Is Stainless Steel Cookware Toxic?

Last Updated on October 23, 2022 by Amanda P. Brown

No, stainless steel cookware is not toxic. “As long as it contains at least 16% chromium, stainless steel cookware is OK for use with food”, according to the National Sanitation Federation (NSF). 

Most cookware is made of stainless steel, containing 18% chromium. And the hardness and non-reactivity of the stainless steel cooking surface demonstrate its safety by preventing bacteria growth and food contamination with harmful amounts of metals.

Please read the entire article to know is stainless steel cookware toxic or not.

Is Stainless Steel Cookware Toxic- Brief Explanation

Once there were only two materials for tableware: wood and clay. With the advent of metal, especially since people learned how to process it, the range of materials has expanded significantly. Only from metal did they learn to make copper, cast iron, aluminum, enamel, Teflon, melamine, and stainless steel dishes.

Stainless steel is considered one of the most reliable and safe (after cast iron, of course).  

Ilya Petunov, an expert in the safety and quality problems of stainless steel cookware, still does not doubt this: there can be no harm from such dishes if we are talking about high-quality products. The most valuable property of stainless steel is its corrosion resistance. It allows us to call it eternal material.

Anti-corrosion properties of” stainless steel” are given by the primary alloying element chromium, which is part of it. Steel with a twelve percent chromium content is called stainless, and if the chromium content exceeds 17%, it is already corrosion-resistant stainless steel. It is completely safe in terms of protection against chemical reactions.

Why Some People Think Stainless Steel is Not Safe?

At the beginning of the 21st century, the markets of most countries were flooded with stainless steel dishes from Asian markets. Mostly from China, Korea, and India. Its manufacturers not only advertised their products but also, using unfair competition, misled the consumer about the quality of the goods of other companies. 

In addition, the low price of their products gave them an advantage. Then, the term “harmful dishes” appeared, which caused the most controversy about stainless steel dishes.

To reduce costs, Asian manufacturers have replaced 304 steel grades containing chromium and nickel with grades 201 and 202, in which part of the nickel is replaced with copper and manganese. It was explained by the fact that nickel allegedly gives undesirable chemical reactions. 

However, Ilya Petunov strongly disagrees with this. According to him, numerous studies have shown that nickel can in no way give a chemical reaction since it is in a solid steel solution. 

Also, as already mentioned, the required chromium content gives anti-corrosion resistance, preventing undesirable chemical compounds’ formation.

What is the Danger of Stainless Steel Cookware?

Stainless steel cookware poses no significant risks, but there are specific situations in which stainless steel can cause harm to our health. Some details are below: 

Cheap Stainless steel dishes with copper content can harm your health. And there is no need to conduct particular research on this. The food prepared in it has a characteristic metallic taste. And that’s not the worst part. 

It begins an oxidation reaction when you leave vegetable, dairy dishes, compote, or jelly in such dishes and keep the stove on. The staff of emergency medicine clinics has repeatedly registered cases of poisoning with such food.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns explicitly against using stainless steel cookware with high copper content. According to the agency’s experts, copper on the hob is washed out into food and causes stomach discomfort.

What does Research say About Stainless Steel Cookware?

The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, published by the American Scientific Chemical Community, refers to the research of scientists: stainless steel dishes still give some “discharge” of chromium and nickel into the prepared food. 

It is possible (specific studies have not yet confirmed this) that with the help of chromium in the body, a compound is formed that promotes the breakdown of glucose. 

However, the same American scientists found that chromium is necessary for the body during carbohydrate metabolism (according to the National Institutes of Health). The safe intake of chromium for adults and adolescents is 25 to 45 mcg per day. 

How Much Chromium Does a Stainless Steel Dish Discharge?

If we boil tomato sauce in 18/8 stainless steel (18% chromium and 8% nickel) cookware, after 6 hours of cooking, the concentration of chromium and nickel in the final product increased by 26 and 7 times, respectively. 

But the same thing, cooked in ordinary metal dishes, increased the concentration of these metals in food by 34-35 times.

Is Stainless Steel Cookware Safe?

Yes, stainless steel cookware is safe because-

  • Stainless steel is its corrosion resistance.
  • In terms of protection against chemical reactions, it is completely safe.
  • Stainless steel cookware prevents the growth of bacteria.
  • The quantity of chromium that gets into our body from low-quality stainless steel dishes will have a much lower concentration. 
  • Our body needs metals along with minerals. Nickel – a negligible amount, but chromium-much more. 

Read More: How to Cook With Stainless Steel Cookware?

Can Low-quality Stainless Steel Cookware Cause Specific Serious Illnesses?

There is no scientific evidence for this. You can find symptoms of poisoning with copper, nickel, lead, or manganese, but without scientific research, it would be wrong to associate this with stainless steel dishes of a specific brand or company.

The truth is not many people can afford good stainless steel cookware. At a price, it surpasses the enameled one. But it also belongs to the category of durability. 

When nickel is used so heavily in manufacturing, stainless steel becomes dangerous. Some doctors believe that too much nickel poses a greater risk than mercury. You wouldn’t realize how much nickel was used in its production.

Therefore, it is better to use high-quality stainless steel cookware and avoid cooking foods that could come into contact with the metal.

How to Recognize Safe Stainless Steel Cookware? 

It is difficult to assess the quality of stainless steel cookware. However, you can try a magnet to test your stainless steel cookware. 

If the magnet sticks to the cookware, then it is safe. It indicates that the cookware has no nickel in its construction. In contrast, if the magnets don’t stick to it, then it indicates that the cookware is not safe.  

Furthermore, always go for a certified manufacturer’s products. Well-known manufacturers used to have such certificates that guarantee product quality. Certified manufacturers ensure that their dishes have passed the necessary tests for sanitary, hygienic, and functional indicators.

After all, it is best to choose a high-quality stainless steel pan instead of a cheap one for safe use. Due to numerous harmful production chemicals on the surface, cheaply manufactured stainless steel may cause various health problems.

Is Stainless Steel a Carcinogen?

No, stainless steel doesn’t comprise any carcinogenic substances. So, these material-based pans or containers are one of the safest. No toxic elements emit from it, and no chance of reaction with food ingredients, so you don’t need to be bothered about it. You can wisely use it for your regular cooking.

Is There Arsenic in Stainless Steel?

No, arsenic isn’t any part of stainless steel. Including arsenic other harmful elements like phosphorus, tin, and Sulphur also don’t exist in this material. One of the low toxic contented ideal steel is stainless, that’s why it gets recommended as the safest pan for food and drinks. 

Is It Safe to Use Scratched Stainless Steel Cookware?

No, there has a health risk. Though stainless steel is the safest cookware, scratched one may create many health hazards. As scratched cookware can emits chromium and nickel potentially, they have a chance of mixing with foods and then into your stomach. So, discard such cookware for your safety sack.

When Should You Throw Away Stainless Steel Pans?

Stainless Steel pans are safe and contain low harmful components. Also, its all-over process makes it safe. But long-time use makes these pans discolored and scratched. You should not use them at the time when they have a chance to expose and mixed with foods. So, kindly replace your old stainless steel every 5 years. Otherwise, you may face health issues.

Read More: How to Care for Stainless Steel Cookware?

Final Verdict 

So, I hope you have already gotten the answer of is stainless steel cookware toxic and also aware of the details concerning stainless steel cookware. Besides being good-looking, stainless steel cookware produces no pollutants and has no adverse effects on food.

You May Also Like to Read:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top