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topic 8962

Safety of hard anodized pots, pans, & aluminum cookware


A discussion started in 2001 but continuing through 2019 so far

2001

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 B [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Spokane, Washington


affil. link
Calphalon cookware

2001

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


2001

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.

jim treglio portrait
Jim Treglio
PVD Consultant - San Diego, California


2006

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 A [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Hot Springs, Arkansas


2006

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 more 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!

Ted Mooney, finishing.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha


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,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

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 censor no one, letting you promote whatever theory you wish on this site . . . 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 & pans. My personal 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 and the internet 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; three aunts and two uncles are already dead from it, my mother is in a nursing home with no idea who I am, and odds are 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 -- for many reasons including the fact that hundreds of millions of people, perhaps billions, have used it for generation after generation, decade upon decade, with the Alzheimer's Association, WHO, NIH, EPA, Health Canada and countless other scientific bodies finding no smoking gun.

Please quote us some respected medical organizations or journal articles that claim that aluminum cookware is dangerous, and we will be happy to post them, view them, and consider them with an open mind.

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha


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,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

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,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

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 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,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha


December 21, 2008

I recently bought a new set of cookware which has an aluminum bottom. It has a layer of copper 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 Friend [affiliate link to product info on Amazon] 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


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