When it comes to cooking for family, friends, or guests of any kind, the very last thing that anyone wants to have to think about is whether or not the cookware they are using is safe for the kitchen.
There is a great deal of misinformation online about the safety of aluminium cookware—whether it’s pans, appliances, or anything else which is used to carry food—, and this can make for a somewhat intimidating experience when the time comes to purchase a new addition for the kitchen.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the facts and fictions surrounding the safety of aluminium, and help guide you towards an answer to the question of whether an aluminium pressure cooker is safe to use, or if you would be better off buying a stainless steel pressure cooker.
The Deal with Aluminium
We should start off with one basic fact: at high levels, aluminium is toxic. Specifically it’s a neurotoxin which means that it affects the brain.
Now this may sound alarming, and it’s certainly something to be aware of, but consider this ancillary fact: at high levels, everything is dangerous. Ingesting too much water can be deadly, and just because large quantities of something is definitely, proven to be bad for you doesn’t mean that the substance is bad in itself.
Think of medicines: the right dosage is a benefit, too much is a problem. This is the basic principle at work here, and so the question becomes one of ‘how much is too much?’
In this article from The Telegraph, a leading scientist presents the skeptical case on aluminium. He notes that it is about the most ingested metal on the planet as it is abundant in the Earth’s core and so is absorbed by most plants and ingested by most animals that humans later eat themselves. It’s also a feature of many cosmetics, some medications, and can even be found in certain food-colourings that go into making children’s’ treats and snacks.
So what’s the Issue?
From the above, limited list of the kinds of places you can find aluminium, you can see that any sense in which it is an immediate, potent threat doesn’t really exist. The problem that scientists have with us ingesting aluminium is not that they know we’re ingesting too much, it’s that there is a lack of research on the question of how much constitutes too high a dose.
Our bodies are capable of dealing with (i.e. getting rid of) certain amounts of aluminium, but the precise amount is unclear and varies per person.
It may sound like all of this is a clear argument against purchasing an aluminium pressure cooker. Like we all should go with stainless still Instant Pot and that's all.
But that’s not necessarily the case.
The fact is that aluminium is in lots of things that you actually ingest. Pressure cookers, generally, are not ingested, and so you could certainly do a whole lot worse! Of course, some microscopic amount of the surface layer aluminium may be introduced into your food, but this is very unlikely to be a direct conduit for any kind of actual harm.
All Things Considered…
The overwhelming likelihood is that using an aluminium pressure cooker will be absolutely fine. Manufacturers wouldn’t continue to make them if they were damaging people left, right, and centre.
But if you are concerned about the broader concept of aluminium ingestion, then you should know that there are alternatives on offer. Aluminium isn’t the only way, and as we discuss in our article on Electric vs Stovetop Pressure Cookers, there is a massive amount of variety within the pressure cooker market!