Magnet and stainless steel cookware

Chapter: Living

With all the attractionseeking, I stumbled upon a topic concerning the testing of nickel in stainless steel (SS) cookware with a magnet. Nickel (and other toxic metal ions) can possibly leach into food.

Some quick jots on nickel:

  • SS is an alloy made up chromium, steel iron, molybdenum, nickel and other metals.
  • Nickel is magnetic but when added to the steel mix, the changes in its structure, due to the magnetic field, causes the steel to turn non-magnetic.
  • Common SS grades:
    18/0   — 18% chromium, no nickel
    18/8   — 18% chromium, 8% nickel
    18/10 — 18% chromium, 10% nickel

  • Nickel is added to SS to protect against corrosion and to give SS its glow.
  • SS cookware would usually have a magnetic base so that they can also be used on an induction stove, which uses a magnetic field to heat up the cookware.
  • If SS is magnetic, nickel is absent.
  • If SS is not magnetic, nickel is present.
  • The following is said to encourage more leaching:
    – Salty or acidic food stored or cooked in SS
    – Steel scouring pad and harsh abrasive
    – Pitted surface due to extended use
  • Austenitic stainless steels like 18/8 and 18/10 are non-magnetic however a small amount of magnetism is produced after cold forming, e.g. bending and rolling.
  • SS cookware can be made up of layers consisting of aluminium or even copper sandwiched between 18/10 SS, shielded with a polished magnetic stainless steel exterior. This explains why a 18/10 pot or pan can be magnetic. Brands that make such cookwares are All-Clad, Emerilware, Dr Weil and WMF.

I have 4 SS pots from WMF, and found only 2 are magnetic all over, inside and out. Excluding the lid and handles. Some new pot knowledge for me.

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