Hard Anodized Cookware vs. Non-stick Cookware: What is the Best Non-Stick Cookware?
Non-stick cookware has been the most popular cookware in millions of home kitchens around the world, since the slippery cookware coating that prevents food from sticking was developed in the 1940’s, and marketed to the public in the 1950’s by DuPont as Teflon® coated non-stick cookware. There are now several types of non-stick cookware on the market today. In addition to coated non-stick cookware, a popular type of cookware that prevents food from sticking to the pan is hard anodized cookware, which was developed by leading cookware manufacturer Calphalon in 1968. This type of non stick cookware is popular with professional chefs and home cooks who want PFOA-free non-stick cookware.
The goal is article is to help you understand the differences between coated PFOA-free non stick cookware and hard anodized cookware so you can determine which is the best non stick cookware for your needs.
Problems with Non-stick Cookware for Professional Chefs
While Teflon coated non stick cookware was an immediate hit with home cooks, and to this day remains a popular type of cookware for daily use in home kitchens, even though most non stick cookware is now made with a natural PFOA-free non-stick coating, professional chefs quickly found that Teflon coating was unsuitable for the rigors and high temperatures of an industrial kitchen. The Teflon coating can scratch or chip easily, if used with metal utensils, thus rendering the cookware useless and even dangerous. In addition, high stove top and oven temperatures that are often above 450 degrees Fahrenheit in professional kitchens can actually cause Teflon to liquefy and give off toxic fumes. Some studies show that toxic particles of PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic acid) or PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) can be transferred to the food, where these odorless particulates can contaminate food and lead to potentially dangerous health risks.
Non-stick cookware remains a popular and safe cookware in home kitchens where oven and cook top temperatures rarely exceed 350°-400° F and wood or silicone utensils are often used. Many home cooks though have chosen to convert to hard anodized cookware to get the benefits of non-stick cookware without the risks of coated non-stick cookware.
Searching for a Alternative to Teflon coated Non-Stick Cookware
The desire by professional chefs to find a safe alternative to Teflon coated non-stick pans that offers the same non stick capabilities as Teflon, without dangers of exposure to PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) and PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic acid), that was as sturdy as stainless steel yet prevented food from sticking, lead several cookware manufacturers to search a new revolutionary cookware. Calphalon hit the mark in 1968 with it’s invention of the first hard anodized cookware that eliminated the risks of non-stick cookware and yet was sturdy enough to withstand the punishing conditions of an industrial kitchen.
What resulted from this dilemma was a new type of cookware called Hard Anodized Cookware, which offered the best features of each type of cookware in one:
- light weight like aluminum pans
- heats up quickly and evenly
- sturdy like stainless steel cookware that can handle high temperatures common in a professional kitchen
- can handle metal utensils without scratching, cracking or chipping
- has a superior non-stick surface like Teflon coated pans, but without the risk of Teflon
Several companies now make hard anodized cookware for home and professional kitchens. For instance, Rachael Ray Cookware produces a popular and affordable hard anodized cookware line as does famed TV chef Emeril Lagasse with his Emerilware Hard Anodized Cookware made by All-Clad.
What is Hard Anodized Cookware?
In 1968, Calphalon invented hard anodized aluminum cookware, which encompasses the best featured of non-stick cookware, stainless steel skillets and durability of cast iron cookware. Hard Anodized Cookware is aluminum cookware that has been put through an electrochemical bath that hardens the aluminum to the strength of stainless steel cookware, and has a layer of oxidization that gives the cookware the non-stick consistency of Teflon-coated pans. I am sure you are wondering about the benefits of hard anodized cookware? This light weight professional quality cookware has been shown to be extremely durable, resists scratches and is nonporous, meaning it won’t absorb smells from the food that has been cooked in it. This is important for high volume professional kitchens, where the pan may be used to cook fish in one dish, cleaned and then used to cook a pasta dish without transferring smells or flavors from between dishes.
Benefits of Hard Anodized Cookware
- Made from light or medium weight aluminum
- Pans are as hard as stainless steel cookware
- PFOA Free non-stick cookware
- Oxidization process creates a non-stick surface
- Cookware can withstand high oven temps up to 400° Fahrenheit
- Doesn’t scratch or chip
- Nonporous to resist absorbing food smells
Is Non-stick Cookware Safe?
For the average home cook, who uses their non-stick cookware regularly at medium or lower stove top temperatures or at 350° Fahrenheit, does not abuse or scratch it and uses wooden or silicone utensils, coated non stick cookware is generally safe. As long as you use utensils that won’t scratch the non-stick coating, you do not put it in the oven above 350° Fahrenheit (or per manufacturer’s instructions) and hand wash as directed, you should get several years of risk free use.
The best non-stick cookware I have used is STONELINE PFOA-free non stick cookware. This cookware is made with a natural micro-stone coating that is 10 times harder than other types of non-stick cookware, and no oil or fat is required for healthy cooking. You can read my STONELINE COOKWARE review here.
The dangers of using PFOA or PTFE coated cookware are only a concern for people who:
- use their cookware heavily and the Teflon coating can be chipped or scratched by using metal utensils
- if you often cook food at high stove top or oven temperatures above 350°
- if you are prone to burning food
- if you wash your cookware in the dishwasher and not by hand
If you are in the market for new home cookware for yourself, as a house warming gift or as a wedding gift and you are trying to decide on hard anodized cookware vs. non-stick cookware, follow the tips in this article to help you decide which is the best non stick cookware to get. If this is for your use, determine the amount of cooking you will be doing on a daily or weekly basis; will the cookware be used frequently or infrequently; and finally what is your budget? If this is wedding or house warming gift, hard anodized cookware will definitely be a step up from most non-stick cookware, and the recipient will enjoy years of use.