What is Anodized Cookware?
Anodized Cookware is aluminum cookware that has been passed through an oxidation process in which the cookware is immersed in a chemical bath and an electronic current is applied. This effectively oxidizes the surface of the cookware.
This process adds hardness and durability to the cookware plus the aluminum core provides excellent heat conductivity.
Anodized aluminum is a popular cookware option among cooks, and you will often see it on display when you are shopping for new pots and pans. But what exactly is anodized aluminum cookware, and why is it worth the additional price?
How Does Anodization Work?
- When air touches aluminum, a chemical reaction takes place which causes the aluminum to create a thin protective layer that resists corrosion, rusting, and pitting. Over time, however, this natural coating will decay meaning that even the highest quality aluminum cookware will eventually become pitted and useless. Furthermore, most cookware is not made of pure aluminum, and alloys oftentimes have a weaker natural protective layer.
- Anodization involves placing the aluminum or aluminum alloy in a chemical bath consisting of electrolytes like sulfuric acid and then running an electrical current through the bath. The result is a protective layer that is thicker than the naturally-occurring oxidation process, and which resists corrosion for a longer time.
- An extension of this process involving higher voltage and lower temperature produces ‘Hard Anodized’ pots that are harder and have an even more durable cooking surface.
What Are the Advantages of Anodized Aluminum Cookware?
The anodization process gives aluminum cookware a hard inner layer with a smooth, non-stick surface. Furthermore, this layer is highly non-reactive, which means that it won’t be discolored as easily and it won’t pass on any strange flavors to your foods.
Some other advantages of anodized aluminum include:
- Won’t dent as easily as regular aluminum.
- Food won’t stick and burn.
- Easier to use – requires less stirring and scraping.
- Washes up more easily.
- Healthier – requires less cooking fat, and no metals will leak into your food.
- Darker color retains more heat, saving energy costs
- Twice as strong as steel.
- The heavier weight helps it sit better on your heating element.
- Costs less than stainless steel, with many of the same properties.
- The anodization process allows the aluminum to hold dyes so that pans can be made in festive outer colors.
Storing Your Anodized Cookware
- Even though anodized cookware has been treated so that it won’t dent or scratch as easily as stainless steel cookware you still need to take care of how you store your cookware.
- You can stack the pots on top of each other, I place the largest pot on the bottom of the stack, invert the lid and the next size up fits nicely into it. This helps to keep the stack sturdy and stops it from falling over. However, a pot rack or slide-out drawer are good options for storing cookware.
- It’s not a good idea to place your hard anodized cookware inside non-anodized cookware as the hard surface may damage them.
How Well Does Anodized Cookware Clean Up?
- I find that my hard anodized cookware cleans up beautifully in hot soapy water. I have been using my set for quite a while now and I haven’t had anything stick to the surface that doesn’t wash off easily.
- However, some anodized cookware may not be completely non-stick. In this case case you can use a soft scrubbing brush to remove any stuck on bits of food.
- DO NOT use harsh cleaning products or steel wool scourers to clean this cookware.
Is it Safe to use Hard Anodized Cookware?
Hard anodized cookware is considered safe to use. Since it locks in the aluminum contained with the cookware, the amount of aluminum that leaches from the cookware is negligible. Even if you do happen to get some aluminum into your foods is it going to harm you? According to the Alzheimers Society:
Current research provides no convincing evidence that exposure to trace elements of aluminum is connected to the development of dementia.