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Old 02-27-2012, 10:11 AM   #1
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Is Aluminum safe?

I did a search on this forum but got too many hits on related topics to make it fruitful. A number of years ago aluminum was on the hit list for possible reasons for getting Alzheimers, and maybe a few other issues. What is the verdict? or is there one?

At any rate, I have always thought that stainless steel was a better cooking medium because it holds heat longer. I am considering buying an 18-10 stainless steel set of pots and pans - some of the pans have copper bottoms. Am I better of seeking aluminum or stainless steel?

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Old 02-27-2012, 10:23 AM   #2
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I would pick stainless over alum. any day. You don't get oxidation with stainless and you don't have reactions with certain acids and other foods.
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Old 02-27-2012, 10:57 AM   #3
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The aluminum link to Alzheimer's was disproved shortly after the original link created an uproar. Aluminum is safe for cooking.

That said, SS is a a more durable metal for cooking, as long as it includes a tri-ply layer with aluminum in the middle or with a layered disk on the bottom.

A single layer of SS is not a great cooking vessel. SS heats unevenly and can produce hot spots that can scorch foods.
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Old 02-27-2012, 11:18 AM   #4
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You can disregard aluminum as associated with the disease. There was supposed to be a old study that found higher levels in Alzheimers patients, but later studies found no difference. You get aluminum from other sources (tea, etc.) but none of the other sources show any correlation with the disease. Some kidney patients get high does of aluminum in their meds for years, but they aren't more prone to Alzheimers. The direction that the most hopeful studies are taking in seeking a cause do not suggest mechanisms where aluminum involvement seems likely.

Aluminum cookware doesn't hold heat especially well. I could hold heat well, but it would have to be very thick to have a sufficient mass. It does, however, conduct heat very well, and the two virtues of that are rapid heating and less tendency to hot spots. But it also reacts with a number of food substances. As for stainless steel, classics like Revereware coated the bottoms with copper to take up and diffuse heat better. Otherwise, plain, thin, stainless had bad hot spots. But it only works to a limited degree, although they do heat very quickly.

The happy middle ground is stainless with a heavy ply bottom. The heavy bottom contains a layer of aluminum and/or copper. You get the non-reactive stainless steel and the layer of aluminum or copper protected from the food but able to diffuse heat well across the bottom. Some makers offer versions with the ply all the way up the sides at added cost. I ask, though, how much cooking do you do up the side of the pan?

The other very good cookwares are copper, which is VERY expensive (but beautiful). It is, for most purposes, lined with tin or steel to prevent reactions, and if it's tin, it will one day have to be sent off to be recoated. Cast iron, such as is made by Lodge, is fabulous, but it takes more care and has something of a learning curve to not have it require too much maintenance. (You can easily clean up your stainless steel disasters. Iron disasters are harder to deal with.) And ceramic coated cast iron is also nice. All are "non-stick" when used properly. But without taking a survey, I'd guess that most people here do most of their cooking on tri-ply stainless and have one or more of one or more of the others for particular uses. It does NOT have to be the most expensive to work well and have all the good qualities of tri-ply. (But buy them with steel handles, so you can also put them in the oven.)

I use a set of Tramontina stainless, but I have some copper picked up at the flea market, one Teflon type non-stick pan that's only for omelets, a cast iron chicken fryer, and a ceramic coated cast iron dutch oven.
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Old 04-25-2012, 05:45 PM   #5
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I have all stainless steel pots and pans and I agree with everyone about food reactions and things.

A good quality stainless steel pan will last a lifetime too unlike some of the prettier patterned but cheaper saucepans. I had some when I got married and the handles came off.
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Old 04-25-2012, 05:56 PM   #6
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I prefer stainless because of ease of cleaning. I just don't want to put the work into copper. I did have a huge cast aluminum stock pot, but it would discolor when cooking anything acidic (i.e., anything with tomatoes!). I used it almost to death, then a restauranteur bought it from me! Now all my copper and aluminum is gone (I bought a set of Sitram when I moved here). Oh, every time I've bought cast iron it rusted, and big pots of soup, stew, etc, are heavy enough without the weight of enamel-coated iron.
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Old 04-25-2012, 06:05 PM   #7
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As for health issues; there is so much out there that it is a miracle I lived to my ripe old age of 57. My husband was told as a child that he wouldn't live past 30 (he's 65, and quite hale and hearty). I sometimes wonder if Americans aren't so preoccupied with this stuff that we're shortening our lives with worry.
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Old 04-25-2012, 06:10 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Claire
As for health issues; there is so much out there that it is a miracle I lived to my ripe old age of 57. My husband was told as a child that he wouldn't live past 30 (he's 65, and quite hale and hearty). I sometimes wonder if Americans aren't so preoccupied with this stuff that we're shortening our lives with worry.
I think you may be right, Claire.
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Old 05-01-2012, 08:26 PM   #9
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I used to lick lead paint as a child. I never wore a bicycle helmet as a kid. I smoked pot almost daily during my college years.
I've been drinking multiple cans of diet coke almost daily for many years. I eat tamales cooked out of galvanized pots.
But I never smoked a cigarette in my life.
At 57, I can still outrun most 20 year-olds. I am strong. I am roadfix.
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Old 05-01-2012, 09:41 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roadfix View Post
I used to lick lead paint as a child. I never wore a bicycle helmet as a kid. I smoked pot almost daily during my college years.
I've been drinking multiple cans of diet coke almost daily for many years. I eat tamales cooked out of galvanized pots.
But I never smoked a cigarette in my life.
At 57, I can still outrun most 20 year-olds. I am strong. I am roadfix.
Licking lead paint was for weenies. Our game was to ride our bikes up into the fog coming out the back of the DDT mosquito truck. If you're on the ground underneath your bike when the fog clears, you lose. At least I'm not much troubled by insect pests.
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