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Safety of hard anodized pots, pans, & aluminum cookware

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Q. I have recently run across some information regarding hard anodized aluminum cookware from the FDA website. They say that the process "prevents leaching into food." They are speaking of aluminum leaching from cooking on the material. I have also read that the process changes the molecular structure of the metal so that food is no longer in contact with aluminum thus eliminating the concern for aluminum leaching into food.

Does the hard anodizing of aluminum actually prevent any aluminum from leaching into food on cookware? If it does change the molecular structure so that food is no longer in contact with aluminum, what is it in contact with?

Is hard anodized aluminum more than twice as hard as stainless steel? If so, how much harder precisely? Thanks in advance for any answers that can be provided to my questions.

Ralph Bdeleted
- Spokane, Washington


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A. Theoretically, anodized aluminum cookware is coated with oxide of aluminum so the bare metal is not in contact with the food. The coating hardness is second only to that of the diamond.

Dado Macapagal
- Toronto, Ontario, Canada


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I have to correct a previous respondent. Anodized aluminum is not the second hardest material. Cubic boron nitride, boron carbide, titanium carbide, and titanium diboride are all harder than fully-crystalline aluminum oxide (sapphire), and anodized aluminum is not fully-crystalline aluminum oxide.

treglio portrait Jim Treglio
American Faucet &
  Coatings Corporation


Vista, California

Calphalon cookware


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Q. So is it safe to cook on? I am also fearful of aluminum and was thinking of getting rid of my Calphalon Pans (infused anodized aluminum).

Debra Adeleted
- Hot Springs, Arkansas


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A. I personally believe that anodized aluminum is perfectly safe, Debra. The internet is great for a lot of things, but when it comes to safety issues the internet is a supercharged "Chicken Little" rumor mill rather than an authoritative source.

If you are seriously concerned about this, despite the assurances from the manufacturer (Calphalon is a reputable cookware manufacturer), I think you need to review respected scientific journals rather than the internet or the TV news.

The news media profits scandalously from teasers like "Toxic time bomb in your kitchen?! News at 11", which they base on scant, untrustworthy, and often subsequently refuted studies. But if they say "Cookware is safe after all. News at 11" -- no one will stay up to hear that story -- so they don't, and if you judge scientific truth by the internet or TV News, you will be misinformed. Good luck!

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Brick, New Jersey

April 11, 2008

A. I found a website for commercial aluminum anodizing. It looks like it is safe for cookware. (Which is what brought me to this site in the first place, as I have the same concerns).

And, according to these aluminum finishers, it is the second hardest surface, next to diamonds.

Pam ouellette
- los osos, California


May 12, 2008

Q. Okay, I'm sold on the safety of anodized aluminum cookware. However, Calphalon is now promoting a line of "infused" anodized cookware, which contains a "polymer" that the company claims is stick resistant? Is this as safe as regular hard anodized cookware, or would it carry some of the health risks of non-stick cookware?

David Gugino
- Chicago, Illinois


May 12, 2008

A. Hi, David. I don't know what that polymer is for sure, but can't imagine it being anything but teflon-like. Those who are concerned about the safety of Teflon in cookware should probably avoid it. The "regular" hard anodized cookware is very stick resistant anyway; not as slick as Teflon I guess, but quite unsticky. I fry eggs in ours all the time while not finding cleanup to be a chore at all.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Brick, New Jersey

Update 11/29/08: Sorry, but Calphalon has just advised me that --
"Currently all cookware with an anodized surface we produce is Infused Anodized. This type of cooking surfaces is in fact sealed with a polymer, but is not considered to be nonstick. All of our original hard anodized (Professional and Commercial) are no longer being produced."

Although I am not personally concerned about the polymer, some people are. Time for them to hit eBay for the old stuff or switch to a different brand.


June 24, 2008

Well MR. Ted Mooney, P.E.
I would like to speak out against your remark of the internet being a "supercharged "Chicken Little" rumor mill".

Seriously you feel that all these people out there have no other work in life. What I am angry about people like you is that you have such a narrow mind and absolutely no respect for someone who takes the time to warn others (through the internet) about something that is dangerous to your health.
If you choose not listen to "anything" from the internet please do so, but don't you go around posting comments like this.

Your only reasoning why hard anodised cookware is safe is that "(one of the world's most reputable cookware manufacturers)" You call that logic and reasoning.
What do you have to say about the reputation of Dupont. Well if you did a little google or (since you don't believe in the internet) go down to you local library and search newspaper archives for the news>>>>>DuPont had concealed the harmful health effects of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a chemical used to produce Teflon.
They paid a huge fine with a very hush-hush settlement with EPA. Still this reputable company nor any government agency is ready to ban Teflon.
I think these very "Chicken little" rumor mills you speak so condescendingly about will have to raise their voices for something to happen. These poor people have not only to raise their voices to fight against their "reputable" companies but also fight against people like you who have no other work in life, the only thing you can do is drag such fighters down.
You should be ashamed of yourself Mr. Ted Mooney.

I have seen other people who come up with industry driven propaganda as arguments, but you are pathetic, you only argument is "reputability" of the company.

Yes I do agree that the internet is full of CTs and Holocaust deniers, why do you and many other like you count these very brave, compassionate (who care about humanity as a whole) who take the time to tell other about harmful chemicals in food and other things with such lunatics.
This is what the "reputed" companies PR mills have tried to do.
If you look back in history almost every "rumor" about food and chemical safety has been proved right. From DDT to agent orange, to PCBS, MSG, you name it,
And you still call these "rumor Mills".
One sincere request at least don't make it hard for people who sincerely want to warn others. These people are not some crazy lunatics who want to scare monger people (even though these "reputed companies" will brainwash you to believe this).
For crying out loud what is their motive, but your reputed companies all have motive.
So please stop.

Qwan Raj
- Bangalore, Karnataka, India


June 24, 2008

Hi, Qwan. We don't censor anyone, so you can promote whatever theory you wish . . . but you would forbid me from expressing, on my own site, my opinion that aluminum is safe :-)

There are thousands of postings on this site about the safety and dangers of various materials, including numerous threads about aluminum pots and pans. My belief in the safety of aluminum is based on many things, and you are welcome to search the threads where those reasons are brought forth again and again and again.

But, as one example, people continually submit postings here like "Everybody needs to know that aluminum causes Alzeimer's disease! Use your site to spread the word!". But here's what the Alzeimer's Association actually says:

"The vast majority of mainstream scientists now believe that if aluminum plays any role at all in Alzheimer's, that role is small."

". . . most mainstream health professionals believe, based on current knowledge, that exposure to aluminum is not a significant risk factor. Public health bodies sharing this conviction include the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Health Canada."

"Further, it is unlikely that people can significantly reduce their exposure to aluminum through such measures as avoiding aluminum-containing cookware, foil, beverage cans, medications and other products. "

I do not non-empathetically (or "condescendingly") dismiss people who are frightened! To the contrary, this issue concerns me deeply and very personally because Alzeimer's is rampant on both sides of my family; two aunts and an uncle are already dead from it, my mother is in a nursing home with no idea who I am, and odds are pretty good that I'll contract it myself. Meanwhile, though, I will continue to cook my eggs in my Calphalon hard anodized frying pan because I happen to like it and personally believe it to be perfectly safe -- not just because Calphalon says so but for a hundred reasons including the fact that the Alzheimer's Association, WHO, NIH, EPA, Health Canada and countless other scientific bodies say so too.

Now please quote me some respected medical organizations or journal articles that claim that aluminum cookware is dangerous, and I will be happy to view them with an open mind.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Brick, New Jersey


October 12, 2008

Ted,

My hats off to you for handling all aspects of this issue. I have been researching this issue in depth as we are launching an anodized grill product. I wanted to have the facts to present them and finishing.com has more info and more sides of the story than anyone. So much disinformation is mostly competitive stirred up by companies with new products that bash the old. People take this stuff as gospel. For example, the thermolon coating on a lot of new pans is attacking Teflon to a ridiculous degree. Coming from the coatings industry I will weigh in on that too. Teflon cookware is absolutely safe under 450&F. DuPont fought an unseemly competitor for years that was determined to kill Teflon. I'm from Delaware and know DuPont well. They finally gave in and not from consumer standpoint. Actually most of the issue is with PFOA, a byproduct of Teflon. It was used for carpets and other items. Teflon stents and IV's have been used in people for years too.

Finally I believe you will be able to avoid Alzheimer's through diet (lots of fish) exercise and even regular sauna (it's aerobics for your arteries). My daughter is attending a naturopathic med school and one of her missions is to keep her parents from being drug addicted seniors, and cognitive. So far so good. Keep up the great work Ted!

Brad

Brad Barrett
- Cartersville, Georgia


October 14, 2008

Now I'm really confused. I love to cook and do a great deal of entertaining. I've used anodized pots for years but the finish is starting to wear on some of them and the aluminum is starting to show, particularly on the bottom of the pot. Rings around the inside edge of the pot are also beginning to appear. My husband is pushing for a new set of stainless steel pots but I've heard that metal -- nickel, chromium and molybdenum -- leaks from these pots into the food. Are the anodized pots now dangerous when the finish wears and the aluminum starts to show? Should I replace those pots with stainless steel or should I replace them with other anodized aluminum pots? Any information or direction you can give me on this topic will be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Lois Diehl
hobbyist - Mahwah, New Jersey


October 14, 2008

Hi, Lois. My personal opinion is that both stainless and aluminum are harmless. But bare aluminum is "dirty" (black smut can rub off) and it can corrode. My preference would be new hard anodized cookware, not because I think it's safer than stainless steel, but because I like it better -- it's lighter, and I think it cooks better, and it doesn't scratch from metal implements, while being rather slick like non-stick cookware. Others will surely have different opinions. But there is no way around opinion, which unfortunately means there might be no way around the "confusion" :-)

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Brick, New Jersey


October 26, 2008

Thanks for the informative web site. Based on extensive research, I am really interested in purchasing an anodized aluminum stock pot but cannot find any source that isn't lined with some sort of polymer (non-stick or the new infused polymer from Calphalon). Can you recommend a manufacturer of anodized aluminum that doesn't use a polymer on the interior?

Thanks!

Amy Dahl
- Seattle, Washington


November 12, 2008

Hi, Amy. I have some Calphalon that is hard anodized, and some that has a non-stick polymer. It can be hard to tell one from the other if you're not familiar with hard coat anodizing because, just like the polymer, it is dark gray to black and it is very smooth and somewhat slippery and reasonably non-stick -- but water "beads" on the polymer whereas it tends to "wet" the hardcoat.

I received my first piece of hard anodized Calphalon as a cherished gift (that may explain my orneriness in defending it). I can't claim that it's better than other brands of hard anodized cookware because it's the only brand I've tried.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Brick, New Jersey

Update 11/29/08: Sorry, but Calphalon has just advised me that: "Currently all cookware with an anodized surface we produce is Infused Anodized. This type of cooking surface is in fact sealed with a polymer, but is not considered to be nonstick. All of our original hard anodized (Professional and Commercial) are no longer being produced."

We don't like to promote particular brands on this technical information website, but if any manufacturer advises us that they offer polymer-free hard anodized cookware, we will share the news.


November 30, 2008

Hi Ted,
First, thanks for the information on Aluminum Pans. My mother-in-law has forbade me to use my aluminum pans for cooking. I appreciated your information. One question though. Does it matter how old the pans are? I have one of my grandfathers old pans and some pans given to me by a friend of mine also older. Are they still safe?
Thanks,

Shawn Borgert
- Maple Lake, Minnesota


December 12, 2008

Hi, Shawn. In my personal estimation aluminum is safe regardless of its age; this is largely based on the quotes above from the Alzeimer's Association. However, aluminum which, because it is very old and worn, or for any reason no longer has an anodized surface, is likely to be smutty. That means you can rub off a gray to black smut from the surface, which is probably a tiny amount of very finely divided aluminum dust. Although not harmful (in my opinion and as I read the Alzheimer's Association position), it's not aesthetic. After washing and drying your pans, rub the inside with a clean white paper towel and see what you see.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Brick, New Jersey


December 21, 2008

I recently bought a new set of cookware which has an aluminum bottom. It has a layer of cooper between the bottom and the stainless steel surface of the pan. While shopping I found many, if not most, sets have aluminum bottoms. I have a concern that aluminum might react with the heat and cause harmful fumes. The cookware is Emirilware Stainless. It has a warning that the cookware should not be heated empty or allowed to boil dry the aluminum may melt. Molten aluminum can drip on a person causing serious burns.

My husband has ALS and I do not want to use anything that might affect his condition. Although I understand, that there is no established link between ALS and aluminum. I want to be make good decisions.

Barbara Anderson
- Gainesville, Florida


December 28, 2008

I have just purchased a set of hard anodized green pans. My question is: is the thermolon safe to cook with? I have been researching and cannot make up my mind if it is safe, or if the technology is just too new to be sure. I appreciate your input!

Kristen Lange
- Shreveport, Louisiana


February 4, 2009

Count me in as another consumer looking for polymer-free hard anodized cookware like Calphalon USED to make! Want to avoid PTFE altogether. Would love to know if you find some. Thank you!

Jeneen Schloz
- Austin, Texas


February 11, 2009

We first bought Calphalon Commercial cookware over 20 years ago and have always used them according to the care and use instructions.

I have had to return the saucepans for warranty replacement several times because the coating has worn off the interior surface down to the bare aluminum. I have always wondered if the coating is compromised by our very hard well water. The frying pans have not been affected like the saucepans ... that's why I'm suspecting the water. (Our water softener doesn't even seem to be able to change the hardness much!)

Does anyone have a clue as to why the surface coating would erode and if it might be the hard water?

Susan Allen
- Murfreesboro, Tennessee


February 23, 2009

I came across this site while trying to get information on the new infused cookware. I have a Calphalon anodized piece I think I need to replace because I left it on the burner by accident. It shows some minor scratch marks but I don't see any aluminum. Just the old dark finish with what appears to be natural age marks from use. I'm concerned that I might be ingesting something I can't see. I will do the paper towel test when I get home. I really like it and hate to throw an expensive piece of cookware out. In response to those that want unadulterated anodized aluminum I have some tips. Anolon is a major producer of anodized cookware. Also, it looks like Macy's still has only the old Calphalon available. None of their adverts mention infused aluminum on the Calphalon they sell as of today. In regards to aluminum leaching into food I've read that any aluminum is safe to cook in ( I have an old aluminum dutch oven that is totally untreated that I still use) but it's not supposed to be used to store food. Once you're done cooking and serving the food should be transferred to appropriate containers.
Thanks for this site.
Vin

Vincent Private
- Austin, Texas


April 3, 2009

Vincent,
You should not need to exchange out your pan, if you take a sponge you should simply be able buff out the scratches. In addition, you can use a product such as Barkeepers Friendamazoninfo or any other equivalent to get rid of the scratches or discolorations as well. I know Calphalon is very good about replacing their product, so if your scratches are too deep it shouldn't be a problem. Personally, I am looking to get some more information on the new Unison by Calphalon. I purchased a few pans today, but with their patent pending and being a Williams Sonoma exclusive for now, information is very hard to come by.

John Quinn
- Oklahoma City, Oklahoma


March 22, 2009

My husband and I received a set of cookware from Circulon. It is hard-anodized and from reading the box it sounds like they do not add any polymer non-stick coating, but I can't really tell. Has anyone else heard of or tried the Circulon brand of pans?

Pam Hylton
- Stuart, Virginia


April 6, 2009

Q. Why does anodized aluminum have to be hand washed? Both my husband and I now work two jobs and hand washing cookware is not at the top of the list of chores. We are need of new cookware and would like something safe but also dishwasher safe. Suggestions?

Thanks for your help.

Kathy Mills
- Bloomington, Minnesota


April 6, 2009

A. Hi, Kathy. Plain aluminum and anodized coatings (aluminum oxide) are attacked by strongly alkaline materials. Detergents that are meant to be used for hand washing are mild, but dishwasher detergent can be strongly alkaline.

Glass, ceramic, and stainless steel (including stainless cookware with an encapsulated aluminum core) sound like they should be dishwasher safe. Good luck..

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Brick, New Jersey


April 9, 2009

Q. I just bought a set of hard anodized pans from Penny's "Cooks" brand. The box does not say infused but water did bead up on the new pans. They are not cheap. Any info would be appreciated. I'm going at this backwards, researching after getting them. I have not used them as yet and can return.

Thanks,
Deb

Debra O'Neal
- Columbia, Missouri


April 9, 2009

A. Hi, Deb. According to J C Penny site, these have Whitford Eclipse fluoropolymer coating. If YOU object to fluoropolymers you should return them. I myself am not concerned about fluoropolymer -- it's just that I prefer hard anodizing by itself. Apparently the manufacturers no longer see it that way and plain hard anodizing is becoming impossible to find :-)

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Brick, New Jersey


April 14, 2009

I found this stock pot at Goodwill and it looked like it had been in a campfire. I washed it up and it seems to be okay, a little discoloured on the bottom though. Is it safe to use?

Jean

Jean Landes
- Beaverton, Oregon


April 16, 2009

 I just carried my JC Penney Cooks pots out to the trash and dumped them after reading this thread. I had a gift certificate and thought the anodized aluminum sounded good so I got them, but I've felt uneasy using them. I also know that the aluminum industry is deeply connected with the fascists bent on poisoning people, and this is their latest attempt IMO. The polymers are a deal-breaker, and even without them it is clear that the coating is going to wear revealing the aluminum.

Aluminum is highly toxic. Go to Organic Consumer's Association and read the article "How Metals in Food Affect Your Child's Behavior". If you trust official medical associations to give you the truth you have been fooled. These are the same people that dump toxins in your food, fluoride and heavy metals in your water, then put you on their expensive disease-care plans. Most of them have links to the Nazis of WWII (read Jim Marrs' recent book on this if you don't believe it, and refute his facts) =>

Although people at lower levels aren't aware of the agenda, people at higher levels of these organizations know just what the purpose is - to poison you. Yes, they are trying to kill you and deaden your brain. Deny it all you want - that's what keeps it hidden. Time to wake up - someone is trying to kill you.

Rise of the Fourth Reich

In Europe they use something called a precautionary principle. Even if there is only a possibility of something being dangerous it tends to be banned until the matter is researched. I try to apply that in my life. Using these pots is simply not worth the risk. Personally, I think stainless steel and cast iron has a much better likelihood of being safe. I'm sticking with that (pun intended).

As for the person who said the internet is just a rumor mill, wake up. The internet is simply people sharing their views, some informed and some not. In general you will find much more valuable information on the internet than in the corporate-owned media which you seem to worship blindly. What you want to look for on the internet is consensus (where a large number of people reach a similar view, or at least raise similar questions). People who just trust one source (like CNN) and want it to be their authority have trouble with the internet, where no one source can be trusted. Yet here's a news flash for you: CNN can't be trusted either. They just wear more expensive make-up.

There are enough people questioning and raising serious doubts about anodized aluminum that I won't take a chance with my health on it. To hell with your "reputable" companies.

David Dunn
- Denver, Colorado


April 18, 2009

"The vast majority of mainstream scientists now believe that if aluminum plays any role at all in Alzheimer's, that role is small."

". . . most mainstream health professionals believe, based on current knowledge, that exposure to aluminum is not a significant risk factor. Public health bodies sharing this conviction include the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Health Canada."

"Further, it is unlikely that people can significantly reduce their exposure to aluminum through such measures as avoiding aluminum-containing cookware, foil, beverage cans, medications and other products. "

Google any one of the "Public Health Bodies mentioned above, and include the name of "Monsanto" to see that there is collusion, and/or lack of doing the proper investigations regarding Monsanto's products. To use these organizations to verify the safety of any product is a joke.

By far the safest cookware is Glass, or ceramic.

As far as aluminum not being a significant health factor, it isn't a matter of one substance being the problem, but rather the combined collection of toxic substances from all the toxic substances that the agencies you mention above allow into the consumer market.

Get a sheet of paper, draw a large circle on it which will represent your body which is 2/3 water. Now draw as many little circles within the larger circle to represent the millions of cells in your body. The area between these smaller circles is the water.

Now add aluminum, chorine from the water, rbgh growth hormone, GMO foods, roundup, and the rest of Monsanto's toxic products, benzene, rubber, diesel, dust, drugs, aspartame, plastic, stainless steel, pesticides, saturated fats, sugar, Splenda, and all the rest of the toxic crap that we are exposed to daily, and any one of them that by themselves might not be consequential becomes a major problem when it ends up in the water that our cells try and get nourishment from. Instead of nourishment, they get diseased, and die off.

Do you think that disease is just floating around in the air?

Why do people from the Pharmaceutical companies take leave to hold positions on the FDA, EPA, WHO, Codex alimentarius?

Can you see any connections? Any conflict of interests?

Ed Senoj
- Denver Colorado


May 18, 2009

Wow. The tinfoil hat brigade is out in full force. Alas, I don't want to use an "infused" anodized surface because I don't know what it's infused with so I cannot necessarily cook properly with it. Hardly because of some massive conspiracy theory. On the off chance that there is some shred of truth, what are you really saving here - 6 months on a lifespan of 80 or 90 years? How crazy are you making yourself in those years? How much time are you wasting to gain those 6 months? Applying basic reasoning principles, if you spend more than this hypothetical 6 months worrying and searching for whatever products you can use to avoid the others that are purported to have negative effects - then you're WASTING YOUR TIME & LIFE. Adjust the numbers, but don't tell me that it cuts 20 years off a normal lifespan. You simply have no idea how much aluminum comes into contact with foodstuffs - unless you're growing *all* your own veggies & raising, and slaughtering your own meat.

The liberal application of the Reasonable Person Principle goes a very, very long way.

D. Paris
- Rochester, New York


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