Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Monday Mission: Analyzing Aluminum Cookware and Bakeware

August 17th, 2009 · 26 Comments · What to Buy

Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to determine whether you have any aluminum cookware in your house. If so, seek out alternatives. I’ll give you ideas beyond “replace entire cookware set”!

Impact Ratings: healthpositive moneynegative

Level of Commitment: Making Strides

First, figure out what your pots, pans, and cookie sheets are made of. My pots and pans are all non-stick coated…which doesn’t mean they’re safe, but they’re not aluminum. (More on Teflon later!) You may need to make a phone call to the manufacturer to find out what your cookware is really made of. It will take 5 minutes. You can do it!

My cookie sheets are, I discovered after sending an email to the company, made of aluminum with a non-stick coating. The coating is getting pretty scratched, so I’ve made a commitment not to allow food to touch the surface, just in case. When it comes to being a steward of my family’s health, I’d rather be safe than sorry, especially when some of the changes I’ve had to make are quite simple and low on commitment/energy.
analalum2

If you have aluminum pots…

My mom cooked with that red pot set in the photo above all my life. They’re aluminum. I have no way of knowing whether my body has or had a build-up of aluminum because of those pots and pans, but I have to trust God to do His will with me and move on. If I had aluminum pots and pans in my kitchen, however, I would make a big effort to use alternatives!

  • At the very least, don’t cook tomato or acidic substances in aluminum pots.
  • Try to default to any pots you have that aren’t aluminum.
  • Look at garage sales and thrift stores for basic stainless steel, cast iron (or even glass) pots to begin to phase out your aluminum ones. I picked up a few for a buck each this summer to work on phasing on my non-sticks.
  • Some sources say the safest choice is enameled cast iron, like I had on my birthday list. You can see a few examples here:

Disclosure: Those images will take you to Amazon.com, and if you choose to purchase one of the items, I’ll get a small kickback, which helps me justify the time I spend writing this blog. ! :) I don’t have either product, though; they’re just examples of something you might want to replace a potentially dangerous product.

I understand if buying new isn’t in your budget right now. It’s not in mine, either, hence the garage sales and the birthday list!

Here is a quote to make you feel better if you’re stuck cooking with aluminum (it did me!):

More than half of the cookware on the market today is made from aluminum. This is because aluminum is a good conductor of heat and is used frequently with non-stick pots and pans. The makers of aluminum cookware warn against storing highly acidic or salty foods in aluminum cookware. Foods such as tomato sauce or citrus fruits that are in contact with cookware for a long period of time will absorb aluminum. Aluminum foil has the same effect and should be avoided for storing acidic or salty foods. Is cooking in aluminum dangerous? It is unlikely that significant amounts of aluminum are released from aluminum cookware. The amount of aluminum found in foods cooked in aluminum pots is much lower than the amount usually found in foods, medicines and antiperspirant. It is important, however, to make sure the surface of the cookware is undamaged.

Source (emphasis is mine)

If you have aluminum cookie sheets…

Here you’ve got quite a few options. You just want to keep your food away from the surface of the cookie sheets, which is a lot easier with rolls or cookies than with a pot of soup!

  • Try parchment paper I never used parchment paper until a few years ago. Although you are creating waste because you throw it away, when it comes to clean-up on baked french fries, I’ll trade the 10 minutes of dish-scrubbing for a piece of paper in the wastebasket! Terrible, I know. On the other hand, if I’m baking cookies or bread products, I reuse the parchment paper (storing it right in/on my cookie sheet in the oven drawer) until I can’t reuse it any longer.
  • Invest in a silicone baking mat to put inside your cookie sheet, like this one:
  • Put stoneware on your wishlist. I love the way rolls, biscuits, cookies and pizza dough turn out on my Pampered Chef Rectangular Stone.
  • Stainless steel cookie sheets are also available. Here are two versions:UPDATE: a reader read the reviews on these guys and they’re not so great. Try this one instead.

    But for me, the stoneware can’t be beat, so I probably won’t be investing in these.

I’ll finally explain exactly the risks of aluminum in Friday’s post, and next week we’ll peek into our deodorants (mine is stored in the kitchen, so I can do that!).

analalum1See the other Analyzing Aluminum in August posts:

I’d love to see more of you! Sign up for an email subscription or grab my reader feed. If you missed the last Monday Mission, click here.

Kitchen Stewardship is dedicated to balancing God’s gifts of time, health, earth and money. If you feel called to such a mission, read more at Mission, Method, and Mary and Martha Moments.

I LOVE my stoneware bakers. See what other people love by visiting Things I Love Thursday at The Diaper Diaries.

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26 Comments so far ↓

  • Sarah

    Good post!!

    We don’t have any aluminum in our house except for bakeware (cookie sheets and bread and cake pans) . . . our pot and pan set is stainless, and we also use cast iron and enameled cast iron for the majority of the cooking (and I have glass pie pans and casseroles, for the most part.)

    I LOVE parchment paper, however, and also re-use it if I can! I’m still cooking directly in my bread pans, but I don’t bake breads that often (and if I do it is often free-form on a baking stone rather than in a bread pan) and, like you, figure the tiniest amount won’t hurt much. I’m just very careful when getting them out of the pans not to scratch them!

    Looking forward to reading more!

    Best,
    Sarah

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Rachel R.

    We don’t use aluminum cookware (all stainless steel here), but bakeware is a toughie for me. Stainless steel does not conduct heat well, so it’s not good for even baking. (SS cookware usually has a better conductor – like aluminum – sandwiched inside the base.) Personally, I don’t like stoneware, as I think it’s a nightmare to clean, so that doesn’t make it high up on my list, either.

    So…for the time being, we have aluminum bakeware. I will have to keep that in mind, though, and try our silicone mats to see what kind of difference that makes (baking-wise). I haven’t been able to find much on silicone (health-wise) in my research, but as best I can tell, it’s supposed to be inert and, therefore, not leach into the food. That might make it the best all-around option for baking.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Thanks for the point about conductivity. My husband is always afraid to clean out stoneware, but for things like cookies and bread products, it’s a cinch – you just scrape the crumbs off with the little plastic scraper that comes with the stone, and usually that’s enough. Sometimes I use hot water and a rag, but mostly I just “call it good”. I’ve never made french fries or anything really greasy on them, though…

    Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Kara

    Great info! I use my cast iron and stoneware for almost everything. I love them! I cried when my stoneware casserole dish cracked recently…it was seasoned perfectly and now I have to start over with a new one! I have one nonstick skillet and a couple of stockpots that I use fairly often, but the cast iron and stoneware get the most use. Well, and for my bread pans…they’re aluminum covered with nonstick. I have some stainless ones, but don’t like them as well. I’d love to get some of that enameled cookware. There’s a stainless set (w/aluminum core) I had my eye on too, but boy are they pricey! I love your site! We are definitely kindred spirits!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Kissy

    I LOVE and swear by my Pampered Chef stoneware. I was able to slowly replace my pans with all stoneware by hosting parties over the years, and now the only metal I have left in the house for cooking are the pots, which I have been trying to switch over to stainless because they are the non-stick coated aluminum.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • The Diaper Diaries

    We have some major old school cast iron skillets that I love to use. I have aluminum bakeware, but I frankly barely bake. I might have to look into the stoneware.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Janel Bunten

    Not a shred of aluminum cookware in this house. We purchased our premium grade stainless steel cookware 15 years ago and loved it so much we opened our own business to sell it ourselves.

    We even travel with it if we can – it’s just that important. I can’t imagine cooking on anything else ever.

    Can’t wait to read your thoughts about Teflon.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Sonia

    I always wondered if silicone is safe for baking.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • julie

    Does anyone worry about using an ice cream maker with an aluminum freezer bowl? I just purchased one, thinking it was a stainless steel bowl, but it’s not. I was hoping to make lemon sorbet, which would be acidic. Any ideas?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Julie,
    I know, what a pain when you think you’re getting something good and it’s not. Any pan I use for a birthday cake is aluminum, too…so I just offer up a prayer and celebrate anyway! You don’t have to store the sorbet in the container, right? I would think that would help me feel better, the limited time that the food touches the product. I think Kelly the Kitchen Kop talks about her ice cream and popcorn makers as specifically non-aluminum.
    Good luck! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • bailey

    Katie…this is my third comment today. A friend shared your site with me and I am SOO grateful for it. I have found myself in tears MANY times being frustrated in my own research because of all the different opinions out there next to all the companies assuring us that their products are perfectly safe. This site has such a complete list of information that makes it so much easier for me. Plus the fact that you are willing to say a prayer and trust that God is sovereign and will bless your efforts to be the best steward of your body and your efforts to take care of your family. It is so encouraging…I am even in tears right now. Anyway, thank you for all the hard work and time you spend on researching to put comprehensive information out there. It is such a blessing and I pray that God blesses your research by giving you wisdom to filter it all!
    Back to reading for me….I have about 12 pages to read. I keep clicking on links as I read through your posts! Next up…sunblock and searching for info on teflon! Thanks again. “Such confidence as this is our through Christ before God. Not that we are confident in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.” II Cor. 3:4-5

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Bailey,
    So glad you stumbled onto KS, and hopefully all the tears around here are for joy/relief and not because my posts are so lengthy! ;) I have often pondered posting on Teflon but haven’t said much about it yet…. :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Anne

    The aluminum cookie sheets you link to at Amazon don’t have great reviews BTW. Just wanted to let you know, in case you haven’t read the reviews. You might want to read some of the one and two star comments. One commenter mentioned possibly buying this pan instead:

    http://www.amazon.com/American-Kitchen-Stainless-Steel-Cookie/dp/B002T44Z0Q/

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Thank you! I linked to the new one you mentioned. :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • misha

    Hiya. I love your site. Thank you for all the research you are doing. I just went upstairs to the kitchen to discover my sheet pans are steel, but my bread pans are aluminum. Years and years ago I a big stack of sheet pans (15×10) at a restaurant supply and they are just awesome – i use them for tons of stuff and have given many away. I really never thought about aluminum in my cooking. I don’t think I will stop using my breadpans at this point, but maybe – that will just have to percolate for a bit.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Misha,
    It often takes time to make changes, so percolate away! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Top 5 Safe Bakeware Options | Healthy Alternatives - Food for good health

    [...] Aluminium – linked to Alzheimer’s and other not-so-fun things, aluminium is unfortunately ubiquitous in older pots, muffin tins and cookie sheets. You really [...]

  • Soccy

    Have you seen the ORGREENIC line of nonstick cookware? It’s heavily advertised in late night TV. It’s made of alluminum with a ceramic non stick coating. It claims that the ceramic coating is natural, non toxic and will not flake off.

    I would love to know your thoughts??
    https://www.orgreenicsale.com/?mid=735808

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Soccy,
    Hmmmm…interesting! It sounds a little like Mercola’s stuff, I think. I’d want to talk to someone about whether they know if there’s lead in the ceramic or not. ??? The only thing that worries me about the website is that they don’t share a lot of information…could be greenwashing since they’re not offering up info about lead and such…but interesting nonetheless!! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Anne Reply:

    I recently got a new non-stick pan from Sur La Table that was recommended by Aimee on SimpleBites.net. It is called the Scanpan CTX. WARNING: they are pricy! But I think the money is an investment as I will have it for a LONG time! So far, I’m very happy with it.

    Her review can be found here: http://www.simplebites.net/scanpan-giveaway/?doing_wp_cron=1326461430

    The pan I have is here: http://www.surlatable.com/product/PRO-642322/Scanpan-CTX-Nonstick-Skillets

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Kathryn Arnold

    I have anodized aluminum cookware. It was advertised as totally inert, even for tomato sauce. Is that not true?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Kathryn,
    There is something very different about anodized aluminum – does it even touch the food? I guess I haven’t looked into what that phrase means. Do you notice any flavors being imparted when you cook with tomatoes?
    Hope you can figure it out – Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • In The Kitchen: Rachel’s Faves

    [...] learning about the dangers of cooking with teflon and some questions surrounding aluminum pans, I searched high and low for affordable new cookware.  From my research, the safe options seemed [...]

  • Chris

    I wanted to know if you knew of a line of the enameled cast iron that is made in the US. We would like to update a few of our cookware items and have been finding most of it made in China. Would like to buy items made in the US if possible.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Chris,
    I didn’t love my enameled cast iron personally, so I haven’t looked into them in a long time…I hope you have some luck! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

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Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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