Stainless steel cookware as a significant source of nickel, chromium, and iron

Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 1992 Aug;23(2):211-5. doi: 10.1007/BF00212277.


Stainless steels are widely used materials in food preparation and in home and commercial cookware. Stainless is readily attacked by organic acids, particularly at cooking temperatures; hence iron, chromium, and nickel should be released from the material into the food. Nickel is implicated in numerous health problems, notably allergic contact dermatitis. Conversely, chromium and iron are essential nutrients for which stainless could be a useful source. Home cookware was examined by atomic absorption spectroscopy: seven different stainless utensils as well as cast iron, mild steel, aluminum and enamelled steel. The materials were exposed to mildly acidic conditions at boiling temperature. Nickel was a major corrosion product from stainless steel utensils; chromium and iron were also detected. It is recommended that nickel-sensitive patients switch to a material other than stainless, and that the stainless steel cookware industry seriously consider switching to a non-nickel formulation.

MeSH terms

  • Chromium / analysis*
  • Cooking / instrumentation*
  • Iron / analysis*
  • Nickel / analysis*
  • Spectrophotometry, Atomic
  • Stainless Steel / chemistry*


  • Chromium
  • Stainless Steel
  • Nickel
  • Iron