Why Select Anodized Aluminum Cookware? The True Benefits of Anodized Aluminum Cookware

Anodized aluminum cookware is wonderful to cook with and won’t warp or bend. It can be as hard as a diamond when proper anodizing methods and techniques are used. Anodizing is a method of aluminum preparation and makes this cookware stronger, and will last a lot longer.

Now, here comes an easy to understand chemistry lesson about anodizing aluminum to create fabulous cookware. Aluminum becomes stronger and more durable after the anodizing process. By putting a sheet of aluminum into a chemical bath of acetone; the acetone becomes the negative conductor of a chemical battery while the aluminum becomes the positive conductor of the chemical battery or the anode. When this process is energized, the aluminum’s surface actually rusts and oxidizes. Oxidation creates a very strong coating, replacing the original aluminum. Typically oxidation will weaken most metals; but it doesn’t seem to weaken aluminum. In fact, oxidation strengthens aluminum.

Recall the rusting aluminum in the chemical process? Well the rust is still part of the aluminum sheet but, because it has transformed itself, the original aluminum will not flake off under stress and will not transfer to your foods. It is sealed in during the chemical process of anodizing. This makes it quite desirable for many cooks. It is used in restaurants. This cookware is used in several food service industries, residential homes, hospitals, and industrial facilities with repeated use. Its strength and durability to heat up foods fast and cook at even temperatures is a time saver in many restaurants and bakeries. The new chemically enhanced aluminum transforms into anodized aluminum, and has become very strong and much more durable. It makes great cookware.

Anodized aluminum is now a popular material used to manufacture high-end cookware such as skillets, frying pans, and pots and pans for chef’s and experienced cooks. We’ve long known Aluminum has a reputation of having heat evenly distributed on the bottom and sides of cookware. However, now we know anodized aluminum cookware provides a protective finish making it rust resistant, and is stronger, more durable, and as a result, more expensive.

It is utilized in several other industries outside cookware. For example satellites that circle around our Earth are protected from space debris floating because these satellites are layered with anodized aluminum. It is now recognized for its strength and durability. Other industries such as the automotive industry use anodized aluminum for trim on vehicles and for protective housings exposed on the outside of our cars. Furniture manufacturers use it for outdoor patio sets because it stands up to outside elements and weather conditions. Computers and home appliances are manufactured with anodized aluminum as a protective housing. Baking cookie sheets, pastry sheet pan, and pots and pans will be around for a long time because they will last for years using this type of cookware.

The Lightweight Durability of Aluminum Sheets

In the 1970’s, there was a large-scale movement for beverage companies to stop using steel cans for soda pop and beer. Their existed the need to switch to an alternative material that offered lower cost in production, thus the aluminum can was born. Once word was out that aluminum weighed less, cost less and was recyclable, beverage companies were on board very quickly and the change became permanent. Today, aluminum, especially aluminum sheeting, is used for more industrial applications than ever before.

As a low-cost material that is both tough and lightweight, aluminum sheeting has been used across many industries for a number of years. In contrast to steel, aluminum weighs less than steel. Aluminum is cheaper to manufacture, and easier to bend into a variety of shapes. It can be shipped easily (less weight=less cost), and makes many items lighter in weight (cars, airplanes, etc.). Aluminum is also stronger and weighs less than tin, making aluminum a more cost feasible product.

The sheeting is available in a variety of grades. Each grade is manufactured with specific designated usages. Certain grades contain a combination of alloys to reinforce strength and/or chemical resistance; while other grades are heat-treated structurally, in order to maintain its resistance to corrosion. Commercially pure aluminum sheeting is generally regarded as the most chemically and weather resistant, but is not as strong as aluminum alloy grades.

Aluminum sheeting also comes in different thicknesses. In the manufacturing process, pre-treated aluminum ingots are passed through heavy rolls under massive amounts of pressure. The more pressure that is applied, the thinner and longer the aluminum becomes. Aluminum ingots can pass through many series of rollers to achieve their required gage, or thickness. Aluminum sheeting of any grade or alloy can extend from 0.006 inches to 0.080 inches thick. Any gage that is thinner than a gage of 0.006 is considered to be aluminum foil; whereas anything thicker than 0.080 is considered to be a metal plate.

Aside from being able to manufacture aluminum sheets in a wide array of grades and gauges, aluminum is a substance that can be formed, molded, stamped and anodized to just about any color in the rainbow. Assorted finishes are also possible – matte, glossy, and even a number of textures can be etched into aluminum sheeting to create a unique appearance. With aluminum’s low cost and high malleability, it is perfect for household appliances such as toys, signage and machinery.

There are other uses, ranging from packaging, to the automobile and aerospace industries, to construction. Aluminum cans used in consumer markets are durable, hold up against corrosion, and are inexpensive to produce. Automakers use aluminum sheeting for paneling on cars, trailers, and on semi-trucks. Those in the aerospace industry construct planes and other equipment from aluminum sheeting due to the cost effectiveness and strength, yet it weighs less than other similar products. In construction, aluminum sheeting is used for building exteriors (aluminum gutters and siding) as well as structural interiors (duct work).

A naturally-abundant element found throughout the world, aluminum is an ideal material for an extensive range of purposes. Its lightweight, hard-wearing durability rivals steel and tin. It provides resistance against weather and is not corrosive. It can be produced relatively simply and at a lower cost, and offers ease-of-use on a manufacturing level. Aluminum is available in many different grades and gages; making it suitable for every application imaginable.

Steel Trailers Vs Aluminum Trailers – Which is Better?

In the beginning, there were horse trailers, introduced during the late 1950s when trail-riding became popular. Buyers didn’t worry about the metal used to build the trailer because the only metal available was steel.

Steel had some problems though. The biggest problem was that it rusted. Even today, most steel starts to rust after only a year of use. Over time, a steel trailer can slowly disintegrate.

When the all-aluminum horse trailer came on the market in the 1970s, pioneered by Featherlite Trailers, it had a huge advantage over steel as a manufacturing material. Not only did aluminum resist rust and corrosion, it was also lighter and therefore easier to pull. Trailer owners reporting better gas mileage when hauling an aluminum trailer only added to its popularity.

All-aluminum trailers tend to be more expensive than steel trailers, however. And steel trailer manufacturers claim aluminum trailers just can’t withstand the stress of trailering as well as a steel trailer. This leaves buyers with a hard choice-do they pay more for an all-aluminum trailer with its supposed superiority, or buy a more familiar steel trailer and save money? Opinions vary wildly.

What are the facts, though? Is an all-aluminum trailer really a better choice? Have steel trailer manufacturers managed to overcome the material’s flaws? This article aims to answer that question.

Metallurgy for the masses

The big question to be answered is which metal is stronger. Steel trailer supporters like to point out that steel has a reputation of being one of the toughest common alloys, while aluminum is more commonly known for its use as foil or pop can material.

However, the aluminum used in all-aluminum trailers is an alloy, the same way that steel is an alloy of iron. This alloy has about the same yield strength as steel! It contains at least 95 percent aluminum, and the other five percent is composed of copper, titanium, chromium and zinc. Other metals are also added in trace amounts to further refine the alloy’s properties.

Steel companies, though, still can’t come up with a process that makes steel as rust-resistant as aluminum. The best they have is the galvanizing and galvannealing process, which coats steel with a protective layer of zinc in order to retard corrosion. Unfortunately, it only lasts until the layer is breached. Galvannealed steel trailers can receive added protection with a coat of paint, but since trailers are constantly exposed to harsh weather as well as high-velocity gravel the question is when, not if, the protective layers will be penetrated. Galvanizing and galvannealing is also expensive, so most steel trailers only galvanize the skin to keep the price low. The trailer’s frame is left to the tender mercies of the environment.

High maintenance

Both kinds of horse trailers require upkeep, but the biggest issue with aluminum trailers is simply lubricating the hinges and cam latches. You’ll also want to make sure to wash out the interior, since horse urine is corrosive. For cosmetic purposes, an aluminum trailer should be given an acid bath every couple of years to clean and renew its exterior.

Steel trailers, on the other hand, must be examined constantly in order to prevent rust. Any scratches in the paint need to be touched up or the steel will start to oxidize. If the steel has been galvanized or galvannealed though, you won’t have to inspect the trailer as frequently, but you’ll want to make sure that welded and riveted areas have been properly finished after every repair. The galvanic layer must be removed to weld, and rivets and screws compromise the galvanic coat.

This constant need to maintain the paint coat and the galvanic coat make steel trailer repairs more expensive, too. Steel trailer repairs are usually more expensive than similar repairs to an aluminum trailer because trailer dealers have to repaint it to prevent rust, while galvanized and galvannealed steel have to be stripped of their zinc layer before they can be welded. Then the zinc layer must be reapplied after repairs, and finally the repaired area gets a new coat of paint.

On the road again

So an aluminum trailer requires less maintenance, resists rust and corrosion and is has better overall durability. It sounds impressive, but how do steel and aluminum trailers compare on the road? Horse and livestock owners who have owned both steel and aluminum trailers consistently say that they get a smoother tow with an aluminum trailer. They also say they can get a smoother ride with a loaded aluminum trailer than they get hauling an empty steel trailer!

The lower weight of an aluminum trailer also translates into a higher payload capacity, meaning you can load more items into an aluminum carrier before reaching the maximum amount of weight your vehicle will tow. Finally, as previously mentioned, several trailer owners reported better gas mileage towing an aluminum trailer than they did with a steel one.

Warranties and resale

The fact that steel rusts presents a problem when reselling it. Steel trailers only a couple years old often have patches of rust, which is difficult to cover or clean. Older steel trailers can be badly rusted, unsightly and even a safety hazard, with rust compromising load-bearing components.

On the other hand, aluminum trailer owners can keep their trailers running like new for decades with just routine maintenance. In terms of visual appearance, owners can restore their trailer’s exterior with an acid bath that renders the trailer lustrous and pristine in minutes. These are just two reasons aluminum trailers command a higher resale price than steel trailers do.

As many trailer buyers have discovered, all-aluminum trailers have better warranties. All-aluminum trailer companies almost always offer longer warranties than steel trailer companies, which makes buying all-aluminum trailers a lower risk investment than buying steel.

Anti-aluminum myths

As you may have noticed, all-aluminum trailers have several advantages over steel trailers. However, some articles on the Internet have talked about the problems with owning an aluminum horse trailer. These articles have only one flaw-their facts are often manipulated. Below are some of the popular myths about all-aluminum trailers, along with the real facts.

All-Aluminum trailers are as heavy as steel trailers. Aluminum is only 1/3 as strong as steel, so three times more aluminum must be used to get the equal strength of a steel frame

This would be a better argument if aluminum horse trailers were built from pure aluminum. However, the aluminum alloy used to construct horse trailers is substantially stronger than pure aluminum. More aluminum is used, but the end result is still a trailer that weighs on average 10-15 percent less than a trailer made of steel. That translates to hundreds of pounds that can be added to cargo weight-or not pulled at all.

Trailer manufacturers aren’t the only ones who have figured this out. Automobile and airplane manufacturers have been replacing steel with aluminum, and the majority of the NASA Space Shuttles’ structures are constructed from aluminum alloys.

Steel is easier to repair than aluminum

Not anymore. Before aluminum became popular, more welders were familiar with welding steel and welding aluminum was another trick to learn. However, aluminum welding techniques are commonly known, and just about every welder knows how to work with aluminum. Consequently, the price has gone down as well, so the cost of getting an aluminum trailer welded is comparable to the cost of welding a steel trailer.

Aluminum stresses and tears more easily than a steel trailer

Okay, seriously-if aluminum is such an inferior building material, why is their resale value consistently higher than steel? Why do you rarely find a steel trailer warranty that’s longer than the warranty on an aluminum trailer? For that matter, why do people who own aluminum horse trailers keep them longer on average than people who own steel horse trailers?

Now, if you want to be technical, steel is stronger than aluminum in some respects. It has a higher modulus of elasticity, for instance, which means more force must be applied to steel before it starts to bend. However, aluminum flexes three times as much as steel, which means that aluminum is more likely to spring back to its original shape after being stressed. Steel though, will probably stay bent. Steel also fatigues at lower levels of stress than aluminum, and steel’s rigidity makes it more vulnerable to cracking because of its brittleness.

You might also be interested to know that aluminum’s lower modulus of elasticity works in its favor as a construction material for trailers. A lower elastic modulus means that an all-aluminum trailer lessens impact shock loads while on the road, giving your animals a smoother ride and creating a smoother tow for your vehicle.

So-called “all-aluminum” trailers have steel parts, so steel must be superior

Not even close. Yes, “all-aluminum” trailer companies will use steel in certain areas, such as the trailer’s axles. However, it is not because steel is better than aluminum. Rather, steel is better than aluminum in that instance. And that’s one of the main differences between most steel trailers and all-aluminum trailers. All-aluminum trailers are not above using other materials to create the best possible product. On the other hand, most steel trailer manufacturers seem to insist that steel is the best material for every aspect of the trailer, regardless of whether or not another material might actually do a better job. It’s like a plastic company insisting that a sheet of plastic wrap will make as good a bedroom window as a pane of glass.

Of course, it’s possible to take this concept too far. Some trailer companies have tried to get the best of both worlds by creating a steel frame and wrapping an aluminum skin around it. They advertise these trailers as being “aluminum” even though half-and-half might be a more accurate description. In theory, the steel frame makes the trailer stronger, and the aluminum skin lightens the trailer and resists rust. In practice, many of these half-and-half trailers can get worse mileage than a lighter all-aluminum trailer and the steel infrastructure is still prone to rusting, which can destroy the trailer’s integrity. Worse yet, steel and aluminum chemically react to one another, so manufacturers must keep the two metals separate using Mylar padding or some other coating that separates the metals. This works fine in limited instances, but when this is applied to an entire trailer it can create problems. An owner of a half-and-half has to guard against the padding breaking down at every point on the trailer where the steel may come in contact with the aluminum. And if the trailer ever needs to be repaired, the padding usually has to be stripped and replaced as well.

The right metal for the job

The bottom line is that aluminum is a superior manufacturing material for trailers. While a steel trailer can do the job, an aluminum trailer almost always does a better job. It can last longer, too. You may save money initially, but after watching your trailer eventually wear down to rust and getting a replacement while your friends are still using an all-aluminum trailer, you’ll know why so many people consider an all-aluminum trailer a superior value.