Stainless steel cookware is a widespread and popular choice today. Most people who use it mistakenly believe it is perfectly safe and poses no health risks. However, just like cast iron pans and aluminum bakeware, there are safe and unsafe ways to utilize stainless steel cookware.
Do not mistake what this essay is about. There’s no need to panic, toss out your stainless steel, or to spend a small amount on new pots and pans! The goal of this article is to teach you how to select the best stainless steel cookware and how to use it effectively in your house. Similar advice can be found in this post about silicone kitchenware.
The human body is very wonderful. Complex defenses enable us to deal with a wide range of poisons and bothersome chemicals within reasonable limits. Making sure you understand how to correctly handle stainless steel cookware will avoid you from pushing Mother Nature’s boundaries!
All stainless steel is not created equal.
Stainless steel is available in a variety of grades and kinds.
Stainless steel grades are commonly designated by three numerals, such as 302 or 304. These numbers describe the steel’s general quality, durability, and temperature resistance. The second number, such as 18/10 or 10/0, is connected with stainless steel. This shows the alloy’s composition, including the chromium and nickel percentages.
18/8 stainless steel is the same as 304 stainless steel. Surgical stainless steel is another name for it. It is also the most basic form of cookware to purchase!
The most prevalent types for stainless steel cookware and culinary applications are 18/8 and 18/10. There are other additional grades and varieties of stainless steel, which you may learn more about here.
Because stainless steel is a poor conductor, many high-end stainless steel cookware sets simply employ it as a cladding for an aluminum or copper core or a bottom plate made of more conductive materials.
Nickel is not required by any cell in the human body.
It’s vital to realize that humans have no recognized biological requirement for nickel!
While some animals require nickel for survival, any nickel we are exposed to must be eliminated from our bodies. Heavy metal poisoning can develop over time if this does not happen for whatever reason.
As a result, while adding heavy metals to stainless steel improves its practicality, it also makes these items more hazardous to one’s health if not handled properly.
Let’s look at how much chromium and nickel from our stainless steel cookware may end up in our food and, eventually, in our bodies.
The Science of Stainless Steel Cooking
When we use certain types of cookware, we introduce molecules from the cookware’s materials into our food. As we make meals on a daily basis, this can quickly mount up.
Cast iron is a well-known example of this, as it adds minute amounts of iron to our diet. While this is largely thought to be healthy, it is not for everyone. If you cook with cast iron on a regular basis, adult men and women, for example, should keep an eye on their iron levels. Too much iron can cause cardiovascular problems, especially in people who don’t donate blood or eat a lot of iron-rich foods.
More of these molecules are likely to end up in our meals the more acidic the foods are, the more we stir, and the longer we cook.
Stainless Steel Cookware Isn’t as Inert as You Might Think
Stainless steel is frequently promoted as a safe, high-quality alternative to non-stick cookwares such as Teflon, which may easily wind up in our air and food. It is, however, far from immune to being added to our recipes, particularly those of the heavy metal sort.
When you cook with stainless steel, how much heavy metal leaching truly occurs? It looks to be a significant amount in certain instances! The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry states:
Dined and Nickeled
What are the dangers of too much chromium and nickel in stainless steel cookware? To begin with, the health concerns associated with nickel are greater than those associated with chromium. As a result, stainless steel cookware with a greater chromium content is recommended. Our bodies require chromium in modest concentrations. There are numerous biological barriers against excessive consumption.
A word of warning. If you frequently cook with stainless steel and consume foods that are known to be high in chromium, it’s a good idea to double-check your supplements and diet. Excessive chromium in any supplement you take might raise your chromium levels to unsafe levels. Brewer’s yeast, grass-fed meat, free-range eggs, oats, broccoli, and sweet potato are all high in chromium.
Because humans don’t require nickel in our diets or bodies, its presence in stainless steel is even more troubling. Stainless steel cookware may not be suitable for extremely sensitive people.
Lower-quality stainless steel cookware greatly increases these risks. Cheaper stainless steel may leak a lot more nickel and other metals into your food.
The ubiquitous presence of SS, even in the coffee we sip,
Stainless steel (SS) is also employed in a wide range of food applications. Coffee machines, crockpots, and stockpots are examples of common appliances. These are still another source of regular and possibly high exposure, especially given the acidity of coffee.
Long-simmering bone broth with a touch of vinegar to boost mineral status in the stock might also be dangerous in stainless.
Don’t believe you’re immune from contamination because you didn’t use stainless steel cookware!
10 Safety Tips for Using Stainless Steel Cookware
Here are some useful tips and general recommendations for cooking with stainless steel safely.
Ceramic coated cast iron, such as Le Creuset and Lodge, is ideal for acidic cooking. Glass cookware is also a great and reasonably priced option. Copper cookware is also safe, albeit it is expensive. Copper is a mineral that our bodies require. Furthermore, even under acidic cooking circumstances, the amounts produced are well within our nutritional requirements.
Use different cookware for longer cooking and acidic foods like tomato-based sauces or slow simmering stocks. Toxin-free clay pots (such as Vita-Clay), glass, and ceramic coated cast iron are all safe options. Stainless steel pressure cookers, such as the Instant Pot, are not suited for cooking these types of foods, despite their convenience.
The amount of nickel and chromium leached into food reaches a steady and significantly lower level after about a half dozen cooking cycles. As a result, new stainless steel cookware should be properly cleaned before being placed through a series of cooking cycles with a weakly acidic solution. A decent ratio to use is half water and half white vinegar.
If you want to avoid (GMO) corn-derived goods, you can use pasteurized or raw ACV instead. The surplus surface and outer layer metals will be removed during this operation. Cooking neutral or alkaline meals in stainless steel after this is done poses no risk. However, if you are extremely sensitive to heavy metal, you may want to use non-stainless steel cookware for all meals.
Even after years of usage, a large quantity of chromium and nickel leaches into acidic foods from stainless steel. As a result, select different cooking equipment for these dishes!
Surgical stainless steel goods must be 304 or above. Avoid stainless steel from the 200 series. The 400 series is often the best if you can afford it, although it is often expensive.
You may need to move to different cookware if you are nickel or chromium sensitive or have a high level of sensitivity to these metals. Consider additional stainless steel goods you use, such as coffee makers and other appliances. You may be exposed to more nickel than you realize.
Some stainless steel cookware has a coating of extremely high grade 430 stainless steel if you can buy it. Other brands do not include nickel. While this equipment has little to no nickel, it does contain chromium. For people who are sensitive to nickel, there is another option for maximizing the benefits of stainless steel cooking while minimizing the drawbacks.
Be aware that stainless steel is used nearly exclusively in most eateries. When eating out, avoid ordering tomato-based dishes or other acidic foods if you are nickel or chromium sensitive or already have a diagnosed problem with excess heavy metals.
An acidic beverage, bottled store kombucha is often fermented in big stainless steel vats. For this reason, commercial kombucha should be avoided. When making kombucha or Jun tea at home, make sure to use glass or toxin-free ceramic. These beverages should also be kept in glass.
Because aluminum is occasionally placed between stainless steel layers in SS cookware, if your cookware becomes scratched or corroded (rust), you could be ingesting brain-damaging aluminum. Make careful you look after your stainless steel and recycle it if it becomes damaged.
Consumers who are well-informed are safer consumers, especially when it comes to stainless steel kitchen equipment!