Nickel-lined pans last longer and provide more even heating than other cooking equipment. However, for those with allergies, nickel cookware can be dangerous and even deadly, and nickel consumption may be harmful for those without allergies as well.
Nickel is often used to line copper and stainless steel pots and pans. Nickel linings provide even heat distribution. Adding nickel to stainless steel prevents corrosion, makes a long-lasting product and provides an easy to clean surface. Lining copper with nickel prevents interactions between copper and high-acid foods which can break down copper, allowing the metal to be consumed and causing stomach upset or more severe reactions.
Over half of all nickel manufactured used goes into the production of stainless steel. The food industry is a large consumer of nickel-containing stainless steel and copper products, with most stainless steel cookware containing 18 percent nickel. Nickel is one of the most toxic metals, but controversy exists about whether or not the small amount released by cookware is typically dangerous. These small amounts do cause severe allergic reactions in some individuals. Those with a nickel allergy should never use nickel-lined cookware.
High cooking temperatures and acidic foods can cause larger quantities of nickel to be released. Cookware containing or lined with nickel should not be cleaned with abrasive chemicals or heavy-duty cleaning pads. These can scratch and damage nickel and cause more of the metal to be added into food and consumed.