Is it safe to make coffee in an aluminum coffee maker?

by Mark B.
(Ottawa)

Aluminum Moka coffee maker.

Aluminum Moka coffee maker.


QUESTION:

I have a fairly old coffee percolator, and I’m pretty sure the inside basket, that holds the coffee, is made from aluminum. I also have a stovetop moka coffee maker, and I think the whole thing is made from aluminum.

The point is, I read somewhere that it’s dangerous to cook or make hot drinks with aluminum. If I remember right, there was even a reference to a connection between aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease.

Is this true or an urban myth? Is it OK to keep brewing with my trusty aluminum brewers?

Mark


ANSWER:


Mark...excellent question.

Like you say, there has been plenty of talk over the years about aluminum being connected with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

But when you dig a little deeper you’ll find there is very little science backing those claims.

According to the Alzheimer’s Society, “Although initial studies linked aluminium toxicity with Alzheimer's disease, the link has not been proven despite continuing investigation. Importantly, there is no evidence to suggest that aluminium exposure increases your risk of dementia.”

In addition, it’s worth knowing a few facts about aluminum and our exposure to it.

First off, it is the third most common element on Earth. It’s everywhere...in the soil and in the water, and in the fruits and vegetables we eat every day, albeit in small quantities.

As for exposure in the home, it is found in buffered aspirin, some antacids, antiperspirants, and even in pickled and processed foods.

And yes, if you make coffee in an aluminum brewer, you’ll likely be exposed to a very small amount of the metal.

But let’s put this in perspective.

According to Cook’s Illustrated (January 2012), after lab tests were conducted on tomato sauce cooked in aluminum for two hours – tomato is very acidic - and then stored in the same pot for several hours, the sauce contained only .0024 milligrams of aluminum per cup.

That’s really not very much when you consider that a single antacid tablet may contain more than 200 milligrams.

If you are super-cautious, stick to stainless steel. But if you follow the science, it looks like there is pretty much no risk to brewing your coffee in aluminium.

Nick

Comments for Is it safe to make coffee in an aluminum coffee maker?

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Oct 11, 2020
Aluminum is EVERYWHERE in nature line
by: Anonymous

Aluminum is commonly found in the natural world, but never in 'free form'. In nature, aluminum is always found bound to other elements. Aluminum in free form has to be mined, refined and distributed. This, in fact (the literature is so overwhelming at this point, anyone using the words may, might or maybe harmful or more research needed, is either misinformed or deliberately disinforming you), is the single greatest contributor to alzeimer's pandemic (global problem). Full stop

Sep 06, 2020
Too easy
by: pistachio

avoid any controversy

no aluminum

Stainless only

there! you're done.

Aug 30, 2020
The debate goes on
by: Anonymous

I just had this discussion with my spouse regarding the safety of aluminum percolators, versus our drip coffee maker, which does not make a very tasty cup of Joe.

Like the previous poster, I recall past debates over aluminum
coffee makers possibly linked to dementia, and specifically
Alzheimer’s disease.

This discussion was initially sparked by the use of aluminum foil as a possible culprit to this debilitating disease, along with the use of baking powder that has aluminum as an active ingredient within when making waffles, or pancakes.

I am not too sure what the actual scientific consensus is at this point, and I am almost certain there is an ongoing debate over the pros and cons regarding aluminum, and its use in percolators, foil paper, baking powder, and the like, versus its correlate to Alzheimer’s disease, or other forms of dementia.

We are now over 60 years of age, still healthy, so a cup of Joe
is what we are concerned with.


Mar 10, 2020
Dan unConclude
by: pistachio

why?

go to Amazon

Swarch: Campfire Coffee Pots


you will find numerous choices.

Mar 06, 2020
Thanks and My Conclusion
by: Dan

Thank you all for the posts.

We got rid of Aluminum cookware about 5 years ago. Perhaps that was not necessary, but its done.

Looking for a campfire coffee pot. After reading all of these posts I feel reasonably safe getting an aluminum pot.

We only camp about once a year and I'll only rinse the pot out, no scrubbing or soap.

I'll try to get an anodized pot.

Generally, I love cast iron, but Aluminum is way lighter!

Thanks

Feb 29, 2020
Safe or not.....
by: pistachio

I don't like aluminum

For cooking or brewing


it cannot compare to

Stainless Steel

Carbon Steel

Cast Iron

Feb 27, 2020
Link to studies
by: dk

There are a series of 3 papers published in the journal Environmental Science Europe which address this and related topics. "Migration of aluminum from food contact materials to food—a health risk for consumers?" , Stahl T et al. The links:

Part 1: "exposure to aluminum, release of aluminum, tolerable weekly intake (TWI), toxicological effects of aluminum, study design, and methods."
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5388732/

Part 2: "migration of aluminum from drinking bottles and moka pots made of aluminum to beverages."
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5388725/

Part 3: "migration of aluminum to food from camping dishes and utensils made of aluminum."
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5388722/

Part 2 is most relevant to this moka pot discussion. The abstract's Conclusions section states: "In a systematic study of aluminum drinking bottles, it has been shown that drinking a mixture of apple juice and mineral water in an aluminum bottle may reach 86.6% of the total weekly intake (TWI) for adults, and drinking tea from an aluminum bottle may exceed the TWI (145%) for a child weighing 15 kg. In contrast, preparing coffee in an aluminum moka pot results in a maximum of 4% to TWI, if an average of 3.17 L coffee is consumed per week, even if the pots are washed in the dishwasher, against the explicit instructions of the manufacturer."

So this sounds like relatively good news for aluminum moka pots.

The other thing I was curious about was, what's the big deal with running stuff in the dishwasher? They tested that too, and show that leached aluminum levels jump considerably in the batch following dishwashing. Presumably the dishwasher probably strips off the passivation layer (oxidation), exposing reactive aluminum. Like others have said, letting the baked-on "coffee crud" layers pile up is likely also protective as a further barrier between the aluminum and the hot acidic coffee.

On a side note, it never occurred to me that my everyday aluminum water bottle (or a canteen) could be such a source of leached aluminum. And I'd forgotten about aluminum in anti-perspirants; it's interesting that there is some correlation between aluminum anti-perspirant use and incidence in females of cancer of the upper outer quadrant of the breast (closest to the armpit.)

Anyways, I just wanted to share these research articles, to help others form a more well-rounded opinion.

Nov 27, 2019
for Brennen's question of Jun 3, 2019.....
by: Dr. Watson

"Aluminum rusts White [a normal chemical reaction with oxygen]. It will look like there is a white powdery dust on the surface."
Jul 28, 2015 stated by: pistachio

"I just don't scrub the mokka pot. Over time it's built up a dark-colored coating of cooked-on oils and proteins. This is the lazy man's way to keep the coffee away from the soluble metal."
stated by Jeff Jul 25, 2015

But the amount of aluminum that might desolve in the coffee is very low and doubtful if it can cause a health risk.

Jul 30, 2019
Avoid aluminium!
by: french-windowsdotblog

My mother died of Alzheimers after suffering from indigestion and taking a spoonful of antacid each day before meals -Aludrox. I now avoid all aluminium.

Jun 25, 2019
Forget the pot!
by: Dickie D

Forget the pot... it's the coffee that'll kill you! Saying that... I do love a brew.

Jun 03, 2019
Aluminum espresso maker
by: Brennen

I’ve been noticing when I wash and dry my little aluminum 6 cup espresso maker a silver dust residue when drying the inside parts of the espresso maker after I’ve washed it. 10/10 times I see this stuff. It’s semi shiny and silver in color. It’s not coffee residue. Especially the inside of the aluminum base that hosts the water to brew from. Is this in fact the aluminum? The little drop down espresso powder holder shakes and rattles around when brewing, rubbing metal to metal (aluminum to aluminum) causing it to happen. Does anyone else have this issue? That’s my main concern. I don’t believe they do this when they’re brand new. But after so many uses I see it happening. I am certain without being able to test the coffee itself after it’s final brewing moments, there is a good amount of aluminum in my coffee that makes its way up through the grinds into the little aluminum coffee pot where the espresso lands. Over the course of time, 20-30-40 years, aka elderly, one would or could end up with dementia or Alzheimers with this amount of aluminum exposure. My opinion of course. Anyone else share this unfortunate happening?

Nov 06, 2017
Alum. Coffee pot safety
by: David

I’m 72, I grew up with my family, and friends using aluminum percolators. My mother lived to 102 in her own apartment until the week she died, she was sharp, and kept an immaculate home. Coffee tastes best in an aluminum percolator, I’ve tried them all, (the worst tasting is in glass), and for my tastes, aluminum is king as far as percolators is concerned. The amount of aluminum one would get from a new percolator is far, far less one would get from foods, antiperspirants, antacids etc. If the percolator is old having a coating of oils from the coffee, you will be getting less aluminum than perhaps in the air one breathes. Don’t believe everything read online as most people are merely parrots using the "repetition principle" to "know" that which is absurd. Enjoy your aluminum percolator, it makes the best tasting coffee.

Oct 02, 2017
Aluminum is a know neurotoxin - avoid it!
by: Laurie

Research has reached a tipping point and Aluminum is a cause of Alzheimer's. 7 Pieces of Evidence Linking Aluminum to Alzheimer’s https://universityhealthnews.com/daily/memory/aluminum-linked-to-alzheimers-disease/

Check out this video Brain Fitness in the Aluminum Age https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGmYsFPHguA

Here are 2 aluminum free coffee makers, Krups Moka Brew and Capresso's MG 900

Sep 24, 2017
Aluminium/dementia
by: RichardH

From my observations: My in laws cooked only with aluminium pots. My father in law had dementia but mother in law did not and lived to 86.
Both my parents had dementia in their late 60's and 70's and used only stainless pots and a cast iron frypan.
I'm making my judgements from that.

Jul 26, 2017
Check your numbers on the aluminum
by: Anonymous

Check your numbers on the amount of aluminum. http://ow.ly/oU8S30e2yVS


Jan 12, 2017
I Wonder
by: Anonymous

My mother used to always use a little aluminum coffee pot. What's more, she would never throw out old coffee, so she just left it in there until she drank it all. And she did get dementia in her later years. I'll always wonder if this could have caused some of her problem.

Oct 13, 2015
Aluminum [ at your own risk ]
by: pistachio

Question: I've seen Asktreehugger articles on Treehugger.com and I'm very glad that you're doing this. I have a question about aluminum. I know the health risk aluminum can create for the body if one takes in too much as well as it's link to Alzheimers disease. I know that aluminum cookware, cans, and that antiperspirant can pose health risks. My question is about aluminum "cookware". I've heard cooking acidic foods in aluminum cookware can cause the aluminum to leach out of the pan so I've avoided them. However, I've found a high quality cast aluminum manual juicer by Ra Chand and I'm wondering if this all aluminum juicer will pose a significant risk to my health. Do you think the risk to my health will be high if I use it daily to squeeze oranges and other citrus fruits-especially because of their acidity? Could they cause enough leaching of aluminum for it to be a health risk? Or does the aluminum have to be exposed for a relative time period to the citrus for leaching to occur. What would you recommend?

Response: Aluminum, a soft metal, is found nearly everywhere in the environment. Most exposures to aluminum occur through ingestion or eating and drinking, with daily intakes generally low, averaging between 30-50 mg. For the typical person, drinking water, medicines and other pharmaceuticals (such as antacids and antiperspirants) are the biggest contributors to aluminum exposures; however, aluminum cookware is also a potential source. As you note, aluminum exposures have raised some health concerns due to the effects of aluminum on the human nervous system and the much discussed (but inconclusive) linkages between aluminum exposures and Alzheimer's disease.
Aluminum exposures from cookware, of which more than half is made of aluminum, is not well studied, but is thought to be a relatively minor source of aluminum exposures. Exposures to aluminum through food can occur when aluminum leaches or otherwise dissolves from the cookware into the food. Leaching is most likely when the foods being cooked or stored are highly basic (like baking soda) or highly acidic (like tomato sauce, lemon juice, oranges, or vinegar). For example, tomato sauce has been shown to contain 3-6 mg aluminum (per 100 g serving) after cooking in aluminum pans, which translates into about one-tenth of the typical daily intake. This leaching of aluminum with acidic foods does not happen with aluminum cookware that is anodized, or electro-chemically processed to seal the aluminum in the cookware. Clemson University Extension’s Home and Garden Information Center tested different cookware types, and found anodized aluminum cookware to be safe. Regardless, it would probably be wise to store tomato sauce and other acidic foods in something other than an aluminum pot.

As for the juicer that you mention, I did a quick and non-exhaustive check of various websites, none of which said that the juicer is made of anodized aluminum. One site did say that it was made of acid-resistant aluminum and chrome, suggesting that the aluminum is somehow sealed and that leaching of aluminum will not occur during the juicing process. An easy way to check for this is to look at the juicer and see whether the aluminum becomes pitted or pock-marked after several uses. Since leaching takes time and juicing is a relatively quick process, this pitting would not occur immediately but would rather occur over time. As a result, you should probably continue to check your juicer for pitting over time.

Oct 12, 2015
coursework writing services uk
by: Anonymous

Its safe definitely i use aluminum coffee maker from Kenwood from last 4 years and nothing happen its just a myth that its not safe be happy and use you coffee maker

Jul 28, 2015
aluminum versus Anything else....
by: pistachio

I don't like Aluminum Cookware of ANY KIND - for any purpose.

The Alzheimer issue aside:

Aluminum is light yes,,, soft -----> very.

It has been said Aluminum does not rust.

Of course it rusts,, it oxidizes like any metal but we all usually think of 'rust' as a red orange color. This coloration of Rust is for Iron or ferrous metals... and Iron rusts Reddish Orange.

Aluminum rusts White. It will look like there is a white powdery dust on the surface.

Italians [ like myself ] all have a few of these stovetop espresso pots. However we are immune to Alzheimers because we are all born with it from the beginning,,, ha!,,kidding...

Don't put Anything Aluminum in the Dishwasher / it will discolor and look horrible. It will still work but it is not so pleasing.

Suggestion,,, Overall,, cooking,,, CAST IRON it the only way to go.
[ not to mention OLIVE OIL is the Only oil you will ever need to cook Anything ! ]

for COFFEE,,,, the most pleasing thing in my life,, the way to go is Stainless Steel... or Glass Perc....

Aluminum - put on the shelf as a conversation piece!

Jul 25, 2015
Yes, but...
by: Jeff

If I substituted "atomic radiation" for "aluminum" and argued that radon in your basement doesn't matter because you fly often and get annual medical x-rays... would you be convinced?

Total impact on specific bodily systems is what matters, so larger doses could actually make smaller doses more critical.

Nothing shows aluminum to be dangerous! But it's not a nutrient, and it does concentrate in bone, lung, and brain tissue. Limiting exposure to aluminum in medications and cooking isn't exactly crazy.

I just don't scrub the mokka pot. Over time it's built up a dark-colored coating of cooked-on oils and proteins. This is the lazy man's way to keep the coffee away from the soluble metal.

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