Can you put aluminum foil in the oven?
In this article, we will answer If you can use aluminum foil in the oven or not, when and how you can safely use aluminum, and what benefits and risks it poses to health.
Can you put aluminum foil in the oven?
Yes, you can use aluminum foil but it is important when and how you are using it. We can’t deny the ease it brings for the people who like to bake or grill their food very often but there may be certain things you should know If you are going to expose yourself to aluminum that often.
Don’t worry aluminum would never melt in the domestic oven because the highest temperature of these ovens would be 500 and aluminum melts at 660 degrees celsius.
The global demand of packaging was estimated to reach US $ 974 billion by 2018 with Asia, North America and Western Europe accounting for a little over 40%, 21% and 19%, respectively of this demand. Among them metal packaging materials represents 15% of the total packaging materials being used across the globe (1).
What is the aluminum foil?
Aluminum foil is simply aluminum metal pressed into sheets of smaller than 0.2mm thickness. These thin sheets are very malleable and can easily bend and fold to wrap food or any other product.
The term aluminum foil indicates aluminum with 99% purity which is available in the form of thin rolled flat sheets varying in thickness from 4 to 150 microns. Aluminum is mainly preferred because it is the lightest weighing metal with exceptionally good malleability (2).
However, aluminum foil is different from tin foil, which is made of Tin. Both of these metals are earthly and play an important part in its composition.
Aluminum foil is not only used for baking/cooking but It has a wide range of applications in Insulation, transport, packaging, and decoration.
What happens when you put aluminum foil in the oven?
When we put food in aluminum foil or when placed inside the oven, some of the aluminum might seep into your food and consequently finding its way into your body. The high temperature of the oven may also be the culprit while some foods that are acidic or spicy in nature don’t go well with the aluminum. One study shows the levels of aluminum cooked/baked foods rising to a considerable level.
The aluminum migration seems to depend on several factors, e.g. grilling duration, heating temperature, composition, food pH value, and presence of any other substances (such as organic acids and salt). Other studies indicate that the aluminum leaching for 1 – 3 hours beef baked samples in aluminum foil ranged between 59.83 – 220.20 mg/kg. Aluminum is found to leach out from the foil in different stimulants; particularly in distilled water as well as acidic and alkaline media. The migration is found to be above the permissible limit. Leaching of aluminum is found significantly higher in acidic and aqueous media in comparison to alcoholic and saline media. Higher temperature conditions also enhance the rate of migration of aluminum in acidic and aqueous media (2).
Not that our body doesn’t already have aluminum in it, but the allowable levels are important. If it exceeds the allowed limit in our body and if this happens over frequently over a period of time, then aluminum might damage your brain tissues resulting in kidney or bone failure along with other malformations.
Aluminum toxicity is well known in patients with longstanding chronic renal failure. In recent years, aluminum has also been associated with various bone (osteomalacia) and neurological failures (Alzhemier’s disease) (3).
What to replace Aluminum foil with?
Glassware or Ceramic
Use glass or ceramic pans to bake your lasagna or pasta. These come with a lid of their own so you won’t have to cover it with foil.
Use parchment paper to line the cookie sheet and bake your cookies or brownies without a worry. Parchment papers do not stick to your food and do not meddle with the cooking time of your food. However, these should not be used for temperatures above 420 degrees celsius.
According to the USDA, Parchment paper is an odorless and tasteless paper made from cotton fiber and/or pure chemical wood pulps. It may be waxed or coated and is greaseproof or grease resistant. Parchment paper is primarily used in baking as a pan liner or to wrap foods in for cooking. However, according to studies, mineral oil saturated hydrocarbons and mineral oil aromatic hydrocarbons, which are present in waxed paper, may have potential health hazards, which specifically includes carcinogenic effects. Contamination of food with mineral oil may occur by migration of mineral oil containing products from packaging materials, or during the food production process (4).
Stainless steel and cast iron
Use thick stainless steel pans and cast iron pans in the oven. Stainless steel can be used as an oven liner (5).
Silicone is a reusable, washable, non-reflecting alternative. Silicone doesn’t stick to food and it lets the food cook evenly without interfering with the cooking temperature and time. Use it as an oven liner. Silicone bakeware is approved by the FDA.
Side effects of using aluminum foil
- Using an aluminum sheet to line the bottom of your oven can lead to unevenly baked food and may also damage your oven by melting because it is not heatproof.
- Using aluminum foil in the microwave oven is not recommended because it deflects the electromagnetic waves and the food doesn’t cook properly.
- Do not wrap acidic foods like tarts or food like lasagna or pasta that has tomato paste or puree in it. The acid in these foods interacts with the metal making metal salts on the food surface and causing holes in the foil. Food ends up absorbing aluminum and tastes strangely metallic.
- Do not use aluminum foil to line your gas oven, It meddles with the even heat distribution and the food doesn’t cook properly.
Is there any benefit to using aluminum foil in the oven?
Yes, there are a number of benefits the foil can provide.
- You do not need a baking tray or sheet to bake or cook when you have foil in your kitchen.
- When baking in aluminum, you do not have to use oven mittens because when you remove it from the oven, It quickly loses heat.
- It keeps the food tender and moist when wrapped around to bake.
In this article, we answered If you can use aluminum foil in the oven or not, when and how you can safely use aluminum, and what benefits and risks it poses to health.
- Deshwal, Gaurav Kr, and Narender Raju Panjagari. Review on metal packaging: materials, forms, food applications, safety and recyclability. J food sci technol, 2020, 57, 2377-2392.
- Bassioni, Ghada, et al. Risk assessment of using aluminum foil in food preparation. Int. J. Electrochem. Sci, 2012, 7, 4498-4509.
- Turhan, Sadettin. Aluminium contents in baked meats wrapped in aluminium foil. Meat Sci, 2006, 74, 644-647.
- Weber, Sandra, et al. Analytical methods for the determination of mineral oil saturated hydrocarbons (MOSH) and mineral oil aromatic hydrocarbons (MOAH)—A short review. Analyt chem ins, 2018, 13, 1177390118777757.
- Woodard, Janice E. Be smart about cookware materials. 1976. Virginia State University.