Stainless steel cookware as a significant source of nickel, chromium, and iron

  • Joel Kuligowski
  • Kopl M. Halperin


Stainless steels are widely used materials in food preparation and in home and commercial cookware. Stainless is readily attacked by organic acids, particularly at cooking temperatures; hence iron, chromium, and nickel should be released from the material into the food. Nickel is implicated in numerous health problems, notably allergic contact dermatitis. Conversely, chromium and iron are essential nutrients for which stainless could be a useful source. Home cookware was examined by atomic absorption spectroscopy: seven different stainless utensils as well as cast iron, mild steel, aluminum and enamelled steel. The materials were exposed to mildly acidic conditions at boiling temperature. Nickel was a major corrosion product from stainless steel utensils; chromium and iron were also detected. It is recommended that nickel-sensitive patients switch to a material other than stainless, and that the stainless steel cookware industry seriously consider switching to a non-nickel formulation.


Iron Nickel Chromium Stainless Steel Dermatitis 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joel Kuligowski
    • 1
  • Kopl M. Halperin
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Science, Engineering and TechnologyThe Pennsylvania State University at Erie, The Behrend CollegeErieUSA

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