If you are a regular reader, you already know that we take the health and safety features of cookware very seriously. But if you’re new and just starting to wonder what is the most functional and yet safe cookware option for you and your family, you’re not alone!
Although it seems like it should be a given that all cookware available in the market is 100% safe and easy to use, there is a lot more to the topic that you should know about. For example, different materials have different rates of heat conduction and therefore have an impact on the quality of your food. Similarly, different materials used to make cookware can have a different (and sometimes negative) impact on your body.
From stainless-steel to ceramic to glass to non-stick, there is a plethora of buying options available. Out of those options, it is best to study every single material and brand of cookware before you make your purchase. This can ensure a great cooking experience as well as guarantee the health of your family.
During your search for the best cookware available out there, you may come across the term ‘Hard Anodized Cookware’. In this article, we are going to explore the answer to the question: “What is hard anodized cookware?”, so that you can make an informed choice for yourself.
To understand what hard anodized aluminum is, you first need to understand what leaching from cookware means.
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Leaching from Cookware
The biggest risk factor is the leaching of the poisonous material from the cooking surface of the cookware into the food being prepared. Copper was once used in various types of cookware as well as on the cooking surface; however, it was later found that copper actually interacts with the acidic foods and can prove to be highly toxic. This is the reason why copper is only used on the outer parts of the cookware and is not used on the cooking surface itself.
However, other materials can also leach into the food when the surface is heated. What happens is that the heat alters the composition of certain materials, which may lead to the material interacting with the food. This means that a material which is quite safe to use at normal temperature may easily become toxic when heated.
Same is the case with aluminum. Leaching of aluminum from the cookware is more common than you think.
This is where anodized aluminum comes in.
What is Hard Anodized Cookware?
Ever since Canadian researchers found extremely high levels of aluminum inside the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients, aluminum cookware has gone through a lot of investigation and research. Research led to cookware manufactures developing a process called “anodization”, which is a way of treating the aluminum. The process doesn’t affect the heat conductivity of aluminum in any way, but changes it many other ways.
The process involves giving the cookware a series of electrochemical baths that basically thicken the oxide film that naturally forms over the aluminum surface. The process of anodization also makes the metal harder, making the surface resistant to scratching. The hard and smooth coating of the electrochemical makes it impossible for the food to stick to them.
Is Hard Anodized Aluminum Cookware Safe Cookware?
One thing you should know about aluminum is that it is everywhere around us. In fact, it’s the 3rd most common element found in the earth’s crust. It is practically in the air that we breathe as well as in the water that we drink every day.
Because it is abundantly available, aluminum is quite inexpensive as well, which is why it is extensively used in making cookware. Along with cookware, aluminum is also used in making:
This tells us that ingestion of aluminum may not be all that bad. However, it must be controlled and should only be ingested in concentrated doses. This is why leaching of aluminum from the cookware is a serious health hazard.
When aluminum is anodized, it is completely submerged in an acidic bath and is then given electrical charges. The result of this whole process is that the surface of the aluminum combines with the oxygen in the air and turns to aluminum oxide.
This process can also happen naturally and is referred to as oxidation. Therefore, hard-anodization can be considered as accelerated or controlled oxidation.
When aluminum is hard anodized, it gets the ability to resist abrasion and corrosion. Therefore, a hard anodized aluminum pan is one of the most durable pans that you can purchase from the market today.
Hard anodized pans also have longer lifespans as compared to the normal variants, which start chipping and peeling after few years of usage. As a matter of fact, anodized aluminum is also used in automotive parts to protect them from the friction and heat as well as in satellites to protect them from the external environment.
This is the reason why we can safely conclude that anodized aluminum is safe cookware. Due to its chemical stability, it does not decompose and become toxic for the food to be prepared in it. The high levels of heat do not affect the anodized finish in any way.
In fact, anodized aluminum can also withstand the melting point of the aluminum itself, which is roughly around 1,220°F.
Another factor that makes anodized aluminum safe is its ultra-smooth and nonporous surface. Pores in the cooking surface are one of the top reasons why food starts sticking on the cookware, leading to leaching. Therefore, using anodized aluminum is a good way to avoid this problem as well.
Hard Anodized Cookware compared to other Utensils
Even though hard anodized cookware is considered as a safer option, cooks that desire cooking in healthy utensils generally use cast iron, glass, ceramic, stoneware and stainless steel.
The main reason behind is that once the hard anodized aluminum scratches or chips, aluminum may still leach into the food and cause a health hazard. If you do invest in hard anodized aluminum cookware, make sure you take proper care of it and if the inner surface is scratched, replace your pan immediately.