Nonstick and hard anodized cookware are immensely popular in the Indian market. Being similar in appearance, many consumers confuse one for the other and end up being disappointed. To allay all confusion, identify one from the other and understand what to expect, here is an in-depth guide on nonstick vs hard anodized cookware in India.
What Is Nonstick Cookware?
Nonstick cookware are mostly aluminium cookware with PTFE coating on them. PTFE stands for Polytetrafluroethylene. This high-density material is hydrophobic and resistant to wetting.
While nonstick cookware offers convenience, unlike any other options, with easy cleanup and quick release of food without any sticking, the drawback is the safety concerns of PTFE.
PTFE when heated to 260 degree Celsius start emitting carcinogenic fumes which can adversely affect your health in the long run. And that temperature isn’t too hard to achieve on a stovetop. If you heat a 2.5mm thick nonstick pan on a larger flame, it touches 260 C in less than 2 minutes. If you pour oil, it crosses 260 C even quicker.
What Is Hard Anodized Cookware?
Hard anodised cookware too have an aluminium base. But instead of applying a PTFE coating, an electric current is passed to achieve an anodized coating over the aluminium. This layer is typically less than 5 micrometres in thickness.
The main advantage is that the surface is non-reactive to any food. So, unlike cast iron and stainless steel, you can cook acidic food without worrying about harming the surface or metals leaching into your food.
In Western countries, most hard-anodized cookware have a nonstick coating on it. In India, however, it is an exception and not a norm.
Let us now explore how nonstick and hard anodized cookware fare in various aspects-
One of the biggest advantages of nonstick cookware is its incredible stick resistance. You can make omelette, fry fish and make all sorts of dishes without a drop of oil. Of course, over a period of time, the finishing of the nonstick surface wears and you have to add oil. But new nonstick cookware is slick and brilliantly stick-resistant.
Hard anodized aluminium on the other hand doesn’t have the same level of stick resistance. You can never make a sunny side up on anodized cookware without butter or oil. For cooking or frying any type of food, you need to add sufficient oil so that the food doesn’t get stuck to the bottom surface.
Unfortunately, many brands market their hard anodized cookware as nonstick. So, check the product description thoroughly and unless they mention that it has a nonstick coating, don’t consider it as nonstick cookware.
Related reading: Ceramic vs Granite Cookware Comparison
Nonstick cookware have a coating that is quite delicate. No matter the brand, the coating of most nonstick cookware peels off in 2-3 years. Though many manufacturers claim you can use metal spoons on their cookware, you do so at the risk of reducing its durability.
Hard anodized cookware have comparatively better durability. Even if you use metal spoons, the anodized layer doesn’t peel off as easily as nonstick. But that being said, it is prone to wear off due to abrasion. So, avoid hitting the cookware with metal spoons and using abrasive scrubs to clean them. With sufficient care, hard anodized cookware can easily last at least 5 years.
Hard anodized cookware generally are thicker and hence, they are less prone to warping.
Winner: Anodized Aluminium Cookware
Related reading: How To Clean Nonstick Tawa?
As mentioned, nonstick cookware can emit carcinogenic fumes when overheated. You also run the risk of ingesting the flakes of nonstick coating. Many sources claim that these coating even if ingested don’t pose a health hazard because the body passes it out without absorbing. Even so, it is a risk associated with using nonstick cookware.
Also, once the coating peels off, the aluminium inside is exposed and it could leach into your food. You can overcome this by opting for brands like Hawkins Futura which applies nonstick coating over a hard-anodized base.
Hard anodized aluminium cookware on the other hand are non-reactive. They are highly heat resistant and do not emit any carcinogenic fumes even when overheated. The only risk of using them is that once the surface wears off, aluminium is exposed and it may leach into your food.
Winner: Hard Anodized Aluminium
Related reading: Best Pressure Cooker In India
Most of the nonstick and all hard anodized cookware have an aluminium base. They conduct heat evenly and you usually won’t find any hotspots on these cookware. Both the options don’t make a crust on the food surface, like stainless steel or cast iron. For this reason, pans made of both materials are more suited for omelettes and frying delicate fish.
Overall, you can’t really find a difference between the two in terms of their cooking performance. Considering, the excellent stick resistance, nonstick cookware definitely have an edge over hard anodized cookware.
Ease of Cleaning
Due to its hydrophobic nature, nonstick cookware are very easy to clean. Even if you burn food in them, they don’t end up a sticky mess.
Hard anodized aluminium is not so forgiving with burnt food. It maybe easy to clean them if you are cooking gravies or making rice in a hard-anodized pressure cooker. But when frying food or making chapati on an anodized frying pan/Tawa, it won’t be an effortless cleanup.
Hard anodized cookware have comparatively lesser demand than nonstick ones. Though durable and safe, it isn’t as convenient as nonstick. In terms of pricing, the difference is hardly significant. So, we would recommend you look at other parameters and not consider the price as a key factor in deciding between the two.