wagner ware magnalite safety

Is Magnalite Cookware Safe to Use?

In Cookware June 24th, 202115 Comments

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Magnalite is an aluminum cookware product that was brought into the market in the 1930s by Wagner Ware. The product was a huge hit because it functioned better than the cast iron products in regards to heat retention and distribution.

This product saved the Wagner Company in the Great Depression. Although this product was a huge hit, it was also the downfall of the company after researchers decided to research the effects of aluminum on humans. In this post, we highlight some of the major findings of the company and help answer the question, “are Magnalite pots safe to use?”


Magnalite Cookware Material

Magnalite 1040819 Classic 5-Quart Dutch Oven with Rack, Silver

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The Magnalite cookware was designed by the Wagner Company in 1934. What is Magnalite cookware made of? The cookware is made of an alloy of magnesium and aluminum. The main idea behind the cookware is to have a different base and side thickness. The difference will improve the cookware’s heat conductivity. The product is oven-safe in temperatures below 350 degrees.

The product’s manufacture involves the pouring of aluminum into molds. The aluminum element is a good conductor of heat and has a quick reaction to changes in temperature, which is why it is used in the creation of Magnalite cookware. Its reaction to temperature changes allows you to cook with precise heat control.

You can find Magnalite cookware in form of pans, oval roasters, Dutch ovens, as well as stockpots.

Research Findings

Researchers, in 1965, aimed to identify the effect of aluminum on humans. To get their findings, they used rabbits, which were exposed to aluminum. The metal resulted in neurofibrillary tangling inside the brains of the animals. The researchers concluded that the ingestion of aluminum salts resulted in Alzheimer’s disease.

After more experiments on animals, researchers found that the animals that did not have aluminum in their systems were in better physical conditions and therefore did better when physical tests were carried out. Also, the offspring of animals that had aluminum were weaker.

Further research led the researchers to believe that aluminum played a huge role in kidney failure. The finding was because people who experienced kidney failure had higher aluminum levels than healthy people. Later on, the researchers discovered that the aluminum deposits were a result of kidney failure because the kidney has the purpose of removing toxins from your body.

The scientists in the modern-day, however, believe that Alzheimer’s disease is not associated with aluminum levels in the human body. The reason behind this is that the neurofibrillary changes resulting from aluminum do not match Alzheimer’s disease.

The World Health Organisation states that a human can take in 50 milligrams of aluminum daily. Foods that have the highest aluminum quantities are acidic foods, which include citrus fruits and tomatoes. A study was carried out to make tomato source in an aluminum pot for a period of two hours and proved that the quantity of aluminum was 0.0024 mg per cup.

Aluminum Effects on your Health

Research states that ingesting large amounts of aluminum will result in damages to the liver, respiration, as well as kidneys. These problems will then risk Alzheimer’s disease. The aluminum ingested in large amounts will turn into a dangerous toxin.

You will find aluminum in certain natural foods in small quantities. Aluminum is present in water and soil naturally. Therefore, the plants will absorb the element. You will find that foods such as vegetables, milk, meat, and grains have low levels of aluminum. Certain plants such as spinach, mushrooms, and tea, have the ability to absorb the element from soil. These plants will, therefore, have higher levels of aluminum.

Your body is likely to be exposed to aluminum with ease. However, it does not always symbolize danger. The body has the ability to remove aluminum. The liver should be able to remove the aluminum content in your body fluids and blood, releasing it out of the body through urine. The liver’s capabilities, however, are limited. If you ingest the element in large quantities, some of the body organs will be at risk of corrosion and other problems.

Effects of Aluminium Cookware on the Food

Aluminum is used in different ways including foil wrappers, pans, and pots. What is the effect of aluminum on the safety and quality of the food that is produced?

Research states that using aluminum in cooking food will result in the absorption of some quantities of aluminum in the food. Cooking with aluminum foil is more dangerous compared to cooking using other cookware made with aluminum. When you prepare baked meat that is wrapped in aluminum foil, the aluminum content in the meat will increase to levels higher than 80%.

Using Magnalite cookware in preparing your food will also lead to the absorption of aluminum microparticles. The aluminum levels are therefore increased even though it is by a smaller percentage.

The temperature and the type of food being prepared will affect the absorption rate. Some of the food components, including salts and acids, will increase the food’s oxidation power and aluminum will, therefore, be absorbed with ease. High temperatures also make it easier for food to absorb the element.

Is it safe to use Magnalite Cookware?

High levels of aluminum will be absorbed in your food if it comes in direct contact with untreated aluminum. If you leave the aluminum foil on salty or acid foods, it will be pitted after a few hours.

However, Magnalite cookware will not result in the absorption of aluminum in your body. Here is the reason why.

Most of the cooking utensils made using aluminum are anodized. That process will change the structure preventing the aluminum from being absorbed by foods, even salty and acidic foods. Most of the medical authorities and communities concluded that you can use anodized pots and other utensils without worrying.

Research shows that the body takes in the highest levels of aluminum through the skin and not the digestion system.

So you can be sure that Magnalite cookware is completely safe to use. Using the cookware will not result in the ingestion of aluminum through the food.

How to Decide on the Best Cookware for your Kitchen

One major way of ensuring Wagner ware Magnalite safety is by purchasing cookware made with anodized aluminum. Anodized aluminum is aluminum that goes through a process that increases the oxide layer’s size. The layer creates a boundary or barrier between the food you are cooking and the aluminum that is hidden within. It also helps increase the cookware’s durability.

In case you use cookware that does not have anodized aluminum, you risk ingesting higher levels of aluminum. To avoid that, you should prepare foods that are low on acid and salt such as potatoes.

If you have an anodized cookware set, avoid using utensils made of metal because they scratch the layer and might expose the aluminum encased inside.

In addition, be careful when washing your aluminum set. It should cool well before you wash it. The sudden temperature changes will deform the bases and will compromise the oxidized layer.

How to Restore Magnalite Cookware

As you might know, this old line of pans and pots is based on Aluminum. Aluminum cookware requires adequate care and maintenance. Otherwise, there are chances of the cookware being stained or discolored. You should know that the discoloration of these pans might not necessarily affect the performance when it comes to cooking. However, they will not look good in your kitchen and you might not be as excited to eat the food made using them that is why you need to restore the cookware.

So, we are going to figure out how to restore magnalite cookware so that it looks as good as new and the performance is improved altogether.

Note: if the pot or pan is flaking or pitted, you should consider replacing it completely.

Let’s get into it.

Restoring the Cookware

You will only require a few basic items to restore the shine of the cookware.

If the cookware is discolored, start by scrubbing that discolored area using a wool pad, after which you should rinse using warm water.

If it persists, create a sort of paste using tartar cream and water and scrub the entire pan surface. Rinse off that paste and dry it with a towel.

If that still does not work, add some teaspoons of vinegar to the pot and add warm water until it is full. Boil that water and remove the pot from the heat as soon as it boils. You should then allow the contents to cool. That temperature change should help the vinegar to remove the discoloring.

Note: If you leave an aluminum pan or pot in water for long, it will be discolored. Therefore, you need to pour out that water as soon as it cools and dry it out.

You can finally restore your magnalite cookware with Barkeepers Friend, which is a polisher and cleaner that helps in eradicating the discoloration of the aluminum pot or pan and restoring that shine on the surface.

This polisher is safe to use when cleaning your dishes and your cookware. However, you will need to rinse the cookware properly because you might have some abrasive material or residue that lingers after cleaning.

Cleaning Magnalite Cookware

You need to know how to clean magnalite cookware so that it serves you longer and maintains a clean look. How do you clean your cookware?

Well, first you will need to remove all the excess debris or food on the surface of the pan, possibly by running warm water on the surface.

Secondly, you will need to apply soap on the entire surface and massage it to spread that soap properly. After that, rub using a soft sponge. Make sure it is not a rough surface.

You should then soak it in some soapy warm water and give it a few minutes if there is some debris on the surface.

Finally, rinse using warm water so that traces of the soap are removed. Do not skip this step.

The final step, which is the most important, involves taking some warm water and adding two teaspoons of bleach. Soak it for a minute so that you sanitize the cookware.

It is as simple as that. Cleaning properly is an important way of ensuring that your cookware remains in its best condition and that it maintains the shine. Do this regularly so that it does not deteriorate at all.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I put my Magnalite in the oven?

Magnalite cookware is made using aluminum coupled with a magnesium alloy that makes it a great heat conductor. Magnalite cookware can react well to temperature changes and will cook food from all sides, not just the bottom side. You can take your Magnalite cookware from the refrigerator straight to the oven without any chances of damaging the cookware.

The cookware has lids and vessels that are constructed from cast aluminum. The cookware is oven safe and the lids and handles are oven-safe to temperatures reaching 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

  1. Where can I buy Magnalite cookware?

Magnalite cookware is becoming very popular in the market, which means that it is more and more available. If you want to purchase Magnalite cookware, you can find a wide range of options in different online markets, which includes Amazon. There are different options. Make sure to make the best choice.

  1. How do you season a Magnalite pan?

Seasoning a Magnalite pan is quite easy. You should do it each time you purchase Magnalite cookware or when the older seasoning wears off.

You need to preheat the oven to around 250 degrees, after which you should pour some vegetables or olive on some paper towel. Use the towel to spread the oil on the interior surface of the pan. Make sure you get every inch.

After that, put the cookware inside the preheated oven for at least one hour. After using a seasoned Magnalite pan, clean it immediately using some warm or hot water and wipe it dry.

  1. How to tell if Magnalite is anodized?

There are three main steps to help identify an anodized Magnalite cookware

First, check the metal’s texture. The anodized aluminum should have a matte finish. However, it does not necessarily mean it is anodized just because of that finish.

The second thing you should do is check the color. Try scraping a piece of the paint. If there is no paint coming off, it has been dyed. Anodized aluminum will allow the dye to seep into the finish.

Finally, try scraping it with a penny. Anodized aluminum is harder than the copper used to make a penny. If the penny leaves a copper streak on the cookware, then it is anodized.


Is Magnalite cookware still made? Yes, it is. It is much safer due to the extensive research that has been carried out over the years on aluminum. The companies that manufacture the cookware are careful to eradicate any chances of aluminum ingestion through food that has absorbed the element. You should be careful to ensure that the set you are using has an oxidized layer that will keep your food from absorbing aluminum.

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  1. Does the magnesium atom, bonding with the aluminum atom, prevent aluminum from leaching out?

    1. Hi Kenny, several investigations have been conducted to show the effects of this bonding. Different researches have proven that the magnesium plate, coupled with an aluminum coating, will increase the general resistance to corrosion. Therefore, it seems that this bond will reduce the chances of aluminum leaching out.

  2. I have had my set of magnilite for over 50 years. I have a no knead bread recipe that says to put the pot in the oven with the lid. My lids have a black knob. When in the oven it gives off a bad odor. Is it safe to inhale the odor?

    1. First, you should know that the lids are only oven safe to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything higher than that is not recommended. If you are noticing some bad odors coming from the lid, it is not a good sign. It might not be the best idea to inhale that odor.

  3. My handmedown set of magnalite pans have been in use since the 30’s. The surfaces inside are now rough and pitted in places from burned rice or hardboiled eggs. I’m afraid to cook with them now but it kills me to toss them!

    1. You do not have to throw them out. You can re-season them in a couple of steps.
      First, clean them by adding water to the pan and around 10% of Chlorine and let them sit for approximately 3 hours. Empty the water and use Bon-Ami to clean, and then dry completely. Apply a thin layer of vegetable oil to the interior and exterior, after which you should put the pan in an oven at 35- Degrees Fahrenheit. Let it bake for 1 hour and it will good to use again.
      Re-seasoning every year should make them perfect.

  4. I bought my Magnalite set in 1985. They are anodized but anodization is worn off in two of the pots. Is this still safe to cook in?

    1. Hi. This deterioration is most probably due to cooking acidic foods in the cookware of some carbon building up. The best thing to do before cooking in this set is to scour thoroughly using Bon-Ami, coupled with Scotch-Brite. After that, you should wipe the interior using some Wesson oil and heat the cookware on a stove or in the oven. The pores will absorb this oil creating a layer of seasoning. It might not go back to its original state but it will work perfectly and will be safe to use.

  5. I have a magnalite Wagner Dutch oven handed down from my grandmother for 43 years. Is it safe for cooking. I use it twice a year for brisket only

    1. If your Magnalite dutch oven is made from anodized aluminum it is safe to cook whatever you like. But if it’s non-anodized, it is safe for cooking low acidic ingredients only.

  6. My magnalite pots were a wedding gift in 1958. When I use them now they leave a black residue on the towel I dry them with. Are they safe? They are very discolored and how do I clean them? I am really concerned if I should be using them now. I need so guidance. Thank you for any help you can give me.

    1. Hi, Patricia
      The black residue is an oxide layer. Oxidation can be caused by acidic foods such as tomato-based food or washing the pots in the dishwasher.
      To clean any discoloration fill the pots with water, plus a few tablespoons of lemon juice, white vinegar, or cream of tartar. Boil for 10 minutes and drain. This should lift the dark coating, then you can sponge off with soap and water.
      Are they safe? Yes, they are safe to use as long as you keep them clean and well seasoned.

  7. My Magnilite pans were purchased in 1976. Were they anodized? Seems like this didn’t happen until later in.

    1. Hi Jill, No, they weren’t.
      Wagner Manufacturing developed and introduced the first hard-anodized cast cookware in 1979.

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