Hard Anodized Cookware: Is It Safe?
You may have heard that anodized cookware is not safe.
That’s because in recent years, several news sources have published articles about the potential hazards of using anodized aluminum cookware.
These articles cite a variety of research and personal accounts.
In most instances, these stories discuss an unfortunate circumstance where individuals developed itching, blistering and fumaric acidosis from long-term exposure to high concentrations of anodized aluminum.
Some even go as far as saying anodized aluminum is toxic or unsafe if used over high heat.
While these accounts are unsettling, they don’t accurately portray the safety of hard anodized cookware.
Anodization is a process that hardens the surface of metal by oxidizing it with chemicals and electricity.
This hardened surface is often dyed for aesthetics or coated with another material for added properties like nonstick properties.
Anodized aluminum has many wonderful benefits: It’s stain-resistant, naturally nonstick, scratch-resistant and lightweight to name a few.
Is Anodized Cookware Safe?
Despite the dangers that have been reported, anodized aluminum is safe when used properly.
The dangers reported by news sources are linked to long-term exposure to high concentrations of aluminum in individuals who are medically sensitive and unable to process it.
The problem isn’t the aluminum itself, but the high concentration of it, due to the porous nature of anodized aluminum.
The Dangers of Hard Anodized Cookware
Hard anodized cookware is porous, meaning it’s made from an aluminum substrate that’s porous, which means it can trap unwanted contaminants.
According to a report published by the Journal of Environmental Health, toxic metals were found in an excessive amount in two brands of hard anodized cookware.
While toxic metals are present in every day life, we don’t typically see them in high concentrations because they’re adsorbed (trapped) by soil and materials.
Hard anodized aluminum traps contaminants, but it also traps the natural oils and fats found in food.
While this might be a good thing when you’re trying to prevent food from sticking to the bottom of a pan, it also means that those trapped contaminants can be absorbed by your food.
Research Proves the Safety of Anodized Aluminum
The dangers of hard anodized cookware have been debunked by scientific research.
A study performed by the National Institutes of Health examined the potential hazards of aluminum and whether or not it is linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
Because the porous nature of hard anodized cookware might cause aluminum to leach into food and drinks, researchers were concerned that these pots and pans might cause health problems for those who ingest aluminum.
They found that the rate of aluminum leaching from anodized cookware is so low that it is considered negligible.
They concluded that the benefits of anodized aluminum far outweigh any potential risk from ingesting aluminum.
Hard anodized cookware is a safe, non-toxic and affordable option for cooking.
Is Teflon-Coated Cookware Safer?
Teflon-coated cookware is a popular alternative to hard anodized aluminum. In fact, it’s the most common nonstick cookware.
While the dangers of hard anodized aluminum have been thoroughly debunked, the safety of Teflon-coated cookware is still questionable.
Teflon-coated cookware is made from polytetrafluoroethylene, more commonly referred to as PTFE. Some scientists call it the “the most dangerous substance in our environment” because its fumes are toxic and carcinogenic.
PTFE has been linked to developmental and reproductive problems, endocrine disorders and other health problems.
While you may be able to cook with high heat and extreme temperatures with Teflon-coated cookware, you can’t use it in the microwave or dishwasher because it will break apart.
In contrast, hard anodized aluminum is very durable and can be placed in the microwave, dishwasher, or even used with high heat.
How to Care for Your Anodized Cookware
Like any other type of cookware, you need to properly care for your anodized aluminum pots and pans to extend their life and retain their nonstick properties.
The best way to clean your anodized aluminum pots and pans is with mild soap and water. You can use a soft scrub brush if you need to remove caked-on food.
Be sure to dry them thoroughly to prevent rusting. You can also use a little bit of oil if you need to remove sticky food from the surface of your anodized aluminum cookware.
If you use your anodized aluminum cookware every day, be sure to clean and dry it thoroughly after each use to prevent any build-up. I
f you use your anodized aluminum cookware less frequently, be sure to clean it regularly to avoid rusting and food buildup.
Anodized aluminum is an excellent, affordable material for pots and pans. It’s durable, lightweight, scratch-resistant, naturally nonstick and easy to clean.
Hard anodized aluminum is a great choice for people who are concerned about the safety of PTFE-coated cookware.
While long-term exposure to high concentrations of hard anodized aluminum may be dangerous for certain individuals, it is safe when used properly.