A group of Indian children had chronic cases of diarrhoea that did not respond to medical treatment. Then it was discovered that they were all drinking soup prepared in an aluminium vessel. It was not the food that was causing the trouble; it was the cooking pot.

Now-a-days, aluminium is fast replacing other metals in the kitchen, because it is so much cheaper. Pressure cookers, frying pans and many other utensils are made of this metal which is readily attacked by both acids and alkalies such as those found in fruits and vegetables.

Sour ingredients like tamarind, dry raw mango bits, amla, vinegar, tomato and lime are often added to food to enhance its taste. The acid from these reacts with the aluminium oxide layer formed inside the vessel, converting it into soluble salts which are consumed with the food. Milk gets spoiled in an aluminium vessel and produces aluminium chloride which results in many cases of poisoning. Coffee prepared in these can lead to intestinal disorder. The housewife would be wise to stop cooking acidic food in aluminium vessels.

Aluminium poisoning leads to skin diseases like urtricaria, herpes and eczemas of different kinds. It also attacks the nervous system with neuralgia, giddiness and excessive perspiration as the visible symptoms.


Many housewives might argue that they do not use “cheap stuff”’ like aluminium. But how far are brass vessels safe? Copper and brass utensils need ‘tin coating’ very often. When copper comes into contact with acid it turns into copper sulphate (verdigris) which is poisonous. Food kept in such vessel turns green and if eaten may prove fatal. Brass, too, is an alloy of copper and zinc. Both these metals are attacked by acids. It would be best if foods cooked in such utensils are immediately transferred to steel utensils or glassware and the sour ingredients added afterwards.

Stainless steel is perhaps the ideal answer to this kitchen problem. Steel utensils do not need constant tinning, are easily maintained and hence very popular amongst those who can afford to buy them. There is no doubt, however, that they are expensive and not within the reach of all. Good stainless steel is an alloy of 18% chromium, 8% nickel, and 74% steel. Steel vendors often cheat people who do not know that good stainless steel is not attracted by a magnet.

Obviously housewives need to think most carefully about their kitchenware.