re: mikie

                                                                                            *cough* Wanna talk to somebody who did it?

                                                                                            Tea kettle with a busted whistle -- bad flu with lots of meds-- fell asleep (passed out?) waiting for water to boil....yeah. Smelled the 'hot' smell and went shrieking into the kitchen, expecting flames, but only a melted teakettle.

                                                                                            Actually, not a new burner, believe it or not -- let it cool, and the melted aluminum popped right off. Plugged the element back in -- thoroughly expecting it to NOT work, but it was still working when I moved out of that house several years later.

                                                                                            1. re: mikie

                                                                                              I know cases of "melted" (real melt or not) aluminum cookware in professional kitchens. On the other hand, it may be due to biased sampling. Afterall, professional kichens often use aluminum cookware and professional kitchens have more powerful stoves. One wouldn't nearly expect the same occurance in a resident kitchen. Moreover, a melting aluminum pan definitely has way passed the oil flash point, so it seems to be a "minor" danger consideration in the big picture.

                                                                                      2. re: GH1618

                                                                                        Hi, GH1618:

                                                                                        Choice and preference are one thing, but the "should not be used for cooking" advisory for tin- and nickel-lined copperware is grossly misleading and untrue. The statement's clear implication is that it's unsafe or unhealthy--wrong on both counts.

                                                                                        Sure, what tin-lined pan are you looking to get rid of?


                                                                                        1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                          The point of view in the NIH citation is that of minimizing consumption of metals and chemicals from cookware, and contamination by bacteria. They are not interested in cooking quality. I find this point of view reasonable, given their mission, even if the article in question is somewhat confused.

                                                                                          My one copper pan is an 8-inch frying pan with a brass or bronze handle, made in France for The Design Store. Oddly, I don't remember where TDS was where I bought it (it seems not to exist now), although I remember exactly where I bought a rather ordinary paring knife in 1967 or 1968. I haven't given up on it yet, although I have yet to think of something to cook in it which wouldn't be better done in another pan.

                                                                                          1. re: GH1618

                                                                                            Hi. GH1618:

                                                                                            "...minimizing consumption of metals and chemicals from cookware..."

                                                                                            Well.... no, not at all. In one breath this genius says iron is ingested from pans sans intonation to avoid cooking in iron pans, and the implication is that not only is cooking in iron OK, but that it can be good for you. In another breath, s/he says tin "should not be used for cooking".

                                                                                            IMO tin is AT LEAST as innocuous in the human diet as iron, probably more so. Most people already get 1-3 mg/day directly from food, water and toothpaste. Even this may not be enough--tin is also an essential trace mineral, and one of those in which many, many people are deficient.

                                                                                            There is an emerging body of study indicating that tin deficiency has adverse consequences for heart, adrenal and mental health. See, http://www.acu-cell.com/tin.html


                                                                                            1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                              There are two sides to that argument in documents I have read. In any case, one ought not to be relying on leaching from cookware to provide essential elements in the diet. Many people are concerned, rightly or wrongly, about the possible effects of metals and chemicals contaminating food from cookware. Without endorsing the absurd claims of cookware quacks, the NIH has advised the public how to minimize the this phenomenon. There is nothing wrong with that, in principle, in my opinion.

                                                                                    2. re: GH1618

                                                                                      I just read the article on the link you posted - sounds like a term paper written by a 10 year old kid. Lead's a problem - duh! I would find a better source if I were you.

                                                                                      1. re: kagemusha49

                                                                                        Lead is a serious poison. I wouldn't ridicule that. The item is just a short guide which is dumbed down for public consumption, and it has a few problems which need fixing. A concern for lead isn't one of them.

                                                                                        I sent them a comment on the aluminum business.

                                                                                        1. re: GH1618

                                                                                          Of course lead is a problem ("Duh") it's the rest of the cited document that is questionable.

                                                                                        2. re: kagemusha49

                                                                                          In the context of this thread, the point of the linked document is that the NIH and the Alzheimer's Association do not consider a causal connection between aluminum and Alzheimer's Disease to be established. Here is a link to a better discussion of that point from the AA:


                                                                                      2. re: tinyTinyKitchen

                                                                                        Certified health experts or self proclaimed health experts?

                                                                                      3. Curiositi, I've now worked up some curiositi myself about what kinds of cookware you've been using up to this point. (Since you're a student, that may be equivalent to asking what kind of cookware was used in the home you grew up in.) Stainless steel? Plain cast iron? Enameled cast iron? Aluminum? Tin-lined copper? Stainless-lined copper? Non-stick (which is often an aluminum or aluminum-alloy vessel with an easily-scratched non-stick coating)? Glass? Earthenware? Porcelain? I'm sure there's someone, somewhere, who's expressed health concerns about every once of these cookware types. At some point, you just have to decide what best suits your needs, and recognize that we live in an uncertain world.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: Miss Priss

                                                                                          Well at home my mom mainly cooks from a cast iron wok and 2 stainless steel saucepans. We also have rice cooker with an insert that is aluminum with nonstick coating I believe. Occasionally she also uses a nonstick aluminum pot(well I'm not sure it is aluminum because the outer surface has this dark speckled coating that is not smooth or shiny-pretty sure it isn't porcelain enamel simply based on the texture).
                                                                                          Away from home I used to own a small nonstick saucepan(also made of that speckled coating on the outside) which was bought from a cheapo store and after I used it a few times the inner surface got scratched, but I finally got rid of it b/c I accidentally burnt it and the flakes would not come off. It was at this point that I started looking into cookware; prior to this I had never given a second thought to what was cooking out of. I also wasn't aware of the Teflon controversy. But right now I'm using a cheapo stainless steel saucepan(disk bottom) of my roommate's that I think takes forever to boil water.

                                                                                          I think Miss Priss, you hit the right note about accepting the uncertainty of life. Sometimes I find it impossible to make a decision because there are too many sources of contradictory information. In these cases being a little ignorant would save me a lot of time and stress.