For heat distribution, nothing beats copper cookware. By a margin of 2:1, copper cookware beats the best of aluminum, stainless steel, or cast iron. Since copper can be toxic if used on the inside of pots and pans, it is found either on the outside of the cookware, or clad in between layers of other materials.
Since copper is the best at heat distribution, it is natural that chefs and serious home cooks are drawn to it. When used in/on cookware, it provides the best and most accurate way to heat a pan/skillet/saucier. Copper cookware is more expensive than other cookware materials. Because of its expense, copper cookware is not as common as cast iron, stainless steel, or anodized aluminum.
When used on the outside of cookware, copper adds an attractive bright and shiny appearance. Since raw copper is sensitive to acidic foods and staining, special care needs to be applied to cookware with a copper outside.
Far more common is cookware with a copper clad layer inside of aluminum or stainless steel. Clad on the inside, copper adds its superior heat distribution qualities to aluminum and stainless steel. It is common to see copper on the very inside of 3, 5, and 7 ply cookware.
It is always recommended to read the care and use instructions of your cookware. When using copper clad cookware, refer to the care and use instructions of the exposed surfaces. For copper finished cookware, special care does need to be taken.
Copper is the cookware material of choice for chefs and serious home cooks. Its heat distribution characteristics are unmatched. When used as an outside surface, copper offers a unique and attractive appearance to any serious kitchen. If copper cookware is of interest, please read our article Choosy Chefs Choose Copper Pots and Pans.
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