Are Copper Pans Safe to Cook With?
Copper cookware is timeless and visually pleasing. These pans are favored for the fact that they evenly distribute heat when cooking food, and they cool down pretty fast as soon as you have finished cooking, allowing for a faster clean up time.
Are copper pans safe to use, though? If you’re wondering about this, then you’re only among the many who also ask the same. We all know about non-stick pans being not the safest cooking pan to use, but what about the more traditional copper ones?
Are Copper Pans Safe to Use?
The majority of copper pans are safe to cook with when used in the correct way. However, many pans are designed with a special coating, and this can sometimes leak into food during cooking.
There are also some older copper pans that aren’t even lined, and so they should be used with caution. Why is this the case? And how does coating even get into food?
- Dissolved Coating
When acidic foods, such as tomatoes, are cooked in copper cookware, this can cause the copper coating to be released into food. This copper is extremely toxic to humans, and so if you want to cook more acidic foods, it’s better to avoid copper cookware altogether.
When consuming too much copper, this can lead to copper toxicity, also known as copperiedus.
- Scratched Coating
When it comes to cleaning your copper pans, doing so improperly will end up scratching the copper coating off, and this will seep into your food next time you cook with it. Therefore, if you want to clean your pans the correct way, try to refrain from any abrasive cleaners, tough scouring sponges, or sharp tools.
If any of your pans do become scratched, it is better to throw them out or use them as a decoration instead.
- Unsafe Coating
You might also want to consider the age of the pans. Older cookware was mostly coated in nickel and tin, which, nowadays, we know are rather unsafe for food use. If you use older cookware and not sure which coating it has, it’s better not to use it for cooking purposes.
The best copper cookware to use for cooking should be lined with stainless steel, as this is safe to cook with.
How to Practice Safe Cooking
Below we offer some recommendations that you can take into consideration when it comes to cooking with copper pans.
Buy Non-toxic Varieties
If you want to avoid the possibilities of having chemicals leak into your food, it is highly recommended to purchase and cook with non-toxic cookware. This will be pans and pots that have been specially manufactured with natural materials and not laced with chemicals.
Purchasing non-toxic from the beginning will remove the risk of having any chemicals mixed in your meals and lessen the risk of becoming ill. Examples of non-toxic cookware brands include brands such as:
Greenpan offer pans that are coated in Thermolon, which is a substance that cannot be broken down below temperatures of 450°. As well as this, the company uses less energy to create their pans, so you will be saving on the production side at the same time.
Ecolution offer pans with a coating that is applied with water, rather than a solvent. These are aluminum-bottomed, heat very well, and can even be used in a dishwasher for a quick and simple cleanup.
If you have a set of copper pans that you absolutely cannot part with, then it’s important to clean them the correct way. When it comes to cleaning your copper pans, you want to make sure you don’t go too harsh so as not to remove the protective layer between the copper and the food section.
- Simply fill a sink with warm water, and add some dish soap until the water starts to bubble. Place your copper pan in the water so that all the remaining food stuck on the pan is immersed.
- Then, allow the pan to remain there overnight. This will soak up, and any burnt food remnants will be softened with the soap and water mixture.
- The next day, using a plastic scrubber, gently scrub away any burnt food particles (which should be easier than before). Again, it is important not to use any abrasive cleaners and brushes as this might risk scratching the coating.
- Once the food is removed, simply wash the pan under running water, and you should be good to go!
If you find that some of the stains are tougher to remove, then another good remedy is using lemon and salt to rub along the surface. This can sometimes work a treat by increasing shine at the same time.
Do Not Pre-heat the Pan
As we have mentioned, copper pans come with their coating, which can be highly toxic. It is better never to pre-heat your copper pans as this can risk burning and the release of toxins from the coating. Instead, place all your ingredients in the pan before turning on the cooker.
Cook at the Right Temperature
Again, to avoid burning the protective coating in the copper pan, it is recommended to avoid cooking at higher temperatures or open flames. Too high a flame will risk the coating to melt. The ideal method is to set the heat to medium-high rather than a high one.
Use Correct Cooking Utensils
What you use when cooking is also a factor to consider. To avoid scratching your copper pans, opt for silicone or wooden kitchen utensils in order to better preserve the inner lining.
Using harsh metals may end up in some light scratching of the surface over time, and therefore, lead to leaking during cooking.
Are copper pans safe to cook with? Copper pans can be safe to cook with, but it depends on a few different factors, including their age, how you clean them, and what foods you cook on them.
If you have copper pans, it is highly recommended that you clean them properly and try to cook acidic foods using other pans.