The term anodized means that a material, such as the aluminum in cookware, has been subjected to an electrolytic process, where natural oxidation has been controlled. This involves immersing the aluminum in a chemical bath and applying an electrical current to it, causing oxide to be produced from the resulting rust on the aluminum. This layer of oxide hardens the aluminum and makes it resistant to corrosion.
Hard anodized is an extension of the process using higher voltage and lower temperature, which results in an even harder and more durable cookware coating.
Using Hard Anodized Cookware
Anodized aluminum has many applications for consumer products and industrial building materials. Because color can be applied to the oxide due to its porous nature, this durable, corrosion and salt resistant, and lightweight material is also used in the manufacturing of electronic equipment. Cookware or bakeware that is hard anodized is assumed to have a much more durable cooking surface than some other nonstick finishes.
For example, this type of cooking equipment is used in Cuisinart's Hard Anodized Cookware 11-pc set, where the aluminum construction improves performance with even and quick heating. Hard anodizing this aluminum coating gives it durability and a nonstick finish for ease of use and cleaning. Plus, the anodized process keeps the pan weight comfortable.
Benefits and Disadvantages
While it's great to have a non-stick pan that allows you to use any type of cooking utensil, your food is most likely going to stick to the surface of it, making it hard to clean. You may want to use this kind of cookware for liquids and movable foods. However, if you do need to clean it, you can use regular dish soap or a gentle scrub brush to lightly remove debris.
Harsh cleaning products and steel wool materials should be completely avoided
How to Store Anodized Cookware
Even though hard anodized cookware has a more durable finish, it should be properly stored to prevent scratches in the finish or dents in the pans. There are various ways to store cookware including using a pot rack, designating a cabinet space, or using in-cabinet slide-out racks.
Specially treated aluminum like this is twice as strong as stainless steel. While you can stack multiple pieces on top of each other, you don't want to put it on top of or inside of other pots and pans (from different brands), as the hard surface can cause damage to them.
There are worries that there are some potential health risks by cooking with anodized aluminum. Although it's less likely to corrode into food, people are often uncomfortable using it, due to some concerns around it being harmful. However, there isn't any conclusive scientific research that suggests it's dangerous. Quality anodized aluminum cookware is fine to cook with. However, ordinary pots and pans made from aluminum (or those with scratches) can allow acidic liquids like tomato sauce to react with the metal, allowing you to consume it.
According to Andrew Weil, M.D., humans consume less than 50 mg per day and absorb less than one percent of swallowed aluminum.