Using aluminum foil in food storage and cooking is very popular. There are aluminum pots and pans. Many people wrap food in aluminum when cooking it. All toaster manufacturers recommend you do not put aluminum foil in their toasters. According to them, the only thing you should put in a toaster is bread, frozen waffles, or English muffins.
This guide will help you to understand:
- The dangers of placing anything made of metal in a toaster.
- How aluminum may be contaminating your food.
- The potential risks of ingesting aluminum.
Learn more about using a toaster safely, contamination of food with aluminum, and the potential ill effects of aluminum on the human body.
Can you put aluminum foil in the toaster?
Brandon Matzek of Kitchen Konfidence says, “Raise your hands and shout out if you love toast.” He has a tasty recipe for Beer Bread Toast with three ways to top the toast. No aluminum foil is needed to make this toast.
The safety of putting aluminum foil in the toaster is different depending on the style of the toaster. There are issues of physical safety and food safety to consider. Let’s compare a pop-up toaster with a countertop convection oven.
Putting foil in a pop-up toaster is riskier because there is less room between the bread-toasting cage and the heating elements. I do not recommend doing this, even though there are examples shown on YouTube of people who used this method to make grilled cheese sandwiches.
This video, produced by Mark Dardano, shows a method to make grilled cheese sandwiches using foil wrapping, parchment paper, and a pop-up toaster.
If you want to try this, be sure to stay in the kitchen and watch the toaster. Have a fire extinguisher handy if the aluminum foil creates a spark, and the paper catches on fire. If you are careful, you may get away with doing this, but be sure you are prepared for your safety if things go wrong.
Are you thinking about getting a new pop-up toaster? Consider the ones that are the cool-to-the-touch toasters. Learn about the best ones here.
Instead of using a pop-up toaster, it is beneficial to have a countertop convection oven that makes toast and bakes things. Anthera Cheng of Rainbow Nourishments loves her countertop convection oven. She says, “I use my countertop convection oven two or three times each day, even to bake a cake.”
Wrapping something in aluminum foil before heating it in a convection oven is reasonably safe from causing a spark or a fire if you make sure the aluminum foil does not touch any heating elements. However, you will contaminate the food with aluminum by doing this.
Is there any danger from aluminum foil in a toaster?
The risk of using any metal in a toaster is that it comes in contact with the heating elements in the toaster and causes a short circuit. This action is dangerous and may cause a spark or fire.
Are there any other risky things to put into your toaster?
Almost every child is given the warning by their parents not to stick a metal fork in an electrical outlet and not to use a metal knife in a plugged-in toaster.
Any metal you use in a toaster can cause a spark in a plugged-in toaster. You not only risk getting a bad shock, but you also risk starting a fire.
Avoid putting any metal in your pop-up toaster. If you have to put something in it, for example, to remove a piece of bread that is stuck, then unplug the toaster and use a wooden or plastic kitchen utensil, not a metal one.
If your toaster lever will not stay down and you need to fix it, read my repair tips about how to do this safely here.
This video, produced by TKOR, shows the presenter conducting a safety test of putting a metal knife in a toaster.
Do not try this at home because this video was done by a professional using tons of safety gear for protection. The video demonstrates the considerable danger of what metal can do when put in an operating toaster.
There is the risk of a severe shock to a person. I repeat, there is the chance of a spark that could start a fire. In one part of the demonstration, the presenter uses a copper wire to make contact between the heating element and the metal body of the toaster and the knife. This test causes sparks and the toaster power to fluctuate dramatically. It also fuses the metal to the knife blade as if welded to it.
How about using aluminum foil in a microwave?
Do not put aluminum foil in the microwave.
In this video, produced by RUPhys2012, you can see what happens if you put aluminum foil in a microwave.
Do not try this at home! You can break your microwave by doing this and may cause a fire.
Alternatives to Aluminum Foil
For storage, you can use plastic bags instead of aluminum foil to prevent any risk of transferring aluminum to your food. For cooking, you can use a metal pan made from steel instead of one made from aluminum.
Mindseteco gives some suggestions of alternatives to use instead of aluminum. One substitute for replacing aluminum foil in baking is a baking sheet made from silicone.
For cooking in an oven, use metal lids made from steel or covers made from silicone. Parchment paper is a good substitute for lid covers for dishes cooked in an oven. Be careful using parchment paper because of the fire risk.
Consider using cedar wraps for grilling. They not only replace aluminum foil, but they also impart a nice flavor to any grilled meat. You may want to use a beeswax sheet as a lid or a glass container for sandwiches and leftovers.
4 Tips on How to Make Food Preparation Safer
The scientific research clearly shows that cooking with aluminum foil contaminates the food with aluminum. There is a controversy over how much aluminum is safe for ingestion by people. Some research reports show that there are elevated levels of aluminum in people with Alzheimer’s.
It is generally better to use an alternative for aluminum foil when cooking to be safe.
1. Avoid Food Contamination with Aluminum
A study, published in Food Science & Nutrition examined the aluminum contamination of food.
Dani Dordevic and five other researchers from the Department of Plant Origin Foodstuffs Hygiene and Technology at the University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences in Brno, Czech Republic, conducted the study.
The aluminum contamination during cooking was studied for a variety of food dishes (marinated and non-marinated), which included:
- Pork Roast
- Baked Chicken
- Duck Breasts
The highest contamination was in the marinated foods of salmon, mackerel, and duck breasts. The study clearly showed the aluminum contamination of the food came from cooking by baking the food in aluminum foil. The amount of aluminum found in the food was not excessive. However, it could pose a risk for children and some adults with certain diseases.
2. Avoid Using Aluminum Foil With Highly Acidic Dishes and Spices
Another study, published in the International Journal of Electrochemical Science, found a significantly elevated amount of aluminum in the food when the aluminum foil was on dishes that had a high acid content.
The key author of this study was Ghada Bassioni, an engineering professor at Ain Shams University in Cairo, Egypt.
The amount of aluminum contamination was even higher when the dishes had spices. In this study, the values for the safe levels of aluminum contamination, published by the World Health Organization (WHO), were exceeded. The WHO does not recommend using aluminum for cooking such foods. Examples of these high acid foods are any sauces made with tomatoes, marinated foods, and spiced or minced meat.
3. Be Careful What You Believe
USA Today published an article claiming that aluminum contamination in the food does not cause dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinsonism, or cancer.
The USA Today article was published to debunk claims made by an article from a website called Natural Beauty Secrets, which claimed that aluminum contamination caused these things. The research is not clear.
4. Learn How to Reduce the Risk of Aluminum Contamination
For cooking, consider using pots and pans made from steel and finished with baked enamel. Avoid any aluminum pots and pans, especially if making anything acidic such as spaghetti sauce. Do not use non-stick pans either because there is a considerable risk from those toxic non-stick finishes.
I am not a fan of aluminum foil at all. It is not environmentally friendly. The aluminum manufacturing process uses a lot of energy resources. You cannot recycle aluminum if it comes into contact with food. Using aluminum foil can contaminate your food with aluminum. The contamination might be tolerable at low levels but might be harmful at higher levels.
As far as answering the question of – Can you put aluminum foil in the toaster? The answer is, yes, you can, but I would not recommend it.
If you have a toaster oven, it is safer because you have more space inside. You can make sure the aluminum foil does not come into contact with the heating elements. In a pop-up toaster, there is not enough space to be able to use foil-wrapped bread safely.
Try some of the substitutes for aluminum I suggested, if you want to reduce the risk of contamination.
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