Cast iron Vs cast aluminum are common materials of cookware. Hence, we may encounter them frequently in our everyday life. Cast iron cookware has always been around since ancient times and cast aluminum is rather new to the scene.
The two materials have similar looks and feel, yet, they can be very different in many aspects. Not many people know about what the differences between the two are and whether the differences matter.
Uncovering the difference between cast iron and cast aluminum will help you understand your cookware and its application to put them to better use and opt for the right ones.
5 Main Differences Between Cast Iron & Cast Aluminum
Cast aluminum is relatively lighter than cast iron.
For instance, comparing two similar-looking pans, while a cast-aluminum pan weighs over 7 pounds, its aluminum equivalent only weighs more than 3 pounds.
You may wonder whether this difference in weights matters. It does actually. Lighter cookware made of cast aluminum will be much easier to handle compared to its iron counterpart.
You can flip your food much more easily when you cook it in a cast aluminum pan. Meanwhile, flipping food with a cast iron pan would be a challenge since it’s significantly heavier. If you want to train your food-flipping skill, go for a cast aluminum pan.
2. Cast Iron Vs Cast Aluminum: Conducting and Retaining Heat
When it comes to conducting heat, cast aluminum is undefeatable.
Aluminum is a great heat conductor. According to TIBTECH research on the heat conductivity of metals, aluminum can conduct heat 4 times faster than iron.
However, cast aluminum does not perform as well as cast iron in retaining heat. The greater mass and weight of cast iron allow it to retain heat in a longer time (even though this also means that it takes much longer for a cast iron cookware to heat up). Meanwhile, the heat leaves cast aluminum as fast as it comes to this metal.
You may want to get different cookware depending on your dish. If you want to cook a nice steak, cast iron cookware is much better because it can retain the heat longer and allows your steak to cook evenly. Otherwise, cast aluminum is an ideal choice for cookware because it is convenient, light, and easy to handle.
Here is an informative video about the science of heat conduction in cast aluminum and cast iron for your further information:
When putting these two materials to the test of time, the winner is cast iron.
If your family has a pan that lasts for generations and is still serviceable, it is probably an iron cast pan. If you are looking for long-lasting cookware, cast iron is a way to go. To environmentally conscious people, cast iron cookware is also a better option as it is sure to reduce your trash.
Although both materials need special care to stay away from corrosion, compared to iron, aluminum is more sensitive to acids in food and scratching. Aluminum might not last as long as iron. Yet, with proper care and attention, you can still make your cast aluminum cookware last for a lifetime.
Aluminum is an abundant material that can easily be found in nature. Hence, cast aluminum cookware is much cheaper than cast iron cookware.
However, considering the longer life span and the heavier weight of iron cookware, the higher price is justifiable. Since there are both pros and cons to the difference in price, you should consider both types carefully to make a wise and suitable purchase.
5. Food Safety
Regarding food safety, cast aluminum has more controversies.
When cooking, our food can absorb little properties of metal from the cookware. In this case, cast iron is safe because the iron leached from the cookware to your food can be the amount of iron you need for your daily balanced diet.
Meanwhile, aluminum is not a safe property for the human body. Researches are showing that aluminum can cause Alzheimer’s, yet, there are also arguments that the insignificant amount of aluminum leached from the cookware is harmless.
Thus, since cast aluminum cookware is often coated with a non-stick coat, the food is not in direct contact with aluminum. As a result, the chance of leaching is even lower.
Note that there is no guarantee that there would be no leaching at all. Therefore, the decision is up to you in this case.
The battle between cast iron and cast aluminum cookware above has specified both strengths and weaknesses of these materials. Now you have everything you need to know about cast iron and cast aluminum.
Consider your preference carefully to make the right purchase or to put your cookware to better use because it does make a difference.