Reading time for this article is 6 mins
Have you ever thought why some cookware sets are called nickel free cookware? Being hypersensitive to nickel is tough. it takes quite a lot of dedication and effort to avoid its allergen owing to the fact that they are everywhere, and I mean everywhere! To own one of the best nickel free cookware mean you have successfully further cut down another percentage of nickel from your life!
Although preparing meals with stainless steel cookware may not cause an added irritation to some who are sensitive to the nickel content of cookware, they may cause severe irritation to others.
Regardless of the presence of urticaria on contact with nickel or not, the fact that you’re allergic to nickel means that you have to keep an eye on what goes into your mouth, what you touch and what touches your skin. This is a crucial method of avoiding triggering your allergy symptoms.
What is a Nickel-free cookware
nickel free cookware, by literal definition, would mean cookware that contains ZERO nickel!
But there’s a problem, there is no set rule on what conforms to “nickel-free” in the United States.
This is the same reason why, as a nickel allergy sufferer, you should be aware of the nickel percentage on the products you use.
So since it’s unadvisable to cook with non-nickel free cookware, and seeing as many equipments contain nickel, what options do you have?
Turns out, you have alternatives as there are quite a few options available and one of them is nickel free cookware.
These collections of nickel-free cookware range from glass cookware, coated, plated, iron-based, aluminum base, and even those made with precious metals!
So what are the best nickel-free cookware?
The winner of the best nickel free cookware
In this review, we reviewed 12 sets of nickel-free cookware, and they are
Are stainless steel cookware nickel free?
According to NSF international standards for food equipment materials, stainless steel used in food equipment must be (AISI) 200 series, 300 series or 400 series.
But do you know the meaning of these numbers and their nickel contents?
Read further to know more information about these series.
304 stainless steel
This is the most commonly available and commonly used type of stainless steel in cookware, which you are bound to see everywhere. The two most popular types of stainless steel in this series are the 18/10 and 18/8. You may have seen these numbers printed on stainless steel cookware, and I bet you wondered what they both mean.
Remember that stainless steel is an iron alloy comprising of 2 or more metals, including iron.
The 18/10 stainless steel is made from 18% chromium and 10% nickel. The first number indicates the amount of chromium present, and the second number indicates the amount of nickel.
Similarly, 18/8 stainless steel has 18% chromium and 8% nickel.
In terms of performance, the difference between 18/10 and 18/8 is negligible, disregard whatever marketing terms which different manufacturers use on their advertisements, cookware made with 18/10 and 18/8 will perform the same way, of all things being equal.
304 stainless steel is called “austenitic” type stainless steel because of its non-magnetic nature(That’s why you can use a block of magnet to find out if stainless steel jewelry is made of stainless steel or not).
316 stainless steel
Type 316 stainless steel is a high-end version of type 304 stainless steel because it contains a small amount of molybdenum, which is almost uncommon with 304 stainless steel.
Chemical composition is about 16-18% chromium, 10-14% nickel and 2% molybdenum. This grade of stainless steel is even more corrosion resistant, but also more expensive.
316 is also known as marine stainless steel because it is used in the marine environment, which requires higher corrosion resistance due to high exposure to an extremely corrosive environment.
The 316 stainless steel is used in manufacturing medical tools, as well as used as a biomedical implant; this is why it is also known as surgical stainless steel.
So if you are curious about a surgical stainless steel cookware kit or surgical stainless jewelry, now you know the difference between the two. In essence, it contains molybdenum (or titanium), has higher corrosion resistance, and may cost more.
There are almost no differences between the 304 and 316 stainless steel cookware. In daily cooking, you may not notice any difference. A good quality 304 stainless steel set will do, regardless of your cooking intentions. The only difference, though, is the corrosion-resistant nature of 316 steels, and of course, the price difference.
In the 200 series, manufacturers replaced manganese with nickel because it was cheaper. So the result is cheaper stainless steel. This series is also considered food-grade and safe, but it is not the preferred stainless steel and will corrode faster than any of the above series,
Like 304, it is also non-magnetic.
The next steel series is the one a nickel allergy sufferer should remember, that is the 400 series because it is the key to nickel free cookware.
Nickel free stainless steel – The 430 stainless steel
The chemical property of the 400 series is 18/0, meaning 18& chromium, and (almost) 0 percent nickel!
This is part of the “400 Series” and is mainly used for cutlery, mixing bowls, and cheap soup pots.
It is essential to know that although nickel is “legally” excluded (i.e., the zero in 18/0), its nickel content is negligible, at 0.75%.
People who are sensitive to nickel should always look for a product that has an 18/0 stamped on it, especially when looking for nickel-free tableware and cookware. However, keep in mind that tableware made of 18/0 stainless steel will lose its glossy looks and corrosion-resistant nature after using it for some years.
The 400 series stainless steel is a “ferritic” type stainless steel because it has magnetic properties.
The JYH21CT or 21CT AKA Chantal 21/0 stainless steel
The 21CT stainless stell is yet another, less-known nickel-free steel, and it contains 21/0, which is 21% of chromium and 0% nickel. This stainless steel was formulated and developed back in 2006 in Japan, and it supposedly has a 30% faster heating rate than the 304 series. the 21CT’s chemical properties comprises of the following elements 21% chromium, 0.3% Titanium, 0.008% Carbon, 0.01% Nitrogen, and 0.43% Copper.
This Chantal stainless steel, unlike the 430, has ZERO nickel in it, which is especially good news for people who are hypersensitive to nickel.
Other types of “nickel free” cookware alternatives.
Apart from the 430 stainless steel cookware, one can choose between most “coated” cookware.
The coating can be informed of ceramic coated, enamel-coated, or sometimes with a precious metal such as titanium.
Nickel free cookware also comes in glass, and cast-iron too.
Buying guide for nickel free cookware
Switching up your “usual” cookware sets with nickel-free ones is an excellent way to start a low-nickel diet. Trying to buy the best nickel free cookware isn’t an easy task AT ALL unless you know what you’re looking for.
Here are ALL you need to know before purchasing your first nickel free cookware.
Depending on your cooking style, and the type of cooker you own, you should look out for some of these features.
Look for 21/0 for the full nickel-free experience.
Since the cookware in this series contains no nickel at all, it’s one of the best nickel-free stainless steel cookware to date.
Look for 430 stainless steel
As explained above, 430 steels contain 18/0 chromium to nickel. There is a trace amount of nickel percentage, at 0.75%, it may not trigger an allergic reaction to most people.
Opt-in for glass cookware
They are fragile, but they do not contain any nickel in them.
They are also good at conducting heat.
Look for ceramic-coated; enamel coated, copper or titanium coated
Coated cookware will do the job too, as long as the base metal isn’t stainless steel.
Look for cookware with base metals such as aluminum, copper, or cast iron and not stainless steel, as most coated cookware sets are prone to scratches and cracks.
The coating acts as a protective layer against the metal under it. When it cracks or scratches, it increases the possibility of dangerous metals leaching into your meal.
Cooking will cast iron cookware, whether coated or not, has the added advantage; it leaches iron into our meal, and this added iron is necessary for reducing our body’s absorption of nickel.
Cooker specific cookware sets
It’s crucial to note the supported cooker tops for any cookware you decide to buy; is it induction, oven, stovetop, and ceramic top safe?
To check for this, look for the materials used for the “core,” meaning the disc at the bottom of the cookware sets.
Does your cookware require a unique cleaning technique? Is it dishwasher safe?
Most ceramic coated cookware sets are not dishwasher safe, so ask questions before you shove out your hard-earned cash to make the purchase!
I’ll buy one that is dishwasher safe; anything apart from that is a big NO.
If you’re looking for steel cookware sets, then 21/0, 18/0 are the one of the best nickel free cookware in the market at this moment.
For non-metal cookware, then glass, and coated cast iron.