What Is an Anodized Pan?

Anna B. Smith

An anodized pan is a piece of cookware made of aluminum that has been exposed to the anodizing chemical process. The finished product is hard, durable, and does not scratch easily. This material is used to create a wide variety of cookware pieces that also include dutch ovens, sauce pans, and casserole pots.

Anodized pans are aluminum cookware that have been exposed to the anodizing chemical process.
Anodized pans are aluminum cookware that have been exposed to the anodizing chemical process.

The aluminum core which is used to create this type of pan is first prepared for anodization by rinsing it in a chemical bath. All surface debris is rinsed off and removed from the metal, prior to soaking it in a specialized solution. The aluminum is then soaked in a sodium hydroxide bath that removes its top surface layer and creates a slightly etched finish.

The etched aluminum is then placed in a tank of liquid that has a high concentration of sulfuric acid. An electric current is sent through this tank of acid, which causes the metal inside the solution to become an anode. Negative anions are attracted by the chemical reaction of the aluminum with the electrical current, and cause the metal to become aluminum oxide. Finally, the newly anodized pan is exposed to a hydrothermal chemical bath which seals the surface of the metal. The metal, at this point, has become non-porous and cannot absorb any new materials.

An anodized pan is typically more durable than a stainless steel pan. The unique process of chemical treatments which the aluminum undergoes makes it both scratch and stain resistant. Food, oils, and cleaning agents may be easily wiped off of the hardened surface without leaving behind any trace residues. Metal utensils, the use of which is typically prohibited with all other kinds of non-stick materials, such as Teflonreg;, can be used on this type of treated surface. The natural qualities of the aluminum from which the cookware is made still allow the pan to evenly conduct heat across its surface.

The exterior of the anodized pan may be made from any type of metal, and some cookware manufacturers use the anodizing process to treat the entire pan. Pieces made through this type of process are thus resistant to scratching and staining on both the exterior and interior. Food and other materials are prevented from burning onto the bottom of the pans in the same manner that the cooking surface is protected. Other manufacturers may use stainless steel, non-anodized aluminum, or copper to treat the bottoms of their pans.

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