Stainless steel pots and pans are exceedingly common in home and restaurant kitchens because of their durability. Stainless steel is an alloy, meaning other metals are used to create it. Nickel, which is commonly found in stainless cookware, can be a problem for people allergic to that metal.
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Making Stainless Steel Cookware
Stainless steel begins with a base of iron to which chromium is added. But cookware made out of this combination does not conduct heat well. Adding nickel helps the pot distribute heat more efficiently but causes problems for people allergic to the metal.
Stainless steel pots and pans are divided into three categories or grades: 18/0, 18/8 and 18/10. This means the cookware has 18 per cent chromium and is made up of either zero, 8 or 10 per cent nickel.
People with nickel allergies should only buy the 18/0 grade; you get some of the benefits of stainless without having to worry about nickel intake. Also, contact with stainless steel handles containing nickel can cause rashes. If you are allergic to nickel, use pots with either wooden or heat-resistant plastic handles.
People highly allergic to nickel might break out with skin rashes or even contract asthma-like symptoms if they use stainless steel pots or pans that include nickel.
If you stainless steel cookware that is not stamped with the grade, use a magnet. If it sticks, the pot is an 18/0 grade and does not contain nickel. If it does not stick, it is made with nickel (which neutralises the magnet-attracting iron) and should be avoided by those allergic to the metal.
While there is some debate, trace amounts of nickel might leech into foods, particularly acidic ones, that are cooked in pots that have been scratched because of utensils or pans that have burnt spots on their surfaces.
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