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Cookware holds food, generally for cooking on a range. Sometimes pots and pans are used in an oven or, if they do not include metal, in a microwave.

Dark gummy burned-on oil can be removed with acetone, widely available from hardware stores and in diluted form as nail polish remover.

Cookware and bakeware are containers in a kitchen for food preparation. Cookware are for use on a stove or range cooktop. Bakeware are for use inside an oven. Some utensils are used for both types of cooking.

There are many types of cookware and bakeware. The material are constructed affects the quality of the vessel and the quality of the food cooked. Factors to consider are the thermal conductivity, how food sticks in use, and the surface pre-preparation, i.e., seasoning, before use.

A factor to consider in selecting is the heat conductivity of the handle. If it is molded to the vessel of the same material Then precautions need to be followed in handling the vessel when hot. Avoid hollow handles because they are difficult to clean or dry. Additionally, a good cooking pot design has an "overcook edge" where the lid actually rests and the lid has a dripping edge that prevents condensation fluid from dripping from the lid when handling.

Common materials


Metal pots need to conduct heat well and be chemically unreactive to avoid altering the flavor of the food being cooked. These two factors are usually mutually exclusive and the vessel is a compromise between them. Clad vessels are attempt to get the bes of both. For example a copper pot clad or tinned with another metal.

Stainless steel

Stainless steel skillet

Stainless steel is good enough for most uses, although it is not as conductive as aluminium or copper. Stainless steel tends to be inexpensive and lightweight. Stainless steel has the advantage of being non reactive with most household acids. Thin-bottomed pans, often with an insignificant layer of copper, can cause uneven heating, so a layer of aluminium is often "sandwiched" in the base of the pan.

Even though stainless steel is not considered non-stick, food does not stick very strongly unless the surfaces are rough. Stainless steel is popular for saucepans and stock pots.

Stainless Steel Pros and Cons
Pro Con
resistance to scratching, denting, and discoloration poor conductor of heat
does not react with foods costs more than anodized aluminum
very versatile

Stainless Steel is a poor conductor of heat so must be clad with a core of aluminium or copper to improve heating properties. High-quality stainless has a core covering the entire pan where low-quality stainless just has an aluminium or copper bottom.

Anodized aluminium


Anodizing is an electro-chemical process that molecularly alters the surface of aluminium cookware making it stick and scratch-resistant and easy to clean. A final stage in the anodizing process seals the aluminium, preventing any leaching into food. Unlike uncoated aluminium, this cookware does not react to acidic foods, and is much more durable. Unlike stainless steel, no "sandwiching" or "cladding" is needed for even heating. Anodized aluminium cookware is generally not dishwasher safe.

Cast Iron

Cast iron takoyakiki pan

Cast iron is denser than other pan materials, making the pans unparalleled at retaining and evenly distributing heat, but also somewhat heavy. Therefore these pans are excellent for applications such as searing, or any time when a pan must stay hot even as ingredients are added.

The pan retains its heat better than most other materials. They can also be put under a very hot grill or into a barbecue or campfire — something that would completely destroy a non-stick pan — as they are all-metal and would have to be melted to suffer damage. Contrary to popular belief, acidic foods can be cooked in cast iron, provided they are removed from the pan as soon as cooking is complete.

Cast iron pans can be used for other kinds of cooking as well, although their heaviness makes them somewhat awkward for making, say, crepes, or any other kind of cooking where the pan needs to be moved around a lot during cooking. Cast iron is also less conductive than other materials such as aluminium and copper. This results in the aforementioned excellent heat retention, but also means that cast iron cookware takes longer to heat up and cool down.

Cast iron needs to be seasoned to provide a more-or-less non-stick surface. This process involves heating oil so that it polymerizes and binds to the pan. This creates a non-stick surface chemically similar to a plastic coating. Some people see this need for seasoning as a drawback; however, because the seasoning can be removed (with steel wool, even!) and reapplied as needed, cast iron pans can be maintained in excellent condition far beyond the life of a typical non-stick pan.

Properly cared for, a cast iron pan can last for generations. Thus they are an excellent value: extremely durable, costing less than all but the cheapest non-stick pans, while outperforming all but the most expensive cookware. The main drawback is that they will rust if washed in a dishwasher or left soaking in water. Also, they should not be washed with harsh, lye-based soap, as this will remove the seasoning.

They can be effectively cleaned with a stiff brush, plastic wool, or by rubbing with a paper towel, vegetable oil, and any salt, used as a mild abrasive. Prior to putting them back in storage, if you heat them up, empty, for few minutes, any remaining dampness will evaporate. Generally these retail for no more than US $20.

Cast Iron Pros and Cons
Pro Con
heat retention Very heavy
durability requires proper cleaning immediately after use.
can use at very high temperatures
non-stick if seasoned properly
Ideal for searing or frying, long-cooking stews, braised dishes

Cast iron cookware has been around a long time. It is not unusual that cookware is passed down for generations. Some cooks consider cast iron a good choice for egg dishes, while others feel the iron adds an off-flavor to eggs. Cast iron is ideal for searing or frying, long-cooking stews, braised dishe. Other uses of cast-iron pans include baking, for instance for making cornbread, cobblers and cakes.

Bare cast iron must be seasoned properly and cleaned proper immediately after each use. Enamelled cast iron is cast iron that has a vitreous enamel glaze applied to the surface to allow easy thorough cleaning.

A seasoned pan has a stick-resistant coating created by polymerized oils and fats. Seasoning is a process by which a layer of animal fat or vegetable oil is applied and cooked onto cast-iron or carbon steel cookware. Typically, pre-seasoned cast iron cookware (seasoning or coating applied by the manufacturer) is stripped (removal of seasoning through either chemical, electric, or physical means) and is re-seasoned by the user, as most users have their own preferred method of seasoning. A seasoned pan is typically not placed in a conventional dishwasher or washed with soap, as this may strip the pan of its seasoning and lead to rust as well as quality and performance issues. This practice exists because of the past use of lye in soaps, however, most modern soaps no longer contain lye, but have other ingredients that may affect the cookware. Therefore, it's generally advised to avoid the use of detergents and soaps.

Because other cookware cleaning techniques like scouring or washing in a dishwasher can remove or damage the seasoning on a bare cast-iron pan, these pans should not be cleaned like most other cookware. Some chefs advocate simply wiping them out after use, or washing them with hot water and a stiff brush.< > Others advocate washing with mild soap and water, and then re-applying a thin layer of fat or oil.< > A third approach is to scrub with coarse salt and a paper towel or clean rag.< >

Enameled Cast Iron

Enameled cast iron Dutch oven

Enamelled cast iron cookware — typically, casseroles or Dutch ovens — enables cooks to take advantage of the heat retention of cast iron while also providing a non-stick, non-rusting, non-reactive, light-coloured surface (the light-coloured surface makes it easier to monitor how foods are browning). The thickness of the cast-iron core helps guarantee even heating and prevents "hot-spots" and warping from occurring, even on electric stoves.

Some care must be taken in use and storage, as the enamel surface is vulnerable to chipping.

The main drawback of enameled cast iron is expense, with pieces typically being 3-5 times more expensive than their cast-iron counterparts. The enamel is naturally non-stick and cleans easily, but may crack, chip, or discolour over time, particularly if improperly cleaned. Exteriors are generally available in a rainbow of colours.

Carbon Steel


Like cast iron, carbon steel needs to be seasoned and is vulnerable to acid foods. Like stainless steel, carbon steel is lightweight and inexpensive. Carbon steel can be slightly better than stainless steel on an induction-based cooktop. Carbon steel is very popular for woks, particularly the large round-bottomed ones, and is becoming more popular as an alternative to cast iron in pans.



Aluminium is lightweight and inexpensive. It conducts heat well, especially if it is thick. This allows for even heating and fast response to desired temperature changes.

Aluminium usually has a non-stick surface inside it. With or without a non-stick surface, aluminium is vulnerable to scratches. A connection between aluminium and Alzheimer's disease is a concern for many, although a scientific link between the two is inconclusive at best.

Uncoated aluminium is vulnerable to damage from acid foods like tomatoes. Low-grade aluminium is easy to dent. Aluminium is popular for frying pans.

Aluminum Pros and Cons
Pro con
Excellent conductor of heat Soft, Scratches easily
Inexpensive Reacts with acidic foods
Low price frequently means low quality

Aluminium is a lightweight metal with very good thermal conductivity. Uncoated and un-anodized aluminium can react with acidic foods to leach into food and change its taste. Anodized aluminium has had the naturally occurring layer of aluminium oxide thickened by an electrolytic process to create a surface that is hard and non-reactive.



In Western cooking, the best pots were made out of a thick layer of copper for good thermal conductivity and a thin layer of tin to prevent the copper from reacting with acidic foods. Copper pans provide the best conductivity, and therefore the most even heating. They tend, however, to be heavy, expensive, and to require occasional retinning. Modern copper cookware is now made with stainless steel lining rather than tin.

Copper Cookware Pros and Cons
Pro Con
excellent heat conductor high price
quick heating Needs polishing
Sensitive to temperature change Reacts to acidic foods
Choice of many Pros Scratches easily
Grades of Copper Cookware
Side thickness Grade
>2.5mm commercial or extra-fort
1 - 2.5mm utility or fort, below 1.5 mm
requires edge reinforcement
.75–1 mm planished copper hardened by hammering, performance characteristics of
thicker material
<1mm Decorative

Copper has the highest thermal conductivity among metals used for cookware construction so has fast heating with very good heat distribution. Copper does not store ("bank") heat, and so thermal flows reverse almost immediately upon removal from heat allowing for precise temperature control for heat sensitive cooking, e.e., candy.

Copper thickness of less than .25 mm is referred to as foil and must be clad to a more rigid metal to produce a serviceable vessel. Such applications of copper are purely aesthetic and do not materially contribute to cookware performance.

Copper is reactive with acidic foods which can result in corrosion, the byproducts of which can foment copper toxicity. Lining copper pots and pans prevents copper from contact with acidic foods. The most popular lining types are tin, stainless steel, nickel and silver.

Using modern metal bonding techniques, such as cladding, copper is frequently incorporated into cookware constructed of primarily dissimilar metal, such as stainless steel, often as an enclosed diffusion layer.



Glass allows food to be observed while the lid is on. Glass is heavy, because it must be thick enough to prevent shattering. To avoid cracks, avoid sudden large temperature changes (do not drop a very hot glass pot into cold water).

While not considered non-stick, food does not stick strongly to glass unless baked-on. Glass can be used in a microwave oven. Glass is generally clear or white, the latter known as Corning Ware, a product designed for missile nose cones.



Multi-ply pans are made from two or more the above materials. Oftentimes, oxidation-prone copper or delicate aluminium are "clad" in stainless steel or some other sturdier material, combining the best features of the many materials and blunting the disadvantages. Also, many pans come with glass lids to allow the user to see inside the pot or pan as the food cooks.

Shapes, sizes, etc.