topic 22551 p5
Is There a Danger in Cast Aluminum Cookware?
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A discussion started in 2003 but continuing through 2019June 26, 2016
Q. Hi Mr. Mooney,
I have my grandmother's large Club Aluminum stock pot. I use it often and love it. I read other cleaning suggestions posted under cleaning and polishing aluminum cookware but did not see anything that addresses my question. After the pot is dry, there are small white "flakes" that develop on the inside of the pot. Is there something I should be doing to keep this from happening? Does the presence of these flakes impact the pot's use? I.e., is the pot still safe to cook with?
I have attached several pictures which will, hopefully, help with identifying what these flakes are. It was put accidentally in the dishwasher -- my son was trying to help clean up his dinner party mess. =)
Thanks for the help,
- Broadview Heights, Ohio USA
A. Hi Susie. If you look at those white spots with a magnifying glass, I think you will find that they are pits rather than flakes. I don't think you can make them go away because they are depressions in the aluminum. You can simmer vinegar in the pot for 15 minutes and see if there is improvement, but I doubt it.
I personally don't think the pits are a safety issue (it has been discussed earlier on this page), but once again, who am I? -- certainly not someone with medical & epidemiology expertise :-)
Pine Beach, New Jersey
We need "Aloha" now more than ever
July 2, 2016
Q. I hope I'm not sounding too paranoid. That said, I started using a nasal bi-pap machine last year. Earlier this year, I began "purifying" the water that goes into the humidification tray by boiling it in a stove top pot (I had previously damaged this pot by over boiling ... fell asleep in the recliner, awoke and found the pot empty and sizzling).
Anyway, I noticed earlier this week that the "purified" water I was storing smelled like the inside of this pot ... now my fear, rational or not, is that I have been breathing this residue all night for several months. Incidentally, in that time I've developed tinnitus
My question, toxic pot = toxic water = me breathing it to my detriment?
- Irving, Texas USA
November 15, 2016
I just bought the Crofton 11 inch Cast Aluminium Fry Pan from Aldi.
Anybody bought this too? I just learning about Cast Aluminium.
Interesting thread of comments. I bought it b/c it is so Light
as I hate how heavy Cast Iron is, although I know that it is better for you.
- NYC, New York USA
February 14, 2017
RE: ALUMINIUM HEALTH ISSUES a few medical journals as you keep requesting - as you say more medical facts needed:
Environmental Geochemistry and Health
March 1997, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 00
Leaching of aluminium from cookwares
Rajwanshi, P., Singh, V., Gupta, M. et al. Environmental Geochemistry and Health (1997) 19: 0. doi:10.1023/A:1018466911282
Concern over the possible relation between environmental aluminium exposure and Alzheimer's disease has prompted studies of all forms of human intake of this element including that from foods. Aluminium cookware, apart from other sources of dietary aluminium, is considered to be a potential source of this metal to human beings. Various research groups have carried out aluminium leaching experiments with food, beverages and water under different experimental conditions modified by varying the level of pH, chloride, fluoride, citrate, acetate etc. The results reported by different workers show marked discrepancies in levels of leached aluminum. The apparent reason for such discrepancy in levels of aluminum leached can be attributed to factors such as non-systematic and non-uniform experimental designs, non-standard conditions maintained during the experiments and choice of method for aluminium analysis. In order to assess accurately the contribution of aluminium ingestion by human beings through aluminium cookware, the present review emphasizes the need of i) standard size aluminium plates obtained from the same lot for one set of experimentations; ii) real life cooking conditions to highlight the role of various complexing species present in food e.g. citrate, oxalate, acetate, tartrate etc.; iii) role of chemistry of aluminium in presence of acidic, basic and neutral cooking medium and iv) strict analytical control in the estimation of aluminium. Results of a systematic study by the authors conducted on the above-mentioned lines are also described.
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- London UK
Ed. note: Thanks John!
February 22, 2017
Q. Is Forged aluminium cookware safe?Ivy Sew
- Batu Caves, Malaysia
March 8, 2017
I am a retired chemical engineer (PhD) and geologist and now spend my time managing a chain of my high end restaurants on the west coast. I have not read anywhere in the posts on your thread about commercial and industrial installations that prepare and cook almost all of the food we eat as a people in restaurants, packages, fast food, etc. Without exception, any commercially viable entity that prepares and deals with food items for human consumption uses aluminum cooking utensils (pots, pans, spoons, forks, etc.). Though there is a large proponent of these institutions that would like to use stainless steel (and some are mandated by federal law to do so), the use of stainless steel is cost prohibitive and it does not cook as well or as fast (and BELIEVE me, time IS money in commercial/industrial kitchens).
So, if any of your readers ever buys takeout, eats at a restaurant, fast food establishment or buys prepared food items, they are consuming minuscule amounts of aluminum from the cookware these foods were prepared in. No, you cannot get away from aluminum in your food, at least not unless you live in Antarctica and hunt your own fish (but mercury is a big concern there).
Aluminum cookware heats more evenly, cooks better and lasts a long time, it is lighter to handle and simpler to clean using an abrasive powder and a scrub pad. Use your nice aluminum cookware, enjoy the ease of cooking it provides. As mentioned before, storing acidic foods in aluminum pots for more than a few hours is poor form as it will tend to pit the surface of the pots. The Internet is chock full of all kinds of people with zero to no scientific credentials, have limited or no common sense and this type of person is most apt to raise all kinds of concerns without being able to substantiate any of their claims.
There is not causal proof that aluminum is related to Alzheimer's, is the aluminum in the brain tissue before or after the disease? Who cares. We all use smart/cellphones, and these emit harmful EM radiation, and countless studies have published articles on both sides of this debate, but we don't stop using them, do we? Same goes for all of the EM radiation created by electrical conductors in our homes, businesses and workplaces. But do we stop living in our homes, work or play in buildings because there is a potential of cancer from EM radiation from electrical wires?
Wake up people, the earth is heated by decomposing radioactive elements in the mantle. The greatest cause of all plant and animal mutations on earth is the naturally occurring radiation from the same planet we live on that radiates to the surface of the crust. It has been for billions of years. Along with solar wind, neutrinos, charmed particles and all sub-atomic particles, we live in a dangerous universe (including the effect of gravity on our bodies). Minuscule aluminum atoms from aluminum pots, pans and utensils should not be a concern for your health and well-being.
My dad is 99 years old, has a better memory than I do, is completely lucid, still drives legally and has eaten from aluminum pots for over 60 years, and still does, as does his entire family. Same for my mom who died from a drunk driver at 94.
I will continue to use my aluminum cookware for myself, family and friends.
- Denver, Colorado, USA
May 2, 2017
Thanks Michel for your generous explanation.Ivy Sew [returning]
1963 - Batu Caves, Malaysia
July 19, 2017
Q. I recently acquired a Club Aluminum Dutch oven that had been left outside for an unknown amount of time. I have read the cleaning advice on this website and will follow it accordingly. It is actually in very good shape. However, my question is should I be concerned about the safety of using it since it was exposed to the outdoor elements?CJ Lewis
- Baxley, Georgia
December 20, 2017
silly :-) Automobiles have been involved in many deaths. Perhaps we should go back to horses and/or mules or donkeys.mary ann nelson
pharmacist ret. - Freeport, Illinois USA
December 30, 2017
After watching a video on how to test aluminum for toxicity I came to the internet to look for answers on why some aluminum cookware is different than others. The test on the cookware was done as follows. There were six pieces of cookware ranging from a small cup to a large pot with all but one piece being stamped aluminum and one being an old cast pot from the early 1950's. Apple sauce was poured into each and then heated over an open fire until the apple sauce began to steam. The apple sauce in all but the cast aluminum pot kept its color and smell but the apple sauce in the cast aluminum pot turned pink and emitted a putrid odor.
The owner of the video suggests that maybe at some point someone could have used the pot for something other than cooking and the aluminum could have absorbed some type of harmful chemical. e.g Some people would use old pots that were no longer used to cook with as a catch basin when draining oil or other chemicals from their vehicle. They were used as wash buckets in some cases. They were used for all kinds of things other than cooking. What would cause apple sauce to turn pink and have an awful odor when being heated in a cast aluminum pot and not in other aluminum cookware?Gary Powell
- Erwin, North Carolina USA
January 2, 2018
I'm 59 years old. Long before the internet or google came along I was taught to stay away from cooking with aluminum, which is why they had enamel pots 'n pans -- as the metals leeched into all our foods.
I could care less what google says nor the internet; there is a reason you cook with stainless steel or enamel cookware. I have never been a fan of aluminum pots 'n pans.
- San Antonio, Texas USA
March 27, 2018
Dear Mr. Mooney, reading many of your counter comments on different issues; it moves me to comment on your ill opinion of the internet, especially YouTube. Even if one was to sift out 90% of all information as garbage (which those proportions are irrational), think about the 10% which may be life saving for millions in regards to all the information our very own governments and private groups are keeping from us. You are a source of some great answers, but please cut the Truthers some slack. Thanks. Yankee RoseRose Nyerick
- Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Hi cousin Rose; thanks for your input. I use youtube myself constantly and love it; and Finishing.com has embedded more than 200 YouTube videos (& counting!) on our pages -- so I don't think my opinion of it is nearly as negative as you believe. Truthers have far more to fear from censorship by their ISP and the major sites than they have to fear from me expressing a personal opinion on my own site.
But I continue to believe that blogs, snippets, videos, and public forums -- even finishing.com, which I've put my heart & soul into for 24 years -- are a poor substitute for books & journals because authors of books spend thousands of hours organizing huge troves of information into careful tutorial fashion so a reader can progress without lost motion and without missing important stuff ... whereas bouncing around on the internet means wasting endless hours reading the same introductory stuff a dozens times on the one hand while landing on pages they can't yet understand on the other hand; it is a ridiculously inefficient way to try to learn a subject. People often come to this site claiming they are weary from hours on the internet doing so, and still they've missed vital points all the time ... so I continue to say that youtube can be fine instruction on a narrow subject like replacing a specific faucet washer or automobile headlamp bulb, but that the internet is a poor tutor for gaining expertise & proficiency in a field. Thanks again.
Pine Beach, New Jersey
We need "Aloha" now more than ever
December 29, 2018
My grandmother Belle Westaway from Brookline Massachusetts sold Club Aluminum during the depression in New England. She was the top salesperson at that time.
She lived to be 92.
- South Park Pennsylvania
March 5, 2019
Q. Why do so many use the length of time their mother/father lived while using aluminium pots to argue aluminium must be okay? And using the argument their parents who died of heart disease (when - in their 60's?) used aluminium cookware? They therefore missed out on Alzheimer, Parkinsons or any other form of dementia which often comes on in OLD old age - such as 90 - 100 plus. Many in my family have lived to make 99 or 100, and if I live that long I want to enjoy my last 10 or 20 years as well as not be a burden on others. It's not hard to buy and use stainless steel pots and lessen the risk. Why not?Victoria STOKES
- Thames NEW ZEALAND
A. Hi Victoria. I don't think many people use the anecdotal argument that "my parents (or my grandparents) weren't harmed". I & others use the very powerful statistical argument that tens of millions of people, probably hundreds of millions, don't seem to have been demonstrably harmed according to studies done by the people we entrust to do them like the Alzheimer's Association, the EPA, and WHO.
I'm not saying that there is no evidence to the contrary or that the risk is zero. I'm saying that when those trusted sources change their minds, so will I; but in the meantime risk is everywhere -- so aluminum cookware is not something that I will worry over.
My posting just before this one talked about how some important things can be missed when we bounce around the internet ... and one of those things that you might possibly be missing is that lots of people feel stainless steel cookware is dangerous too -- threads 41738 & 30701 for starters :-)
Pine Beach, New Jersey
We need "Aloha" now more than ever
March 6, 2019
Your points are good - in this imperfect world nothing is completely safe - but there were quite a few commenting whose main reason to use aluminium was based on the life of a relative.Victoria STOKES
- Thames NEW ZEALAND
June 22, 2019
Q. Hi, I found this thread very interesting. Unlike most posters already in possession of anodized aluminum cookware, I am considering buying some. But it seems like all the modern-made sets also come advertised as "non-stick" or with a "non-stick coating." So, that is different than the older Club aluminum cookware people are talking about, right? Does anybody have a suggestion on what brands I can buy that don't have an extra nonstick coating? Or am I misunderstanding the descriptions and the "non-stick coating" they're referring to is, in most cases, just the anodizing properties? I did try to search the site to see if it was discussed but didn't see anything directly on point. I'm not sure if I just don't have enough foundational knowledge of the terms, but don't want to be tricked by advertising and end up with aluminum cookware that has additional chemical coatings. Thanks for any responses.Sonia Johnson
- Richmond, Virginia, USA
A. Hi Sonia. The purpose of sales blurbs is to induce you to buy, not to technically inform you, so it can be quite difficult to tell if cookware is simply anodized or has a teflon or similar coating. Water will bead on any plastic coating and will probably not bead on an anodized surface; a hard anodized surface won't have a soft feel or feel warm. But it can still be hard to tell.
Anodizing will not survive a dishwashing machine; I think most vendors are adding non-stick, possibly so customers who accidentally put their pans in a dishwasher don't hassle them.
Pine Beach, New Jersey
We need "Aloha" now more than ever
June 24, 2019
Ted, thanks for your quick response about shopping for anodized aluminum. I will keep some of those tips in mind while I look! Thanks again, SoniaSonia Johnson [returning]
- Richmond, Virginia, USA
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