Healthy Metals: A Cookware Comparison

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When it comes to cooking, people generally fall into two categories. The first category includes those who just boil water and aren’t interested in much else. The second category includes people who are meticulous about everything from what types of ingredients they add to their food to the utensils they use to prepare meals. No matter which of these categories you fall into, titanium cookware is a great option for durable, lightweight pots and pans that are safe to use.

What Is Titanium?

Titanium is a silver­colored metal that has the highest strength­to­weight ratio of any metal currently known. Titanium has found use in everything from aerospace engineering to dental and medical implants to cookware. The element is one of the least reactive known, making it ideal for high­temperature applications.

Why Is Titanium So Great?

There are a number of reasons to consider titanium cookware the next time you need to buy new pots and pans. We explore some of the reasons here, but they aren’t the only arguments for titanium cookware out there. If these arguments don’t convince you to buy titanium, a quick internet search will return dozens more.

Durability and Weight

Cast iron was the toughest, longest­lasting option in cookware for many years. It is virtually indestructible and cookware made from it is often passed down from generation to generation. The biggest problem with cast iron, however, is its weight. A single twelve­inch frying pan made of cast iron can weight upwards of seven to eight pounds. A titanium pan of the same size will weigh about eight ounces (half of a pound).

A difference of roughly seven pounds is a substantial difference in weight, but some may wonder if they are trading weight for durability with titanium cookware. As the toughest metal currently known to man, titanium is every bit as durable as cast iron. It is scratch­resistant, dent­resistant, and will not corrode.

The weight factor should not be dismissed lightly either, particularly for people who suffer from ailments like carpel tunnel syndrome. A lighter cooking pan can make cooking more pleasant. Cast iron is a great option, but it can’t hold a candle to titanium in terms of weight. This is particularly true for large cookware, like Dutch ovens. Titanium dutch ovens will weigh substantially less than those made of any other metal.

To Stick or Not To Stick

Titanium is not a naturally non­stick surface, but it also isn’t a particularly porous surface either. Most titanium cookware is coated with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). PTFE is the same chemical found in Teflon. Titanium cookware is generally easy to clean and, because less butter/oil are needed to keep food from sticking, allows for lower ­calorie cooking.

Health Factors

When it comes to safety, the critical factor is reactivity. In other words, how well does the metal interact with the food. For the most part, you want a metal that will not react with the food you are cooking or leave metal deposits in the food.

Stainless steel and copper are the most likely to react with food and to leach unwanted metals into the things you are cooking. That said, copper pans are usually coated to prevent leaching and stainless steel pans don’t leech enough metal to make them dangerous in most circumstances. Damaged copper pans should be discarded to avoid them leaching too much copper into your food.

Cast iron pans actually deposit fairly large amounts of iron into the food cooked in them. Fortunately, iron is a metal that our bodies need and so there is no reason to be concerned unless you have a condition that requires you to avoid iron. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers iron to be a healthy food additive and tens of thousands of people take iron­containing vitamins each day.

Titanium and aluminum cookware (as long as the latter is anodized) do not leach metals into food. Of course, aluminum is easy to damage and so even anodized cookware can be problematic. Titanium requires no special coatings and so even if it is damaged (something that is difficult to do), it won’t leach chemicals into your food. The EPA considers non­stick coatings used on titanium cookware to be safe.

The Bottom Line

The only place where titanium doesn’t win, hands­down, is on initial price. The metal can be hard to work with and so labor costs are higher. Of course, the cookware lasts for so long that the higher up­front cost is easily mitigated by the long lifespan of products made from titanium.

Deborah Hunter is an avid cook and writer. When she’s not cooking, she’s searching for the perfect recipes and cooking equipment. You can read her interesting articles on many of today’s home entertaining and cooking websites.

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