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Are there any dangers in cooking in aluminum pans?

Updated February 21, 2017

Aluminium cookware is lightweight, sells well and comes in two main categories: aluminium cookware and aluminium cookware that's been coated with a non-stick surface. Traditional aluminium pans don't pose health risks, but those coated with non-stick surfaces carry the risks and dangers associated with non-stick cookware.

Aluminium Intake

When cooking with aluminium pots and pans, small pieces of the metal flake off. When you consume your food later, you also ingest this aluminium. The levels you ingest, however, are low enough that they don't pose health problems. Aluminium, an abundant mineral, is in plants, water, meat and over-the-counter medications. The small amount of aluminium ingested through cooking poses no danger.

Health Concerns

A few years ago many experts worried there was a link between aluminium cookware and Alzheimer's disease. This causation was later proved false; since 2007, experts have advocated no link between aluminium cookware and this disease. Some people may still fear these health concerns, but their fear is unfounded.

Food Flavor

Acid causes more aluminium to leach out of the cookware and into the food. For this reason, avoid cooking foods like tomatoes, lemon, rhubarb or wine in aluminium cookware. While the low levels of aluminium you ingest when cooking low-acid food are fine, you don't want or need increased aluminium.

Non-stick Pans

Non-stick pans often have an aluminium base. The heath concerns of these pans differ from those of aluminium. Chipped non-stick pans emit toxic chemicals. When non-stick pans are heated over high heat, their protecting coating breaks down. If using non-stick aluminium pans, don't keep the heat above medium and do not leave an empty pan on the heat. Pans can heat above 500 Fahrenheit in a few minutes; at 660F, they emit noxious fumes that give humans a temporary flu-like condition and kill birds.

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