Some people might not realize how much steel is used in their daily lives. Everything from the car you drive, to the food you eat with metal utensils, contain steel in some form. You might be surprised to learn how much is used, and what steel is mixed with to create other materials.
In this article, aluminized steel will be looked at in greater detail, along with how it is used, and if it can be considered safe for cooking and other uses.
What is aluminized steel?
To make aluminized steel, you need to mix iron with aluminum. This process involves the clean steel being dipped into a vat of molten aluminum that is mixed with a little silicone. This dipping process happens three times in total and left to air dry, which results in an iron core with three layers of aluminum. The outer layer of aluminum is oxidized to help prevent corrosion of the inner layers. This type of aluminized steel is used in furnaces, ovens, grills, and baking pans.
There is also a second type of aluminized steel that has a slightly different coating. This type uses pure aluminum and is used for any surface that needs to be protected such as corrugated roofing, grain bins, and air-conditioner housings. It has the advantage of being as strong as steel, but with the added anti-corrosion properties.
Is aluminized steel safe?
There is a lot of debate about how safe aluminized steel is, especially when used as cookware. The main issue that arises is whether any of the aluminum can get into your body and whether this causes any health problems.
There is research that suggests that aluminum can be harmful if it gets into the body, however, there is still some debate about how much is deemed to be harmful.
Because of the properties of the material, it can withstand high temperatures, making it idea for cookware and other housings that are subjected to high levels of heat. One of the biggest problems with aluminized steel is what might happen of the oxidized protective layer is compromised.
If the top layers of the aluminized steel are eroded or scratched, then this can cause the steel core to be exposed to the elements. This core can then rust and contaminate food or cause damage to the material it is protecting.
Is aluminized steel bakeware safe?
One of the issues that keep recurring is whether aluminized steel bakeware is safe. There seems to be a common thought that in general, there should be no issues with using this type of bakeware. However, there can be issues if they are used in certain ways.
For example, if you are using abrasive cleaning products on the aluminized bakeware, then this can damage the protective layer. In the same way, using any utensils that can scratch the surface should be avoided.
The main problems are that small pieces of aluminum could potentially get into food, and the steel core can start to rust and contaminate food.
Are aluminum cookie sheets safe?
Cooking with aluminum cookie sheets is safe, but it is important that certain precautions are taken to ensure that they stay safe for their working life.
The first thing to be sure of is that you are not using any metal utensils on the cookie sheet when removing food. Even if you can’t see any damage, small scratches can remove the protective layer.
Another thing to be careful of is not to cook anything acidic on the cookie sheet. The acid can damage the protective layer and cause the same problems as scratches.
Although many people now have a dishwasher, cleaning aluminized cookware in these machines is a bad idea. Again, the chemicals in the dishwasher powder can erode the protective surface of the cookware.
If the cookware gets damaged in any of these ways, then it is best to stop using it. Otherwise, you might find small amounts of aluminum can contaminate food. Also, the sheets will start to rust from the steel core, which again is not good for cooking with.
Although there is no problem cooking with aluminized steel, care should be taken when using and cleaning them. It is, however, good for many other non-food related uses that make aluminized steel the perfect choice.
Aluminized steel vs Stainless steel
There are a few differences between aluminized steel and stainless steel. Although both can be used in the kitchen environment, most commercial premises use stainless steel for their surfaces and splash guards.
Aluminized steel doesn’t have the same aesthetics as stainless steel, which is why most kitchens use stainless steel. There are two types of aluminized steel, one coated in silicone for cookware, and the other pure aluminum for heat and corrosion resistance.
Stainless steel comes in three forms:
- Ferritic Grades – Contains chromium and carbon
- Martensitic Grades – Contains more than 0.1 percent carbon and chromium
- Austenitic Grades – Containing at least 10 percent nickel
The last grade is the best quality stainless steel and is therefore perfect for cooking environments. This is because it has the best anti-corrosion properties and is mouldable, so can be turned into tables and kitchen guards.
Aluminized steel has the advantage over stainless steel in this department, which is why it is the preferred metal for exhausts. It handles heat much more effectively than stainless steel, which can deform if it gets too hot.
Stainless steel is the winner in this respect. Because of its composition, it has great anti-corrosion and anti-rust properties. Aluminized steel has an outer oxidized layer that protects the material. If this outer coating is damaged, then it can start to rust.
Because of its low production costs, aluminized steel is cheaper than stainless steel. However, stainless steel is used more in cooking because it lasts longer despite the increased cost.
Aluminized steel is the best for machine housing and other jobs that need heat resistance without the need to be food grade.