When it comes to cookware materials, aluminum and stainless steel are two of the most common options. At first look, they seem to be the same. However, deep under their appearance, they are different in more ways than one. From heat distribution to safety, you must understand the properties of each material.
If you are clueless about how these two materials are the same or different, read this aluminum vs stainless steel cookware guide and we’ll help you decide.
All About Aluminum Cookware
Aluminum is the second most abundant element in the Earth’s crust, next to silicone. No wonder, it is known for being easy to source. Aircraft, automobiles, and phones are some of the most common products that use aluminum as their main material.
If you will choose aluminum, you will have two choices. The first is hard-anodized aluminum, which has been treated using acids and electrical current. The result is that it has a hard surface. You will also find non-anodized aluminum, which can be toxic, as we will talk about later on.
Benefits of Aluminum Cookware
Need more compelling reasons to choose aluminum as the main material for your cookware? Below are some of its notable benefits.
- Affordable: As we have earlier mentioned, aluminum is an abundant material. The result is that it is cheap. If you are looking for budget-friendly cookware, it is hard to go wrong with aluminum.
- Lightweight: Another good thing about aluminum is that it is a lightweight material. It can be annoying to have heavy pots and pans in the kitchen, especially if you cook a lot. Using aluminum cookware will not cause significant hand strain.
- Highly Conductive: Next to copper, aluminum is the second most conductive material, making it a great choice for the kitchen. Because of this, you can expect that it will heat and cool quickly.
- Recyclable: If you are looking for an eco-friendly cookware material, then it will be hard to go wrong with aluminum. This is a recyclable material, so you are doing something to help lessen waste.
Drawbacks of Aluminum Cookware
However, to have a fair discussion of cookware materials, let’s also look at some of the reasons why you might want to avoid aluminum.
- Prone to Chemical Reaction: One of the biggest problems with aluminum is that it can react to certain acidic foods, such as tomatoes. This will disturb the top layer of the cookware and chemicals can get in contact with your food, which can end up being a health hazard. This problem, however, can be avoided if the aluminum is anodized.
- Easily Discolors: Speaking of chemical reaction, another thing that you might not like with aluminum is how this material is prone to discoloration. This is especially if you often cook acidic food, including dishes that use vinegar, tomato, and citrus, among others.
- Not Durable: Aluminum is a soft metal. This means that it can be easily prone to bending or breaking, if not used properly. If you are looking for cookware that will withstand many years of use, aluminum isn’t the best.
All About Stainless Steel Cookware
Stainless steel is an iron alloy that contains at least 10.5% chromium. Chromium produces a thin coating at the surface of stainless steel. The thicker the coating is, the better is its ability to resist corrosion.
Benefits of Stainless Steel Cookware
If you are not yet convinced that stainless steel is a great cookware material, below are some of the benefits that you need to know.
- Durable: One of the best things about stainless steel is that it is almost indestructible, so you will be confident that it can withstand many years of use. It does not easily chip or peel.
- High Heat Resistance: We also like how stainless steel cookware is heat resistant, even in the oven. There’s no problem even if you are cooking in high heat. This is unlike aluminum, which is a soft material and can be easily damaged.
- Requires Low Maintenance: With stainless steel, you don’t need to exert too much effort when it comes to care and maintenance. Cleaning is easy, especially considering how it is dishwasher-safe.
- Non-Reactive Surface: This is one of the most notable benefits of stainless steel when compared to aluminum. The surface won’t react to acidic food, which also means that you don’t have to worry about toxic chemicals getting into your food.
- Attractive Appearance: Stainless steel cookware will make a stylish addition to the kitchen. The polished surface will make your cookware look good.
Drawbacks of Stainless Steel Cookware
However, stainless steel cookware also has some problems, including those that we’ll be briefly talking about below.
- Heavy: Compared to aluminum, one of the biggest drawbacks of stainless steel is its weight. Especially in pans or in other cookware wherein you will use only one hand, the weight of stainless steel can be quite a burden for some users.
- Poor Heat Distribution: Stainless steel has a reputation for being a poor conductor of heat. Aluminum does a better job if you want cookware that can distribute heat evenly. When you are using stainless steel, food can be prone to hot spots.
- Expensive: Between the two materials that we are comparing in this guide, stainless steel is more expensive Nonetheless, considering that it can withstand many years of use, you can expect the best value for every dollar you will spend.
We hope that after reading this short article about aluminum vs stainless steel cookware, you can now decide which one is the better option. They may look the same, but these materials have varying properties. Aluminum is cheaper, lightweight, and a better heat conductor. Stainless steel, on the other hand, is more durable, non-reactive, and heat resistant. At the end of the day, different manufacturers have different technologies, which significantly change the quality of their cookware, regardless if it is made of aluminum or stainless steel.