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Is Copper Cookware Safe?

Cleo Addams has a M.S. Degree in Natural Health & Nutrition. She enjoys researching and writing in her free time.

Old Copper Pans

Old Copper Pans

Are Copper Pans Safe?

The short answer is yes, it's safe to use copperware if it's lined with something like tin or steel and you use wooden utensils to keep the coating from getting scratched.

Cooking and storing food in copper cookware and containers is safe as long as the copper is coated and items are re-tinned or replaced when the lining wears thin. Also, be sure to use wooden utensils instead of metal so that you won't scratch the lining.

If you’re reading this article, then you’re probably already aware that non-stick pots and pans are not the safest to use, but what about copper cookware? Copper cookware is fanciful, timeless, and aesthetically pleasing, but it’s also loved for its ability to distribute heat evenly through your food during the cooking process and cool down fast when removed from the stove. It also minimizes the danger of scorching.

The Two Types of Copper Cookware

There are two different types of copper cookware: uncoated and coated.

  • Uncoated cookware is dangerous because the copper molecules can leach into your food during the cooking process. Too much copper in your body is poisonous and can lead to copper toxicity (copperiedus). Note: This also goes for uncoated copper containers used for storage. Acidic foods can break down the copper and it can contaminate your food.
  • Coated copper cookware is lined inside with metals like tin and stainless steel. This keeps the copper molecules away from your food. However, if the coating becomes scratched or starts to break down from general wear and tear, then you’ll need to throw the cookware away or send it to a place where they can restore the lining for safe use.
Copper Stew Pot

Copper Stew Pot

Which Is Best: Coated or Uncoated Copper Pans?

Reading some reviews from chefs online, most rave about the traditional tin over copper combo and swear that it’s better than stainless steel over copper. The choice here is due to fast heating and the fact that if the tin coating wears out, you can get it retinned without buying a new pot or pan. Sure, tin lined copper cookware can be a little pricey, but it may be better than buying a new piece of cookware when the coating wears thin.

When Did We Start Cooking With Copper?

The exact time period in which humans started cooking with copper is unknown, but copper artifacts have been discovered that date back to 9,000 B.C. However, lining copper cookware with tin did not come about until the 18th century. Tin doesn’t take away the copper’s ability to distribute heat; it just keeps the copper from leaching into the food.

Can you line old copperware to make it safe to use?

Fast forward to present day. Now manufacturers have pretty much moved away from using copper cookware with tin linings. Instead, they mainly use stainless steel over copper. Unfortunately, this type of cookware cannot be relined.

Retinning Copper Cookware

References:

  • Wikipedia: Copper toxicity, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copper_toxicity, Accessed 11/21/17
  • What My Home Wants: The History of Copper Cookware, http://www.whatmyhomewants.com/the-history-of-copper-cookware/, Accessed 11/21/17
  • Brooklyn Copper Cookware: Pure Metal Cookware, http://www.brooklyncoppercookware.com/pure-metal-cookware/, Accessed 11/21/17

© 2017 Cleo Addams