Most of us think that the stainless steel cooking ware is better as it is the most popular choice these days. It is also believed that stainless steel cookware is safer with little health risk. Similar to other cooking ware such as aluminum and cast iron pans, there is also a way to either use the pans safely or foolishly. If you know how to use the stainless steel cookware safely, you can use the pans for a long time. However, if you do not know how to use stainless steel cookware in a safe manner, then there is potential health risk danger exposed.
Before we continue, it is important to emphasize that this article does not intend to freak you out. There is also no need to throw out all stainless steel cookware from homes and trade it for new pot and pans. This article is simply intended to educate you on choosing the best stainless steel cookware and provide a guide to use it wisely.
The human body has complex defense system which protects the body from troublesome compounds and a wide range of toxic for reasons. There are many toxic and other troublesome compounds get into our bodies such as from food and air. Some of us may not aware that sometimes the cookware that we use everyday leaches toxic substances into the food like when we use non-stick or stainless steel pans. Even though our body can take the toxins in many ways, but it is better to know the proper way to use stainless steel cookware.
What is Stainless Steel Cookware?
The word stainless refers to the ability to corrosion and rust resistance. Stainless steel is actually an iron-based and low carbon steel. To increase the strength and corrosion resistance, other metal alloys are always added such as aluminum, manganese, nickel, sulfur, and silicon. The combination of metal alloys determines the stainless steel cookware. However, every stainless steel cookware always contains around 10% chromium. When using nickel alloy, stainless steel becomes non-magnetic and has high resistance to acidic food.
Stainless steel is not a good heat conductor; therefore it is usually made of copper or aluminum core. The copper and aluminum sheet sandwiched in between stainless steel to improve the healing ability of the pot. This becomes the stainless steel cookware safety concern in case the copper or aluminum sheet is grooved, scratched, or worn.
All Stainless Steel Cookware is not Made the Same
Even though all stainless steel cookware looks the same, but they are divided into grades and types. The stainless steel grades are usually identified by numbers such as 304 or 302. The three digits numbers describe the quality, temperature resistance, and durability of the cookware. The second number used to differentiate stainless steel comes in a pair such as 10/0 and 10/18. This paired number indicates the percentage of nickel or chromium alloy used in the cookware.
For example, stainless steel number 304 is equal to 18/8. This stainless steel grade is often known as surgical stainless steel. It is considered as the minimum grade of cookware one should purchase. Meanwhile, the stainless steel grade 18/8 and 18/10 are the most common types of cookware as well as food applications. There are still other types of stainless steel grades on the market that you should consider before buying.
The Safety Facts of Stainless Steel Cookware
Steel mainly consists of iron and also a small amount of carbon. The main problem of iron is it prone to rust. That is why iron cookware should be “seasoned” well to prevent rust and corrosion.
- The potential toxic heavy metal – the fact is some metals have high resistance to rust and forms of corrosion. Nickel and chromium happen to be the two metals which are resistant to rust and corrosion. Combined with iron, the three metals create a product with high rust and corrosion resistant. Therefore, these three heavy metals are included in stainless steel to make a durable, functional, reliable, and beautiful product. Even though it is a great combination, but the downside is the two heavy metals, chromium, and nickel, are known to trigger health issues for some people. The health issues associated with these two metals are acute contact dermatitis for around 10% of people who exposed to nickel, mostly women. In addition, single consumption of nickel around 67 micrograms found in one tomato based sauce cooked in stainless steel pans may cause eczema symptoms. More consumption of nickel can lead to Alzheimer’s symptoms.
- Nickel and chromium – excessive contamination of nickel and chromium can lead to several health issues. However, the health risks of nickel contamination are far worse than chromium. This is because there is no single cell inside human body needs a nickel. Any nickel contamination should be removed from our body. If it is not removed for whatever reason, it can result in heavy metal poisoning over time. For this reason, it is better to choose stainless steel with higher chromium. Human body still needs chromium even though in a small amount. However, if you are cooking high chromium food in stainless steel cookware, you may need to check your diet and supplements because excessive chromium intake is also dangerous for the body.
- The science of cooking with stainless steel cookware – even though there are potential stainless steel cookware dangers, but it does not mean that you cannot use stainless steel cookware. It is just you need to know the science of cooking with stainless steel cookware. When using stainless steel cookware, make sure not to use it to cook acidic food. A Certain amount of nickel and chromium will leach when cooking acidic food. For new stainless steel cookware, it is recommended to wash thoroughly using ceramic cleaning and stainless steel cleaner that are available at only Amazon.com. Then put the cookware into several cooking cycles using weak acidic solution. This process helps remove outer layer metals and excess surface. Continue the process of cooking alkaline or neutral foods using the stainless steel cookware with little risk