There is a lot of discussion going on about the safety of aluminum pans.
Many people advise against using Aluminum pans while others claim they are perfectly safe to use. In this article, we will give you our take on this backed by research and facts.
We hope you find this article useful in clarifying some queries you have regarding the use of aluminum pans.
Is it Safe to Put an Aluminum Pan in the Microwave?
Let me first address the question that is on your mind.
Everyone knows they’re not supposed to put aluminum foil inside a microwave as it catches fire and could be destructive. There is no doubt or room for debate about that. With that said, however, people are usually confused about whether they can put an aluminum pan inside a microwave. Well don’t worry; we are here to clarify just that.
An aluminum pan is a cookware that has the ability to reflect the microwaves inside the microwave. This means only the top surface of your food will be getting heated while the sides of the pan will reflect the waves away. The pan will actually shield the food from the microwaves from the sides and the bottom. As a result, the heating will get delayed. This is why it is NOT recommended that you put your aluminum pan in the microwave to heat up food.
Baking, on the other hand, is a different matter altogether. As aluminum pans are very good at conducting heat, you pan will quickly absorb heat in baking mode. It will also even spread out the heat that is absorbed by your food while it’s baking.
Therefore, there will be no hot spots in the food while baking and it will get cooked all across. This is why it is a good idea to bake food in your microwave using an aluminum pan.
Why Use Aluminum Pans in the First Place
Let’s first start with why aluminum pans are becoming more and more popular by the day. The following reasons discussed below contribute to the common usage of aluminum pans by many people around the world.
Aluminum Pans are Affordable
Aluminum is a highly abundant metal on this planet. It is very affordable because it is a very common metal. This makes it attractive to buy. Aluminum pans are usually a lot cheaper if you compare them with steel or ceramic pans. Everyone likes to buy things that are easy on the pocked so affordability is one reason why people like to buy Aluminum pans.
Aluminum Conducts Heat Very Well
This is one of the most important advantages of using an aluminum pan. Aluminum is a metal that has very high heat conductivity. This means aluminum pans tend to heat up much quicker than other pans. This also means that even if an aluminum pan is thick, it will heat up evenly. Therefore it will only take a few minutes to heat up your aluminum pan. This essentially means that using an aluminum pan while cooking will be more convenient and time-saving than using other types of pans.
Aluminum is Lightweight
Aluminum pans are light in weight. This makes cooking in them more manageable and easy. This comes in very handy especially when you are trying to stir fry something. This is another reason many people prefer to buy aluminum pans as compared to heavier alternatives like cast iron pans. Their lightweight makes cooking with them a much more pleasant experience.
Aluminum Pans are Easy to Clean
While it is imperative to let aluminum pans cool down before you get around to cleaning them, is the fact that you can clean them with ease is another one of the many reasons why they are becoming so popular among the masses. You do not have to use abrasive cleaning materials like a steel wool to scrub them harshly. This would actually do more harm than good and damage the pan’s smooth finish. Instead, all you need is warm water and soap to gently wash your Aluminum pan with a sponge.
Aluminum is Recyclable
If you are an environmentally conscious person, then this one is for you. Aluminum is a metal that can easily be recycled. This means the aluminum in your frying pan will be put to another use when it is no longer being used.
Sustainability has become a concept that is gathering more and more support globally. According to Waste Management, 100% of the aluminum can be recycled and this is a point worth thinking about when you are about to buy your next frying pan.
Dos and Don’ts of Using an Aluminum Pan
Just like every other cookware, aluminum pans also have certain dos and don’ts that should be followed while cooking in them. The tips below are simple guidelines you should follow to prolong the life of your aluminum pan.
Always Cook on Low or Medium Heat
As discussed earlier, aluminum pans are very good at conducting heat. This is why you should always cook with them on low or medium heat. Your pan will get hot very quickly even then.
Never use a very high flame because the pan will get difficult to handle then. If you cook on a high flame, then your frying pan will get way too hot and there are higher chances of you burning your food. Furthermore, cooking on a very high flame will also result in harm to your pan. Your frying pan will get discolored. This is why you must avoid cooking on a high flame with aluminum pans.
Choose a Stovetop to Cook on According to the Size of the Aluminum Pan
This is another tip to use an aluminum pan effectively. It is better to use a stovetop that is the same size as the aluminum pan while cooking on it to avoid overheating the pan. This tip is especially for people who use gas stoves. This will help you keep your aluminum pan clean and ultimately prolong its useful life.
Do Not Use Metal Utensils if Your Aluminum Pan has a Non-stick Coating
In order to protect the non-stick layer of your aluminum pan, always use wooden, silicone or polyethylene utensils. Never use metal utensils as they will end up damaging the smooth non-stick surface and food will start to stick on it.
Do Not Cut Food Directly on an Aluminum Pan
As mentioned earlier, aluminum has excellent heat conducting abilities. This means your pan will be really hot and it is not safe to cut things on it. Another reason to not use a knife on your aluminum pan is to avoid scratching its surface.
Do Not Put Your Aluminum Pan in a Dishwasher
Aluminum pans are not dishwasher safe. It is advised not to use a dishwasher to clean them because of the high temperatures dishwashers use in their cleaning process. Furthermore, the chemicals and harsh detergents used inside a dishwasher are not good for your aluminum pan.
They can cause discoloration and corrosion in an aluminum pan. So, make sure you never put your aluminum pan in the dishwasher to avoid irreversible damage.
Always Let Your Aluminum Pan Cool Off Before Washing It
It is wise to let your Aluminum pan cool off before you start washing it. Washing it immediately after use will cause a sudden change in temperature and this can deform the pan. This is why it is better to let it cool off naturally and then wash your pan.
Dry Your Aluminum Pan Completely Right after Washing It
Make sure to never store your Aluminum pan when it’s wet. Instead of drying the pan off with a paper towel after washing it. This is to prevent the formation of limescale on it and preserve it for a longer period of time.
Do Not Scrub Your Aluminum Pan Harshly If Food Gets Stuck On It
Scrubbing harshly with a ball of steel wool will damage your aluminum pan. It is better to boil some water in it with vinegar to remove any food residue stuck on it. All you have to do is add some water and vinegar and let that boil for a few minutes. All the food will come off itself.
Do Not Use Any Harsh Chemicals to Clean Your Aluminum Pan
Using bleach or any strong acidic chemicals to clean your aluminum pan will be damaging to its non-stick coating and finish. It will cause corrosion so make sure you avoid exposure to any such chemicals.
Why Do People Consider Aluminum Pans Unsafe to Use?
People consider aluminum pans unsafe to cook in because acidic food reacts with the aluminum metal. Aluminum is a reactive metal that will corrode when exposed to strong acids. Therefore, cooking in it would be unsafe as the metal would corrode and seep into the food we eat.
With that said, there are no pans being sold today in which the aluminum is completely exposed. Manufacturers today do thorough research and try to come up with the latest technologies to make cooking easier. They make sure to keep health standards in mind when introducing a new model.
All the frying pans made of aluminum pans today are actually coated with a non-stick layer or anodized to prevent the aluminum metal from coming into contact with the food. This makes them perfectly safe to cook food in even with acidic ingredients like tomatoes.
According to a study in the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the average adult is reported to consume approximately 10 mg of aluminum daily. Aluminum is naturally found plants we eat and processed consumer goods like toothpaste, nasal spray, cosmetics and buffered aspirin. Some antacid tablets even contain up to 200mg of aluminum.
This shows us that aluminum is actually impossible to avoid completely. Many people do not realize that they’re already consuming a fair amount of Aluminum in their diet.
Moreover, Aluminum is a substance that is very poorly absorbed in the human body. In the case that aluminum is ingested, it does not easily enter our blood. This further minimizes the danger of any oral intake of aluminum from cookware.
Furthermore, many people are afraid of accidental aluminum intake because it has been previously linked to causing Alzheimer’s. However, this is far from the truth and only a myth according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
There is actually no concrete evidence to link Alzheimer’s to aluminum intake currently so people shouldn’t be so paranoid about aluminum intake or using aluminum pans.
Why is an Aluminum Pan Anodized?
Anodization of aluminum pans is essentially the process of putting the Aluminum through an electrochemical process to form a layer of aluminum oxide.
This thin layer of aluminum oxide will then act as a barrier on the surface against the aluminum metal. This layer is strong and hard and will prevent further oxidization of the metal. It will also make the surface of the pan nonreactive.
The best part is that anodized aluminum will not peel off with time. It is actually fused into the aluminum metal beneath so it will never peel off or chip off, making it a great way to prevent scratches. The layer of anodized aluminum will also keep the aluminum core inside your frying pan covered.
Last Few Words
We hope we have helped you understand the usefulness and appeal of an aluminum pan.
The tips given in this article will surely help you make the most of your pan and prolong its working life. We have also clarified that you can use an aluminum pan only in the bake mode of your microwave.
You may also like the following articles: