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I am looking at different ceramic frying pans, e.g. this lagostina one, but from reading the product description it is really hard to figure out what metal is the main body of the pan made of. For health reasons, I'm hoping to find one that uses steel rather than aluminum, but the manufacturers seem reluctant to explain it. Is there a general recommendation for how to find a ceramic pan that uses safe metals?

  • UPDATE: when looking at it in the store - the actual package of the pan in question ended up clearly indicating that the metal underneath the coating is aluminum, so I chose a different product. – Joe Nov 29 '14 at 18:31
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There is no material which is "typically" used. The ceramic coating works on different bases, and I have seen both aluminum pans and steel pans with it. There are probably other types too.

If the manufacturer won't tell you what a given pan is made of, there is no way for anybody else to tell.

  • X ray fluoresence could probably determine metal composition right through the ceramic coating: niton.com/en/portable-xrf-technology/how-xrf-works – Wayfaring Stranger Nov 28 '14 at 19:17
  • The weight of a steel pan will be higher in comparison. But XRF to detect iron will work, tough it might be a bit overkill :-) – Johannes_B Nov 28 '14 at 19:31
  • When I said "nobody can tell", I assumed the usual sources available before buying. The weight is a good hint, but not completely reliable. Especially with modern sandwiched pans, you cannot calculate the density as if it is a single blob of metal and go by that. If we assume that the OP is holding the pan in a physical shop, a very light pan will most probably be alu, but a mid-heavy pan is not proof that there is no alu in it. – rumtscho Nov 28 '14 at 20:05
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If the manufacturer uses the metal in the description or marketing material, that's the best way to tell. Enameled cast iron comes to mind.

Why, though, are you worried about the metal under the 'ceramic'? The enameled cooking surface should be nonporous, so the underlying metal won't ever contact the food unless the surface is damaged, in which case you would probably want to discard the cookware regardless or the underlying metal. I'd be more worried about the material used in the enamel than the metal underneath when considering the safety/health risks of enameled cookware.

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Use a magnet to check if it is iron or steel.

  • Both iron and steel can attract a magnet. – Mr. Mascaro Dec 2 '14 at 20:53
  • @jbarker I think Basic meant to check if it's one of {iron or steel} as opposed to another metal such as aluminium. But this is still not a conclusive test, because there are many pans with steel outer surface and aluminium layers sandwiched in the bottom. – rumtscho Dec 2 '14 at 21:30
  • @rumtscho, and it's even more inconclusive because there are non-magnetic steel alloys. – Mr. Mascaro Dec 2 '14 at 21:35
  • A lot of stainless alloys used for cookware (pots and pans, not cutlery!) are non-magnetic; and a lot of cookware (aluminium too!) has a layer of magnetic steel embedded in the bottom to make it induction compatible. – rackandboneman Sep 6 '16 at 9:44

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