I sucked at chemistry, but aren't they good conductors because of the
free electrons they have, not density. Lead is much denser, for
example, but is quite a poor conductor of heat.
I found it interesting that you neglected to mention the heat
conductivity of stainless steel, which is much, much poorer than
aluminum. It always makes me wonder why so many people go gaga over
stainless steel cookware.
A lot of stainless cookware has sandwich bases of various sorts, which
improve performance, and the things are almost indestructible.
Comparing the old ally stuff I grew up with (very good quality, but a
tad battered by the time Mum replaced some of it!), and my nice
stainless stuff, I see very little difference in performance, and I can
bung everything in the dishwasher, the stuff bounces without dents if I
drop it, and it stacks better! Yes, in my restricted space, I have to
consider stacking properties along with everything else.
You can still buy the ally things my ma had as wedding presents, and
which were also standard issue in RAF married quarters for many years,
but they are as expensive as good stainless, stainless, look incredibly
utilitarian to modern eyes, and these days are a bit more difficult to
get hold of. Most of the ally you see in shops, and readily available,
has coatings of one sort or another, and this wears off long before the
rest of the article is worn out. Good (and therefore worth buying) ally
stuff is about the same price as good stainless stuff, and takes more
I have 6 different makes of saucepan, all stainless:
A couple of Italians things I picked up from a local shop, made by
AEturnum - ok, but not perfect (the sandwich bases are a bit thin). I
have a largish saucepan and a lidded frying pan in this set. The frying
pan suffers from the usual 'sticks like glue' problems of stainless
steel uncoated frying pans.
A Gastronome (made in Holland) stock pot picked up in a sale - nice
thick ally sandwich base, very good pot for general cooking, and with
ears rather than a long handle, so not only does it go well in the
dishwasher, but it also fits in the oven!
My favourite, but too big
for anything but soup for three people! To get back to the original
question, I can recommend this brand: reading the bottom, you can use it
on any cooker type.
A Prestige stainless frying pan with non-stick lining, bought half price
in the sales specifically for dry-frying, a dietary need, and
surprisingly good for a non stick pan (mind you, I've only had it for a
couple of months, so not long enough to test the durability of the
non-stick). Good ally sandwich base, fully dishwasher proof. The only
problem I have with this one is that it isn't quite big enough! A nice
touch of serendipity is that the lid from the other frying pan fits it
A single lonesome AGA milk pan sized saucepan, used almost daily - very
nice, as it should be for the price! (£60 or so for this tiddler! Good
job it was a present!). The neat thing about this is that if I had a
stack of them they would stack nicely with their lids on. The downside
of this is that the lid design reduces the capacity of the pan. If I
ever get more of these, I'll get the ear handled ones so they fit in the
oven. A friend of mine has a whole set like that, to go with her AGA,
and they are nice to use. The lid design is so that you can stack them
in the ovens to cook. Saves space, not having to use shelves!
A set of 3 Jonnelle saucepans (John Lewis's own brand), which are
great. Not quite as good as the AGA one, but about half the price!
A double boiler made by Kitchen Craft: the base saucepan is a good solid
little thing that can be used on its own as a saucepan. Has a nice
solid feel to it and a good sandwich base. The big disadvantage is that
it has a glass lid, so I have to be careful not to drop it!
Stainless steel does have a lot of advantages to help counter the
disadvantages. You have to assess your lifestyle as well as cooking
style, and buy what fits. For example, I became a serious fan of ear
handled saucepans when I had a split level cooker with no room to turn
pan handles to a safe position. Now I've had the kitchen re-done, this
is no longer a consideration, but being able to stuff them in the oven
would be nice. I hate washing stuff by hand (I tend to be allergic to
washing up fluid) and dishwashering everything I can is a serious
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