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Is copper worth it? (copper "core" or all copper?)

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I posted this earlier under another title, but got no replies. Perhaps it was that people's eyes roll over when they see a questions asking to compare All-Clad to copper? I don't know, but here goes again.

I'm fairly new here and a relative amateur at cooking. I'm getting tired of buying Wal-Mart quality pans and throwing them out frequently. I decided it's time to get some very good quality pots and pans. I'll look at it as an investment, and I'm not afraid to spend some $$$ on them. I've been reading what I can for reviews, but I'd like input from you all.

All-Clad seems to be very good according to most people. How about the copper core All-Clad? Instead of just an aluminumm core, it has copper in addition to the aluminum. The regular stainless All-Clad is 3 layers consisting of stainless-aluminum-stainless. The copper core All-Clad is 5 layers consisting of stainless-aluminum-copper-aluminum-stainless. Copper is supposed to transfer heat quicker than aluminum. But, with those surrounding layers, is the benefit of the copper core negated? Have any of you tried copper core All-Clad, or both kinds and compared? Is the copper core worth it?

Of course, the best for transferring heat is pure copper pans, like Mauviel, etc. The thin layer of stainless (or tin) on the inside keeps them from reacting with food. I think I would go with the stainless lining for durability (tin seems fragile and would need re-tiniiing). The only disadvantage of copper pans seems to be aesthetics. They tarnish easily. I'm not too keen on polishing them all the time. But, on an internetr search, I came across copper pans with a "brushed" exterior that can be cleaned with a Scotch-Brite pad, instead of using polish. These seem like good pans (at least they look good on their website). Has anyone tried these? How do they perform? Do they clean up well?. Is the performance as good as Mauviel? What do you all think? *** Note: I've noticed that there is a guy on this site that hawks them (coffee4you2). With all due respect to you Mr. coffee4you2, I'd rather have opinions from others, as you have an obvious selling interest. I'd like some 3rd party reviews from the rest of you.

Thanks all.

post #2 of 10
IMHO, unless you have money to burn copper is an extravagance. Aluminum is only slightly lower on the scale in terms of heat conduction and is more than adequate for any cooking activities.

My advice would be not to obsess over this. Go to a good store (Sur la table perhaps) and feel it. I am an All Clad Stainless series fan myself but other high end manufacturers have good products too. Like most folks, I have a variety of pieces. There is a restaurant supply house in town that I sometimes go to for good quality and relatively inexpensive cookware. basically there is no need to break the bank when buying this stuff. On the other hand I think you have the right idea about the Wal-Mart stuff.

post #3 of 10
Not all copper/stainless pans are created equal. The copper has to have a minimum thickness to act as an aluminum core would. Otherwise, it's just decorative.

I feel that you get the benefits of copper with aluminium. the savings is substantial. I also like the convenience of occasionally sticking my tri-ply stainless in the dishwasher, a no-no with copper, or even copper core All-Clad if memory serves.
Never eat more than you can lift! - Miss Piggy
Never eat more than you can lift! - Miss Piggy
post #4 of 10

Thermal conductivity of metals

This post got me inquisitive. If found a table that discusses the thermal conductivity of metals. MMM... maybe copper is a lot better than aluminum.
The table gave the following values for the common metals found in cookware. iron - 73; steel - ~46; aluminum - 210; copper 386. The only metal listed that was higher than copper was silver at 406. Not quite sure what these values are but the formula given was ( W.m-1. K-1 ). Anyway, if the values are linear copper is nearly twice as thermally conductive as aluminum and about 5.25 times as conductive as cast iron and about 8.5 times as conductive as steel. If the factors are log rhythmic the difference is off the chart but I don't think they are. Not sure where stainless falls on this scale but I would bet it's around the iron and steel numbers. Anyway it was interesting. Maybe someone that knows more about this could shed some light on it. Hope this helps.

Personally I bought some solid aluminum annodized pans (immitation chalaphon (sp?)) about 20 years ago and I have been very happy. My main criteria was the lids had to be cast too so if they fell on the floor they wouldn't bend and the handles were riveted on. Just something you might want to think about. I also have a selection of cast iron dutch ovens and fry pans along with a couple of non-stick fry pans to complete the collection. If you are looking for cast iron, try and find older pans that have smooth machined surfaces on the inside not the rough castings you generally find today. Even if they are rusty they can be cleaned and/or sanded down with emery paper as long as there aren't any big pits. Then just season them and love em. Good luck on your hunt and don't settle for something you don't like as you will probably live with it for a LONG time.
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
I forgot to say what the copper pans were. They are the Falk copper pans lined with stainless steel. They are 2.5 mm thick. (That seems toward the thick end compared to most copper pans.) They have riveted cast iron handles. They look heavy duty. They are found at Falkculinair.com

On the Falks, of the 2.5 mm, almost all is copper. There is a layer of .008" of stainless steel liner. I've already steered away from All-Clad's "Cop-R-Chef" line, as it is only copper plated, and doesn't have much copper. But, All-Clad's "copper core" line is a possibility.

As far as burning money on the cost of copper pans, the Falks are not much different in price from the All-Clads. They're less than Mauviels.

Like michigan Dave, I saw the thermal conductivity comparisons. Copper was nearly twice as conductive as aluminum. The chart I saw was set up differently than the one michigan dave saw. The chart I saw gave gave the thermal conductivity of metals realtive to silver, and placing silver at 100%. Relative to silver, copper is 94%, gold is 70%, aluminum is 52%, iron is 16%,and stainless steel is 6%.

As for the Falk pans, if they're not much different than All-Clad in price, I figure "why not", unless something is not right about them??? I wonder if that "brushed" finish does clean up with scotch-brite pads?

For what it's worth, whatever I get, it won't be a whole set. As others have indicated, there will be different materials for different uses. I'll still have some cast iron, a non-sticck fry pan or two, a large aluminum pot to boil water (no need for expense there), etc.

Thanks for comments.

post #6 of 10
I, too, am aware of the differences in conductivity between copper and aluminum.

The point I wanted to make was that, in on-the-stove performance, is there a noticable performance difference between the copper core or clad pan vs an aluminium core or clad pan.

The point of either metal is for even distribution of heat with no hot spots. If stainless and aluminum tri-ply does that without issue, then isn't the copper just for appearance/bragging rights?
Never eat more than you can lift! - Miss Piggy
Never eat more than you can lift! - Miss Piggy
post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
Andy M wrote:
<<..."The point of either metal is for even distribution of heat with no hot spots. If stainless and aluminum tri-ply does that without issue, then isn't the copper just for appearance/bragging rights?"...>>

I don't know the answer. That's why I'm asking. I'm asking for comparisons. If someone has used both, and can compare, that would be great. Or, if you have used either one, I welcome those comments, too.

As for appearance, there's nothing wrong with it looking good. That's why I asked if the brushed copper cleans up well. As for "bragging rights", I don't even understand what you mean by that? Brag about what? Is copper some kind of status thing in the cooking world? (I'm a relative amateur and new on this site.) My last pan was bought at Wal-Mart, and it stinks (for performance). I'm a scientist, so I'm more into the metal properties comparisons.

Thanks for any info.

post #8 of 10
Sorry, Glenn. I guess I got a little off the original question.

The point I was trying to make is: if there is no performance difference, then the only reason to buy copper is for its appearance. However, if you like the look if copper and can afford the price difference, there is no reason not to.

My comment about bragging rights is a reference to the overall desirability of functional copper cookeware as the elite of the cookware world. An opinion held by many.

I have mostly tri-ply stainless. some All-Clad and some other brands. They perform admirably for me. The only advantage I might get from copper is a slightly faster heat transfer resulting a my pan's getting hot a little sooner. That's not really an issue for me.

I tend to be of a practical nature and a little lazy. So I chose tri-ply stainless as the easiest care type of cookware.
Never eat more than you can lift! - Miss Piggy
Never eat more than you can lift! - Miss Piggy
post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
Andy M.,
Thanks for the reply. So far, from what info I can gather, I would likely go with either All-Clad or the Falk copper. They're roughly the same price. I wouldn't get the polished type copper (such as Mauviel), as it would be difficult to maintain, and it is much more expensive. But, I'll keep the brushed Falk copper in the running.

Now, it's decision time.

Any more input is more than welcome.


post #10 of 10
Glenn, if you're still deciding...

I recently researched smooth-top electric ranges, very briefly. One of the eight or so reasons I quickly ruled out owning one is that I found several reports on the web indicating that copper pots had melted / burned (!!!) and left residue on the glass surface which was impossible to remove.

We don't have any copper pots but do have All-Clad and some of them are no longer perfectly flat-bottomed. That too is apparently a serious problem with smooth-tops - pots must sit perfectly flat on the glass or they don't heat well and/or stress the burner to premature failure.

So, if you have a smooth-top cooking surface then both pot lines you're considering may be less than ideal. We have some 25-year-old Lagostina stainless pots with aluminum bases that have held up very well and remain perfectly flat-bottomed, but they don't cook like All-Clad.

Hope this is useful!
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