Copper cookware is a classic showpiece that professional chefs and culinary luminaries enjoy, but it doesn't last forever. If you're wondering how long copper pans last and when it might be time for a replacement, continue reading.
What Is the Life Span of Copper Pans?
Copper pans can last years and even decades, depending on their frequency of use and how well-maintained they are. The type of copper pan can also significantly affect its life span. There are two types of copper cookware — lined and unlined:
- Lined copper cookware: Lined or coated copper cookware has a coat of non-reactive, food-safe metal such as tin or stainless steel. This type of cookware is safer for cooking. The metal lining provides a barrier between your food and the copper, keeping it protected from leached metals and preventing copper poisoning.
- Unlined copper cookware: Unlined or uncoated copper cookware has copper on both the inner and outer surfaces. These pans can allow copper into food, making them potentially dangerous. Enjoying one meal cooked in an unlined copper pan probably will not make you sick. However, cooking in unlined pans consistently poses more of a risk. Copper can accumulate in your system, resulting in copper toxicity or poisoning.
Copper may degrade over time when exposed to oxygen and acidic foods, like tomatoes and citrus. Copper reacts to acidic foods and requires extra caution while cooking to avoid damaging the lining. To extend its life span, try to avoid scraping or scratching the inside of your copper pan. Scratches can expose the copper beneath, which might react with your food.
Cleaning and polishing your cooper cookware after each use can also extend its life span. Proper maintenance can prevent your pans from oxidizing and becoming green like an old penny.
Additionally, lined copper needs to be re-tinned after a few years, depending on how often you use the pan. A coppersmith can assist you with this. They'll melt tin and rub it over the pan's interior before polishing and buffing out dents in the copper.
Is It Time to Replace Your Copper Pan?
We're familiar with food expiration dates, but it's more challenging to know when to replace kitchen tools and utensils, like copper pans. Almost everything will need to be replaced at some point. But how do you know when to do it? Here are a few signs it is time to replace your copper pans:
Damaged Copper Coating
The first significant sign that it's time to replace your copper pans is when they have sustained damage. Many individuals cook with copper equipment because it is a heat conductor that evenly cooks your food. However, practicing caution while using copper cookware is best — even a minor scratch or break can pose a health danger.
Copper may leach into your meals and accumulate in your stomach. If you get copper poisoning, you may experience symptoms like abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and headaches. While the inside of copper cookware can be re-tinned, the process can be costly. If re-tinning is out of your price range, it is advisable to get rid of your copper cookware.
Warped cookware will not leak dangerous chemicals or coating pieces into your food but will impact cooking quality. Warping can occur if you remove a pan from the heat and immediately run it under cold water.
To test whether you have a warped pan, lay it on a flat surface. If it wobbles, the pan is warped and your food will not get heated uniformly, meaning certain sections may get overcooked or undercooked.
There are various possible causes for a broken handle. Some cookware handles are not totally heat-resistant and may melt and fall off when cooking.
Similarly, if you have a pan with a loose handle that cannot be tightened with a screwdriver, it's time to get rid of it. When you pick up and carry a copper pan with a broken handle, you risk injuring yourself or spilling or dropping whatever's inside.
How Do You Know When to Throw Away Copper Pans?
If you can live with a warped copper pan or a broken handle — although this is quite inconvenient — then you're free to do so. However, if your copper pan is damaged and you want to buy a new set rather than search for a specialist to recoat it — that's how you know when to throw away copper pans.
The main thing to remember is that copper is reactive. Acids may leach copper into food, which can be detrimental over time. As a result, most copper cookware is lined with tin or stainless steel.
Tin, like copper, is a pure element with amazing properties. However, tin has a low melting point. When left unattended on a hot stove, it's easy to reach this melting point. Tin is also a soft metal that may become damaged by utensils or harsh cleaning. A tin lining can survive many years if cared for properly, but every copper pan will require re-tinning at some point.
Stainless steel lining is a recent concept, as bonding copper and stainless steel is considerably more challenging. The benefit of stainless steel is its durability. The negative is that it is highly adhesive — food can stick to it without proper oiling. A broken stainless steel-lined copper pan cannot be easily repaired, and you might have to throw your copper pan away if it sustains damage.
Copper Pan Alternatives
If you feel that copper cookware does not suit your kitchen needs any longer, look into cookware that uses different materials. Ceramic cookware is an excellent option when you're looking for cookware that is non-toxic, sustainable and free from coatings.
The primary distinction between ceramic and copper cookware is that copper warms food faster, whereas ceramic cookware cooks slower. There are several benefits of ceramic cookware, including increased safety. With careful maintenance, quality ceramic pans can last a lifetime.
Purchase Ceramic Cookware From Xtrema
While copper cookware can be expensive and takes some love and care, other options, such as ceramic cookware, are available. Many home cooks trust ceramic cookware as a healthier alternative — it contains no harmful toxicants and offers a long life span.
Xtrema can assist you in your search for 100% pure ceramic cookware. We produce our classic ceramic cookware using a combination of natural minerals and clay to offer dependable and worry-free cookware you'll enjoy using. Our cookware is artisanally handcrafted from 100% ceramic and is non-leaching, giving you more peace of mind in the kitchen.
Browse our ceramic cookware sets today to find the ideal items for your kitchen.