Cookware Materials


Copper is the most heat conductive cookware. Copper will permit the cook to have total control over the heating of the pan. When heat is applied the pan responds immediately by transmitting heat quickly and evenly to all sides of the pan. Likewise when the heat is removed the pan immediately begins to cool rather than retaining heat. Control over the temperature is extremely important when cooking delicate recipes such as those for sauces.


Aluminum is second to copper in heat conductivity. When heat is applied the pan responds immediately by transmitting heat quickly and evenly to all sides. Aluminum cookware can be found in an anodized state or natural. Anodized aluminum has become popular in the last few years because it makes the surface harder and therefore it is easier to clean. The anodized aluminum is less reactive with acidic foods than the non-anodized aluminum.

Carbon Steel

Carbon steel follows behind aluminum in its heat conductivity. Carbon steel is typically used in woks. You also find this as the core metal on some enamel covered cookware lines. Carbon steel, unless seasoned well or lined with another material, will rust.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is a poor conductor of heat by itself. As a result most stainless steel cookware will be clad with another metal, such as aluminum or copper to aid in heat conduction. A good grade of stainless steel is 18/10 though you can find 18/8 in some cookware products. 18/10 is the ratio of nickel to chromium. Stainless steel is an affordable durable material that can withstand the use of metal utensils.

Cast Iron

Cast iron is a poor conductor of heat, however once it has reached the desired temperature it will retain heat for a long time. Therefore cast iron is often preferred in casseroles or Dutch ovens where slow cooking is required. Cast iron cookware can be found in its natural state which is a gray color. Following purchase, you should season your cast iron to prevent rusting. Some cookware lines are enamel coated cast iron. This cookware offers all the benefits of cast iron, the weightiness of the iron and the heat retention, while the enamel makes it possible to use the cookware in both the kitchen and at the table as serve ware.

Non-stick Surfaces

There are many non-stick surfaces. Generally speaking one should be careful with cookware that is non-stick because the surface can scratch. It is suggested that one use utensils recommended for non-stick surfaces such as wooden or nylon and this does not include metal utensils. Non-stick surfaces are not only popular because of their ease during clean-up but also because they lend themselves to healthy cooking. Most non-sticks allow the cook to omit or use minimal amounts of oil while cooking.

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