Are Copper Pans Safe?

Are Copper Pans Safe?

When you’re buying cookware, one of the first things you need to ask is whether it’s safe to use. You don’t want to end up with any dangerous wares that could cause damage to either you or your family. In this article, I’ll help you find out whether copper pans are safe, and whether you should use them or not.

Two Types Of Copper Pans

Before we start, I should mention that there are two specific types of copper pan. The distinction between them will tell you if the copper pan is safe to use or not. 

Uncoated Copper Pans

Uncoated copper pans are more dangerous to you, as when you cook, copper molecules can get into your food as you do so.

The reason this is dangerous is that if you have too much copper in your body it can poison you and could even lead you to suffer from copper toxicity.

This can also be said for any type of uncoated copper, whether you use it for food storage or anything else. If you store acidic foods in there, the copper will break down and contaminate any food you have stored there.

Coated Copper Pans

Coated copper pans have a lined interior of other metals such as stainless steel and tin. These metals prevent the copper molecules from getting absorbed into your food, but there is a catch. You need to ensure none of the coatings of your pan become scratched.

Even if it starts to break down, you should keep an eye on it to ensure that the copper doesn’t seep in. If you can’t restore the lining, you’ll have to buy a new pan. The best way to prevent scratches is by using wooden utensils when you’re cooking.

Overall, coated copper pans are a better option. But what sort of lining should you get for your coated copper pan?

Linings For Copper Pans

Popularly, we mentioned how tin and stainless steel are two of the most popular linings utilized for protecting copper pans. But what are the benefits that come with using each one?

Tin Lining

Tin is popular because it has a smooth nonstick surface that can conduct heat almost as well as copper, so you don’t lose any advantages from cooking with it. You’ll find that it’s unlikely to get into any food you cook, and it’s easy to clean.

However, it also is far softer than other metals used for cooking. It’s also much more liable for both scratches and dents.

If you do use a tin lining for a copper pan, you need to ensure that you rely on wooden utensils for cooking and make sure you clean it gently.

You also need to know that tin melts at 450 degrees Fahrenheit, so you need to make sure that you are careful when it reaches between fifty degrees of that temperature.

Stainless Steel Lining

While stainless steel doesn’t conduct heat to the same standard as copper or tin, by applying a thin layer, you can still keep strong heat conduction on your copper pan.

The best thing about stainless steel is that it doesn’t tarnish, nor does it oxidize or rust. You can even rest easy knowing that it won’t be easily dented or scratched.

In fact, you could even run it through the dishwasher, so long as it’s approved by the manufacturer’s instructions. Unfortunately, these types of pans do have a rougher surface, so food will likely stick to them far more easily. So, you will need to clean more thoroughly.

What Is The Best Way To Use Copper Pans?

What Is The Best Way To Use Copper Pans?

Due to their powerful heat conduction, it’s always best to use copper pans on a low burner setting compared to other metals.

Even distribution should still be good, and copper itself has a nonstick surface. You can use copper pans for sautéing and frying. They’re also great to use for warming milk as you don’t need to worry about hot spots that will affect the milk.

So long as you’re aware of the thermal properties of copper, you should be safe to use them. However, if you’re not accustomed to metalling so responsive to heat then you should best avoid it until you become more confident and comfortable with them.

Maintaining Copper Pans

Copper pans are expensive, so you want to ensure that they’re looked after but you can also show them off. If you want to store them, you could put them on a display, and keep them outside of closets. While you will end up with more dust on them, they can be easily washed off before use. 

If you store them in a closet, then they can be stacked but you need to ensure they don’t dent one another. The best way you should store them in there is by using separators on your shelf.

While the stainless steel variant is more resistant to damage, the copper itself is still soft so you should keep them away from any other metallic cooking pans in there. It will tarnish over time, so you can either polish them or let them continue to tarnish.

If you do choose to polish them, you can use a mixture of lemon, baking soda, and vinegar. You could also use a salt scrub too. 

Ideally, you should also ensure you clean them properly. You should always hand wash them gently with dish soap and a sponge to get rid of any residue. Never use a dishwasher or scouring pads if you want to prevent damage.

Conclusion

Overall, copper pans can be safe to use so long as you care for and maintain them properly. Copper pans are expensive, but they’re also easy to dent and scratch, so to avoid this you should get a coated copper pan with another metal lining it.

If you don’t, just make sure that you ensure that they don’t become scratched or the copper will leak into your food, which will in turn put you at risk of having too much copper in your body.

Brandon White
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