irrational by default

   Irrational by default.

A hypothesis

By

Roland Adams

An idea inspired by an actual incident, the narrative of which is detailed here

While investigating the utility of stainless steel cookware, I became aware of an ongoing debate surrounding its safety. My findings yielded an assortment of perspectives. This obscurity deepened my fascination enticing me to delve even deeper into the subject, specifically issues relating to stainless steel itself… From the actual metals used to forge the various grades of this alloy, to its properties, applications and the potential health effects derived from exposure to it and its constituents. The latter aspect really captured my attention, particularly after I had encountered contradictory information concerning human exposure to stainless steel and metals in general. However, in this instance the disparities evoked a sense of concern, considering that the submissions emanate primarily from accredited health professionals – proponents of conventional and alternative medical disciplines. There appears to be consensus regarding the metabolism of dietary metals, (the minerals found naturally in food) they are deemed indispensable in human biochemistry.  However, the ambivalence surrounding the safety of elemental metals (isolated metals (minerals) that are not naturally complexed in food) is justifiably disconcerting, since many of them are integrated in health and cosmetic products. The discord revolves around some of the following contentious issues : – the efficacy of synthetic vitamin and metal supplements (euphemistically referred to as mineral supplements); metals found in vaccines and other pharmaceuticals; metals leached from stainless steel surgical screws and other prosthetic implants; mercury and other metals leached from dental amalgam restorations; the tainting of food by metals released from cookware; the role of aluminum and transition metals in the etiology of Alzheimer’s Disease and autoimmune disorders, etc…These are all valid concerns that warrant clarity as at some level we are all affected by them. The Internet is rife with conflicting information around the functionality of metals in human biology and quite often no distinctions are recognised between dietary and isolated metals – a real dilemma for one who is in search for the truth around these issues. In this era of scientific awareness the stark divergent sentiments around the bio-science of elemental metals certainly prompts a sense of underlying disingenuousness and in some instances blatant wilful ignorance by stakeholders.

Nevertheless… from a broader perspective, contradictions are not exclusive to a specific realm of study, whether it’s the functionality of stainless steel cookware or the implications of metals in health; as with all contentious issues, they exist. It is a truth one generally assumes rational beings to be conscious of, effecting prudence in the authenticity and integrity of information espoused. However, since truth and rationality are both relative concepts, my prior assumption may seem idealistic…an assertion I suspect mainstream academia may differ with profusely, vociferously pontificating education as the remedy essential for rational discernment. In theory this concept seems viable but clearly our inability to coherently implement knowledge is an ever-present impediment, self-evidently there does not appear to be a predetermined correlation between attaining knowledge and the rational execution thereof. Education is undoubtedly essential, ideally though, innate perceptiveness should be its antecedent. I value education passionately but it is by no means a panacea for irrationalness. Unfortunately, in our current state, education has ironically empowered us with the expediency to execute our innate irrationalness with clinical proficiency. The anthropogenic destruction of our environment is but one consequence of man’s shortsighted indulgences which exemplifies my preceding assertion – the list I presented earlier alludes to some of its other effects. This brings about the questions… Why are we fundamentally irrational? In addition, is its manifestation inevitable?

The impression that humans are inherently irrational is an ancient perspective; it is an affliction, which has endured unabated throughout the ages, its current pervasiveness clearly bears testament to this truth. Consider the countless vile atrocities throughout history, from the first bloodshed in Genesis right up to this day’s latest incidence of senseless violence; this explicitly indicates the timelessness of man’s irrational nature. Possessing an intrinsic slant for irrationality is taint oblivious to many of its recipients. Although widespread, it is most often conspicuous with those driven by an unquenchable lust to dominate. Yet, we myopically endorse the milieu by electing them as leaders, a clear indictment on our rational prowess.

Clearly, the symptoms of irrationalness are undeniably omnipresent….Thus, given the context; it desperately precipitates a yearning to speculate on the existence of underlying factors inducing its manifestation. Traditionalist Church Fathers cite the biblical account of “the fall of man” as the birth and defining incident that seeded our penchant for sinning, according to them its manifestation has sprouted and flourished from one generation to the next. Essentially, the preceding account may have been a defining moment in the sense that it possibly depicts the first recognised sin…but committing a sin is merely an unfortunate symptom of an irrational mindset. This line of reasoning may lead one to infer that being irrational is not sinful per se; however, it certainly predisposes one to sin. It then seems rational to conclude that irrational inclinations are the primary precursor to all of our vices. Except, if my hypothesis is plausible there may yet be hope for all of us with irrational tendencies, in the knowledge that our irrationality may be the effect of entities that are not as sinister or arbitrary as were taught to believe, if irrationalness is indeed an effect then there must be factors inducing its inception. If it is genetic, then likewise there must have been causal factors along our lineage. There has to be tangible aspects embedded in our constitution, specific anomalous entities at a rudimentary level that are constricting our innate God-given perceptiveness. As irrational as it may appear, these entities do indeed exist and are as real and pernicious as the PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic acid – a synthetic chemical found in many products including non-stick coatings on cookware) found in the blood of most Americans and many others across the world.  However, the entities I’m alluding to occur naturally and are ubiquitous – they are not viruses, bacteria or any type of microorganism, in fact they are not even alive, yet they indispensable for the sustenance of life… they are broadly known as elemental metals…and here I’m not referring to the dietary metals complexed naturally in food.

Please permit me to convey my rationale…Currently it is well known that elemental or transition metals, alternatively referred to as block-d elements or heavy metals impacts adversely on health, both physical and mental. We know that they are unstable elements that transfer their toxicity to living tissue through the formation of free radicals. Awareness abounds around the idea that transition metals as well as other metal elements contribute to the pathogenesis of a host of degenerative disorders, including autoimmune and neurodegenerative disorders. Yet, metals form the cornerstone of our technologically driven industrialised world. Its retrieval, processing and application in the manufacturing industry forms the backbone of economies. The fact that these deleterious elements systematically deplete us physiologically while simultaneously sustains us by the livelihoods that they provide is the mother of all paradoxes! A strong immune system in conjunction with a constitution thriving with antioxidants tend to neutralise potential threats, however these particular antagonists are insidious pathogens. Due to their pervasiveness, the onslaught is relentless … Ultimately they take their toll, unless of course we succumb due to some other misfortune. In our quest for minerals, we have inadvertently escalated the prevalence of toxic metal elements in our habitats, metals that were once chemically stable, innocuously bound to sulphur, carbonate or oxygen in the ore in which they occur naturally. After these metals have been extracted from the earth and purified the ensuing product loses its stability, particularly transition metals and it is this’ condition that affords them their distinguishable characteristics for which they are so valued. The refining process invariably creates massive quantities of pollutants, this’ collectively with all the other pollutants from industrial processes such as the emissions from fossil fuel combustion and agricultural effluent creates an extremely toxic environment. Metal toxins reach the cells of our bodies through inhalation, skin contact, or ingestion. Once inside the body, their chemical nature catalyses the formation of free radicals, which in turn attacks body tissues. They have an affinity for proteins and lipids, particularly protein molecules that transport lipids through the bloodstream (lipoproteins) and protein receptors embedded in cell membranes. Free radicals mediated by metal ions alter the chemical properties of lipoproteins especially low-density lipoproteins and may advance the development of atherosclerosis. At a cellular level, metal mediated free radicals alter protein and insulin receptors in cell membranes, degrading their permeability, which may precipitate insulin resistance and possibly have a function in the etiology of type-2 diabetes. Those that permeate the cell membrane bind and alter the chemical configuration of the molecules of organelles including the nucleus, resulting in genetic mutations even cancer… These effects present merely a scrape off the tip of the proverbial iceberg pertaining to the toxicity caused by metals in human biology. Having to contend with the possibility of disease from inherited mutations is disquieting, the idea that exposure to even mildly toxic environment may result in acquired genetic mutations, is sickening, literally and metaphorically. Therefore, it is my contention that the synthetic integration of transition metals and other mineral elements in health and cosmetic products is unmitigated perverseness. This practice comfortably falls into the category of extreme irrational behaviour.

It is imprudent to deny the direct correlation between the state of the environment and that of our well-being, both physiological and spiritual. At a rudimentary level, our human nature is a function of the environment in which we live; for that reason, the world remains in turmoil. Unfortunately, when we ingest food and water or breathe the air from a metal tainted environment we develop afflictions due to our common genetic predisposition for elemental metal induced illnesses. Our efforts to resolve the rampant conflicts in society are futile because we fail to recognise and subsequently address its root cause, i.e.,…that our proclivity for engaging in conflict is actually an externalisation driven by internal discord, induced by unstable elements that find their way into our bodies, spawning irrational tendencies as well as related illnesses that are flourishing in our society. It is not a metaphysical or metaphorical conflict but a tangible physiological conflict at a molecular level in the cells in our bodies. Anomalies at this level underlie all degenerative disorders including neurodegenerative disorders, aspects of which seed our irrational traits and stifles good judgement. As with everything else that exists, we too are purely chemical in composition, all aspects of our faculties including our potential for spirituality emanates from chemical processes in designated brain cells. The integrity of one’s disposition exudes the nature of one’s internal chemistry and our biochemistry operates optimally on unadulterated sustenance, as prescribed by the Creator. Our ultimate purpose is to attain true Spirituality … it transcends the synthetic construct of religion and it is the definitive commonality that we potentially share with our Creator, chemically (genetically) bestowed in Adam and Eve by the Creator when He created them. Our potential for spiritualness like irrationalness is inherent in all of us… however; we were Spiritual long before we became irrational. In theory, we can regain our original state, though only through absolute inner peace – which is a function of a harmonious internal chemistry devoid of toxins (evil spirits of antiquity?).  Exorcising the metal toxins from our bodies is the cure for metal induced illnesses, including irrationalness.  It is this’ rebirth that takes us a step closer to fulfilling our purpose. Although the concept sounds simple it is virtually unattainable, for it is almost impossible to eradicate our exposure to metals completely since we reside on a planet comprised mainly of metals – which is significantly ironic. Although consuming antioxidants and other chelating agents are good counter measures the key is to limit metals in this form from entering the domain of our bodies in the first place, so that our natural immune systems stand a fighting chance. However, the machinery of denialism that drives the status quo is running in high gear, the elite, to whom it is immensely lucrative, endorses its apparent efficiency, it is a scenario, which provides pseudo-validation to the denialists, and it is this’ misconception that keeps the engine fuelled. Therefore, it is irrefutable that we are all irrational by nature and our irrational nature increases proportionally to the degradation of our environment.

I have often dwelled on an idea that is quite relevant to the subject matter, – which is whether the specific geology of The Holy Land had any significance in its selection by The Creator for Abraham and his descendants? Is it possible that the conspicuous lack of viable metal deposits in the region could be the very reason for its significance and hence its allocation for the chosen? If, this was indeed the modus operandi of The Creator, it may vindicate my hypothesis.

 Or is the significance of this Land arbitrary?

Purportedly, the doctrine of original sin (with reference to the fall of man in Gen 3) was initially formulated by St. Irenaeus, the 2nd century bishop of Lyon.  However it was Tertullian, a Roman ecclesiastical writer who first coined the phrase “original sin”. The doctrine was espoused about two hundred years later by St. Augustine, who further developed it by instituting the hypothesis, that the mark and guilt of Adam’s sin is passed down from one generation to the next through procreation. However, the biblical reference in Ezekiel 18:19-32, amidst others, unambiguously refutes his claim about the guilt of sin. Even if the biblical references did not exist, this suggestion seems improbable the premise in itself seems iniquitous. From a purely philosophical perspective, it seems illogical that the progeny should bear the burden of guilt due to their ancestor’s transgressions. A more probable assertion would be that it is the proclivity for sinning that is hereditary and not the indignity of the iniquities of our ancestors. In human pathology, a genetic predisposition presupposes that one has inherited defective or defectively sequenced genes, which increases ones risk for inherited disorders. Due to our inherent irrationalness, having a predisposition to sin is inescapable (or having the mark of sin, as St Augustine refers to the phenomenon); it is the one disorder innately common to all humanity on Earth.                                                                                                                                                          According to the bible, The Creator created human beings in His own image and likeness. In His image possibly implies that we resemble the physical manifestation of a supernatural Creator and in His likeness probably means that He created man to be immortal, flawless, and immune to sin like Him. So what went wrong leading up to the account in Genesis 3, why was Eve and subsequently Adam so effortlessly persuaded to defy The Creator’s directive in spite of knowing the fate that would befall them?  In accordance with my hypothesis, the inevitable transpired; nature had taken its course, over time they quite naturally became tainted by the elements in their environment, which obscured their judgment. Although the Earth was presumably in a pristine state at the time of Genesis the basic laws of nature are inescapable, the undulating cycle of birth, ageing and death applies to all living entities on Earth. It is an important cycle, which contributes to the replenishment of the soil with nutrients maintaining a self-sustaining ecosystem. Even in the absence of man made pollutants, the very Earth that sustains us gradually reduces us physiologically in one way or another until we cease to exist; the rate of our natural decline is proportional to our exposure to genetic antagonist. Sunlight in conjunction with minerals in soil and water are essential for plants and trees to flourish; however, to human beings exposure to these antagonists invariably results in free radical damage, which steadily depletes us both physically and cognitively. Hence, it was inevitable that Adam and Eve would become genetically tainted due to their exposure to the elements on Earth. For that reason, except for the tree of knowledge of good and evil, the Creator sanctioned access to all the edible shrubs and fruit trees including the tree of life, its fruit no doubt abounding with potent antioxidants. In the pristine environment of Eden the fruit of the tree of life should have been the ultimate antidote for that which had the potential to adulterate Adam and Eve and according to Gen3:22 one can infer that it was pivotal for their immortality. It then follows that acumen must be a prerequisite for immortality and the tree of knowledge of good and evil was the litmus test for their rational perceptiveness. Eating its fruit was the defining moment that signified failure in their cognitive prowess…thus accessibility to the tree of life and subsequent immortality removed.  The act of man’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden did not corrupt them per se, but their disobedience was the manifestation of a corrupted nature. As to the tree of life, I can only speculate further, that whatever the reason… Adam and Eve did not eat from its fruit in spite of having access to it, resulting in their gradual physiological corruption, and subsequent irrationalness of which sin is but one effect. Therefore, I agree with St Augustine, in the sense that the taint or mark of sin is an aberrant genetic attribute that precludes us from absolute righteousness.

Irrespective of whether the narrative in Gen 3 is an apologue or an actual account, the undeniable truth is that exposure to raw minerals precipitates a myriad of diseases including irrationalness. Thus, one can draw the inference that essentially we are all irrational by default… an effect that continues to escalate, cascading from one generation to the next through the act of procreation.

Theories are essential, they drive the sciences just as religion drives faith; presently science and religious faith coexist interdependently, though on opposite gradients sharing a common pinnacle. However, the divide is constantly narrowing as they inch toward the apex, where they will amalgamate once again into one homogeneous entity signifying the dawn of an era of absolute enlightenment… Spirituality!

The journey continues…

Disclaimer

The views expressed above are purely hypothetical…

Perhaps not…

Copyright © 2014 Roland Adams

Revised 2019

All rights reserved.

Stainless steel cookware, friend or foe…?

STAINLESS STEEL COOKWARE, FRIEND OR FOE…?

by

Roland Adams

THE TRUTH ABOUT WHAT MAY BE LURKING IN YOUR POTS

“All truth passes through three stages. First it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident”

  Arthur Schopenhauer

When referring to the staining of stainless steel cookware, I am referring to the discolouration of the steel that occurs during normal cooking conditions (see illustration), not the residues caused by burnt food nor the carbon deposits beneath caused by cooking over an open flame.

My curiosity was aroused one evening while performing the usual mundane task of washing the dishes, specifically, the cooking utensils. Cleaning the cookware is a chore that I initially detested. However, I had gradually grown accustomed to it with time. Eventually, I became quite proficient at it. After I had cleaned a soiled pot, it would be spotless, gleaming inside and out, a feat that instilled a quiet sense of pride and contentment in me. The aesthetic allure of stainless steel cookware together with my conviction of its sanitary value, particularly when cleaned by scouring, made this type of utensil essential in our kitchen. That evening however, I unexpectedly became conscious of the colour of the water in the sink, which had transformed from a translucent grey to opaque after rinsing the stainless steel pot I was scouring. As I looked down at the murky water in the sink, it dawned on me that despite witnessing that occurrence on numerous occasions I could not conclusively account for it. It was an incidence that I had simply anticipated and not actually considered until then. After reflecting on my observation, I naturally assumed the discolouration of the water to be an effect of the residue I had removed whilst scouring the pot. However, upon further reflection, I became aware of a conspicuous disparity between the colour of the residue as it had appeared in the pot and that of the grime extricated by the scouring. This realisation perpetuated my uncertainty, compelling me to reconsider the validity of my prior assumption and consider the essence of what had actually transpired. Although the answers were vague, I felt motivated by the prospect of unravelling this puzzle.

The following evening I methodically examined the cookware before washing up, beginning with the stainless steel pot that we had used to cook the rice. The exterior base was a dull grey compared to the side, which had a highly polished chrome finish. The dullness of the base I attributed to heat conduction, other than that, there was no visible staining…There were however countless minute scratches cutting across the grain of the steel, almost certainly a consequence of scouring. The exterior side also had scratches on its shiny surface but more superficial than those on its base. Seemingly, the grade of the steel utilised there had increased its scratch resistance or it was simply due to the infrequent scouring of that area. I continued my inspection now focusing on the interior surface; the side unlike the exterior had a matt finish, its surface marred by similar faint scratches, this prompted similar speculations as to their origin. Lastly, I scrutinised the base; it was the only area with noticeable stains… Rainbow coloured blotches superimposed with a translucent film of white aggregate adhered to its surface. I was uncertain of these appearances, but I suspected the rice, the boiling water, or a combination of the two had caused it. There were also numerous distinct scratches as well as minute cavities embedded with black residue and the origins of those were a complete mystery to me.

When I examined the pot we had used to cook the main course, tomato stew incidentally, I noticed the scratches resembled those on the rice pot; but the interior base glistened, in stark contrast. This occurrence would prove to be a significant factor in my investigation, at the time though the observation merely compounded my uncertainty…With that observation; I concluded my initial visual assessment.

Subsequently I began to clean the rice pot using a nylon scouring-pad with soap and water. I started with the exterior base, this time I carefully monitored the lather for discoloration. Predictably, after a short period of scouring the suds changed grey. When I was satisfied that the surface was clean, I rinsed off the soiled foam, revealing a transformed shimmering base while also observing the expected darkening of the water in the sink. The sides of a pot hardly ever demanded scouring, since it rarely stained there…which indeed proved true in this case. Remaining was the interior base, the area with the more visible staining; within seconds of scouring this, the soapsuds turned murky …

The results seemed conclusive and revealed the precise areas of the pot that had polluted the dishwater, specifically the exterior and interior surfaces of the base. Surprisingly, the latter being the primary contributor in this case. When I cleaned the other pot, I discovered the interior base required less effort to achieve the desired result since a partial sheen already existed. Evidently, somehow the tomato food seemed to be a factor in reducing the degree of staining there.

Soon an obvious yet significant underlying pattern became apparent, a pattern that quantified the degree of murkiness of the soapsuds. Clearly, the griminess of the suds depended on the degree of scouring, which in turn depended on the degree of staining. The staining of stainless steel cookware is an occurrence contingent upon various precipitating factors, as I will allude to in due course. At that stage though, the preceding revelations did not alarm or deter me from my scouring exploits, as it was my belief that I had been performing an essential and innocuous deed. Thus, I felt satisfied having “empirically” demonstrated the precise areas of the pots that had exuded the impurities that besmirched the dishwater. Nonetheless, I remained somewhat perplexed by the blackening of the soapsuds during scouring especially since there was no perceivable black manifestation on the pots that warranted that reaction. In any event, I found solace in the knowledge that at least I had removed the deposits that had stained the pots.

I washed the pots once more then rinsed them thoroughly.

While drying the rice pot I noticed a slight dull patch on the interior base that I had missed whilst scouring, other than that, there were no other stains. Now normally, I would not have hesitated to immerse that pot back into water and to scour it until all sign of the blemish had vanished. Instead, I looked for a less arduous method to remove the faded spot since I had uncharacteristically reached my limit of scouring for the evening. Soon I found a harmless fluid, which I decided to try. Thus, I applied a couple of drops to the dull area and proceeded to buff the steel using a serviette…

Astonishingly…, it removed the spot while simultaneously polishing the steel, so I continued, buffing the entire base. When I was satisfied with the sheen, I stood back proudly, revelling in my resourcefulness… After my stint of gloating, I walked across the kitchen to the dustbin and discarded the serviette. I was about to return to the sink when I stopped dead in my tracks as I caught sight of the crumpled up serviette as it unravelled. Had my eyes deceived me…? I wondered …  hesitating in anguish as I stared down at what had unfolded in the bin. After a moment of utter perplexity, I reached down, retrieved the partially crumpled serviette from the litter and examined it. The previously spotless white serviette was stained pitch black beneath. Gazing down at the serviette in my hand, I grappled to make sense of what I was observing. I stood there as if in suspended animation, horrified by the amount of grime I had retrieved from the seemingly clean pot… I was especially astounded by the fact that the black grime on the serviette appeared invisible on the base of the pot, except of course for the few minute cavities with the black residue, definitely insufficient to produce the effect on the serviette. Could the faded spot perhaps have caused the blackness …? I walked back to the sink completely baffled and definitely perturbed…! I thoroughly inspected the inner base of the other pot we had used that evening. It exhibited no visible blemishes, so I proceeded to drop a few drops of the grime revealing fluid on the inner base then polished it using a clean serviette. The result was not as bad, which in a sense debunked the faded spot as being entirely responsible for the stuff on the serviette. Nonetheless, I was still alarmed especially since being previously convinced that my method of cleaning the cookware had effectively rendered it sterile. I unpacked the other three stainless steel pots that we possessed and repeated the procedure on all of them. I was appalled to discover all the pots exhibited varying degrees of residual black grime. As a matter of interest, I tried the same procedure on the exterior base of one of the pots. The result was similar but at least that surface was not in contact with food, an outcome of little consolation though. When I applied the procedure to the interior and exterior sides of the pot, it displayed no visible residues. Which led me to conclude that since those areas did not experience direct heat, no staining occurred there, thus eliminating the need for scouring and hence no residual grime. The questions that emerged then were; why did a seeming invisible layer of grime persist after washing and rinsing the pots so thoroughly after scouring? More importantly, what was the composition of the ghastly looking stuff on the serviette?

Once again, I washed all the pots with soapy water to remove the fluid I had used earlier.

The preceding events caused my thoughts to regress to an occasion about three decades earlier when the use of stainless steel electric kettles was widespread. As I can recall, then, I also made the observation and questioned why the interior surface of our kettle was a brownish reddish colour compared to the chrome coloured exterior. Then, I also proceeded to scrub the inside of the kettle using a nylon scouring-pad in an attempt to clean it, what emanated was also a murky mucky substance. My attitude towards that incident was one of indifference, my rationale was that heat killed all germs and that boiled water always appeared clear and uncontaminated… so that then, concluded that account.

With that incident in mind, I selected one of the stainless steel pots I had just unpacked, poured in water and allowed it to boil for approximately forty-five minutes. After discarding the water and allowing the pot to cool down, I re-examined the interior base. The former lustrous base had become dull and peppered with multi-coloured blotches (see illustration above). In an attempt to retrieve a sample of the residue, I used a nylon scouring-pad and dry scoured the interior base with the grain of the steel. This process indeed removed the stains but what emanated was a blackish powdery substance. The following day I took a sample of the extricated substance to a local lab for analysis. The results would be available in couple of days. In the meantime, I went online and researched stainless steel cookware and cookware in general. I soon discovered that there is much contention associated with this topic, consequently I collated a plethora of data on the subject; however, I reserved my opinion until the results of the analysis were available. Eventually the call came…Iron Oxide… 53.7%; Chromium Oxide… 12.5%; Nickel Oxide… 4.5%; Manganese Oxide… 0.7%; Copper Oxide… 0.16% — an incomplete list of some of the constituents of stainless steel…

Finally, answers…, a bombshell buffered by my preliminary research though. This revelation initiated a litany of fresh questions, like why soap and water were unable to remove the residual metals caused by scouring as well as the health implications of ingesting such metals.

I continued with my research, this time focusing on the latter of the preceding questions…. I was disillusioned to say the least. Metals, particularly heavy metals could be carcinogenic, mutagenic, pathogenic or neurotoxic with no known nutritional value. This information overwhelmed me, especially when realizing that I may have exposed my family to heavy metals … The fact that it had been inadvertent did not diminish my anguish, instantly causing me to become averse toward the practice I had valued so fervently. It had always been my perception that the stains I had removed from my cookware by scouring were the remnants of food that had fused onto the base during cooking, naively not associating them with noxious metal oxide deposits, go figure. To me the most important aspect of scouring the cookware had always been the acquired results, sterile shiny bright cookware the emissions being inconsequential – extraneous waste.

I have to concede that the course of events leading up to then seemed more than surreal… Does anyone actually really pay attention to the quantity of metals released from scouring their stainless steel cookware? Does anyone even contemplate the possibility of such an occurrence, particularly when the cleaning implement is a…flimsy nylon-scouring pad?

The volume of information on stainless steel cookware is vast. The debate focuses mainly on the best methods to remove stains, scale, heat tints and preventing pitting corrosion, unavoidable manifestations that occur when utilising stainless steel cookware, instead of conceding that these occurrences are flaws in the application of stainless steel as cooking utensils.

Stainless steel is an alloy comprised of several metals, with each metal contributing its properties to the characteristics of the alloy. The chemical process that affords stainless steel its corrosion resistance, is a process termed passivation. Passivation in the case of stainless steel is an engineered process where the chromium in the steel reacts with available oxygen, forming a protective microscopic sheath that encases the steel, consequently blocking further oxidation (corrosion). Scratching a stainless steel surface can damage the passivation sheath, however in favourable conditions it regenerates immediately. Preparing acidic food or the addition of sodium chloride (table salt) during cooking can also breach the protective sheath as well as impede stainless steel’s capacity re-form a passivation sheath. Thus, if unfavourable conditions as these occur, it may deplete passivation sheath by the leaching out of chromium and other metals. In this event, it is inevitable that these depleted elements will form complexes with substances exposed to it, in this case your food. At elevated temperatures as utilised in cooking, the rate and therefore the magnitude of leaching may intensify, more so when preparing acidic food. Deprivation of oxygen also negatively affects re-passivation. The conundrum surrounding the rainbow coloured blotches (heat tints) on the interior base of the pots are actually metal oxides caused by the heat associated with cooking. Specifically, heat stains are a thickening of the passivation layer that becomes visible as more and more chromium is oxidised due to the elevated temperature. The rate of oxidation is directly proportional to temperature.  Paradoxically, the thicker and more visible the heat tint becomes the less corrosion resistance it offers. A visible metal oxide sheath will potentially leach more metals than what a microscopic one would. Thus, it is recommendable to remove heat tints in order to facilitate spontaneous re-passivation at ambient temperature. The white residue I had removed from the interior base of my stainless steel pots is scale, oxides that materialize when the steel is heated and form complexes with substances exposed to it, especially calcium and magnesium in food and water. I also discovered that the minute cavities on the interior base of my pots are a result of pitting corrosion. Pitting corrosion is a form of localised corrosion, which occurs when chloride ions in salty or acidic foods permeate the passivation sheath resulting in the formation of corrosion pits at indiscriminate points. The black residues in the cavities are trapped metal oxides and grime.

Therefore, I can attest that by cleaning and removing scale or heat stains by means of scouring is a hazardous exercise since the metals released are toxic substances. Scouring with soap and water removes grease and grime but inadvertently also removes the passivation film as well as other metal constituents of stainless steel. The passivation sheath re-forms instantaneously but the extricated metals quickly reduce the effectiveness of the soap by hardening and acidifying the water. In hard water, soap molecules bind with the metals to form insoluble metal salts and in acidic water, soap molecules converts to insoluble free fatty acids consequently losing its capacity to clean. The insoluble metal salts and free fatty acids form precipitates commonly known as soap scum. These precipitates are often noticeable as oily deposits after rinsing the soap from a scoured stainless steel surface.

Consequently, my contention is – that there is no apparent health benefits associated with utilising this type of cooking utensil. However, the disadvantages are plentiful, yet stainless steel cookware remains the most popular.

From my observations, I can verify that a proportion of the extricated metals persist as an invisible adherent layer of metal salts on the base of the pot as I had inadvertently ascertained. These metals could potentially end up in your food and no measure of heat will destroy it.

If you use abrasive cleaners on your metal cookware, it will remove relative amounts of metals. Any type of scratch on your cookware is an indisputable indication of vacated metals. Thus, I can unequivocally affirm that the extricated metals from scouring the metal oxide deposits on the exterior and interior surfaces of the base of the pots were predominantly responsible for the darkening of the washing-up water … the elusive answer to the question that started this quest. Being the quintessential cynic had I not experienced this for myself, I probably would still be blissfully unaware of this discourse.

I accept that we require certain minerals in our diets as they serve a function in the metabolic processes that occur in our bodies …, but not in the form of elemental metals. There are generally two perspectives regarding elemental metals in our diets. One being, that, in their elemental isolated form they are essential and beneficial in trace amounts, the other, that they are nonessential pernicious pathogens when they do not occur naturally in food as compounds. I have embraced the latter sentiment, for various reasons, the most significant one is – having an instantaneous lucid visceral realisation that the substance I had retrieved from the pot with the serviette is hazardous, it just looked wrong! Thus far, no degree of rationalisation has convinced me otherwise. Consider the following analogy; take a hand full of fertile soil, it contains all the nutrients and minerals including metals, which are vital for crops to grow and flourish. When preparing a meal, would you opt for that hand full of soil abundant in minerals, or the crops that thrive in it? The latter I suspect. After all, we are consumers of plants and not soil. Only plants are able to transform the minerals found in soil into edible organic nutrients like those found in fruit, vegetables, grains etc. Ingested minerals that do not naturally occur in food are detrimental in our diets, for them to be of optimal benefit in our nutrition we must consume them in their transformed organic plant form. Metals leached from your cookware are elemental minerals similar to those found in that hand full of soil. The only ones who will ultimately benefit if you ingest them are pharmaceutical dispensers, naturopaths or other types of healers because ingesting metals in this form will eventually make you sick. Organically grown fruit, vegetables and grains are good sources of nutrients, preparing them in cookware that leaches metals negates their organic status. Placing your sustenance in an environment where it becomes contaminated is an act of ignorance or indifference. Our bodies cannot assimilate elemental metals hence they accumulate and cause free radical damage. A healthy immune system can normally deal with free radicals, however; illnesses arise when the proliferation of free radicals exceeds the body’s defence capacity. My contention is, why subject ourselves to pathogens in the first place irrespective of the body’s potential capacity to combat them? Purportedly free radicals are responsible for causing in excess of 90% of degenerative diseases.

I have applied the same technique utilising the fluid, which I refer to as the RMA PROTOCOL, to various brands of stainless steel and aluminium cookware. The results were predominantly unfavourable when scouring was the cleaning method employed. However, the abrasiveness of scouring pad, acidity of the food prepared, the grade of stainless steel cookware utilised and the stove heat setting, are factors amid others that influenced the outcome. The preparation of fatty or acidic food in stainless steel pots seems to correlate with a reduction of scale and stains manifesting on the base. This is precisely the observation I made on the base of the pot I had used when I prepared tomato stew. However, this does definitely not suggest a reduction in leaching. When considering that metals have an affinity for fats and that acids are commonly utilised to remove heat stains and scale, one can appreciate the reasons for the reduced staining when preparing fatty or acidic food. It is reasonable to conclude that the reduction of deposits is due to the continuous depletion of the passivation sheath in these conditions, the leached metals forming complexes with the fats or acids in your food. Consequently, we inadvertently ingest the resulting adulterated concoction. I have encountered numerous articles advocating the usage of tomato juice, vinegar, lemon juice and other acids e.g. nitric and oxalic acid as stain removers for stainless steel cookware. Undoubtedly, they are effective; however, the big difference is that the ensuing effluent is disposed of and not ingested.

There are many deleterious toxins in our environment and in some instances their presence there are within our control, as consumers we can implement this, by the demand we create for consumer goods. For instance, consuming organically grown unprocessed food and filtered water and generally opting for a greener lifestyle are prudent choices that benefit our well being. Using cookware that does not contaminate one’s food is also within our control. The quality of one’s sustenance is an essential factor in determining one’s disposition and is a cornerstone in one’s health and ultimately the health of the planet.

By now, the irony of using stainless steel or any metal cookware should be apparent. The bottom line is; all stainless steel and aluminium pots are inclined to leach metals into your food, stain, form scale, are prone to pitting corrosion and evidently not sterile. These disadvantages outweigh its purported benefits, i.e. corrosion resistance, non-stick cooking, durability and perpetual sheen. The tragedies about the protracted ingestion of trace amounts of metals are that the illnesses they cause will only manifest after many years of exposure, hence the trivialisation and vitiation towards this subject. The experience I had with my cookware was graphic, shocking, and made heavy metals tangible to me, enabling me to make informed decisions with respect to cooking utensils. In my opinion though, the ideal stove-top cooking utensil remains elusive.

Heavy metals are neurotoxins……………in this context, this notion resonates with me profoundly, especially since the constituents of stainless steel are regarded as heavy metals i.e. iron, chromium, nickel, manganese, molybdenum etc.

Neurotoxins diminish nerve function by depleting neurotransmitters, a condition that will eventually manifest in a myriad of ailments, one being cognitive impairment. Perceptiveness is vital, an essential attribute in order to prevent the anthropogenic destruction of the planet. Ingesting heavy metals, even at acceptable levels is a step in the wrong direction. They accumulate in body tissue, insidiously reducing the immune system until reaching a threshold and manifest in disease. As industrialisation on earth permeates, our exposure to heavy metals will increase significantly and considering that, many metals in their elemental state are pathogenic neurotoxins, the future does indeed seem daunting. Combating the symptoms of disease is an industry with a multi-billion-dollar annual turnover and businesses are thriving both with pharmaceuticals and with natural remedies. The most effective method of combating free radical causing pathogens is to prevent them from entering the domain of our bodies in the first place. It is prudent that one should consciously strive not to become ill, prevention is better than cure but we need to know what to prevent in order to remain healthy. Thus, it is incumbent on us to educate ourselves on all possible sources of toxins especially in our diets. A difficult prospect considering that processed food labels do not list heavy metal content …so it is best to avoid them.

Although the amounts of metals released from leaching and scouring depend on various factors, one cannot diminish the relevance of these phenomena, particularly when food is tainted. Remember that by removing deposits from your metal cookware associated with food preparation, irrespective of the cleaning method employed, one is essentially responding to an effect. Ideally, there should also be no chemical interaction between the materials of your cookware and the food prepared therein. Leaching and the materialisation of deposits on the surfaces of your cookware during cooking are obvious indicators that chemical interactions had occurred.

These aspects should surely evoke a measure of apprehension especially when considering that stainless steel accounts for approximately 40% of household cookware and probably 100% of equipment utilised in the preparation of processed foods.

THE RMA PROTOCOL: This procedure is effective only when scouring is the method employed to clean your stainless steel and aluminium cookware.

After you have cleaned your aluminium or stainless steel cookware, rinse then dry them thoroughly, place a few drops of sunflower cooking oil on the interior base then buff with white cotton wool using pressure. Since heavy metals have an affinity for vegetable oil, (sunflower oil in particular) any residual metals present will bind with the oil and become visible on the cotton wool. Heating the pot slightly reduces the viscosity of the oil allowing it to permeate all the microscopic nooks and crannies on the surface more effectively.

This test may seem unsophisticated but it changed my perspective toward metal cookware.

There are other procedures available to test for the leaching of metals from cookware. However, do not overlook the elephant in the room (i.e. cookware manufactured with neurotoxins). Therefore, I feel that by possessing at least a rudimentary conception of the properties of stainless steel and the potential implications of ingesting its constituents should be sufficient in making any sort of test superfluous.

Therefore, the primary intention of this article is to unveil the cloak that surrounds this obscure discourse by affording concreteness to heavy metals, particularly those released from cooking utensils. The consequent systemic adverse effects incurred by ingested heavy metals are irrefutable and well documented.

In conclusion, I feel obligated to offer a measure of perspective regarding this issue. Metals are ubiquitous they form part of the matter that make up the planet hence exposure is inevitable. If you reside or work at or in proximity to a steel mill, mine, foundry or any other industrial area, ingesting metals from cookware should be the least of ones concerns. Metals leached from cookware and residual metals from scouring accounts for only a minute fraction of the toxins that we are potentially exposed to, but take heed do not discount them…

“The discovery of truth is prevented more effectively, not by the false appearance things present and mislead into error, not directly by weakness of the reasoning powers but by preconceived opinion, by prejudice”

Arthur Schopenhauer

The pursuit of enlightenment is an endless exhilarating odyssey

… Dare to embark

Disclaimer

The account above is anecdotal; the views expressed regarding the potential adverse health effects derived from using stainless steel cookware are my opinions, interpretations and extrapolations of information in the public domain. All procedures engaged in, are entirely at your own risk.

 Copyright © 2010 Roland Adams

all rights reserved

Revised 2019

stainless steel cookware.

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