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.
First, 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.
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!
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)
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:
- I love the way rolls, biscuits, cookies, and pizza dough turn out on my Pampered Chef Rectangular Baking Stone.
- Stainless Steel Cookie Sheets:
For me, stoneware can’t be beat. I LOVE my stoneware baking pans.
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.
One 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
- 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)
- 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!
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?
Need Some Baby Steps?
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 made a printable checklist so you can track your progress.
Sign up to get the checklist and 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.