Is Hard Anodized Cookware Safe for Everyday Cooking? (Updated Jan 22)

 

Is Hard Anodized Cookware Safe :  foreword

Hard anodized is used in a variety of cookware. This layer of oxide makes the aluminum hard and resistant to corrosion. It’s an extension of the process that uses higher voltage and lower temperatures. Is hard anodized cookware safe? This question has become the main concern now. The answer, as you might expect, depends on how well it was made.

What is Anodizing?

Hard-Anodized-CookwareAnodizing is a type of electrochemical treatment that gives cookware its non-stick property. A thin layer of metal oxide forms naturally over aluminum when exposed to chemicals and electricity. Cookware with this coating is said to be “anodized.”

The process begins by cleaning the cookware and then applying a clear coat or paint to protect the surface from scratching. Next, the cookware is placed into a tank filled with a mixture of water and special chemicals. When the current is applied, the chemicals react to create a protective layer of oxides. After the anodization process is complete, the cookware goes through a heat-treating step to seal the pores and make the surface more durable.

How Does Anodizing Work?

The process creates a thin film of aluminum oxide (Al2O3) between 0.001 and 0.003 inches thick. Aluminum is an excellent conductor of electricity. Because of this, electricity can flow easily through the oxide layer. However, because the oxide is very porous, it allows only tiny amounts of liquid to penetrate. As a result, the surface does not stick to anything. In fact, the best way to describe it is like a super-thin piece of plastic.

Types Of Anodized Cookware

There are two types of anodized cookware: hard and soft . Hard anodized cookware is usually found at commercial cooking stores. They come in both flat and round shapes. Flat pieces include pans, skillets, baking sheets, griddles, etc. Round items include bowls, pie plates, stock pots, etc. Soft anodized cookware comes in different sizes and shapes too. Some common ones include oval, square, and rectangular pieces.

Hard Anodized Cookware vs. Non-Stick Pans

Most people believe that if the pan doesn’t have a non-stick finish, it isn’t really anodized. That couldn’t be further from the truth! If any part of the anodization process fails, the product will not be considered anodized.

 What is Hard Anodized Cookware?

Anodized aluminum cookware is safe and easy to use. It doesn’t react with acidic foods, but it reacts with alkaline ones. Aluminum reacts with oxygen to form aluminum oxide. Aluminum oxide is a natural substance occurring in nature. It is used by plants to protect themselves from insects. In humans, aluminum oxide protects our bones and teeth.

Anodized pans are made out of aluminum and are very durable. They are resistant to scratches and corrosion.

They won’t get chipped off or peeled off. Anodized pans are great for cooking because they’re nonstick. They also make great storage containers for your kitchen. Anodized pans come in many different colors.

Hard anodized cookware is the most important type of cookware for cooks because it doesn’t absorb any liquids. Non-stick pans are made by adding silicon or other chemicals into steel. These chemicals cause the pan to be very slippery when you use them. This means that there is less chance of food sticking to the pan.

Advantages of Aluminum Anodized Cookware

A shortlist of the advantages of the hard aluminum anodized cookware is given below:

Extra Hard

The extraordinary feature of this kind of aluminum cookware is very durable. By anodized cookware, it is scratch-resistant, no chip or peels easily. It is two times harder than stainless steel cookware. Though Calphalon claims that their products are over 80% harder, the strength of each product depends on the anodizing process.

Non-Toxic Nonstick

It’s not like Teflon, the plain and smooth surface is from an electro-chemical anodizing process that creates nonstick layers. So, it does not use PFOA for production.

Non-Reactive

The non-porous coat isn’t like other metallic pans that lock in the aluminum inside to prevent aluminum leaching possibility when you cook acidic food like lemon juices or tomato sauces.

High Cooking Performance

By getting benefits from the whole aluminum building, it conducts heat unsurprisingly very fast and evenly. The capability of heat conductivity is inferior to pure aluminum.

Easy to Clean

 

The concept of dishwasher wearing yellow gloves on a blue background.

Hard anodized aluminum products are very easy to clean as smoothly nonstick. And this is the only impressive advantage of all.

So, hard anodized cookware is as great as a heat conductor. It spreads heat perfectly and evenly. This product is lightweight and easy to handle. It is stable for use with metal utensils.

Heat Conduction 

Anodized aluminum is a great material for making cookware because it conducts heat well. It makes your cooking faster and easier. Cooking with anodized aluminum doesn’t make your dishes soggy or burn them. It’s also very easy to clean.

This is an electric stove. You can use this to cook many different kinds of foods, including soups, stews, casseroles, and even breads. To make sure your food stays hot, you’ll need to turn the knob back and forth.

ScratchResistant

Anodizing makes the surface of the pan durable, but scratches and dings still happen. You should get a better quality product if you pay a higher price.

The best way to ensure you don’t scratch the finish is by using a nonstick skillet. If you do damage it, you can always apply a protective coating like Teflon. I recommend getting a stainless steel pan because they are easy to clean and won’t react with food.

Maintenance 

Hard anodized cookware does not require seasoning because it is already seasoned by nature. The surface of the cookware has a layer of aluminum oxide that protects and seals in the flavor, making it easy to clean. It also makes food release easier from the pan.

Disadvantages of Aluminum Anodized Cookware

A shortlist of disadvantages about the hard aluminum anodized cookware is given below:

Expensive Than Conventional Nonstick

This kind of aluminum cookware is rather costly than usual nonstick pans but worth buying. For a better option, you can try to look for long warranty products.

Avoid High Heat

This cookware absorbs heat very quickly, for long cooking, this does well for medium to medium-high temperature. And you have to avoid pre-heat on high too.

No Cooking Spray

Any kind of aerosol sprays has water and a chemical propellant. When you preheat the pan, the chemical and water will instantly evaporate and leave a sticky remainder which is very hard to remove. This makes the pan stickier later. If you buy this pan then try to use some oil or butter to wipe the inside surface of the pan.

Hand Wash

Any nonstick or hard anodized products are not good for dishwashers. Though some of them are labeled dishwasher-safe, such as Calphalon Unison, Circulon Symmetry, and T-Fal Ultimate, typically the experts still suggest washing these by hand to last longer.

No Abrasive and Scratchy Sponges

Household, clean. Sponge with foam

As traditional pans, soft bristle and dishwashing detergent and, like Scotch Bright, is good and enough to clean. For burnt spots, soak the pan for 10 minutes in hot soapy water and keep it cool, and follow this with regular cleaning. By following the death of an aluminum anodized surface, a sealer is applied to close the pores effectively and prevent staining, fading, or bleeding out of color.

Not Induction-Safe

As induction stoves require a magnetic referral in the bottom, most of the gears are not compatible with induction cooktops. However, some products are designed for this kind of stove, such as Circulon Symmetry.

Everything in this world has positive and negative sides and we all know about it. So, hard-anodized aluminum cookware products also have some advantages as well as disadvantages. But the disadvantages have a health risk and the advantages are not that much impressive.

Hard-Anodized Cookware Health Risks

The hard-anodized aluminum coated cookware does not allow the aluminum to leach into the food. That means food does not in contact with the metal directly. According to FDA reports, “The use of hard-anodized aluminum cookware is not so harmful to health”. It is not toxic. The levels of high heat will not damage the anodized finish. Anodized surfaces are heat resistant to the melting point of aluminum that is 1,221°F.

The most important thing for cookware, hard-anodizing makes its surfaces so extra smooth that they become virtually nonporous means without pores. Our health and aluminum were brought to our attention in the 1970s when a research team of Canada linked aluminum with Alzheimer’s disease and then they found high concentrations in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients of aluminum. Since then, the research has been anatomized in a manner quite similar to the chicken and the egg story. Which came first, the aluminum or the disease?

 

How to Mitigate the Risks of Hard Anodized Cookware ?

Hard Anodized Cookware is safe to use. Avoid abrasive and scratchy cleaners. Mild soap is recommended to prevent staining. Do not wash in dishwasher.

Do not use your hard anodic cookware to store your foods. Only use low to medium heat when using hard anodic cookware. For high heat cooking there are other types of nonstick cookware that can safely do the job. Don’t bake with hard anodic cookware, because you’ll burn yourself!

Do not cut or chop foods on your hard anodize cookware.

So, Is Hard Anodized Cookware Safe?

We all do know that high concentrations of aluminum are toxic. The December 2007 Idaho Observer article says that aluminum Toxicity is a Misdiagnosed Epidemic. As a result, a hard-anodized aluminum cooking surface is scratch-resistant, non-stick, and easy to clean. According to manufacturers, anodized surface seals aluminum so that the metal cannot leach into food.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

How long does hard anodized cookware last?

I’ve been looking at some of the “hard” anodize cookware on Amazon, and I’m wondering how well it will hold up. It seems like there are a lot of reviews that say they have had their pans for years without any issues, but then others that say their pans started to crack after only 2-3 months in use. Does anyone know if these things really do last forever or is it just hype?

It’s not hype. Hard anodizing has been around since the 70s and 80s and has been used commercially by companies such as All Clad, Le Creuset and more recently by people who make their own pots. The problem with hard anodization (as opposed to regular  pottery) is that it is extremely unforgiving. In order to get a hard anodized finish, the metal must be heated to extreme temperatures, which also causes the metal to expand. After the metal expands, it contracts back down and takes on a harder texture. Because of this, the best way to ensure longevity is to use softer metals instead of steel and stainless steel, which tend to take on a tougher texture after heating.

Are Hard Anodized Cookwares Worth the Money?

If you want to spend $150-$200+ on something that won’t break within 3 months, go right ahead. But if you’re willing to put in a little bit of effort to protect your investment, consider buying a set of inexpensive silicone mitts to place over your hands while handling hot pans. You’ll save money in the long run because you won’t need to replace them every few weeks.

If you’re going to buy an expensive piece of equipment, why wouldn’t you invest in one that lasts a lifetime? This is especially true if you plan on using your cookware daily. I think most would agree that spending $300-$400 on a nice set of knives isn’t worth it unless you intend to use them daily and don’t mind replacing them every year or two.

Does It Contain Harmful Chemicals Like POFA PTFE?

Aluminum Hydroxide is used as a protective layer on cookware. It does not contain any PTFE or POFA. This substance is hard anodized. Therefore, it does not have any PTFE or PFOA.

What Are The Differences Between Anodized HardAnodized Cookware?

Anodizing is an electrochemical process used to create a protective coating on metal parts. This process creates a porous surface that allows the metal to be polished or etched without affecting the original finish. The HAA developed through the cold anodization method. The HAA process creates a very durable and scratch resistant surface. However, it doesn’t provide the same heat retention properties as the AHA process. With the HAA, the surface is created with aluminum oxide and hydrated aluminum hydroxide. Aluminum oxide is a ceramic material that provides protection from scratching and abrasion. The aluminum hydroxide is added to the mix to increase the thickness of the anodized layer. Once applied, the aluminum oxide bonds to the outer layer creating a strong bond. When using the HAA, the cookware needs to be preheated before adding foodstuffs. If the pan is exposed to liquids immediately after being anodized, the liquid may penetrate through the pores causing corrosion

Does Anodized cookware need seasoning?

Seasoning is needed to prevent rusting. Flaxseed oil is the best oil to season any nonstick pans. Other drying oils should be used sparingly or else they’ll smoke too much when heated. A paper towel soaked in hot water works as a great cleaning agent.

Oil is used as a cooking medium in many dishes. Drying oil should be applied to the pan evenly so that it doesn’t make the pan sticky. After applying the oil, the pan should be placed in an oven. The recommended temperature is 400 degrees Fahrenheit. However, if the handle of the pan is coated with silicone, do not put it in the oven. Instead, use a stove top.

Once the pan reaches the smokepoint temperature, the oils will begin to vaporize as smokes. Wait a few minutes before turning off the heat. Wipe out the oil with a paper towel and then use a clean cloth to remove any remaining residue. You’ll get a well seasoned anode.

How Do I Care for My Anodized Pots And Pans?

Pans should be cleaned regularly by washing with soap or detergent. Never wash them in water. Use baking soda instead. You may also dry clean them if you prefer. Seasoning your pans once a year with flaxseed oil will help prevent damage to the anodized coating. Preheat your pan before adding oil to avoid ruining the coating.

Avoid washing dishes with warm or cold water. Wash pans with a sponge pad and soap. Don’t use plastic utensils. Use stainless steel spatula instead of wood ones.

Aluminium is superior to stainless steel because it is harder, but also cheaper.

In general, the HAA (hard anodized aluminum) is 30% to 50 percent stronger than the SS (stainless steel). But, Calphalon made their HAA cookware 80% stronger than stainless steel. Heat/thermal conductivity of stainless steel (SS) is more insufficient than hard anodized aluminum (HAA). Thermal conductivity of any material defined by uniform heat distribution speed; and how quickly materials heated up.

Final Thoughts

I suggest you avoid hard-anodized aluminum cookware. The problem is not about the small single dose, it is about the accretive effect it can have. Just like eating a small chocolate bar is not going to cause serious disease.

If most of the meals are cooked with anodized aluminum frying pans, saucepans, sauté pans, and stockpots, the creative effect, as well as with the aluminum you already get from other items in our environment, may cause a serious health issue. So is hard anodized cookware safe for everyday cooking? The decision is yours whether you want to risk your health or not.

Photo Credit : shutterstock and Video Credit : Youtube

References :

The Fretting Fatigue of Commercial Hard Anodized Aluminum Alloy

What is Anodizing?

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