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Hard anodized cookware is a type of aluminum cookware that has been electrochemically altered. It is generally much more durable than other types of cookware, and it heats quickly and evenly. This type of non-stick cookware can also typically be used over very high heat without damage. On the other hand, these anodized products are generally more expensive than regular aluminum cookware, and they also typically require a bit more maintenance.
Many experts agree that using aluminum cookware may pose some health risks. Certain foods, particularly acidic foods, may react with the surface of this cookware, which can cause aluminum to leech into the food. Consuming large concentrations of aluminum has been linked to Alzheimer's disease. The protective coating on anodized aluminum, however, makes this type of cookware a little safer.
To make hard anodized cookware, aluminum must first be specially treated. It is typically submerged in a strong acid, then it is charged with an electrical current. This process creates a thick coating of aluminum oxide on the pots and pans.
One of the biggest benefits of hard anodized cookware is its strength. This type of cookware is generally much stronger than regular aluminum cookware. Hard anodized pans typically resist dents and dings.
Hard anodized cookware is also a type of non-stick cookware. This means that food rarely sticks to the surfaces of these pots and pans. They are also much easier to clean than pots and pans without non-stick coatings. Unlike cookware with traditional non-stick coatings, however, metal utensils can usually be used in them without scratching the surfaces.
These types of pots and pans can also usually be used over very high heat. They make excellent stir-fry pans, for instance. Also, since aluminum is an excellent conductor, hard anodized cookware typically heats up very quickly. Many of these pots and pans can also be used in the oven, if they have metal handles.
Since hard anodized cookware needs to go through an anodizing process, it will generally be a little more expensive than other types of cookware. Traditional non-stick cookware, which is coated with a compound known as polytetrafluoroethylene, is often a little less expensive than anodized cookware, but it may not be as durable.
Hard anodized cookware is also usually a little more difficult to care for. This type of cookware is not usually dishwasher safe, for instance. Harsh chemicals and scrubbing pads should also not be used on anodized cookware, since these can eventually erode the coating, exposing the metal beneath.
@Mor - Just people people have been using it for hundreds of years is no guarantee that it's safe. People used to use mercury and lead all the time in things and then wondered why they would contract certain illnesses, but wouldn't put the two together.
Not that I think there's anything wrong with cast iron, but it is a pain to season and keep seasoned so that food won't stick to it.
And, I've heard that the teflon scare wasn't as big a deal as people believe. It has never been shown to hurt anyone from the cookware.
Anodized cookware also seems pretty safe to me. I think people wish they could wrap themselves in cotton wool sometimes, but really most products are pretty safe because they get tested these days.
@pastanaga - Actually they aren't always that color. You can pretty much make anodized metal any color you want. When you think about, say, the carabiners they attach to backpacks and the range of colors those come in, you realize how many colors they can put on anodized metal.
I've seen cookware sets that have different colors, but most people seem to prefer a metal looking finish which is probably why the dark charcoal is so popular.
Personally I'd rather use cast iron because I know for sure that it's safe. It's been used for hundreds of years with no problems, unlike all these new kinds of cookware which only seem to last a few decades before someone realizes they've been poisoning us all along.
I know that anodized cookware is supposed to be the safe alternative to teflon cookware, since teflon was discovered to possibly be quite bad for your health.
I have to say that I really like the look of anodized cookware. It has a lovely dark charcoal sheen to it that appeals to me, maybe because it looks a bit like a cast iron pot.
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