Difference Between Aluminum and Stainless Steel Cookware

Today, when I stepped into my kitchen to prepare the lunch, I had two cookware to choose from, one was Aluminum and other the stainless steel. As there weren’t any words stamped on it, so I could not find a definitive way to tell which of the cookware is aluminum or steel. Have you ever faced such situation? Have you ever felt the need to know whether your pot is aluminum or steel? The best stainless steel cookware are chemically inert. Do you know that if your cookware is not chemically inert then cooking certain foods can cause a chemical reaction and release some unwanted compounds in your delicious meal. Let us know in this article, that what is the difference between Aluminum and Stainless steel cookware and we will also get to know how to differentiate the two for the preparation of my next meal.

The selection of right cookware for the job is vital, most pots used in commercial kitchens are aluminum and steel. Through the help of chefs and food experts, below is mentioned their Pros and Cons to help you chose the right cookware.

You may like this: What’s The Safest & Healthiest Cookware?

Aluminum Cookware

Aluminum Cookware

Advantages of Aluminum Cookware

Aluminum is a very soft metal which heats and cools quickly making it a  good choice for some short-order cooking which needs to be done quickly. As it is rust-free and gives consistent baking results, it is the best option for bakeware material. It is comparatively inexpensive, energy efficient, easy to clean, highly conductive and lightweight, which makes it great when you are moving pots all day or night in the commercial kitchen. Another advantage of Aluminum is that due to being sourced from the abundant material it is very affordable.

Disadvantages of Aluminum Cookware

Disadvantages of aluminum cookare

The chemical reaction between food and the cookware can cause the aluminum to leach into the food. For highly acidic or salty foods (citrus, tomatoes, chili, barbecue sauce, chutney, etc.), it is prohibited to use the aluminum unless the cookware has been anodized. Otherwise, the vegetables or meals cooked in Aluminum produce hydrogen poison which neutralizes the digestive juices and can cause stomach and gastrointestinal troubles, ulcers, and colitis. Due to this, the sale of aluminum cookware is prohibited in some countries like Germany, France, Belgium, Hungary and Brazil.

Stainless Steel Cookware

Advantages of Stainless Steel Cookware

Stainless Steel cookware are better balanced as they are heavy and are best suitable for rough handling, they are dishwasher safe, looks shiny bright and stays scratch free. Stainless Steel cookware are useful for meals which have long cook times as they can hold the heat well. Stainless Steel has nonreactive surface and is chemically inert so you can cook almost anything in it. Stainless Steel lasts longer and is more durable.

Disadvantages of Stainless Steel Cookware

Stainless Steel is more expensive and is a poor conductor of heat than aluminum. It is not recommended to cook the salty and acidic foods for a longer time period, as in some low grades of stainless steel, the undissolved salt could pit and corrode the surface of the cookware.

Some Tips to minimize reactivity

stainless steel can be mildly reactive

As stainless steel can be mildly reactive, below are three tips to reduce the reactivity:

  1. After preparation of the meal, remove the food from cookware.
  2. Acids and salts are corrosive to cookware, so when using vinegar, lemon or salt brine use a ceramic pot.
  3. Never scour a stainless cookware. If food has burned, soak the burn with baking soda, cover it and allow to soak it for a day or more. Then remove the burned area using a non-scratch pad.

How to spot? A  Stainless Steel or Aluminum cookware.

Now, to address the question of how to get to know the difference between two cookware, we have postulated the following indicators:

  1. Aluminum has less ring than stainless steel and sounds duller. To check this, rap your knuckles on an edge of the cookware or try to bang the pot with a wooden spoon.
  2. At room temperature, the stainless steel feels slightly cooler, and aluminum is slightly warmer, comparatively.
  3. The third indicator can be seen after washing the cookware. Aluminum after being washed tends to dull while stainless steel cookware remains bright and shiny.
  4. Stainless Steel has a tendency to be scratch-free while aluminum being softer, can be more readily get scratched by a key.
  5. For Stainless Steel, another indicator is sticking of a magnet. If a magnet sticks to the cookware, even weakly than the cookware is definitely stainless steel.

As for Health concerns, the research is still inconclusive if the aluminum particles that enters our bodies are particularly toxic. However, this is unquestionable that acidic compounds do break down the aluminum in aluminum cookware. So, if you do not want to have random bits of cookware or to have a different dull or bitter taste of your meal, then it is better to stay out of using aluminum cookware or go for hard anodized aluminum. In anodization, the aluminum is strengthened to become twice hardened and also it makes it nonreactive to food.

The stainless steel cookware, however, is expensive and also less energy efficient. To compensate for this limitation, the cookware manufacturers often coat the outer/underside of the pans with copper or aluminum to make stainless steel a better conductor of heat and thus hybrid cookware are chemically inert and thermally responsive for your cooking needs.

So, now you are well aware of the differences between Aluminum and stainless steel cookware. Have you enjoyed reading this article? The selection of wrong pots and pans can spoil your meal and health, so the choosing the right cookware and maintenance of the cookware are really crucial for us. I have found my pot for the preparation of the meal, have you distinguished yours, too?

Do not forget to share your views with us by leaving the comments below. If you have found this article informative and useful,  then do share it with your friends and family so they can benefit from it too. As sharing is caring.

3 thoughts on “Difference Between Aluminum and Stainless Steel Cookware”

  1. I didn’t realize that stainless steel was such a good material! It’s interesting that they are better for rougher handling. It makes sense that they would use it in big industries!

  2. You got my attention when you said that stainless steel cookware is more durable and are scratch-free. My sister and I are planning to shop for new cookware sets for our new house. We want our investment to be worthy, so we only want to choose a cookware set that can last for a long time. This is to make sure that we won’t have to think of replacing our cookware too soon.


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