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  • Pans

    I have seen the terracotta dishes and the cast iron pans used in several videos, but I was wondering about aluminum pots and pans. At such high heat would they begin to emit anything that they don't at lower temps?

    We have several "sizzle" plates that we use in the house oven to warm up and keep meats warm during dinner that are aluminum and I would like to get several pans to saute items in the WFO with.

    Anybody with any thoughts?

  • #2
    Re: Pans

    Aluminum melts at ~1200F. Your oven will most likely not ever see that temp, but hearth temps of ~1000 F are not at all unheard of and either way, it's too close for comfort. Aluminum is a fairly unstable metal to begin with. Heating it up makes those molecules all the more reactive. Probably not the best thing for your health even in lower temperature situations.
    You can get cast iron sizzle plates. They work better anyway.


    • #3
      Re: Pans

      Aluminum would probably be fine to use in the entry way, where the heat is not as intense, but cast iron is probably the best way to go.

      Also, aluminum may cause some discoloration on your floor bricks.

      But I use a heavy aluminum sheet pan just inside the entry to cook cheesy-garlic bread sticks for appetizers. I just turn the pan 180 degrees half way through cooking.
      No problems for me.
      Last edited by asudavew; 08-19-2010, 09:33 AM.
      My thread:
      My costs:
      My pics:


      • #4
        Re: Pans

        Thanks for the answers splatgirl and asudavew! I didn't even think of the aluminum melting to be an issue.
        Cast iron it is.


        • #5
          Re: Pans

          Hi Roobqn!

          Your question provides a good opportunity to remind everyone to be careful of what metals are in their oven. Galvanized iron is a big no-no for the zinc will vaporize at oven temps and is a bad neural toxin. It is probably a good idea to not put any even remotely questionable metals in your oven.

          As splatg suggests, aluminum is potentially troublesome. I would suggest making sure aluminum is NOT in the oven when firing and is kept away from the coals during cooking. It should be okay, but it is getting close to trouble if it is on the coals or during firing. Keep in mind fire is not the only concern with aluminum. Acids (such as tomatoes and vinegar) attack aluminum and create aluminum salts that can be ingested and they aren't good for you either.

          It is probably worth noting that Teflon is bad news at only 450 degrees or so - keep it out of the oven - even at the entry it could easily overheat and fume.

          Cast iron is probably the only really safe metal for all oven conditions. Oven safe pottery is the other choice.

          Good Luck!
          Last edited by texassourdough; 08-24-2010, 07:40 PM. Reason: Correct tin to zinc!


          • #6
            Re: Pans

            I don't know if you have a Cost Plus World Market or a middle eastern grocery near you, but I picked up a dish called a karahi at the World Market for around $10 that is just fantastic. It's an Indian wok-like stainless steel bowl with a flattish bottom. I can put it in the oven, saute, boil, bake, roast, whatever. I like it enough that I bought 3 more!



            • #7
              Re: Pans

              Last year all of our Cost Plus World Markets (2) pulled out of our market, we have a slew of mexican and asian and one medditeranian but going to have to look into middle eastern grocery, thanks for lead Stan.

              I stopped into our resturaunt supply store to browse their pans. Wanted to see what stainless steel was going to cost me. Before I got to looking I walked though the discount area and found 4 cast iron skillets 3 8 inch and one 10 no price tags on them. I knew I would be getting a good deal just because of that. Walked out with the pans for 29.00 bucks.

              So thanks for advice from all of the above who recommended cast iron, I would probably not have even thought of that even though I have seen them in pictures being used.

              On a side note picked up a new Lodge double sided cast iron griddle (one side smooth one side grated) and that cost me $50.00.


              • #8
                Re: Pans

                yep, my cast iron skillets see heavier use in the WFO than anywhere else. And now that you mention it, I have that same lodge griddle but for some reason never thought about it for the wFO. Duh.
                I have several skillets in a couple of sizes, but my favorites are the OLD ones that came from church rummage sales and garage sales. And I see them all the time at Marshalls or TJ Maxx for $5-12 depending on the size.


                • #9
                  Re: Pans

                  Cast iron rocks!


                  • #10
                    Re: Pans

                    According to the following Food Safety site aluminum cookware (unlike exposed copper cookware) is not hazardous to your health.


                    FWIW, here are two pans utilized by the chefs at the First annual FB Expo last spring. If memory serves me, one oven (salmon) was about 650F and the other (garlic) was between 700-750F.
                    Attached Files


                    • #11
                      Re: Pans

                      I have serious doubts that the folks cited in that paper have studied aluminum at the kind of elevated temps we can create in wood fired ovens. My concern here is that at high WFO temps we enter "unknown" territory and there are reasons to have concerns about aluminum (just as there are for many other metals) My preference for cast iron reflects its thermal stability and the lower concern for problems. But acids should be kept out of it (and aluminum).

                      It is the combination of a tight, hard, durable aluminum oxide coating and the fact that it oxidizes almost immediately, thus reforming the protective layer - that makes aluminum "safe" and stable under normal conditions. Acids and aluminum are a bad combination for you will get aluminum in the acidic liquid. Nice science experiment - put a slice of lemon on a piece of aluminum and come check it tomorrow morning. (As a general rule, metals should not be in contact with acids for a large percentage of them will pit and erode and leach metallic ions into the juice which will often taste weird (metallic) even if not harmful).

                      As has been pointed out aluminum melts at 1200 and alloys no doubt melt higher. There should be no problem with temps up to 800 or 900 degrees. The concern in wood ovens arises from the potential of very hot temps that could easily be in the range of the melting point when in contact with coals and such. At the metal approaches melting the reactivity of the metal rises and leaching would be more likely. I would fully agree that aluminum used at temperatures reasonably below the melting point should not pose any concern. But...I would say some caution in hot, fired WFOs would be appropriate.