Stainless steel cookware is considered a good choice of cookware for the kitchen. It is the most popular cookware in North America. It is heavy-duty, durable, corrosive resistant and easy to maintain. However, it does get scratched if not being used and cared for properly which makes we wonder if it is safe using scratched stainless steel cookware.
Stainless steel cookware is made of iron, chromium and nickel. When abrasive materials are used on stainless pot or pan, the pot or pan might get scratched eventually. When cooking with a scratched stainless pot or pan, a small amount of iron, chromium and nickel will be released to the foods. Consuming a large amount of iron can cause excessive levels of iron in our blood which can be danger and at risk. The dietary reference intake lists the tolerable intake iron level for adults as 45 mg per day. The tolerable intake iron level for children under fourteen years old is 40 mg per day. The daily chromium intake in the United States is 35 mg for adult male and 25 mg for adult female. Cooking with nickel containing in stainless cookware will not add a significant amount of nickel to the everyday meal. However, sensitive individuals may show allergic reaction to nickel.
Studies have shown that using light scratched stainless cookware does not pose any significant risk to health concerns. It is said that the amount of iron, chromium and nickel released when cooking with the scratched pot or pan is less than the percentage of total daily intake. Nevertheless, if stainless pot or pan is severely damaged with deep scratches or shown signs of corrosion, it is recommended the pot or pan should be discarded. Severe damaged with deep scratches pots and pans should not be used since it is uncertain of the amount of iron, chromium and nickel released when cooking, and therefore might cause significant health concerns. It is also recommended individuals who have allergic reactions to nickel should avoid using nickel containing in stainless steel cookware.
Best of all, it is a good practice to only use soft cloth when cleaning to prevent damaging stainless cookware. To minimize the cause of damages, it is suggested abrasive cleaners are not used when washing, and avoid using sharp and pointy utensils when cooking. Although stainless steel cookware is resilient, without proper care, it can be damaged. When stainless cookware is damaged, it will not be at its best performance. For example, stainless pot or pan with copper-coated bottom can lose its good heat conduction when the copper layer is scratched. Consequently, damages also lessen the pot or pan's lifetime value and appearance.
In summary, light scratched stainless steel cookware does not pose any risks to health concerns. Using light scratched stainless pot or pan is harmless as only a small amount of iron, chromium and nickel be released when cooking. Consuming a small percentage of iron, chromium and nickel which is less than the percentage of daily intake does not add significant to health issues. However, if the pot or pan is deeply scratched, it is recommended the pot or pan should not be used as the amount of iron, chromium and nickel released when cooking might be poisonous. It is important to properly use and care for stainless steel cookware. In order to keep stainless cookware at its best performance, avoid using abrasive materials when cooking or cleaning stainless pot or pan. By doing so, it certainly will prevent causing damages to the pot or pan and therefore enhance its durability and lifetime.