Is It Safe to Cook in Copper Pots?

Copper pots have benefits and disadvantages. Copper is attractive and shiny when used on the outside of pots and pans and copper is an excellent conductor of heat. Because of its look and superior heat conduction, copper cookware tends to be more expensive than other types of cookware. In addition, copper can be toxic when used on the inside of cookware, so it is usually reserved for use on the outside or with a lining of other materials.

Copper pots hanging from the ceiling. (Image: REVNATE/iStock/Getty Images)

Benefits of Copper Cookware

Not only are copper pots and pans attractive in the kitchen, but copper is an excellent conductor of heat and very good for top-of-range cooking. Cooks often use copper pots and pans to prepare delicate sauces and dishes that need to be prepared at strictly controlled temperatures. Copper pots and pans are usually lined with tin or stainless steel so the consumer doesn't need to be concerned with copper toxicity. Excellent heat conduction can be maintained through the lining.

About Copper

Copper is an essential trace mineral in all body tissues. Copper and iron help form red blood cells. Copper also helps to keep your blood vessels, nerves, immune system and bones healthy. Copper is found naturally in certain types of shellfish, whole grains, potatoes, dried fruit and dark leafy greens. Most people get enough copper in their daily diets. The specific amount of copper needed daily depends on your age, gender and health situation. MedlinePlus indicates that a safe amount of daily copper intake for an adult over 19 is 900 mcg. Copper in large amounts is poisonous, though a specific toxic amount has not been determined.


Copper pots that are lined with materials like tin and stainless steel can protect you from potential toxicity related to copper. The metal is easily dissolved by some foods and large amounts can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. According to the Food and Drug Administration, acidic foods cause copper on unprotected cookware to dissolve into foods. If you use unprotected copper-lined pots and pans, research the acidity of certain foods.


To increase the look and longevity of your copper cookware, read the care and use instructions that come with the products. Use an anti-tarnish cream to clean the copper finish on your cookware. Don't use abrasive cleaners like oven cleaners or baking soda, as these may damage the copper finish. Allow your cookware to cool before cleaning to prevent warping.

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