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Q&A -- Understanding Stovetop Cookware (2009-)


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[Moderator note: The original Q&A - Understanding Stovetop Cookware topic became too large for our servers to handle efficiently, so we've divided it up; the preceding part of this discussion is here: Q&A - Understanding Stovetop Cookware]

 

The initial post is an excellent resource, and I've steered several friends toward it.

Scanning through the 20 pages of questions and responses, I did not find information regarding whether one could purchase relatively inexpensive cookware, and then use a thick copper plate between the heat source and the cookware. I have seen such copper plates/sheets at a building supply stores priced quite a bit less than that of copper cookware. Would this idea work?

In my mind I see the copper plate solution as little different than the disc construction that many pieces of cookware use, and I take for granted that one could not replicate the clad construction using a thick copper plate with inexpensive cookware. Still the idea seems worth pursuing to me given the price. Please let me know your thoughts.

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I think that copper or aluminum disks make some sense as flame-tamers or ways to even out the heat for low/slow cooking with cookware that might not have perfectly even heat. For example, I always use an aluminum disk underneath my Le Creuset enameled cast iron casseroles.

Whether it could be used as the "thermal layer" with cheap, thin stainless cookware. I don't think it would work very well. Once you put down the metal disk over the burner, essentially what you have is not that different from one of those flat electric cooktops.

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Could someone please enlighten me on the toxicity of Monel metal when used for cooking acidic long-stewed foods? From what little I have learnt, Monels are alloys of copper and stainless steels and are very tough and durable. The interface that forms when Falk anneals copper to SS is one form of Monel. There are other types.

I wondered what might be the characteristics of a Monel cooking vessel; specifically, a braising pot or a wok with a tight fitting cover that cooks Indian [note, not Chinese] types of dishes [some of which might have tamarind or yoghurt, just as a braisier might be employed for meats with acidic marinades or wine simmered for extended periods]. Over time, minute pits, aided by kitchen tools, appear on any surface. These then begin to act as tiny electrical batteries: charge separation into cathodes and anodes, causing a feed forward response and increased pitting. Over time, this translates into the release and regular (if minute) ingestion of heavy metals, including copper and the constituents of the stainless steel, e.g. chromium, nickel, etc.

Monels are very tough and resistant to corrosion. How tough and how toxic they are under cooking in acidic environments and other FOOD/COOKING situations is the question to which I cannot find good answers from toxicological studies. I shouldbe most grateful for any leads. I wonder if monel vessels would be any more useful than copper or stainless steel, incorporating some of the conductance of copper, without its softness or toxicity? Would it be non-stick for frying as in crepe/omelette pans where only fats are used or non-stick also where water comesinto the picture, e.g. fish fillets?

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From what I have been able to glean, Monel is actually better described as a copper-nickel alloy, being comprised of up to 67% nickel). It is extremely hard and durable, but has terrible thermal conductivity, somewhere in the neighborhood of 0.26 W/cm/K compared to around 4.01 for copper. Better than stainless steel, but barely.

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This may be helpful information for those considering Calphalon's Tri Ply Copper series. I received a note that the stainless steel interior layer is 0.4 mm thick, the copper exterior is 0.5 mm, and the aluminum core is 1.6m. I appreciate that the company made this information known.

Edited by pdh (log)
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  • 3 weeks later...
Over time, minute pits, aided by kitchen tools, appear  on any surface. These then begin to act as tiny electrical batteries:  charge separation into cathodes and anodes, causing a feed forward response and increased pitting. Over time, this translates into the release and regular (if minute) ingestion of heavy metals, including copper and the constituents of the stainless steel, e.g. chromium, nickel, etc.

Firstly, what you describe isn't Monel. As said above Monel is an alloy, the pan bottom you mention is a roll bonded plate. The way galvanic corrosion [or battery action] you mention is to have a complete circuit of two dissimilar metals connected together by an electrolyte to form a battery. Then to do any thing about galvanic action the two metals must be connected together as a load on the battery. The circuit you describe is not a complete circuit so it isn't going to happen. Oh and the liquid in the pan would be the electrolyte any how and you would not have a load circuit.

I'm not sure of the load circuit even exists in your example but unless the bonding between the copper and other metal [stainless?] fail allowing the electrolyte to connect them you haven't a battery portion of the circuit.

Now if we are talking about acid pitting of the S.S. thru to the copper and that being taken up into solution, possible for sure.

I hope I made myself clear. Trying to explain this is hard to avoid trade jargon.

Monel may be used for cookware, I've never seen it; but it is used in valve seats. It contains Cobalt as well as a hardener. I suppose it would also be part of Monel if used for cookware.

Edited by RobertCollins (log)

Robert

Seattle

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Over time, minute pits, aided by kitchen tools, appear  on any surface. These then begin to act as tiny electrical batteries:  charge separation into cathodes and anodes, causing a feed forward response and increased pitting. Over time, this translates into the release and regular (if minute) ingestion of heavy metals, including copper and the constituents of the stainless steel, e.g. chromium, nickel, etc.

Firstly, what you describe isn't Monel. As said above Monel is an alloy, the pan bottom you mention is a roll bonded plate. The way galvanic corrosion [or battery action] you mention is to have a complete circuit of two dissimilar metals connected together by an electrolyte to form a battery. Then to do any thing about galvanic action the two metals must be connected together as a load on the battery. The circuit you describe is not a complete circuit so it isn't going to happen. Oh and the liquid in the pan would be the electrolyte any how and you would not have a load circuit.

I'm not sure of the load circuit even exists in your example but unless the bonding between the copper and other metal [stainless?] fail allowing the electrolyte to connect them you haven't a battery portion of the circuit.

Now if we are talking about acid pitting of the S.S. thru to the copper and that being taken up into solution, possible for sure.

I hope I made myself clear. Trying to explain this is hard to avoid trade jargon.

Monel may be used for cookware, I've never seen it; but it is used in valve seats. It contains Cobalt as well as a hardener. I suppose it would also be part of Monel if used for cookware.

Robert,

I you are going to pronounce judgment and pontificate on chemistry, you should take some time out to study seriously this topic:

Predictive models for determination of pitting corrosion in stainless steel pipes.

Then, let us discuss redox reactions in micro-pitting & corrosion. There is a great deal of work on how pitting occurs in cast iron pipe, in copper piping etc. All worthy of your attention.

When pitting occurs, as it does in minute amounts even in tap water, metals need somewhere to go, which is in the food.

Yes, I know what copper-nickel alloys are called, as also copper-Al ones. I did speak before writing to a specialit in metallurgy who assured me tha the bonded layer, however many atoms thin that might be, between the copper and stainless steel surface in could correctly and usefully be termed "a Monel metal" in terms of its structure and properties.

BTW, Robert, more than one educated person write on eG, and even you may be surprised to learn what some of them are qualified to say on redox reactions. It is just that they hew to standards of courtesy apparently foreign and inimical to you.

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  • 1 month later...

Well I guess one has to make a first eGullet post somewhere and for me it will be here.

I am a somewhat serious (very serious, according to my friends; not very serious compared to many here) home cook who has been lurking for quite some time, in particular as I read and reread slkinsey's wonderful Understanding Stovetop Cookware course and the Q&A thread it has generated.

I am in the process of slowly replacing a set of Calphalon Commercial cookware that I purchased on sale at Amazon a bunch of years back when I really didn't know any better. All in all, it was a relatively good purchase and I have used the pieces quite a lot over the years, until now, when they are starting to show bare aluminum.

In reading the course, I have been convinced that different cooking tasks require different kinds of materials and deployment of those materials. In sum, one size (or one 9-piece All-Clad stainless set) does not necessarily fit all.

As I started to replace my Calphalon one piece at a time with a mixture of Sitram Catering (1 sauce pan and sauté pan in the mail) from JB Prince, All-Clad practically stolen on eBay (1 fry pan), and perhaps a lovely 1.5 qt. Falk "try me" copper sauciére, it was very healthy to really think about what I need (and not what I want) in order to cook the way I want to cook. Of course I REALLY NEED the Falk sauciére.

So, in keeping some pieces (my Calphalon Commercial 4 qt. chef's pan that holds a special place in my heart, my 5.5 qt. Le Creuset Dutch [oops, I mean French] oven, my slightly under 1 qt. made in China stainless All-Clad trial-piece sauce pan that is perfect for reheating soup), and buying some others, I will have assembled a perfect set--for me.

After coming to these fascinating, nay earth-shattering (ok, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit), revelations, I wake up and find a mention of this on another forum. From Cook's Illustrated:

The Ideal Cookware Set, à la Carte

We’ve identified seven core pieces that every kitchen should have. Products tested (listed alphabetically)

    * All-Clad Stainless 12-inch Skillet

    * All-Clad Stainless 2-quart Saucepan

    * All-Clad Stainless 4-quart Saucepan

    * Cuisinart Chef’s Classic 12-quart Stockpot

    * Le Creuset 7¼-quart Round French Oven

    * Lodge Logic 12-inch Cast-Iron Skillet

    * Wearever Premium Hard Anodized 10-inch Nonstick Sauté Pan

While I appreciate the fact that All-Clad wasn't recommended in every case, I am dumbfounded by the arrogance of the introduction: "seven core pieces that every kitchen should have." Certainly this is not the worst list ever written, but a 10-inch nonstick sauté pan???

Needless to say, while I have had some great success with Cook's Illustrated recipes in the past, this latest attempt by a magazine to tell me what I absolutely must have in my kitchen proves to me once and for all that only I know what I actually need. Of course, such lists sell magazines. I prefer to read more nuanced ideas here. Thank you, everyone, especially slkinsey. I look forward to much more time here.

Dan

Comiendo pan y morcilla, nadie tiene pesadilla. —Refrán popular español

Food is our common ground, a universal experience. —James Beard

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  • 4 weeks later...

Is it possible to remove a non-stick teflon finish after it is beyond its prime when it would be a crime to throw out a high quality SS pan?

The Philip Mahl Community teaching kitchen is now open. Check it out. "Philip Mahl Memorial Kitchen" on Facebook. Website coming soon.

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Sure, I suppose it's possible. But who knows what kind of surface will be left behind for you to cook on. Most likely, not a very good one. But it can't hurt to try, right? What kind of tool are you planning on using to get the PTFE off?

Meanwhile, what is this "high quality stainless steel pan" of which you speak? No such thing, in my book, unless you're talking about a pan that has that stainless wrapped around some aluminum. If it's just a regular stainless steel pan, a couple of bucks at Bed Bath & Beyond will get you a much better pan than anything you'd end up with after however many hours of sanding or sandblasting.

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  • 2 months later...

Wow what an amazing analysis on stovetop cookware! Thank you so sincerely for taking the time to do that, I learned so much and I also realized I have so much more to learn (funny how that works huh?). After reading eGCI's post I read most all of the twenty other pages on stovetop cookware and I'm hoping that my question hasn't been asked before. If it has, I'm sorry I missed it and if someone could please provide a link, I'll take it from there. Anyway...

I'm interested in the All-Clad Brushed Stainless Steel Series that is currently offered only at Williams & Sonoma. I understand that it is 5 plies of Aluminum and Stainless Steel vs. the 3 plies of the regular All-Clad Stainless. I've read everything that I can concerning this series' performance and what I've read so far seems to suggest that these pans are slightly more durable, more even and more responsive than the 3 ply variant. I'd love to learn from the folks here if that is true and if there are any other thoughts about this series. Thanks.

Edited by turbocooker (log)
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The whole "5 layers versus 3 layers" thing is, I am sorry to say, bullcrap. Total thickness is the only thing that matters.

What does "5 layers" mean, after all? Typically it means something like this:

Layer 1: outer cladding of stainless steel

Layer 2: minute amount of bonding material (sometimes pure aluminum)

Layer 3: main thermal layer (either pure or alloy aluminum)

Layer 4: minute amount of bonding material (sometimes pure aluminum)

Layer 5: inner cladding of stainless steel

Given the tiny thickness of layers 2 and 4, there is no meaningful difference between this "five layer" design and a "three layer" design that goes something like this:

Layer 1: outer cladding of stainless steel

Layer 2: main thermal layer

Layer 3: inner cladding of stainless steel

The difference is that "5 layers" sounds like it's more or better somehow compared to "3 layers."

The only thing that makes a meaningful difference is: how thick is the thermal layer in between the inner and outer cladding. If it's thicker, it's better. So, for example, if you have a 3-layer design that's thicker than a 5-layer design, then 3 layers is better than 5 layers.

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The only thing that makes a meaningful difference is: how thick is the thermal layer in between the inner and outer cladding.  If it's thicker, it's better.  So, for example, if you have a 3-layer design that's thicker than a 5-layer design, then 3 layers is better than 5 layers.

Hi,

This is the primary reason to consider the All-Clad LTD pans. They are about 35% thicker than the Stainless pans.

Tim

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The whole "5 layers versus 3 layers" thing is, I am sorry to say, bullcrap.  Total thickness is the only thing that matters. 

What does "5 layers" mean, after all?  Typically it means something like this:

Layer 1: outer cladding of stainless steel

Layer 2: minute amount of bonding material (sometimes pure aluminum)

Layer 3: main thermal layer (either pure or alloy aluminum)

Layer 4: minute amount of bonding material (sometimes pure aluminum)

Layer 5: inner cladding of stainless steel

Given the tiny thickness of layers 2 and 4, there is no meaningful difference between this "five layer" design and a "three layer" design that goes something like this:

Layer 1: outer cladding of stainless steel

Layer 2: main thermal layer

Layer 3: inner cladding of stainless steel

The difference is that "5 layers" sounds like it's more or better somehow compared to "3 layers."

The only thing that makes a meaningful difference is: how thick is the thermal layer in between the inner and outer cladding.  If it's thicker, it's better.  So, for example, if you have a 3-layer design that's thicker than a 5-layer design, then 3 layers is better than 5 layers.

Okay, that makes more than perfect sense. I took a mechanical micrometer into WS first thing today, it is in increments of .5 mm and I could clearly see that the Brushed Stainless Steel Series is approximately .45 to .55mm thicker than the Regular Stainless Steel. How meaningful that is from a perceivable performance perspective I cannot conclude but it is clearly thicker. I'd love to learn the forum's thoughts on this given the thicker gauge.

Another interesting advertisement regarding this Brushed Series is that its "optimized for induction" meaning that it is highly magnetic. I tested this too with a small magnet and sure enough sensed a strong magnetic attraction between these pans and the magnet. I could not tell that there was a major magnetic difference between the Brushed Series and the Regular Series though just by pulling the magnet off the two pans by hand (very unscientific method, I know). I was however surprised that the magnet even slightly stuck to the Copper-Core pans which I thought were not able to be used with induction??? I'm still completely confused by that one but anyway "induction-ready" is important as it is probably the next type of cooktop we get. Again I'd love to learn the forum's thoughts on this. Thanks Again, It Is Much Appreciated. TC

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Thicker is better. How much a difference a half-millimeter will make in an aluminum pan is hard to say. It would make a very big difference in a copper pan, but copper is much more dense than aluminum. Ultimately it comes down to performance at a price.

As for the "induction optimized" -- all this means is that the outer layer of stainless steel is magnetic stainless steel (18-0). This is true of all the All-Clad lines with an external stainless layer, and indeed it is true of most straight gauge pans with an outer cladding.

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Thicker is better.  How much a difference a half-millimeter will make in an aluminum pan is hard to say.  It would make a very big difference in a copper pan, but copper is much more dense than aluminum.  Ultimately it comes down to performance at a price.

As for the "induction optimized" -- all this means is that the outer layer of stainless steel is magnetic stainless steel (18-0).  This is true of all the All-Clad lines with an external stainless layer, and indeed it is true of most straight gauge pans with an outer cladding.

Understood, and thanks for the advice as always. Apparently in this case the middle-most layer is also magnetic stainless steel (outermost to innermost = magnetic stainless, aluminum, magnetic stainless, aluminum, 18/10 stainless). Would that make for more "penetration" of magnetic field allowing for more "performance" from the pan on an induction stovetop??? Perhaps this is the reason for the additional advertisement of optimized for induction?

The way the eye sees it is three thin layers of SS and two thick layers of Aluminum. I'd say though that the extra thickness of the Brushed Series is more than simply the sum of three SS layers; IOW, the two Aluminum layers laid together would also be thicker than the one Aluminum layer of the Regular Series ... those two thicker layers of Al plus the third layer of SS make up that .45 to .55 mm difference in thickness.

As I'm trying to imagine investing in something specifically setup for whatever future cooktops offer, I cannot imagine eliminating something able to use this incredibly improved induction technology; I think we will get to the day in the next thirty years (easily in the realistic realm of when I'll still be using these things) when induction is "the thing". So along with what I want to purchase to learn on and stay with I think I should specificly look for things that also allow this technology. Thoughts? Thanks.

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Apparently in this case the middle-most layer is also magnetic stainless steel (outermost to innermost = magnetic stainless, aluminum, magnetic stainless, aluminum, 18/10 stainless).  Would that make for more "penetration" of magnetic field allowing for more "performance" from the pan on an induction stovetop???  Perhaps this is the reason for the additional advertisement of optimized for induction?

A few thoughts:

1. Says who that the middle-most layer is magnetic stainless steel? If All-Clad says that the middle-most layer is steel, are you sure they don't say carbon steel or magnetic steel and not stainless steel?

2. I am no expert on induction, but I'm not sure how much better I think this would work -- if at all.

3. I am quite sure that the reason they advertise it as "optimized" for anything at all is so that they can entice people into paying a lot more money for it.

The way the eye sees it is three thin layers of SS and two thick layers of Aluminum.  I'd say though that the extra thickness of the Brushed Series is more than simply the sum of three SS layers; IOW, the two Aluminum layers laid together would also be thicker than the one Aluminum layer of the Regular Series ... those two thicker layers of Al plus the third layer of SS make up that .45 to .55 mm difference in thickness.

The only way to find this out for sure is to get the manufacturer to give up the specs (fat chance of that), or use a high resolution photograph (cut one in half on a band saw?).

Given what we know about All-Clad's stainless layers on their other pieces -- i.e., that it tends to be around 0.45 mm in thickness -- it sounds reasonable that any extra thickness would be contributed by an extra internal layer of magnetic steel. This would, I should hasten to point out, increase the thermal capacity of the pan (good) but also decrease the overall thermal conductivity over a regular heat source (bad).

As I'm trying to imagine investing in something specifically setup for whatever future cooktops offer, I cannot imagine eliminating something able to use this incredibly improved induction technology; I think we will get to the day in the next thirty years (easily in the realistic realm of when I'll still be using these things) when induction is "the thing".  So along with what I want to purchase to learn on and stay with I think I should specificly look for things that also allow this technology.  Thoughts?  Thanks.

I think it's waste of time and money to buy super-expensive cookware on the premise that you might want to use an induction cooktop 20+ years from now. But to each his own.

Edited by slkinsey (log)

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My two cents: while current induction technology requires magnetic utensils, this is not an inherent limit of induction technology. In 20 years the available induction cookers will quite possibly be compatible with any electrically conductive metal (this would include copper and aluminum), not just ferromagnetic ones. There may also be a new technology to replace induction -- who knows? So certainly Sam is abundantly right that it doesn't make sense to invest now in the possibility of induction in 20 years. Take whatever money this advice saves you and take advantage of the bargains in the stock market right now. In 20 years you'll have more than enough to replace your cookware.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Apparently in this case the middle-most layer is also magnetic stainless steel (outermost to innermost = magnetic stainless, aluminum, magnetic stainless, aluminum, 18/10 stainless).  Would that make for more "penetration" of magnetic field allowing for more "performance" from the pan on an induction stovetop???  Perhaps this is the reason for the additional advertisement of optimized for induction?

A few thoughts:

1. Says who that the middle-most layer is magnetic stainless steel? If All-Clad says that the middle-most layer is steel, are you sure they don't say carbon steel or magnetic steel and not stainless steel?

2. I am no expert on induction, but I'm not sure how much better I think this would work -- if at all.

3. I am quite sure that the reason they advertise it as "optimized" for anything at all is so that they can entice people into paying a lot more money for it.

The way the eye sees it is three thin layers of SS and two thick layers of Aluminum.  I'd say though that the extra thickness of the Brushed Series is more than simply the sum of three SS layers; IOW, the two Aluminum layers laid together would also be thicker than the one Aluminum layer of the Regular Series ... those two thicker layers of Al plus the third layer of SS make up that .45 to .55 mm difference in thickness.

The only way to find this out for sure is to get the manufacturer to give up the specs (fat chance of that), or use a high resolution photograph (cut one in half on a band saw?).

Given what we know about All-Clad's stainless layers on their other pieces -- i.e., that it tends to be around 0.45 mm in thickness -- it sounds reasonable that any extra thickness would be contributed by an extra internal layer of magnetic steel. This would, I should hasten to point out, increase the thermal capacity of the pan (good) but also decrease the overall thermal conductivity over a regular heat source (bad).

As I'm trying to imagine investing in something specifically setup for whatever future cooktops offer, I cannot imagine eliminating something able to use this incredibly improved induction technology; I think we will get to the day in the next thirty years (easily in the realistic realm of when I'll still be using these things) when induction is "the thing".  So along with what I want to purchase to learn on and stay with I think I should specificly look for things that also allow this technology.  Thoughts?  Thanks.

I think it's waste of time and money to buy super-expensive cookware on the premise that you might want to use an induction cooktop 20+ years from now. But to each his own.

Again thanks for the advice, I really appreciate it, as I've been subscribing to this thread I've also been all over the rest of the site and am so impressed with it!

It was All-Clad's Customer Service/Technical Service section that told me that the middle layer was "magnetic stainless steel". They did not specifically make any mention about that additional layer affecting the induction technology specifically, just that it is indeed magnetic stainless steel. They do specifically make a mention that this line is optimum for induction - so without spelling out all the additive effects of each material, they definitely do mention that.

My research so far suggests that the magnetic field from an induction stovetop will reach within the whole thickness of the pan so I'm thinking that two layers responding directly to that force are better than one however that is totally guesswork on my part. Whether the effect is partial, full, exponential, I cannot say at this time however I think that I can say, all other things equal, having the additional aluminum to transfer the heat is a positive performance enhancer on all cooktops.

I'm sure just as with any successful advertising strategy they mention this as an attempt at enticing future purchases from people. I don't see anything wrong with that as long as it is truthful. Somewhere along the line there almost seems some animosity about All-Clad's success or perhaps how proud they are of their offerings, aka All-Clad's price. I'm trying to avoid all that in this discussion (other than that I do want to invest in a company that is successful and sound for future support/service as well as adding matchings to this present purchase) and stick strictly to the performance perspectives.

Maybe I misrepresented when I was saying that I think I'll be using induction in thirty-plus years. Yes I think that this will be the way of the future then, and yes I think/hope I'll personally be using these terrific pans for thirty-plus, probably fifity-plus, more years but what I was trying to say is that our "next" stovetop will probably be induction. IOW within possibly a few to five years, we will have induction. With that in mind, and with the fact that quality cookware should last several decades, if not several generations, I think the investment is only sound if you get a good long useful life out of it. That's what I'm trying to do by getting great products now from a great company now that will still be strong then. Thanks again for all the advice.

Edited by turbocooker (log)
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It was All-Clad's Customer Service/Technical Service section that told me that the middle layer was "magnetic stainless steel".  They did not specifically make any mention about that additional layer affecting the induction technology specifically, just that it is indeed magnetic stainless steel.  They do specifically make a mention that this line is optimum for induction - so without spelling out all the additive effects of each material, they definitely do mention that.

Again, it's not clear to me that this design is "optimum for induction" any more than the designs are that have only the outer cladding made of ferromagnetic material. Mauviel used to make a line where the entire thermal core was made of ferromagnetic carbon steel, which would be even more "optimized for induction" if you look at it that way. This never really caught on, and as far as I know they don't make this line any more.

It was All-Clad's Customer My research so far suggests that the magnetic field from an induction stovetop will reach within the whole thickness of the pan so I'm thinking that two layers responding directly to that force are better than one however that is totally guesswork on my part.

That's certainly what All-Clad wants you to think.

Whether the effect is partial, full, exponential, I cannot say at this time however I think that I can say, all other things equal, having the additional aluminum to transfer the heat is a positive performance enhancer on all cooktops.

What we haven't determined is (1) whether there is any additional aluminum compared to All-Clad Stainless; and (2) the extent to which the addition of an internal layer of stainless steel negatively affects the thermal performance of the pan on traditional heat.

I'm sure just as with any successful advertising strategy they mention this as an attempt at enticing future purchases from people.  I don't see anything wrong with that as long as it is truthful.  Somewhere along the line there almost seems some animosity about All-Clad's success or perhaps how proud they are of their offerings, aka All-Clad's price.

The question is whether and to what extent they are being truthful. All-Clad's marketing has been remarkably successful at convinging a large proportion of the "foodie" population in the US that their cookware is "the best" -- and a read though this thread as as well as other threads on these forums reveals plenty of discussions with people who have already made up their minds that "All-Clad is the best" and who are hoping that I and the other members here will ratify their decision to drop 225 bucks on a "Copper Core" frypan.

If my eGCI class does anything, it demonstrates on the facts that it is not the case that "All-Clad is the best." There exist any number of cookware brands and designs that outperform All-Clad and are objectively "better" on the specifications. Does this mean that no one should buy All-Clad? Of course not. Buy what's going to make you happy. That's the most important thing. But ultimately, unless one has unlimited financial means (in which case I would still suggest something like Mauviel's M'Cook over All-Clad), performance at a price is part of the discussion.

I'm trying to avoid all that in this discussion (other than that I do want to invest in a company that is successful and sound for future support/service as well as adding matchings to this present purchase) and stick strictly to the performance perspectives.

Maybe I misrepresented when I was saying that I think I'll be using induction in thirty-plus years.  Yes I think that this will be the way of the future then, and yes I think/hope I'll personally be using these terrific pans for thirty-plus, probably fifity-plus, more years but what I was trying to say is that our "next" stovetop will probably be induction.  IOW within possibly a few to five years, we will have induction.

Stickling to the performance question only, here's the deal: If you are going to be switching to induction in 3-5 years, then you should just get by with what you have until you switch to the new technology. The reality is that induction works so differently from the way regular heat sources work that there is little point in paying for cookware that works on both. You can spend a zillion dollars on some All-Clad cookware that will work pretty well with both induction and standard heat, but you'd also be able to buy more induction-friendly cookware for a fraction of the price that will outperform the All-Clad on induction. So, instead of buying a bunch of 200 dollar frypans and 180 dollar saucepans now, wait until you get the induction rig and buy yourself some 25 dollar frypans and 20 dollar saucepans that work on induction. They'll outperform the All-Clad pans on induction anyway.

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My two cents: while current induction technology requires magnetic utensils, this is not an inherent limit of induction technology. In 20 years the available induction cookers will quite possibly be compatible with any electrically conductive metal (this would include copper and aluminum), not just ferromagnetic ones. There may also be a new technology to replace induction -- who knows? So certainly Sam is abundantly right that it doesn't make sense to invest now in the possibility of induction in 20 years. Take whatever money this advice saves you and take advantage of the bargains in the stock market right now. In 20 years you'll have more than enough to replace your cookware.

Excellent post Fat Boy (I hope that's truly a compliment). I absolutely agree that at some point this technology will extend past ferrous, but, for right now it is limited to this type of magnetic field/magnetic material and for right now, because this works so well on ferrous materials, there is inherently less development towards delivering induction cooking in other types of materials. Not to say that it won't happen within twenty years but I'm basically ready to invest in cookware now and as much as possible I'd like whatever I invest in now to last a lifetime. That to some sensible extent mitigates the cost concerns per piece for me too.

Again I'm most likely investing in induction cooktops sooner than the twenty year time frame that's been suggested but I do agree about not necessarily getting something specific now solely for that purpose then. However if I can accomplish both in the process of purchasing these pans now, all the better, and on most of the induction cooking communities I've reviewed online the overall consensus was that the regular All-Clad Stainless worked really well on induction. IF, please note the large IF as an offer of peace-pipe for the skeptics, the Brushed Stainless is any better than the Regular Stainless on any or all cooktops, as advertised, I'm sure I'll be much more than perfectly pleased. After all, fancy attractive advertising can only accomplish so much in terms of the public's perception of these things and All-Clad "skeptics-turned-loyalists" are aplenty out there online.

What I was hoping for here was some experiential knowledge of these pans comprehensively compared to other pans and it is clear that isn't going to happen ... no fault and no foul of course; you can't know what you haven't experienced. But only humbly offered as a suggestion / statement of the obvious, as the person/poster asking these questions about these pans I cannot answer the skeptics' skeptical thoughts; I can only move on searching for an answer or an experience. Please trust that if I find that answer I'll share it as objectively as possible for folks here. Thanks.

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After all, fancy attractive advertising can only accomplish so much in terms of the public's perception of these things and All-Clad "skeptics-turned-loyalists" are aplenty out there online.

Here is where we part ways, turbocooker. I would argue that the evidence is unequivocal that fancy attractive advertising can achieve almost anything. For example: Do you know why we have the custom of giving a diamond engagement ring? This is not a particularly old practice or traditional custom. Why is it considered de rigueur today? It is all due to the advertising and promotional efforts of one company: De Beers. If you've ever shopped for a diamond engagement ring (something I have had occasion to within the past 3 years) you will note that the "conventional wisdom" is to spend the equivalent of two to three months' salary. Where did this "conventional wisdom" come from? De Beers. So, let's be real here. You can't tell me that if fancy advertising can convince plenty of people to drop ten thousand dollars or more on an engagement ring, it can't convince people to spend 200 bucks on a straight gauge saucepan when they could do just as well for 40 dollars.

I would also dispute that there are plenty of "All-Clad skeptics-turned-loyalists" out there, if they were ever indeed truly skeptics with any basis for being skeptical. And, I should hasten to point out, no one here has ever said that All-Clad cookware isn't very good cookware. Indeed, it is perfectly good cookware. I have some pieces of All-Clad that I got either for free or at a ridiculous loss-leader discount, and I use it on a regular basis. I used one of my 1-quart All-Clad stainless saucepans last night, in fact. The issue is not whether All-Clad cookware is good. The issue is whether it is worth the money. In my opinion, if you can get three equally-good saucepans from another manufacturer for the price of two All-Clad saucepans, then there is no way it's worth the money. For other people, the satisfaction they get out of buying into the marketing and believing that they have "the best" makes it worth more to have the two All-Clad pans. And for still other people, money is no object and they just like the look and feel. These are all legitimate reasons to make a purchasing decision. The bottom line is that you have to be happy with what you have.

Significant side-issues are whether and to what extent All-Clad's promotional claims are true, and for you personally, whether this new "Brushed Stainless" line would offer superior performance when used with induction. There are two ways to look at these issues, and you and I are taking opposing approaches. My approach is to be skeptical and look for ways All-Clad can "prove" that this design would be better. Your approach appears to be to believe All-Clad's claims and look for things that support this belief. Short of some kind of tightly-controlled scientific experiment, it's unlikely that this question can be resolved definitively. But we can look at the specifications and consider them in light of what we know about induction.

Induction works in a fundamentally different way from regular heat. Thermal conductivity is not nearly as much of an issue with induction. So, to make an example, if we have a carbon steel frypan on a gas burner, we can expect that there will be some hot spots due to the fact that carbon steel does not have very good thermal conductivity and the gas burner heats the pan much more in the middle than it does out at the sides. If we put that same pan on an induction burner, however, the heat will be perfectly even. Why? Because the whole surface of the pan is being acted upon by the magnetic field, and therefore the whole surface of the pan will heat up evenly.

In addition, heat capacity is less important for cookware used on induction as well. If the magnetic field is keeping the surface of the pan at 250 degrees and you throw in a bunch of chicken, you're not going to get the kind of temperature drop you would get with a gas burner because the magnetic field will continue to affect the metal to the same extent regardless.

This all suggests that there is a rather more limited need for thermal material (usually aluminum) to spread the heat around and provide heat capacity -- which is the exact opposite of what we would like to have when we use a standard conductive heat source. So, for example, that carbon steel frypan I mentioned above? Considering that the thermal material is entirely ferromagnetic, we would expect this pan to outperform a pan made with a thin layer of ferromagnetic material and a thick layer of thermal material. Of course, carbon steel is somewhat reactive. So perhaps we might like to have carbon steel clad in a thin layer of stainless steel. As I said above, Mauviel used to make exactly this. People loved it, but it never really caught on and they discontinued the line. If you have a chance to find some Mauviel Induc'Inox, I strongly suggest you acquire some.

The reason Induc'Inox didn't catch on is because the market for truly induction-optimized cookware isn't large enough for a manufacturer to devote the production, distribution and marketing costs associated with a line specifically designed with induction in mind. Perhaps as the induction market grows, demand will grow and we will see more of this sort of thing (and, as Steven points out, it is also likely that induction technology will evolve to the point where ferromagnetic metal is not a requirement). It is also true that "standard" fully-clad cookware with an external layer of ferromagnetic steel seems to work perfectly well with induction, if perhaps not quite as well as Induc'Inox did. The result of all this is that most manufacturers have taken to designing cookware with standard heat in mind, and have added a ferromagnetic external layer for compatibility with induction.

The reality for induction users, however, is that many of the things which distinguish better cookware with respect to standard conductive heat sources do not apply where induction is concerned. As I mentioned above, one would expect a carbon steel pan to outperform a clad aluminum pan on induction.

Might an extra internal layer of ferromagnetic stainless steel provide some kind of benefit on induction? Sure. Maybe. But whether or not these pans will meaningfully outperform something like Kitchenaid Gourmet Essentials Stainless on induction for a fraction of the price? Maybe. Probably? But it's unlikely the difference will be meaningful. The thing is, because of the way induction works, you don't need to spend nearly as much money on cookware as you do with standard conductive heat.

So, as I see it, you have three choices:

1. You can get "hybrid" cookware that is fundamentally designed to be used over standard heat, either spending big money on something with a minor extra bell and whistle for induction (this would be All-Clad Brushed Stainless) or something that is a fraction of the cost and should perform similarly (e.g., KitchenAid, etc.).

or

2. You can buy cookware specifically designed for use with induction, which at this point means scouring the Internet for Induc'Inox.

or

3. You can wait until you buy your induction cooktop and see (i) where the technology is at the time, and (ii) what cookware lines are available at the time.

But, you know... if you're convinced that All-Clad is the best and that their Brushed Stainless line is truly the superior choice for induction, and you believe the performance on induction will be superior to an extent that would justify paying the same price for a single frypan that you might pay for an entire 10-piece set of KitchenAid or some other similar induction-compatible line -- then that is what you should do. It's not what I would do, but all I do here is give advice. I always say that the most important thing is that you're happy with your cookware, and there are lots of different reasons to be happy. :smile:

--

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After all, fancy attractive advertising can only accomplish so much in terms of the public's perception of these things and All-Clad "skeptics-turned-loyalists" are aplenty out there online.

Here is where we part ways, turbocooker. I would argue that the evidence is unequivocal that fancy attractive advertising can achieve almost anything. For example: Do you know why we have the custom of giving a diamond engagement ring? This is not a particularly old practice or traditional custom. Why is it considered de rigueur today? It is all due to the advertising and promotional efforts of one company: De Beers. If you've ever shopped for a diamond engagement ring (something I have had occasion to within the past 3 years) you will note that the "conventional wisdom" is to spend the equivalent of two to three months' salary. Where did this "conventional wisdom" come from? De Beers. So, let's be real here. You can't tell me that if fancy advertising can convince plenty of people to drop ten thousand dollars or more on an engagement ring, it can't convince people to spend 200 bucks on a straight gauge saucepan when they could do just as well for 40 dollars.

I would also dispute that there are plenty of "All-Clad skeptics-turned-loyalists" out there, if they were ever indeed truly skeptics with any basis for being skeptical. And, I should hasten to point out, no one here has ever said that All-Clad cookware isn't very good cookware. Indeed, it is perfectly good cookware. I have some pieces of All-Clad that I got either for free or at a ridiculous loss-leader discount, and I use it on a regular basis. I used one of my 1-quart All-Clad stainless saucepans last night, in fact. The issue is not whether All-Clad cookware is good. The issue is whether it is worth the money. In my opinion, if you can get three equally-good saucepans from another manufacturer for the price of two All-Clad saucepans, then there is no way it's worth the money. For other people, the satisfaction they get out of buying into the marketing and believing that they have "the best" makes it worth more to have the two All-Clad pans. And for still other people, money is no object and they just like the look and feel. These are all legitimate reasons to make a purchasing decision. The bottom line is that you have to be happy with what you have.

Significant side-issues are whether and to what extent All-Clad's promotional claims are true, and for you personally, whether this new "Brushed Stainless" line would offer superior performance when used with induction. There are two ways to look at these issues, and you and I are taking opposing approaches. My approach is to be skeptical and look for ways All-Clad can "prove" that this design would be better. Your approach appears to be to believe All-Clad's claims and look for things that support this belief. Short of some kind of tightly-controlled scientific experiment, it's unlikely that this question can be resolved definitively. But we can look at the specifications and consider them in light of what we know about induction.

Induction works in a fundamentally different way from regular heat. Thermal conductivity is not nearly as much of an issue with induction. So, to make an example, if we have a carbon steel frypan on a gas burner, we can expect that there will be some hot spots due to the fact that carbon steel does not have very good thermal conductivity and the gas burner heats the pan much more in the middle than it does out at the sides. If we put that same pan on an induction burner, however, the heat will be perfectly even. Why? Because the whole surface of the pan is being acted upon by the magnetic field, and therefore the whole surface of the pan will heat up evenly.

In addition, heat capacity is less important for cookware used on induction as well. If the magnetic field is keeping the surface of the pan at 250 degrees and you throw in a bunch of chicken, you're not going to get the kind of temperature drop you would get with a gas burner because the magnetic field will continue to affect the metal to the same extent regardless.

This all suggests that there is a rather more limited need for thermal material (usually aluminum) to spread the heat around and provide heat capacity -- which is the exact opposite of what we would like to have when we use a standard conductive heat source. So, for example, that carbon steel frypan I mentioned above? Considering that the thermal material is entirely ferromagnetic, we would expect this pan to outperform a pan made with a thin layer of ferromagnetic material and a thick layer of thermal material. Of course, carbon steel is somewhat reactive. So perhaps we might like to have carbon steel clad in a thin layer of stainless steel. As I said above, Mauviel used to make exactly this. People loved it, but it never really caught on and they discontinued the line. If you have a chance to find some Mauviel Induc'Inox, I strongly suggest you acquire some.

The reason Induc'Inox didn't catch on is because the market for truly induction-optimized cookware isn't large enough for a manufacturer to devote the production, distribution and marketing costs associated with a line specifically designed with induction in mind. Perhaps as the induction market grows, demand will grow and we will see more of this sort of thing (and, as Steven points out, it is also likely that induction technology will evolve to the point where ferromagnetic metal is not a requirement). It is also true that "standard" fully-clad cookware with an external layer of ferromagnetic steel seems to work perfectly well with induction, if perhaps not quite as well as Induc'Inox did. The result of all this is that most manufacturers have taken to designing cookware with standard heat in mind, and have added a ferromagnetic external layer for compatibility with induction.

The reality for induction users, however, is that many of the things which distinguish better cookware with respect to standard conductive heat sources do not apply where induction is concerned. As I mentioned above, one would expect a carbon steel pan to outperform a clad aluminum pan on induction.

Might an extra internal layer of ferromagnetic stainless steel provide some kind of benefit on induction? Sure. Maybe. But whether or not these pans will meaningfully outperform something like Kitchenaid Gourmet Essentials Stainless on induction for a fraction of the price? Maybe. Probably? But it's unlikely the difference will be meaningful. The thing is, because of the way induction works, you don't need to spend nearly as much money on cookware as you do with standard conductive heat.

So, as I see it, you have three choices:

1. You can get "hybrid" cookware that is fundamentally designed to be used over standard heat, either spending big money on something with a minor extra bell and whistle for induction (this would be All-Clad Brushed Stainless) or something that is a fraction of the cost and should perform similarly (e.g., KitchenAid, etc.).

or

2. You can buy cookware specifically designed for use with induction, which at this point means scouring the Internet for Induc'Inox.

or

3. You can wait until you buy your induction cooktop and see (i) where the technology is at the time, and (ii) what cookware lines are available at the time.

But, you know... if you're convinced that All-Clad is the best and that their Brushed Stainless line is truly the superior choice for induction, and you believe the performance on induction will be superior to an extent that would justify paying the same price for a single frypan that you might pay for an entire 10-piece set of KitchenAid or some other similar induction-compatible line -- then that is what you should do. It's not what I would do, but all I do here is give advice. I always say that the most important thing is that you're happy with your cookware, and there are lots of different reasons to be happy. :smile:

Excellent Post! Thanks and I'd argue I agree with most of what you wrote here ... except two specific things

... first no reason whatsoever to "part ways"; remember I'm just here trying to learn and I'm learning a lot from you and from other folks here and as I've made the mention several sincere times so far, I very much appreciate all the awesome advice here starting with the "Understanding Stovetop Cookware" thread, which was wonderful, sincerely.

...second I'm not as you wrote trying to "believe All-Clad's claims and look for things that support this belief"; it is the opposite actually ... I'm really just asking, reading and studying everything that I can on this line, on other than this line and EVEN on other than this brand believe it or not. IOW, my whole purpose for asking you folks what you think is to sincerely ask you what you think. No concealed agenda here; I'm an amateur asking the experts and you are indeed an expert as far as all my lurking and reading here reveals.

I guess I got the preconceived thought going that someone here, or perhaps several someones here even better, had actually experienced these particular pans and could comprehensively say from experience how they compared to others. As I wrote, it is "no fault and no foul" that no one here has had that back-to-back comparison, it simply is what it is, no fault and no foul.

I guess I also got the afterconceived thought going that for whatever weird reason there is some sort of animosity towards All-Clad that stages the suspicions I've read ... the "prove it perspective" as you made a mention of ... even that is no fault and no foul to an extent but, honestly and humbly, it doesn't do anything at all to answer my questions about this product. That's all I'm saying here, really, that's all I'm saying.

Perhaps it would help to have some insight into why I am so sweet for All-Clad (aside from it being a long-lasting, successful, stable, American company that can probably support my cookware needs really well for really long) just so I can accuse myself oppositely of yourself. Keep in mind I'm an amateur so some experts here will read this and think "duh" ... but up until recently almost all my cookware was the old original Calphalon I purchased just prior to finishing university. I did some pseudo scientific research at the time, way back when, and long-story-short decided that as a material I couldn't beat Aluminum, and that as a thickness I couldn't beat Calphalon and that as an added safety measure I couldn't beat the hard anodized aluminum. Okay. Fast forward many years and I got interested in Moroccan cooking. This followed several exploratory phases through the years of Mexican, then Caribbean, then Spanish (significantly different from Mexican BTW) then Indian (down to different regions as much as I was able to accomplish) then Chinese ( a bastardized and brief attempt really) cooking where Calphalon was my mainstay cookware. I was always more than satisfied except for the warping issues with the pans and "learned" to use these pans pretty well (stated only as a pretty proud amateur).

THEN, after cracking a clay Tagine, I got the All-Clad Tagine for making my Moroccan food and absolutely fell in love with what I could do with that cooking tool. It was astounding to me the responsiveness and efficiency and evenness of that "pan" at least as I limitedly could compare to other things. I then used a couple of Copper-Core pans from a friend one day and was to sound as mushy as possible, head-over-heels. This really spurred my interest in replacing my Calphalon with All-Clad, trying now to purchase that "life-long set of stuff" that I did with my Calphalon way back when and sort of start over now without a redo later. So I started reading as much as I could find from forums around the web and happened upon the truly terrific write up with understanding stovetop cookware ... now several weeks later I'm recounting my steps and trying again to simply say that as an amateur I'm looking for answers and while I appreciate to an extent the "prove it perspective", I also am not getting anywhere with it. That's all, that's truly all. I'm just looking for someone such as yourself who has had experience with these particular pans, and can share that specific and experiential knowledge ... I'm not at all convinced about anything regarding these particular pans as I too have NO experience with them ... and just as with yourself I'm not willing to JUST read the adverts and basically believe everything in them ... that's why I'm here after all. Thanks.

Edited by turbocooker (log)
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