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#1 Mon 10 Mar 08 9:57pm

madamada

Forum super champ
Occupation living life
From Friuli northern Italy
Member since Mon 14 Jan 08

Tin plated copper pans. Keep them or not????

Are tin plated old copper pans healthy?? I have brought to new a tin plated pan out of use since a long time. Is it safe to cook in such pans? I've heard it is the same substance that has been banned from sailboats as antivegetativa. Does anybody know anything less vague than these rumors?

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#2 Tue 11 Mar 08 2:42am

GeoffP

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Occupation Retired Clergy & Computer Consultant
From Bradford, West Yorks
Member since Mon 03 Jul 06

Re: Tin plated copper pans. Keep them or not????

I envy you - copper pots are wonderful - my grandma had a huge untinned copper jam pan, but sadly it wasn't passed down to me smile

Keep your tinned copper pots - they are considered by many to be the best cooking pots ever. The rumour about copper being unhealthy is just that- a rumour. It is true that anti-fouling paint does contain copper, and this is to prevent the growth of algae - but it isn't considered as harmful to animal life - silver is even better - but unaffordable.

Bare copper is only used for none acidic foods - jams and such, since acidic foods can react with copper and etch it, destroying the surface. Copper is tinned to prevent corrision, so that the copper lasts longer - not so much for safety as to prevent deterioration.

The tin layer on copper is relatively soft, and needs to be renewed if and when it starts to wear thin. A few bare spots won't do any harm, but larger areas need attention to prevent your copper pot becoming pitted.

I can recall (just) a time that it used to be easy to find people who would retin and repair copper pots - in fact they used to come door to door - you may have heard of tinkers (this was at a time when scissor and knife sharpeners also used to come door to door, on bicycles with a pedal driven grind stone!). They disappeared in the 1950's, along with the Rag & Bone men (waste traders). I can still recall the cries they used to announce themselves!

It is possible to re-tin copper pots yourself - but its a somewhat dangerous process, involving acid, high temperatures and molten tin - while I was an engineering apprentice, I was taught the basics of how to do it, but I wouldn't even think of attempting it now! However, there are still companies which will do it - you might find one by searching your local area, or using the internet - but it will be somewhat expensive.

So - keep your tinned copper pans, look after them and use them - but if you really want to get rid of them - I'll give you my address and pay the postage smile

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#3 Tue 11 Mar 08 8:22am

madamada

Forum super champ
Occupation living life
From Friuli northern Italy
Member since Mon 14 Jan 08

Re: Tin plated copper pans. Keep them or not????

Thak you Geoff for the long ""remindfull" (??) post and for the care you suggest for things which have needed ages to be invented and are now sorpassate without almost a blink by new tricks which make us live in a hurry.
My old/re-born tinned copper pan has taken a lot of time to be cleaned before and after cooking a wonderful fresh grinded (??) polenta for our home-made cooking course.
So if it will continue we will use it to high the standard of our lifes .... eheheh.
By the way my copper pan must have about hundred years it would be a pity to let her go anyway.

mandi mada

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#4 Tue 11 Mar 08 10:26am

The White Rabbit

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From Sydney, Australia
Member since Tue 22 Jun 04

Re: Tin plated copper pans. Keep them or not????

A bit of info on cookware safety http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/CONSUMER/CON00036.html

it covers copper and mentions that a tin or stainless steel lining is better. Copper is easily dissolved so don't leave food in it for too long or cook really acidic things.

If you need to renew the tin plate look up an electroplating company. They will be able to help you find out companies that do it or offer alternatives. Plating metals successfully is something that requires experience.

Last edited by The White Rabbit (Tue 11 Mar 08 10:33am)

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#5 Tue 11 Mar 08 1:01pm

madamada

Forum super champ
Occupation living life
From Friuli northern Italy
Member since Mon 14 Jan 08

Re: Tin plated copper pans. Keep them or not????

I went rapidly through the link you suggest. I must read it carefully because one often talks about things we don't know or know only superficially. Anyway I think I will take my tin covered copper pan with most care

thanks a lot

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#6 Tue 11 Mar 08 3:37pm

GeoffP

Forum champ
Occupation Retired Clergy & Computer Consultant
From Bradford, West Yorks
Member since Mon 03 Jul 06

Re: Tin plated copper pans. Keep them or not????

Traditionally. copper pots are not tinned by electroplating, but by a process that involves wiping molten tin over the inner surface of a pre heated pot. The pot is first cleaned with sulphuric acid.

Electroplating tin onto copper possible, but only for decorative purposes, since it has tendency to blister when heated.

I was shown how to do it during a stint in the Plating shop during my apprenticeship - and its best left to a skilled tinsmith. There are several firms which specialize in refurbishing copper cookware - its worth searching one out rather than throwing the pan away or relegating it to decoration.

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#7 Tue 11 Mar 08 4:34pm

madamada

Forum super champ
Occupation living life
From Friuli northern Italy
Member since Mon 14 Jan 08

Re: Tin plated copper pans. Keep them or not????

I'll investigate

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#8 Wed 12 Mar 08 10:25am

The White Rabbit

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From Sydney, Australia
Member since Tue 22 Jun 04

Re: Tin plated copper pans. Keep them or not????

Electroplating tin is not going to give a really thick coating (hence blistering (but I suspect that may also be poor surface prep and poor plating procedure)). But an electroplating company will be able to advise. There aren't very many tin platers around (at least in australia) that are accessible to the general public.

Copper can be electroplated with other materials, if tin is too costly to replate. Avoid nickel plating, it's not very healthy, although it plates brilliantly to copper. In my first proper job I developed a lovely little nickel plating solution.

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#9 Wed 12 Mar 08 12:36pm

GeoffP

Forum champ
Occupation Retired Clergy & Computer Consultant
From Bradford, West Yorks
Member since Mon 03 Jul 06

Re: Tin plated copper pans. Keep them or not????

I think there may be more tin-smiths and platers around in Italy, and probably a few artisan ones as well as as larger companies.

I hope madamada finds a tinsmith to treat her wonderful 100 year old pans (do you see a note of envy creeping in here?)

I wish I could find or afford a set myself, but I can't see getting tehe expenditure past my wife, especially since my 30+ year old stainless steel copper bottomed pans how no sign of wearing out in my lifetime.

I've never heard of copper pans being plated with anything else but tin (the stainless steel lined ones are laminated rather than plated). I'm sure it should be possible - heavy silver plating or hot dip zinc galvanising spring to mind as maybe being suitable (but you're the expert White Rabbit, what do you think?) - but tinning is the way that has stood the test of time.

Out of interest, I had a look in Yellow Pages, and found a local coppersmith who does replating - come to think of it, it would probably be better to search for Coppersmiths anyway, since they will all do tinning as part of their trade.

Now, what is the italian for "coppersmith"? Calderaio perhaps?

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#10 Wed 12 Mar 08 1:52pm

madamada

Forum super champ
Occupation living life
From Friuli northern Italy
Member since Mon 14 Jan 08

Re: Tin plated copper pans. Keep them or not????

bravo!  I'm very proud a part from my old pan, having caused such a high level discussion on pans materials, nowadays we are pushed to buy all sorts of nonsense with a designed shape

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