Hard anodised aluminium is used to create cookware like pots and pans. In the anodising process, the oxide film found on aluminium is thickened and hardened, creating a scratch-resistant surface that is less reactive than untreated aluminium. Anodised aluminium cookware is long-lasting, but it can present some dangers to a cook unfamiliar with its characteristics.
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Hard anodised aluminium is a good conductor. Cooks appreciate the way pans from this material heat quickly and evenly. If you are not prepared for how well the metal conducts, you could burn the food you are cooking by not anticipating how hot the pan can get. This can be a problem with high-heat cooking like stir-frying or pan-frying. This heat also puts you at risk for burning yourself. The metal heats up faster than you might expect, leading to burns when you touch the pan.
The hard surface of an anodised aluminium pan can be scratched off. This usually happens when you use metal utensils to stir or scrape food inside the pan. Once the pan is scratched, the aluminium beneath the anodised surface is exposed and comes in contact with your food. Food can adhere to the scratches, making the pan difficult to clean. The exposed aluminium reacts with acids found in food and becomes stained and pitted over time. This ruins the appearance of your pan and makes it a less stable cooking tool. It can also lead to traces of aluminium leaching into your food while it cooks.
Hard anodised aluminium can make preparing meals difficult, especially if you are using it for the first time or if your kitchen is not well-lit. The interior of the pans and pots tends to be dark. This can make it difficult to see all food while you are cooking and can make judging when food is finished cooking a challenge. You cannot store food in an anodised aluminium pan; over time, the metal will react to the food, discolouring and damaging the surface of the pan.
You can reduce your exposure to the dangers of hard anodised aluminium by taking extra care when cooking with it. Never handle a heated pan without using oven gloves or potholders and expect the pan to remain warm even after you have turned off the stove. Only use plastic or wooden utensils inside your anodised aluminium pans, but be careful because plastic can melt from the high heat. If you do scratch the pan and worry about metal leaching into your food, discard the pan and purchase a new one.
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