Release behavior of metals from tin-lined copper cookware into food simulants during cooking and cold storage

Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2020 Nov;27(31):38591-38601. doi: 10.1007/s11356-020-09970-z. Epub 2020 Jul 5.


The copper pots with an inner coating layer of tin have been remarkably used in many countries for a long time. In this study, leaching of some metals from tin-lined copper pots into food simulators at different pHs (4, 5.5, 7, and 8.5) during boiling processing (95 °C for 1, 2, and 3 h) or refrigerated storage (4 °C for 1, 2, and 3 days) was investigated. Citric acid and sodium hydroxide were used to adjust the pH of food simulators. The leaching concentrations of metals were analyzed by inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometers (ICP-OES). Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) was used to indicate the surface morphological properties of cookware. Based on the preliminary experiments, metals including Al, Sn, Cu, Mn, Fe, Ca, Na, Cr, Mg, and Zn were selected to analyze in acidic treatments. Furthermore, Al, Cu, Sn, Na, and Ca were analyzed for neutral and alkaline ones. Results showed that the boiling temperature for 3 h resulted in a much higher migration of metals compared with cold storage for 3 days. Mn and Cr showed the lowest metal concentration during cooking and cold storage, respectively. The concentration of Sn in acidic simulators was remarkably higher than the other metals during both cooking and refrigerated storage. However, Ca during cold storage, as well as Na during both cooking and cold storage, showed the most migration in alkaline solutions, among the other pHs. An acidic simulator with pH 4 showed the most considerable release of metals from copper pots. SEM results indicated more intense surface corrosion by acidic solution (pH 4) than alkaline one. In general, longer cooking and cold storage durations led to increasing metals release. The migration of the studied metals demonstrates the impurities of the tin layer of these cookwares that may lead to acute and/or chronic diseases.

Keywords: Cold storage; Cooper cookware; Heat treatment; Heavy metals; Leaching; Tin-lined.

MeSH terms

  • Cooking
  • Cooking and Eating Utensils
  • Copper*
  • Metals
  • Metals, Heavy / analysis*
  • Tin


  • Metals
  • Metals, Heavy
  • Tin
  • Copper