Non-stick pans are fantastic – they’re easy to use and quick to clean. Unfortunately many non-stick pans use potentially toxic materials and can cause medical problems over time. Thankfully there are alternatives if you’re looking for cookware with a nonstick surface. Today we’ll be looking at two options – Hard Anodized Aluminum vs Ceramic cookware.
We’ll delve into the details of each option including safety and ease of cooking. We’ll also recommend brands for you to look into once you’ve made your choice.
What is Hard Anodized Aluminum Cookware?
Hard anodized aluminum cookware is made from aluminum that has undergone the process of anodization. This adds an additional layer to the surface that makes the aluminum more resistant to corrosion and much more durable.
As well as increased durability, hard anodized aluminum also has nonstick properties which makes it perfectly suited for the kitchen.
Key points about Hard Anodized Aluminum Cookware:
- Much more durable than most other cookware options
- Stick resistant – recommend you use a drop of oil for ease of cooking
- Reduced risk of aluminum leaching into food compared to non-anodized aluminum
- Heat resistant and oven safe in most cases
- Distribute heat evenly when cooking
What is Ceramic Cookware?
Ceramic Cookware can refer to a couple of options. It can mean cookware that is made 100% from Ceramic, or it can mean cookware that is coated with a ceramic layer. As pots and pans coated with a ceramic layer are much more common than 100% ceramic cookware, this article will focus on ceramic coated cookware.
One of ceramic coated cookware’s main selling points is that it is nonstick. This makes these pots and pans easier to clean and generally an all-round good option for most cooks.
Manufacturers also claim that ceramic cookware is safer than traditional nonstick pans – specifically those with a Teflon coating. You’ll often see labels stating that the pan is free from PFOA and PTFE.
Key points about Ceramic Cookware:
- Easy to clean by hand – and you should always do so to protect the ceramic coating!
- Reduces the need to use oil when cooking
- Usually an inexpensive option
- Free from PFOA and PTFE
- Must use non-metal cooking utensils
- Usually able to withstand high heat (though always check manufacturer advice)
- Less durable than other options, expect to get a couple of years use maximum
Hard Anodized Aluminum vs Ceramic: Cooking
Cooking with Hard Anodized Aluminum
Because cookware made from hard anodized aluminum tends to be very durable, the surface tends to last a long time and they typically retain nonstick properties for many years. Though the material is more durable it is still recommended that you use non-metal cooking utensils to prolong the life of your cookware.
Whilst hard anodized aluminum can withstand high temperatures you should still use a lower heat to achieve the best results when cooking.
Cooking with Ceramic
The major benefit of ceramic cookware is the nonstick finish which makes cooking and cleaning these pots and pans a painless experience. On the flip side, the nonstick finish doesn’t last forever and depending on the brand can start wearing off quite quickly.
When cooking with ceramic cookware it is vital you don’t use any metal utensils as this will scratch the surface.
Hard Anodized Aluminum vs Ceramic: Safety
Is Hard Anodized Aluminum Cookware Safe?
There are of course ongoing concerns about the safety of aluminum as a material. There have been studies that link aluminum in the body to alzheimers disease and other illnesses and direct consumption of aluminum in high enough quantities can cause immediate health issues.
Regular aluminum cookware can react with acidic ingredients and end up in your food. On the other hand, the additional layer means that hard anodized aluminum cookware doesn’t react in this way.
Scratching the surface of hard anodized aluminum pots and pans can increase the risk of aluminum leaching into food. To avoid this you should always take care and avoid metal utensils to prolong the safety of your cookware.
On the whole, hard anodized aluminum is a safe cookware choice for most people. However, we recommend only buying from reputable US companies so you can be sure of what you’re getting.
Is Ceramic Cookware Safe?
Ceramic non-stick cookware is a relatively new innovation developed as a result of health concerns around chemicals present in other nonstick cookware at the time, such as Teflon. One of the main claims made by manufacturers is that ceramic cookware is safe and free from toxins.
Ceramic cookware is free from PFOA and PTFE, which are the primary chemicals buyers are concerned with. However it is important to note that not all ceramic coatings are the same. You should always check what the coating is made from and refer to the manufacturer’s information when buying ceramic cookware.
There have been some cases of ceramic cookware imported into the US containing traces of lead and cadmium. Again, we recommend that you always buy from reputable US-based companies so that you can buy with confidence.
Whilst it is impossible to state with absolute certainty that ceramic cookware is 100% safe, as long as you take proper care of your pots and pans (such as avoiding overheating or scratching the nonstick surface with metal utensils) you should be able to cook with confidence.
Which is better for the environment?
The environmental impact of cookware is something that is increasingly important to buyers.
Manufacturers of ceramic cookware claim that its production is environmentally friendly. However this is quite a sweeping declaration and the truth depends very much on the actual materials used in the ceramic cookware. Another point to keep in mind is that ceramic cookware is not recyclable and tends to need replacing relatively frequently. On the other hand hard anodized aluminum is more durable so may be better for the environment in that it needs to be replaced less frequently.
Hard Anodized Aluminum vs Ceramic: The Verdict
Hard Anodized Aluminum Cookware is the right choice if you….
- Want durable and long lasting cookware
- Don’t mind spending a bit more for quality options
- Want better heat distribution when cooking
Ceramic Cookware is right for you if you…
- Want to avoid PTFE and PFOA
- Don’t want to spend too much on cookware
- Aren’t looking for something that will last for years
Brands to check out
Hard Anodized Aluminum
Anolon – Anolon is a well respected cookware brand who produce a wide variety of Hard Anodized Aluminum options. Whilst their range isn’t the cheapest, they are highly thought of by customers and are a great choice for long lasting and high quality pots and pans.
Calphalon – Offering a great selection of value-for-money choices, Calphalon cookware is perfect if you want hard anodized aluminum pans without breaking the bank. Whilst their individual pots and pans are inexpensive by themselves, their cookware sets are ideal if you want to replace your existing cookware or if you have a new kitchen.
Rachael Ray – From the eponymous TV Chef, Rachael Ray’s range of Hard Anodized Aluminum cookware is an inexpensive range with a colorful design. They may not be as durable as pricier brands but are a great choice on a budget.
Cuisinart – Cuisinart offer a decent selection of nonstick ceramic coated cookware for affordable prices. Most of their range is well reviewed by customers, however the line may not be the most durable even when compared to other ceramic cookware.
GreenPan – Perhaps the most consistently well-received manufacturer of ceramic coated pots and pans, GreenPan is our top pick. They have a wide range available at very wallet friendly prices.
T-Fal – If your primary concern when buying new cookware is getting the lowest price whilst still wanting to purchase from a known brand, T-Fal is for you. Before buying, we recommend checking the details of the specific product on the T-Fal website as some of their nonstick ceramic products do contain PTFE.
Alternatives to consider
Though Ceramic and Hard Anodized Aluminum are the main options for nonstick cookware, there are other options available. Depending on your budget and level of experience, stainless steel or cast iron cookware can be a great alternative for your kitchen.