Cookware material ranges from various types of metal, each possessing unique heat conductivity and reactive properties, as well as coated metals ,such as with enamel. Non-metallic materials, including ceramic, glass, glass-ceramic and silicone are frequently used too. Differing in terms of style, the assortment of cookware materials vary according to weight, heat distribution, construction method and reactivity to food. Metal is ideal due to its high rate of heat conduction, although not all metals are equal in this regard. Not reacting to various food qualities is important as well in order to maintain flavor.
Metal cookware consists of several base materials including:
- Stainless steel
- Carbon steel
- Cast Iron
Some cookware features a metal core that has been coated with protective enamel. The porcelain-enamel coating reduces sticking and does not react with either acidic or alkaline qualities. Enamel is commonly used over steel or cast iron. Clad aluminum or copper cookware incorporates several different metallic layers to improve heat distribution and non-reaction to food.
Aluminum is used for its high conductivity and even distribution. It comes in stamped, cast and anodized varieties and can be combined with other metals in a cladding process. Aluminum is most effective when coated or anodized. Copper is typically combined with a layer of tin to prevent reactions. Cast iron is prone to oxidation, so it must be seasoned with oil to protect it. Cast iron may also react with certain foods. Stainless steel is non-reactive but a poor conductor of heat. It is commonly made with a layer of aluminum. Carbon steel must be seasoned and is a common material in woks.
Other Cookware Materials
Nonstick cookware are most commonly metal but coated with Teflon or some other agent that prevents food from sticking. Porcelain, glass and glass-ceramic cookware is used for broiling and baking, while silicone cookware is lightweight and resistant to high heat. Pyrex and Corningware are examples of glass and glass-ceramic cookware, respectively.