How to Use Aluminum Bakeware Safely

by Sarah Healthy LivingComments: 78

Aluminum bakeware
Part of being a savvy homemaker is knowing when to fork out the bucks for new kitchen equipment and when not to.   That being said, I noticed a number of years ago that it can be rather costly to replace aluminum bakeware with stainless steel or enameled bakeware and for what?

Yes, aluminum is a toxic metal and you definitely don’t want it in your food for fear of long term health implications like Alzheimer’s Disease.  But, that is no reason to toss out your perfectly good aluminum cookie sheets, cake pans, and muffin tins!

You see, aluminum as it relates to bakeware is only released if you scratch it.  This I remember quite vividly from college Chemistry class.

Therefore, when removing cookies and the like from your aluminum bakeware, just take care not to use metal utensils that can easily scratch the aluminum and release this metal into your food.   Wooden spatulas would be the best choice for handling the food when working with aluminum.

There also is no risk from aluminum vapors when baking with aluminum bakeware.   The heat used for at home baking is not nearly high enough to cause inhalation dangers like what workers at aluminum plants experience.   Heating of aluminum must approach its melting point for vapors to be released (1220 F).   My oven doesn’t even get that hot when on “self cleaning” mode.

Using Aluminum Bakeware Safely

If you want to be extra careful, use unbleached parchment paper as a cover on top of the bakeware and have your food touch that instead.  For aluminum muffin tins, use unbleached baking cups.

This same approach would be advised for aluminum foil.   I see folks putting vegetables and butter in foil and wrapping it tightly to roast them .. all of which is perfectly safe.  The problem arises when they open the foil after cooking and scrape the veggies into a bowl with a metal fork!  This is a no-no.   Make sure you use only wood or plastic utensils when dealing with foil!

Watch out for store bought pie crusts that come in aluminum pie pans too.  While there is nothing wrong with baking your pie in a decent quality pie crust from the healthfood store, it becomes a problem when you cut that pie with a metal knife which scratches the aluminum pie pan underneath the food!  I’ve been to many a potluck where I wouldn’t eat a piece of pie in an aluminum pie crust pan that had been cut with a metal knife!

One last word of caution – watch out for ice cream machines.   My Cuisinart ice cream machine has an aluminum interior as do many other models.    Again, this is fine and safe as long as you don’t use a metal spoon to scrape out the last bits of ice cream that get stuck to the sides!     A small wooden spatula or spoon works great here and will not scratch that aluminum in the least.

Make Sure to Ditch Aluminum Cookware Though!

Of course, cookware is another issue entirely.  Aluminum should be avoided in that case as cooking acidic foods in aluminum can leech the metal into the food.

But as for bakeware, I still am using the same aluminum equipment I’ve used for years and have no plans to replace it with expensive stainless steel or any other material for that matter.

Teflon is a No Go in Any Form

While it’s possible to salvage your aluminum bakeware (not cookware) and still use it safely, make sure you ditch all Teflon kitchen items. Here’s a great article on why you should not use Teflon cookware OR bakeware:

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

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