There's been a lot of buzz about titanium cookware in recent years. But what exactly IS titanium cookware? And why is it so confusing and hard to figure out sometimes?
It turns out that "titanium" can mean several things, especially when it comes to nonstick cookware. If you don't understand all the meanings and how the word is used by the manufacturer, you can end up with cookware you don't want.
We researched all the different kinds of titanium cookware, including nonstick. If you're confused or have questions about titanium cookware, you should find the answers here.
What Is Titanium?
Titanium is a moderately rare metal prized for three characteristics: lightness, non-reactivity, and strength. It's as strong as steel but half the weight, and is often used as an alloy with other metals such as aluminum and iron to increase durability and decrease weight.
You can find titanium and titanium alloys in many industries, including aircraft, camping equipment, bicycles, drill bits, golf clubs, and more. Titanium is rare and costly, so most products containing significant amounts of titanium are high-end and expensive.
Probably because of its association with the aircraft industry and other high-tech applications, titanium has become synonymous with high quality, modern, cutting edge, and advanced. But to understand if this is true or just marketing jargon-- for whatever titanium product you're buying--you have to dig a little deeper.
Titanium in Cookware
Titanium has become a marketing buzzword in the cookware industry, too. You might think that with titanium's lightness, non-reactivity, and strength, it would be a huge plus in any cookware. But this isn't necessarily true.
First of all, titanium is expensive, so any significant amount of it is going to raise the cost of a product. For nonstick in particular, this isn't a good idea, because nonstick coatings have such a short life span (an average of 1-5 years). For clad stainless, which is already expensive, a person should have a specific reason for buying it (such as a severe nickel allergy).
Second, like stainless steel, titanium has terrible heating properties. It heats slowly and unevenly, and it hangs onto heat poorly. By itself, titanium would make terrible cookware (unless your primary goal is lightness, as it is for camping cookware).
Third, and contrary to much marketing jargon, propaganda, and misinformation all over the cookware world--titanium has no nonstick properties of any kind. In fact, titanium behaves much like stainless steel: food sticks to it and can be hard to clean if you don't use the right cooking techniques, such as low heat and enough cooking oil to coat the surface of the pan before adding food.
With all of these drawbacks, you might wonder why titanium in cookware has the great reputation it has. It's partly because of what we said earlier: that "titanium" tends to be associated with high-tech, modern, and advanced products. (That is, it's a marketing term, like "new and improved" or "cutting edge.")
But the term titanium is most often seen in the world of nonstick cookware, where titanium is added for durability. We'll get into more detail about this below in the section Nonstick Titanium Cookware.
Types of Titanium Cookware
"Titanium cookware" can mean several things (click on the links to see examples on Amazon):
- Camping cookware--prized for its lightness, but not good for daily cookware because of titanium's poor heating properties.
- Clad stainless cookware with a titanium-reinforced stainless steel cooking surface (316Ti rather than the more common 304 grade): contains a very small amount of titanium.
- Clad stainless cookware with a patented titanium nanobond coating.
- Nonstick cookware with a titanium reinforced cooking surface--and here, and here, and here--includes PTFE and ceramic titanium
- Marketing jargon meaning "durable" or referring to the color of the cookware.
We'll take a look at each of these in detail to see what the term "titanium" really means in each category.
Titanium Camping Cookware (100% Titanium)
Prices vary by size of set--this set of 3 pieces (plus lids) is about $50
Camping cookware--or backpacking cookware--is the only 100% titanium cookware on the market. This is because titanium is light, so it's good for hauling in a backpack.
Titanium camping cookware is not intended for kitchen use and would not make good daily cookware because titanium (like stainless steel) has terrible heating properties. It is also sticky like stainless steel, so by itself has no nonstick properties.
Titanium makes good camping gear for the same reason it makes good bicycles: its lightness.
Stainless Cookware with Titanium Cooking Surface
About $1500 for 10 piece set
We know of only one brand of clad stainless steel cookware with a titanium cooking surface, and that is Viking 7-Ply Titanium Cookware. Sold as a 10-piece set, it has an external layer of magnetic stainless for induction compatibility, 5 internal layers of aluminum heating core, and a cooking surface of 100% titanium.
The titanium cooking surface has both pros and cons. On the pro side, it's extremely stable and non-reactive and it won't leach any nickel or chromium, as stainless steel does in tiny amounts. Viking says titanium has a natural bacteria inhibitor as well, but we haven't been able to verify that this is the case.
On the con side, titanium is a terrible heat conductor-thus the aluminum heating core--it sticks as bad or worse than stainless steel, and it's expensive.
If you have a nickel allergy or are concerned about nickel and chromium leaching from standard stainless steel cookware, this may be a good choice for you (but the amounts of leaching from stainless steel are small and not considered unsafe).
See our Viking Cookware Review for more information about this cookware.
316Ti "Titanium" Clad Stainless Steel Cookware
About $800 for 10 piece set
In clad stainless steel cookware, titanium-reinforced steel--called 316Ti--is considered by some people to be higher quality than standard 304 grade steel. It is seen in just a few brands, including SaladMaster and Heritage Steel. However, 316Ti stainless steel contains just 0.07% titanium. This is enough to add to the expense (316Ti is a more expensive alloy than 304), but improves corrosion resistance only slightly.
Though there may be more, we know of just two cookware brands that use 316Ti stainless steel: Heritage Steel (see our Heritage Steel review) and Saladmaster (see our Saladmaster review). Saladmaster fans in particular love to say that Saladmaster is "titanium" cookware, but it is actually made with 316Ti steel. 316Ti is a stainless steel alloy that contains titanium and molybdenum, which may make it slightly more corrosion resistant than 304 steel (the more common alloy used in cookware), and maybe not at all at normal kitchen temperatures.
The percentage of titanium in 316Ti? About 0.7%.
Saladmaster enthusiasts in particular like to think their cookware doesn't leach any nickel or chromium (because it's "titanium"), but this is not the case. 316Ti leaches about the same amounts of nickel and chromium as 304 steel. (And we repeat here: the amounts leached are extremely small and not considered a health or safety issue: our bodies need trace amounts of both nickel and chromium, so these are not unsafe substances.)
316Ti is a great alloy for cookware, and we recommend Heritage Steel as a high quality, USA-made brand of cookware. But it is nowhere near pure titanium (and neither is Saladmaster), and it is equally reactive as 304, with a small increase in durability.
Titanium-Nanobond Coated Stainless Steel Cookware (Not Nonstick)
About $1700 for 10 piece set
Hestan NanoBond stainless cookware has a patented titanium nanobond coating which adds durability and provides an extremely stable, non-reactive cooking surface.
Here the titanium definitely adds something, but even so, it's a very thin layer and mixed with other materials, so the amount of actual titanium is small. The titanium is part of what we think is a type of physical vapor deposition (PVD), a process by which extremely thin layers of materials are applied to an object in a vacuum to increase hardness, among other things.
PVD is seen mostly in industrial applications, and Hestan NanoBond is the only cookware we know of that has such a coating.
Hestan has several patents on their titanium nanobond coating, but without being chemists or scientists, it's difficult to say how much value it adds to the cookware. We do know that it's safe and stable, and a good choice if you're looking for something that won't leach any chemicals into your food (and we prefer this to the Viking titanium cookware above for its heavier body and more even heating).
We should also say that, though it sounds similar, it is a completely different material than ceramic nonstick coatings (discussed in more detail below). Hestan NanoBond is not a nonstick coating, it is not a sol-gel, and it has none of the issues associated with nonstick coatings (e.g., titanium dioxide nanoparticles).
See our Hestan Cookware Review for more information, including details about the nanobond coating.
Nonstick Titanium Cookware (PTFE and Ceramic)
Before we dive any deeper into nonstick cookware, you should know that there are two kinds--and only two kinds--of nonstick cookware: PTFE and ceramic nonstick. PTFE has been around since the 1960s, and ceramic nonstick was invented in 2007. We include this so you know that any nonstick cookware that's called "granite," "diamond," "titanium," or something else is either PTFE or ceramic nonstick. There is no such thing as granite nonstick cookware, diamond nonstick cookware, or titanium nonstick cookware.
Titanium and other materials are added to both types of nonstick cookware for durability. Durability is the holy grail of nonstick cookware. This is why you see so many brands of nonstick cookware with words like granite, stone, rock, diamond, and titanium in the name (true for both PTFE and ceramic nonstick brands): durability sells nonstick cookware.
Here's how adding titanium (and other reinforcements) to a nonstick coating works: Think of the metal surface of the skillet as a pond, think of the nonstick coating as the water, and think of the titanium as very tiny rocks protruding above the pond surface. Because the nonstick coating lies below the titanium, it's protected. Utensils scraping the pan are scraping the titanium, not the PTFE or ceramic. Or at least, they are scraping the nonstick surface less. Yet the particles are tiny enough and unobtrusive enough to allow the nonstick coating to still perform.
Here's a depiction of a titanium nonstick coating:
Does titanium really improve the durability of nonstick cookware? We think that if it does, it's by a small margin. Though makers don't disclose this information, we can deduce that the amounts of titanium added to nonstick coatings are small, because too much titanium would prohibitively raise the price, and it would also ruin the nonstick properties. (Remember, titanium is not a nonstick material.)
In other words, titanium is largely a marketing term when it comes to nonstick cookware.
If you aren't familiar with the two types of nonstick cookware, we recommend reading our articles What Is PFOA? A Guide to Nonstick Cookware Chemicals and Is Nonstick Cookware Safe? as well as several product reviews you can find on our Cookware page.
PTFE Titanium Nonstick Cookware
T-fal ProGrade Titanium skillet (about $35)
Saflon Titanium Cookware (about $230 for 10 piece set)
Titanium Cookware (about $400 for a 12-inch skillet)
Many brands of PTFE nonstick cookware are reinforced with titanium. Makers add a small amount of titanium to the coating to make it more durable; they may also do this so they can call the cookware "titanium"--or granite, diamond, rock, etc.--rather than what it really is, "PTFE."
As we said above, whether these substances actually improve the durability and longevity of the nonstick coating is questionable, as pretty much all nonstick cookware has a life span of 1-5 years, regardless of what it's been reinforced with.
It is also doubtful whether there's enough titanium in the coatings to make much of a difference. This is true even for the high-end, expensive Titanium Cookware (linked above). The life span of nonstick skillets average 1-5 years. Reinforcements like titanium, diamond, and granite might extend some nonstick coatings closer to the 5-year end, but are unlikely to provide much more longevity than this. PTFE eventually wears out from heat--even if you use low heat--and no amount of titanium, granite, or diamond dust can fix that.
Five years might sound pretty good, but compared to other types of cookware, it's a pretty short run. Clad stainless steel, cast iron, enameled cast iron, carbon steel, and copper all last for decades, and sometimes centuries. Thus, the cost-per-year-of-use is higher for nonstick cookware than any other type of cookware.
Ceramic Titanium Nonstick Cookware
Michelangelo (about $45 for 12-in. skillet with lid, about $56 for 5 piece set shown above)
Gotham Steel (about $20 for a 10-in skillet)
Goodful (12 piece set about $130)
EuroCast by Berghoff (9 piece set about $800)
Zavor Noir (7 piece set about $230)
Ceramic nonstick cookware was invented in 2007. It is a new type of "ceramic" with a completely different composition than traditional ceramics and enamels, such as those found in bakeware and on enameled cast iron cookware (which are not nonstick).
Ceramic nonstick cookware also has a completely different composition than PTFE nonstick cookware (i.e., Teflon): PTFE is made from hydrocarbons and is actually a type of plastic, while ceramic nonstick coatings are inorganic, made from silicon or clay.
But similar to PTFE, ceramic nonstick has a limited lifespan, and is known for losing its nonstick properties quickly; often even more quickly than PTFE. Thus, makers of ceramic nonstick began to add materials to increase durability, just as makers of PTFE cookware did.
One of the most popular of these is titanium.
Perhaps it's the confusing marketing, but ceramic-titanium nonstick cookware is one of the most misunderstood types of cookware on the market. People don't realize that ceramic-titanium nonstick is simply a ceramic nonstick coating with titanium added to it.
This gets confusing because there are so many different brands of ceramic nonstick coatings on the market, and a lot of marketing language about what the titanium actually does. But if you remember that all nonstick coatings are either PTFE or ceramic nonstick--and that they can all be reinforced with particles of durable materials such as granite, stone, diamond dust, and titanium--you won't get so confused when reading about different nonstick brands.
As with PTFE coatings, it's uncertain how much durability titanium actually adds to the coating, because they all seem to have roughly the same life span of 1-5 years (reinforced or not). Once again, the amount of titanium added to the nonstick coating is probably small, because a lot of titanium would raise the price, and may affect the nonstick properties (remember, titanium is not nonstick).
Titanium as Marketing Jargon
Finally, cookware can be called "titanium" without actually containing any titanium. This Trisha Yearwood cookware set (possibly discontinued) is named titanium after its color, a matte gray.
For all we know, dozens of other brands of "titanium" nonstick cookware might also be named for a color or style, and not because they contain any actual titanium.
How to Buy Titanium Cookware
Because titanium is a small addition to most types of cookware (except camping and backpacking cookware), you should instead look at how to buy the type of cookware you're interested in.
- If you want clad stainless steel with titanium, read about how to buy clad stainless steel cookware, then look at the Viking 7-Ply with a titanium cooking surface, the Hestan NanoBond with a titanium nanobond coating, or the Heritage Steel with a 316Ti cooking surface.
- If you want titanium non-stick cookware, read about how to buy non-stick cookware (both PTFE and ceramic), then decide if a titanium (or "titanium") nonstick pan is the right choice.
There are only a few brands of stainless steel with titanium cookware to choose from, including Heritage Steel and Hestan NanoBond, discussed above.
If you want camping or backpacking gear, we recommend finding another review site, as this is not our area of expertise.
Titanium Cookware FAQs
Here we answer some common questions about titanium cookware (nonstick and otherwise).
Is All Titanium Cookware Nonstick?
No, not at all. In fact, titanium itself is not a nonstick material. Titanium behaves much like stainless steel when cooking (that is, food sticks to it). However, some nonstick coatings have small amounts of titanium added to them for durability (not for better nonstick properties).
Is Titanium Nonstick Cookware Safer to Use than Other Nonstick Cookware?
No. Adding titanium to nonstick coatings does not affect the safety of nonstick cookware. Titanium itself is stable and inert, so it's safe to cook with. But remember that it is a small part of any nonstick coatings, so it won't alter a coating's safety level.
Any nonstick surface reinforced with titanium may last longer and take more abuse, but it's still going to have all the same properties of the nonstick coating, either PTFE (Teflon) or ceramic.
If you're concerned about safety, educate yourself on the two types of nonstick coatings, because whether they contain titanium or not, it's the coating composition that's going to determine the safety of the cookware.
Is Titanium Ceramic Cookware Safe?
Titanium ceramic pans are as safe as the ceramic nonstick coating, since the majority of the coating is the ceramic nonstick and the titanium is only a small addition to it.
Which is to say, probably--but there are a few issues with ceramic nonstick coatings. Titanium itself is a very stable, non-reactive material, so adding titanium to a ceramic coating does not affect its safety. However, there are some issues with ceramic nonstick coatings you should be aware of before you buy--such as titanium dioxide nanoparticles--and also, know that there isn't a lot of research available yet on ceramic nonstick coatings in general--so the safest answer here is that we don't know.
You can read more in our article Is Nonstick Cookware Safe?
Titanium Nonstick Vs. Teflon: Which Is Better?
Once again, there is no such thing as a titanium nonstick pan: it is either a PTFE or a ceramic nonstick coating with titanium particles added to it to increase durability. "Teflon" is a brand name for PTFE, and it can have titanium in it, or other reinforcements such as granite or diamond dust, or no reinforcements.
Teflon (PTFE) reinforced with titanium is considered more durable, but in our testing, all Teflon non-stick pans had about the same longevity whether they had reinforcement materials or not.
What Is Titanium Coated Cookware?
There really is no such thing as "titanium coated cookware." Titanium is a metal, so if cookware has a titanium surface, it's clad, not coated (like the Viking 7-ply we discuss above).
There's some confusion about this because nonstick cookware is often referred to as "titanium" or even "titanium coated." However, these coatings are actually one of the two types of nonstick, either PTFE or ceramic nonstick, that have been reinforced with small amounts of titanium.
Thus, it's much more accurate to call a nonstick coating "PTFE with titanium particles" or "ceramic nonstick with titanium particles."
Is Titanium Cookware Better than Clad Stainless Steel Cookware?
If we're talking pure titanium versus stainless steel, maybe, depending what you're looking for. Stainless steel is a safe, stable surface to cook with, but it does leach some small amounts of nickel and chromium--so if you have a nickel or chromium allergy, you may want titanium cookware.
As for nonstick pans, remember that we're really dealing with either PTFE or ceramic nonstick, and there isn't enough titanium in them to have a large effect one way or the other--so whether you choose nonstick or reinforced nonstick doesn't make a lot of difference (and neither type will perform like stainless steel).
Is Titanium Cookware Induction Compatible?
Titanium itself is not induction compatible, so it has to contain a layer of magnetic steel in order to be induction compatible.
Is Titanium a Safe Cookware Material?
Yes, titanium is a safe material to use in cookware. It is a very stable, non-reactive metal. However, it is expensive, and is typically only added in small amounts to cookware, usually to nonstick cookware to improve durability (though, as we mentioned, it probably doesn't improve durability very much).
Other than camping gear, we know of only one brand of cookware with a 100% titanium surface: Viking 7-Ply. Titanium is less reactive than stainless steel, but stainless steel is also a very stable material, so we recommend going with a titanium cooking surface only if you have a nickel or chromium allergy.
Is Titanium Cookware Safe for Birds?
Titanium itself is safe for birds as it doesn't emit any fumes while cooking. However, if the titanium is contained in a nonstick coating, be sure that the coating is ceramic and not PTFE. PTFE ("Teflon") coatings can release toxic fumes above about 500F that can kill birds--and this is true even if the PTFE coating contains titanium.
What Are the Disadvantages of Titanium Cookware?
Titanium is a good material for cookware in many ways. It's light, strong, and non-reactive. However, it does have some disadvantages, which we discussed above in the Titanium in Cookware section.
Here, we will add that with titanium nonstick cookware, perhaps the biggest disadvantage is that the titanium may not add a lot to the durability of the nonstick coating, and almost certainly isn't worth paying a premium for.
Final Thoughts on Titanium Cookware
We hope we've cleared up all the kinds of titanium cookware on the market. Camping and backpacking cookware is pure titanium for its lightness and durability. Titanium is added to some stainless steel alloys--in very small amounts--to increase corrosion resistance and durability. And titanium is added to nonstick coatings--both PTFE and ceramic nonstick--to increase durability. Most nonstick cookware coatings contain a small amount of actual titanium, and it may not have a large effect on the durability of the nonstick coatings.
Thanks for reading!
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