How to Avoid Aluminum in Cookware and Bakeware (Plus Another Way it’s Sneaking Into Your Baked Goods)

It’s been a few years now since I began to understand that using aluminum in my cooking and personal products had a good chance of increasing my risk of disease. I’ve been avoided it almost religiously ever since, and even stopped wearing antiperspirant in favor of a simple homemade deodorant. If you’ve read about the potential risks, you might be ready to seek out alternatives to your aluminum cookware and bakeware. I have some ideas for you beyond “replace your entire cookware set!” that won’t break the bank.Aluminum Pot and Pans Hanging on the WallFirst, figure out what your pots, pans, and cookie sheets are made of. Most pans and baking sheets are either aluminum or non-stick (but that’s another problem for another day) so the chances are, unless you’ve gone out of your way to purchase something other than those materials, you have aluminum cookware/bakeware. It may be worth making 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.UPDATE 2021: The best healthy non-stick pan I’ve found that’s easy to clean! 

What to do if you have aluminum pots and pans…

My mom cooked with a particular set of red pots 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 this one on my birthday wish list.
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!How to Avoid Aluminum in Your Cookware and Bakeware

What is Hard Anodized Aluminum?

Many people ask me about a new-ish surface to the market, hard anodized aluminum cookware. I feel like I need to do more research personally, but on the surface (pun intended) this way of processing the metal so it’s non-reactive seems like a great alternative, and it’s even relatively nonstick. If if you saw “aluminum” on your hard anodized cookware, don’t feel like you need to ditch or avoid your current pans. You can learn about how hard anodization works and how to choose the best cookware over at Manyeats, which I hope is helpful if you’re in the market for new pans.

What to do 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:
    • These types of baking mats are basically a reusable version of parchment paper, at least for this purpose. They’re super non-stick so no cooking spray needed at all no matter what you’re baking on it.
  • Put Stoneware on Your Wishlist:
  • Stainless Steel Cookie Sheets:
For me, stoneware can’t be beat. I LOVE my stoneware baking pans.

Another Way Aluminum is Sneaking Into Your Baked GoodsRumford Aluminum-Free Baking Powder

When I first started to learn about the health hazards of aluminum, I was very surprised to find that it was in baking powder. Baking powder! When I got home and checked mine, I was bummed to find that, in fact, the baking powder on my shelf did have aluminum in it. Instead of tossing it and letting it all go to waste, I decided, baby step style, to wait until mine was almost empty and then look up the homemade version. I knew it used cream of tartar, so I even bought some in bulk to prepare. As the moment neared, I decided to check out the aluminum-free baking powder in my regular grocery store. I assumed it would be much more expensive than the conventional baking powder. Much to my pleasant surprise, it’s only $0.20-30 more. I bought some.

Does Aluminum in Baking Powder Affect your Baking?

I haven’t noticed any difference in my baking yet (I’m always a little hit and miss anyway!). When researching I found using aluminum-free baking powder may actually improve the taste of your baked goods. The aluminum in baking powder has been known cause a tin flavor, yuck! A simple switch is better than that taste, and it can improve your future health.Delicious cookies made with aluminum-free baking powderOne thing to note. Since aluminum-free baking powder reacts to liquid and not heat you’ll want to be sure to get your baked goods in the oven soon after mixing the dry and wet ingredients to get the full rise.

A note about baking soda:

Baking soda does not have aluminum in it. Baking soda should just have one ingredient: sodium bicarbonate (also known by other less common names). Baking powder is a mixture of baking soda, something acidic (cream of tartar), and an anticaking agent (like cornstarch or arrowroot powder). And sometimes aluminum.

Does Baking Powder Have an Expiration Date?

Baking powder doesn’t last forever and can lose its rising power. If you find you don’t use a lot of baking powder stick to buying it in small amounts. Make sure you keep your baking powder in a cool, dry place (not the refrigerator), with a tightly sealed lid. Before using, test any baking powder you are unsure about.

How to test your baking powder – does it still rise?

Simply add 1/2 tsp of it to a 1/4 cup of hot water. If it begins to bubble you’re good to go. If nothing happens it’s time to toss it and get a new batch.

Homemade Aluminum-Free Baking Powder Recipe

Aluminum-free baking powder is easy to make at home, and this little formula is good to have on hand even if you prefer to buy aluminum-free baking powder in case you ever run out of the storebought stuff.
      • 1 Tbsp. baking soda
      • 2 Tbsp. cream of tartar
      • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch or arrowroot powder
OR
      • 1 part baking soda
      • 2 parts cream of tartar
      • 1 part arrowroot starch (a corn-free option is nice to have, especially if you know someone with allergies)
Instructions: 
      • Sift ingredients together. Then simply store in an airtight container.
      • One teaspoon of this is equal to 1 teaspoon store-bought baking powder.
      • You can mix it in bulk in advance and then put it in your old baking powder container.
      • It’s only frugal if you buy cream of tartar in bulk though! Those tiny grocery store containers will not save you money.
Now if I run out of my aluminum-free baking powder, I know where to go. I won’t let my cream of tartar go to waste, either. It’s an ingredient in our favorite homemade playdough!
Do you think avoiding aluminum in cooking and baking is worth the extra effort? What steps have you taken so far?
Looking for more ways to remove aluminum from your life?
Looking for other ways to remove aluminum from your daily life and why you should consider it?

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Monday Missions Baby Steps Back to Basics

Here at Kitchen Stewardship, we’ve always been all about the baby steps. But if you’re just starting your real food and natural living journey, sifting through all that we’ve shared here over the years can be totally overwhelming.

That’s why we took the best 10 rookie “Monday Missions” that used to post once a week and got them all spruced up to send to your inbox – once a week on Mondays, so you can learn to be a kitchen steward one baby step at a time, in a doable sequence.

Sign up to get weekly challenges and teaching on key topics like meal planning, homemade foods that save the budget (and don’t take too much time), what to cut out of your pantry, and more.

27 thoughts on “How to Avoid Aluminum in Cookware and Bakeware (Plus Another Way it’s Sneaking Into Your Baked Goods)”

  1. I am concerned because I have 3 – what I’m positive are – loaf pans .. they were my mom’s.. VERY old but great to use and good size. I have been using them for about 5 yrs. we eat a mid afternoon healthy baked snack each day .. NOW I’m wondering if t is NOT to healthy !! Yikes ! I see scratches from the knife cutting slices and I think — that can’t be healthy … Hope 5 yrs worth of this isn’t contributing to Alzheimer’s of anything else …

  2. Pingback: The main topics food is interesting and dynamic. We were constantly finding new information included in the reference selection we assembled for the exhibition or learning new facts from the experts with whom we contacted and the conferences, symposia, an

  3. 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.

    1. Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship

      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

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  5. Kathryn Arnold

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

    1. 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

  6. 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??

    1. 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

    2. 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

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  8. 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.

  9. 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/

  10. 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

    1. 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

  11. 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?

    1. 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

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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!

  16. 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.

    1. 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

  17. 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

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