Nowadays, stainless steel is one of the most common and widely popular types of cookware. It is claimed to be inert and doesn’t leach any harmful chemicals to the food while cooking. But what’s the truth, Is Stainless Steel Cookware Safe? Well, stainless steel cookware is safe as long as you know how to choose the right one and how to use it safely. It is safe to use nickel-free stainless steel cookware, but they’re more prone to rust.
However, they’re hard to find out and costlier also. In this article, I’d like to share everything in detail that you ever need to know about Stainless Steel Cookware Safety Facts. Let’s check the article to know more.
Table Of Contents
- 1 Stainless Steel Cookware
- 2 Different Grades of Stainless Steel Cookware
- 3 Important Facts about Stainless Steel Cookware Safety
Stainless Steel Cookware
Stainless steel pots and pans are made by a combination of different metals and chemicals that always contains at least 10% chromium. One of the major advantages of stainless steel is that it’s resistant to rust or corrode and lustrous by nature. To increase the strength and corrosion resistance ability, alloying materials such as aluminum, nickel, sulfur, manganese, and silicon are included in it. Nickel makes the stainless steel cookware non-magnetic and extremely resistant to acidic food.
So the question is, “is stainless steel safe” with all of the above combinations? Well, keep reading, we will find the answer together.
Different Grades of Stainless Steel Cookware
Nowadays stainless steel comes in a wide range of types and grades, based on the combination of metals. There is some technical information about the grades of stainless steel cookware. Let’s have a look to know which are the safest stainless steel cookware to prepare your daily food.
200 Series Stainless Steel
Some manufacturers substitute part of the nickel constituent with manganese to lower the production cost. Although this non-magnetic steel series is cheap and also rated as food-grade, still it’s recommended to avoid them. It’s because this type of stainless steel is more prone to corrosion and can be reactive to food.
300 Series Stainless Steel
You’ll see some numbers such as 18/10 or 18/0 on the bottom of your stainless steel pot. These numbers mention the amount of nickel and chromium combined into the stainless steel. For instance, the number 18/10 indicates that the pot or pan is consist of 18% chromium and 10% nickel. The numbers 18/8 and 18/10 show that the pot or pan is part of the 300 series of stainless steel. There’re mainly two types of 300 series steel 304 and 316 are known to be the safe options for preparing everyday meals. With a higher content of nickel, the 300 series stainless steel is more resistant to corrosion and rust.
400 Series Stainless Steel
The 400 series is known as 18/0 because it contains 18% chromium and 0% nickel. However, it contains a very fewer amount of nickel at about 0.75% to increase its corrosion resistance ability.
Important Facts about Stainless Steel Cookware Safety
Is steel cookware safe? Well, the short answer is yes. However, there’re some important things that you must know before you buy and use stainless steel cookware.
According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stainless steel is considered to be safe for food contact if it has at least 16% chromium. Although stainless steel isn’t completely as inert as some people claim, however, it’s still more durable and safer than other metallic cookware like aluminum or copper.
Let’s have a look over the issues concerning stainless steel as cookware.
Chromium Leaching Issue
Stainless cookware can leach chromium and nickel while cooking. The human body needs a small amount of chromium (50 to 200 mcg for adults) daily. Unfortunately, we already get most of our needed chromium from foods like apples, dairy products, broccoli, potatoes, beef, and poultry. That means if our cookware leaches chromium to our foods, it could be a concern to our health.
Nickel Leaching Issue
The health risks from nickel are much worse than chromium. Our body needs a trace amount of nickel that we already get from different foods like nuts, grains, and chocolate. However, if you’re nickel sensitive, it is best to avoid this cookware entirely.
Are Stainless Steel Pans Safe?
Well, the answer depends on the raw materials and the making process of the stainless steel pan that you are about asking. And to know the raw materials as well as the manufacturing process, you must check the manufacturer manual before buying.
However, a stainless steel pan that comes with nickel may leach a little amount of nickel while cooking. And taking nickel regularly can be harmful to human health. So if your pan is made of high quality or 18/10 grade steel, it’s safe to use. It won’t leach any harmful chemicals or materials even at high heat cooking.
Is Burnt Stainless Steel Toxic?
No, burnt stainless steel is not toxic and they are 100% safe to use after proper cleaning. You must clean the burnt area and remove burnt food particles completely. Just make sure that the pan or pot is not wrapped due to burning.
Is Pitted Stainless Steel Safe?
According to several experts and sources, pitted stainless steel is safe to use. But in my opinion, if you have an option, you should avoid using pitted stainless steel cookware. Why? The simple answer is; you will not get any pitted problem in high-quality or food-grade stainless steel pot or pan. So if your stainless pan or pot has a pitted problem, that means there is a quality issue you should consider.
Do I Need Surgical Grade Stainless Steel Cookware?
No, Food Grade Stainless Steel Cookware is enough for regular cooking in the home or restaurant kitchen. Surgical grade steel is non-porous and more resistant to corrosion which means they are better than food-grade steel. But they are mainly used for medical purposes not for cooking as they are also expensive.
Useful Tips to Minimize the Reactivity of Stainless Steel Cookware
There are some useful tips and tricks right below. Check these following tips so that you can minimize the reactivity and health risks.
- To eliminate the risk of nickel leaching, buy stainless steel grades like 18/0 or 18/8 which contain lower nickel content. If you want you can get a 400 series stainless steel, but 300 series ones are also okay to use. However, it’s best to avoid cookware labeled 200 series as it contains a higher amount of nickel content.
- You can do the magnet test to find out cookware that has less nickel in them. Check if the magnet sticks to the sides, inside, and bottom of the pot. If the cookware is magnetic, it has less nickel in it.
- Sometimes this type of cookware comes with an aluminum or copper layer in them which can cause aluminum leaching if damaged. So, it’s recommended to take care not to damage the surface of your stainless steel pans or pots.
- It’s always recommended to avoid abrasive detergent, steel wool, and scouring pad to clean your stainless steel cookware. However, if you find any food stuck to the pan, just soak it in the water for an hour to soften it. You can use baking soda and a soft sponge to scrub your stainless steel pan gently.
Q: Is Stainless Steel Toxic When Heated?
A: No, stainless cookware is very durable and does not release any harmful toxic fumes when heated.
Q: Is 18/10 Stainless Steel Safe?
A: The numbers 18/10 are the parts of the chromium and nickel compounds added to stainless steel cookware to increase performance. The 18/10 stainless steel is not safe for those who have a highly allergic problem to nickel.
Q: Are Stainless Steel Pots And Pans Oven Safe?
A: Most stainless steel pots and pans are safe to put into the oven. However, check the manual or the box your cookware comes in to ensure that your utensils are oven safe.
Although stainless steel cookware has some potential health issues, it doesn’t mean that you cannot use it to you prepare your meal. All you need just know how to use and maintain it properly. Once you understand the way to cook in stainless steel cookware, you can cook almost everything without sticking on it. However, it’s also recommended not to cook any acidic food as it can cause leaching of heavy metal toxins. Also, it’s important to take special care of your cookware to protect them from any rust or corrode.
- Stainless Steel as a Source of Potential Hazard due to Metal
Leaching into Beverages (Source)