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Is it safe to use scratched stainless steel cookware?

Stainless steel cookware is considered a good choice of cookware for the kitchen. It is the most popular kitchen utensil in North America. It is strong, durable, corrosion resistant, and easy to maintain. However, it does scratch if not used and cared for properly, making us wonder if it is safe to use scratched stainless steel cookware.

Stainless steel cookware is made of iron, chrome, and nickel. When abrasive materials are used on stainless steel pots or pans, the pot or pan can eventually get scratched. When cooking with a scratched stainless steel pot or skillet, a small amount of iron, chromium, and nickel will be released into the food. Consuming a large amount of iron can lead to excessive levels of iron in the blood, which can be dangerous and risky. The Dietary Reference Intake lists the tolerable iron intake level for adults at 45 mg per day. The tolerable level of iron intake for children under the age of fourteen is 40 mg per day. The daily intake of chromium in the United States is 35 mg for adult men and 25 mg for adult women. Cooking with nickel containing stainless steel cookware will not add a significant amount of nickel to your daily food. However, sensitive people can show an allergic reaction to nickel.

Studies have shown that the use of lightly scratched stainless steel cookware does not present any significant health risks. The amount of iron, chromium and nickel released by cooking with the scratched pot or pan is said to be less than the percentage of the total daily intake. However, if the stainless steel pot or pan is severely damaged with deep scratches or shows signs of corrosion, it is recommended to dispose of the pot or pan. Pots and pans with severe damage and deep scratches should not be used, as the amount of iron, chromium and nickel that is released during cooking is not known with certainty and therefore can cause significant health problems. It is also recommended that people who have allergic reactions to nickel avoid using nickel on stainless steel cookware.

Best of all, it is good practice to use only a soft cloth when cleaning to avoid damaging stainless steel cookware. To minimize the cause of damage, it is suggested not to use abrasive cleaners when washing and to avoid using sharp and pointed utensils when cooking. Although stainless steel cookware is sturdy, without proper care they can be damaged. When stainless steel cookware is damaged, it won’t be at its best. For example, a stainless steel pot or pan with a copper-coated bottom may lose its good heat conduction when the copper layer is scratched. Consequently, damage also decreases the pot life value and appearance of the pot or pan.

In summary, lightly scratched stainless steel cookware does not pose any health risk. Using slightly scratched stainless steel pots or pans is harmless, as only a small amount of iron, chromium, and nickel are released when cooking. Consuming a small percentage of iron, chromium and nickel, which is less than the percentage of the daily intake, does not significantly increase health problems. However, if the pot or pan is badly scratched, it is recommended that the pot or pan not be used, as the amount of iron, chromium, and nickel released during cooking can be poisonous. It is important to properly use and care for stainless steel cookware. To keep stainless steel cookware at its best, avoid using abrasive materials when cooking or cleaning stainless steel pots or pans. By doing so, you will certainly avoid causing damage to the pot or pan and therefore improve its durability and shelf life.

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