There are a few tips for anodized cookware safety that will help the pans to remain usable for a longer period of time. The one thing to understand is that the anodized surface is not permanent and will, over time, wear down. The life of a pan can be extended by being careful with metal utensils, avoiding the dishwasher and watching how hot the pan gets on the range or in the oven. Some pans have polymers combined with the coating to provide extra non-stick properties, and the tips for infused anodized cookware safety are much the same as those for pans with a non-stick coating, even though the polymers used are not the same. When an anodized pan has started to lose its coating, there really is no practical option for safety other than to dispose of the pan and replace it.
Concerns about anodized cookware safety are often linked to pans that are made primarily of aluminum and the possibility that aluminum will be absorbed from the pan into food cooked in it. Anodized cookware prevents this from happening as long as the oxidized surface of the metal remains sealed and nonporous. To preserve the coating for as long as possible, metal utensils should be used carefully with the pan so years of scraping do not wear down the finish. Similarly, although an anodized pan might be listed as dishwasher safe, some dishwasher soap can still reduce the lifespan of the pan over time, so washing the pan by hand might be best.
For maximum anodized cookware safety, a pan should never be heated when it is empty. This not only creates an unsafe surface that could cause burns, but it also accelerates the deterioration of the anodized surface. If the anodized surface has been sprayed with a non-stick coating or is infused with polymers, then the heat applied to the pan could actually cause toxic gases to form or trigger corrosion in the polymers.
Avoiding abrasive substances can be a key to anodized cookware safety. Steel wool and other abrasive substances can begin to grind away at the coating, removing it slowly, much like sandpaper, over the course of a few years. Instead, pans should be washed with soft sponges and normal dish soap.
The most important part of anodized cookware safety is to know when to stop using the pan. Once the coating has been breached, aluminum will be able to come into contact with food. This can cause reactions that make acidic foods such as tomatoes develop an off flavor. If the coating starts to fade, crack or separate from the aluminum underneath, then the pan should be disposed of, along with any food that was cooking in it.