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All Clad Handle? & Copper or Aluminum

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
I'm buying my first cookware (yay!) and I have narrowed it down to the All Clad MC2, All Clad Copper Core and the Le Creuset Stainless. I have a few questions that I am hoping you all will be able to answer to help me make the best decision:

1. What is so special about the All Clad handle? Everyone talks about it, but I'm not sure what's so great about it. I've heard it doesn't get hot, but is that all? It also doesn't seem very comfortable to me.

2. Has anyone had experience with brushed stainless cookware not getting as "used/dirty/spotty" looking as the shiny stainless steel? That is the main reason I am considering the MC2 over the normal stainless steel.

3. Which is a better conductor aluminum or copper?

4. Has anyone had experience with the new Le Creuset Stainless cookware? It seems very sturdy and is comfortable to hold. I love the Le Creuset Cast Iron so I was excited to hear about the new stainless line.

5. Overall recommendations/suggestions/etc toward All Clad or Le Creuset. Especially if anyone knows which boils water faster (I'm impatient if I just want to cook some pasta!)

Thanks so much!
post #2 of 19
Copper conducts better than aluminum. But it's only worth the price and maintenance premium in rare specific instances.

You won't see a statistical difference in how fast the pots boil water.

The other questions are beyond my expertise (read budget) to answer.

Phil
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #3 of 19
All Clad handles get hot, but don't get as hot as quickly. They're a good length, and comfortable for most people. But not, it would seem, for you. You've hit on one of the few meaningful differences in high-end, multiple ply residential cookware.

It maintains its looks longer and doesn't show scratches. But it's just a look.

It's (uninentionally) a trick question. An equal mass or volume of copper will conduct heat more efficiently than aluminum. However, there's not enough copper in any of the All-Clad's to make a difference in performance.

All Clad Copper-Core is 99% extra expense and marketing. IIRC, it's also on the heavy side

Even their copper on the outside, Copper All Clad, is nothing more than an expensive look. You can buy "real" copper cookware which actually takes some advantage of coppers efficiency from France or Belgium -- Mauviel and Matfer Bourgeat for example. But it's very expensive, and the performance differences certainly aren't worth the price. It's something for someone who demands "the very best" without regard to the cost; but the very best won't make any difference to the food. Beautiful though.

No personal experience. Almost everything I've read has been complaints. The overwhelming response is that Le Creuset will lose its good name over inferior products.

All Clad is as good as it gets in multiple ply cookware. If you want to look at other "as good as All Clad" lines, I suggest Calphalon Tri-Ply and Gourmet Standard Tri-Ply as residential-styled alternatives, and Vollrath Tribute a professional line with no consideration for styling. If handles are what count for you, I'm sure you'll find something you like in one of these high quality alternatives. There are other good lines as well, if you decide you want to delve more deeply.

I suggest buying a boxed set of multiple ply stainless as the core of your pan and pot collection, then adding individual pieces without regard to manufacturer. Think before buying the ultimate set of 183 matching pieces. Stainless is not the best material for many purposes -- especially in skillets where carbon steel is a better choice for almost everything that isn't too acid. Multi-ply is a waste for large stock pots, you save money and weight with a disk bottom. You'll want some enamel over cast iron casseroles, a LeCreuset rondeau for instance, for braising. Perhaps a Lodge cast-iron chicken fryer and corn-bread skillet, too. It's about what you like to cook.

Cost aside, All Clad is better in every meaningful respect.

Neither brand will boil water faster. The significant differences in construction have to do with warp resistance, even heat conduction, responsiveness to heat change, scratch resistance, stain resistance, security of the handle attachment, etc.

BDL
post #4 of 19
Quite a few people find the All-Clad handles uncomfortable, or so I've read in forums like this one. I find them to be OK, and have never encountered them getting too hot that I couldn't handle them without a pot holder. Been using some All-Clad since around 1979 or so. The pieces I have have stood up well except for a Ltd skillet - I'll never buy another Ltd again. The finish didn't hold up, although, supposedly, the new Ltd finish is much better.

MC2 cookware has an aluminum exterior. It's brushed aluminum, not stainless. Frankly, in most All-Clad pieces I prefer the Master Chef because the pots are thisker and distribute heat slightly better.

BDL gave an opinion about this and I tend to agree. I just bought my first Demeyere piece - absolutely top notch, comparable in price to the lesser quality All-Clad. I got the 10" 7-layer skillet. Thick, heavy, built like a truck.

Demeyere makes some great disk-bottom pots as well, but for a lot of uses the Calphalon 8-quart pasta pot is a heck of a deal.

shel
post #5 of 19
I agree about the Calphalon Tri-Ply, and the Gourmet Standard is a good, cost effective choice as well. I've no experience with Vollrath. However, I'm not convinced that All-Clad is "as good as it gets." I believe that certain Demeyere pices - comparable to All-Clad - are superior. Having just purchased a Dremeyere skillet, and looking towards a Calphalon Tri-Ply, it'll be neat to compare the three and see how they stack up. For $34.00 or so at BB&B, the Tri-Ply 10" skillet is hard to beat.

shel
post #6 of 19
.......Mauviel and Matfer Bourgeat for example. But it's very expensive, and the performance differences certainly aren't worth the price.

oh, now there I have to disagree. I have multiple Bourgeat. the stuff is expensive, but it is quite fantastic to cook with. unparalleled excellent cookware and worth every penny of it.

ps: some internet shopping can get you solid copper at a reasonable premium over the "name brand" stainless.

pps: thermal conductivity
(BTU/ (hr - ft - degree F)
stainless steel - 8 (varies slightly by alloy; 304 cited)
cast iron - 46
aluminum - 136
copper - 231
silver - 248
(there's nothing better than silver . . . )
post #7 of 19
"All Clad is as good as it gets in multiple ply cookware"

Until something goes wrong. And then you're on your own.

There may be a cookware company with worse customer service than All Clad. But if so, I haven't been able to find them.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #8 of 19
Demeyere uses silver as one of the heat conducting layers - FWIW

scb
post #9 of 19
I'm not calling anyone out, but it seems to me we're veering into a tangent. It's an interesting tangent, but raises some questions about separating myth and reality

Some questions:

I.
A. How thick would a silver or copper layer, sandwiched between two layers of stainless would have to be to represent a significant improvement over, say, 1.5mm of aluminum?

B. Do any of cookware lines discussed here have the silver or copper layer necessary?

C. What would those differences be in terms of even heating, warp resistance, and responsiveness (warm up and cool down)?

D. How would you quantify these differences?

II.
A. If I were to saute a couple of sand dabs, then prepare a piccata sauce as a deglaze in the same pan -- cooking one in a 10" MC2 skillet, and the other in a top of the line Mauviel copper skillet -- how would I have to adjust my technique?

B. What differences could I expect to see in the respective dishes if I did not adjust my technique?

C. Would one pan cook faster with less flame?

D. Do you have actual cooking experiences which illustrate a noticeable performance difference between multiple ply cookware which can be attributed to a core layer of copper or silver?

E. Did you know that the silver used in Demeyere pans is only used for sintering other materials, and is not a conductive layer?

III.
A. Supposing three hypothetical otherwise identical 10" skillets, what would the weight differences be if the pans were built to the same performance levels, and the only difference was the mass of the middle conductor (silver, copper, or aluminum)?

IV.
A. Suppposing two hypothetical otherwise identical 10" skillets, what would the performance differences be assuming equal weights, and a difference that one was constructed of a tri-ply stainless-aluminum-stainless sandwich, and the other of a stainless-aluminum-silver-aluminum-stainless sandwich?

?
BDL
post #10 of 19
You'd want them identical to look and feel the same to set up the proper double blind test environment too.

Phil
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #11 of 19
I've been thinking a bit about your questions, and, for most of them, I don't know the answer. Judging by the response you've gotten, it seems doubtful that anyone else does either. Good questions, and certainly something to think about or look into.

shel
post #12 of 19
interesting batch of questions and situations . . .

Q: How thick would a silver or copper layer, sandwiched between two layers of stainless would have to be to represent a significant improvement over, say, 1.5mm of aluminum?

heat conductive is measured by BTU per time passing through an area. given the same diameter disk and same heat source, a thinner disk of silver/copper is needed conduct ie disperse the same amount of heat.

136/231 = 0.588 * 1.5 mm aluminum or 0.883 mm copper
136/248 = 0.548 * 1.5 mm aluminum or 0.822 mm silver
assuming the bond layer between materials is equally efficient at heat transfer.

Q: What would those differences be in terms of even heating, warp resistance, and responsiveness (warm up and cool down)?
aluminum is roughly half as speedy at move heat away from the source, so the outer reaches of the equivalent aluminum pan would take twice as long to reach a given surface temp.
warping:
coefficient of thermal expansion (in/in/'FX10^-6)
aluminum 13.1
copper 9.8
silver 10.8

hence an aluminum disk will experience the highest stress levels and be most apt to warp.
note that copper and stainless expand at almost the same rate - meaning that combination should experience almost no differential stress to cause warping
bonding layer/technique is probably a very significant factor.

Q: What differences could I expect to see in the respective dishes if I did not adjust my technique?
in order fastest to slowest response time to operator induced changes in heat level: silver / copper / aluminum
for tasks that require varying the pan hotness, technique will have to be adjusted re: time lag knob twist to observed change.
in a similar vein, pans will cool down at different rates

Q: Would one pan cook faster with less flame?
yes.
in order least to most flame required: silver / copper / aluminum
heat which cannot be conducted through the pan wraps up around the edges and goes away without cooking anything.

Q: Supposing three hypothetical otherwise identical 10" skillets, what would the weight differences be if the pans were built to the same performance levels, and the only difference was the mass of the middle conductor (silver, copper, or aluminum)?

assuming a nominal 9.5 inch diameter disk:
1.5 mm thick aluminum, weight of disk only: 186.1 grams
0.883 mm thick copper, weight of disk only: 360.0 grams
0.822 mm thick silver, weight of disk only: 394.5 grams
post #13 of 19
[quote=Dillbert;230263]

Q: How thick would a silver or copper layer, sandwiched between two layers of stainless would have to be to represent a significant improvement over, say, 1.5mm of aluminum?

heat conductive is measured by BTU per time passing through an area. given the same diameter disk and same heat source, a thinner disk of silver/copper is needed conduct ie disperse the same amount of heat.

136/231 = 0.588 * 1.5 mm aluminum or 0.883 mm copper
136/248 = 0.548 * 1.5 mm aluminum or 0.822 mm silver
assuming the bond layer between materials is equally efficient at heat transfer. So aluminum has a weight advantage assuming equal "performance." As a practical matter, high-end aluminum-stainless and stainless-aluminum-stainless (tri-ply) multi ply is noticeably lighter than 5 ply All Clad with the "copper core" and 7 ply Demeyere.

These are my "understandings" anyway. I'm not a cookware expert, not a "materials" guy and certainly not terribly informed where the particular rubber meets the specific road.

Having fun learning,
BDL
post #14 of 19
......You skipped even heating.
mind like a steel trap . . . .

even heating in which plane? assuming the heat source is a smaller diameter than the pan, heat must transfer "out" from (the presumed) center to the edges.
even heating: I have seen stainless copper flashed bottom (Revereware, 50 yrs old....) with cute little rosette crusted black stuff which looks strangely like the burner flame pattern......
the heat is so intense it burns the soup into rose petals, does not transfer outward . . .

ergo "center to edges" is the obvious "even heating" point of discussion so far as I know - but then I've never seen or heard of cookware with a "more better disk / ply" anywhere other than "the bottom" so I'm at a complete loss re: "sidewalls"

/q
Warpage -- You forgot to factor in the actual nature of the cookware in question. They are constructed of constrained layer sandwiches. The warp resistance is far more in the construction then the materials. To the extent there is a materials difference, a sandwich with some amount of differential between layers may be be more resistant than layers which behave nearly identically. Think about the stability of laminated materials.
/uq

totally lost here bdl.
if disparate layers are not physically, intimately, mechanically "joined" then thermal transfer will just plain suck. like, "if not joined" - what's "in the middle?"
""" a sandwich with some amount of differential between layers may be be more resistant than layers which behave nearly identically"""
uhm....... layers which have identically thermal expansion characteristics do not have a stress region. no stress, no strain, no warp, eh?
if the physical structure is so well contained that different amounts of physical lineal expansion between the layers is excluded, the result is delamination.
this is physics - e.g. water will expand when frozen and there is no known physical constraint system that will "contain" the expansion of ice.

/q
As a practical matter you might expect a copper exterior - stainless interior pan to be just barely more responsive than a multi-ply or aluminum exterior - stainless interior pan. Other than that, no difference. No difference in technique, and no difference in working around hot spots.
/uq

my Bourgeat copper does not have "hot spots" on any of the four different BTU output natural gas burners I have available.
consider in re: ".......more responsive than a multi-ply ....." understand that the outer stainless limits the amount of heat getting to the inner ply.
hence the statement is, under heat input load exceeding the ability of the stainless shell to transfer, most certainly true.
a solid copper outer shell does not have the same 1/30th heat transfer input restriction as stainless.
bottom line: my experience with solid copper / ss lined is at complete odds with "no difference" - and I've bought and trashed all the "names" in these discussions.

/q
So aluminum has a weight advantage assuming equal "performance."
/uq
in a multi-ply construction, the theory says yes.

when I bought my first Bourgeat, my dear wife queried: "And who is going to polish that stuff?"
A: I bought it to cook with, not to polish and hang on the wall. it does not get polished, it only gets cooked in.

and then, said she:
"This stuff is too heavy!"
the mutli-year reality: she drags it out and cooks with it in preference to the stainless, aluminum and glass pots, pans, <other stuff>
I love my wife dearly, but she cannot remotely define "thermal transfer" - so I'm left with the conclusion that she finds the
"too heavy"
"not polished"
"not pretty"
copper stuff
"works better"

tonight she's making a tuna noodle casserole - and the sauce/liquid bit is currently-as-I-type simmering in the small Bourgeat copper sauce pan.
she had mutiple stainless alternates in "the next over cabinet" but those are _not_ what's on the cooktop.
go figger.
post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thank you all so much for your input! I don't think I need anything quite as nice as the Demeyere or Mauviel yet. It's good to know that generally speaking, for someone like me who is not a professional and just likes to cook a lot, aluminum and copper cores are close enough, where I most likely will not notice the difference. It's good to know that the All Clad Copper and Copper Core do not have a significant improvement over the MC2. I have to admit, I am a bit disappointed to hear about the Le Creuset, I was finally able to hold all the pieces at an Outlet store and really liked them. The pot itself was heavy enough to feel substantial and the handle was well balanced for the weight of the pot/pan. I have been doing some searching for reviews and what not online, but I have not found much, assumingly because it's relatively new. I was able to use a friends All Clad stainless to cook a couple nights ago and they do perform very nicely, but the handle really bugs me, it does not seem to be balanced. I really think for that reason I have to disqualify it from my search, despite all the great reviews. I will look into the calphalon, I remember looking in to it a while ago, but I don't remember much about it. Once again, thanks so much for your helpful insight!
post #16 of 19
You seem to be concerned primarily with handle comfort. Which is a good thing, because if the pan isn't comfortable to use you won't be happy with it, no matter what other virtues it may have.

Let me throw something else into the pot. Check out the Henkels. I find their S curve, pregnant-belly, hand-filling handles to be the most comfortable of any cookware I've used.

From what I've seen of reviews, people either love them or hate them, with no middle ground. Obviously, I'm in the love 'em category.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #17 of 19
I don't know the Henckels -- it sure is interesting looking.

If you want handle comfort and solid quality; and you can deal with ugly and expensive -- there's Vollrath Tribute. It's "professional" in the old sense of the word. Were I buying stainless: Vollrath. I might be tempted to find some generic lids as the Tribute tops are tres cher -- on the other hand, you won't need a pot holder. If you want to hold it before ordering you'll have to find a commercial cookware - restaurant supply store in a hamlet or village near you.

BDL
post #18 of 19
Only trouble with that Henkels handle, BDL, is that they don't make a broad enough line of them. And Henkels, in general, has comparatively little in open stock.

I've got both an 8" and 10" in the Henkels, and would kill for a 12. They fit my hand and cooking style perfectly, they never heat up, and they're just a joy to use.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #19 of 19
One reason I went with Calphalon tri-ply over all-clad for my fry&saute pans

sauce pans, I went with whatever I could find that fits ..from tjmaxx or marshalls. (as I did with my fry&sautee pans) I have an allclad deep pot, a calphalon 3 quart and a smaller all-clad (not sure the size)

I'm undecided on if i like calphalons glass lids. or all-clads lids...sometimes I like to see....

either way. check out marshalls and tjmaxx. great prices.
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