Fact or Fable #5: Cooking in Aluminum pans

Fact or Fable #5: Cooking in Aluminum pans

Is cooking in lightweight aluminum pans bad for your health? In Fact or Fable, we find out.
Anyone who occasionally ventures out as lightweight as possible will undoubtedly also take feather-light pans with them.

Titanium is light and strong, but also pricey. In addition, pans made of titanium burn faster. It is more likely that you heat up your outdoor sports meal in stainless steel or aluminum pans. However, stainless steel immediately falls off for diehard-ounce hunters because it is too heavy. Aluminum remains.

This metal is a good conductor of both heat and cold. It heats up quickly and that makes aluminum pans, in addition to the weight, excellent for lightweight campers.

Some studies have now shown that the intake of aluminum could increase the risk of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. However, these studies are not unambiguous and there has never been any hard evidence for a causal relationship between the intake of aluminum and Alzheimer’s.

Cooking in Aluminum pans

Aluminum pans and Alzheimer’s?

We called the University of Wageningen in The Netherlands (Wageningen University & Research), which has a Department of Agrotechnology and Food Sciences with a toxicology part. According to associate professor Dr. Hans Bouwmeester of the university, a study was published in 2020 in which research was conducted into the occurrence of aluminum in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.

That research shows that more aluminum has been found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients than in the brains of people without Alzheimer’s. The researchers thus suggest that there is a link between aluminum and Alzheimer’s.

Because this study was conducted on the brains of deceased people, it is not possible to conclude on the basis of this study that the intake of aluminum contributes to the development of Alzheimer’s.

According to Hans Bouwmeester, the daily intake of aluminum is between 5 and 20 milligrams. Only a very small part of it is absorbed by the body, the rest is excreted in feces. So pooped out. By cooking in aluminum pans, about 0.1 milligram per 100 grams of “prepared meal” ends up in the body.

This is a bit more for sour products. The tolerable weekly intake (TWI), the permissible weekly intake, is 2 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per week for aluminum. So, for an adult man or woman weighing 70 kilos, that would be 140 milligrams per week. To achieve such quantities, you have to cook a lot in aluminum and also eat a lot of products that contain this metal (think of grain products, vegetables such as mushrooms and spinach, and drinks such as tea) and also retain all of that in your body.

Forget Cooking Rhubarb

From the above story, you can only conclude that the risks of cooking in aluminum pans are negligible. You can reduce that risk even further by not stirring your pans with sharp objects, not cooking in damaged pans, and avoiding acidic products such as rhubarb, sauerkraut, or sour fruits as much as possible. But which outdoor athlete has rhubarb or sauerkraut on the menu after a day of buffeting? Exactly!

If you don’t trust it all, you can also opt for anodized aluminum. Due to a surface treatment, such a pan wears less hard and is easier to clean. The hard and wear-resistant surface also forms a kind of non-stick coating. Perhaps the most important thing for skeptics of “regular” aluminum is that cooking in anodized aluminum means that much less of the metal ends up in the food.


Fable. Cooking in lightweight aluminum pans is harmless. The daily intake of the metal is so low that it does not endanger health. You can also easily eliminate the extremely small risk that there might be by handling your pans sensibly and avoiding acidic products.

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In Fact or Fabel, we investigate rumors and stories from the travel world and outdoor sports that no one knows whether or not they are actually true. Do you have a Fact or Fable yourself, let us know.


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