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How to use and recycle aluminum foil
Source:Zhengzhou Golden Foil Aluminium Industry Co., Ltd AddTime: 2014-4-1 Hit:2097

The foil used in homes and commercial kitchens for decades has been aluminum foil. Despite that, the term “tin foil,” which I, like Terri, have used myself, has carried on in our vocabulary since the industrial days of the early 1900s.

In 1919, the U.S. Foil Company was founded in Louisville, Kentucky. It was an arm of the then-Reynolds Metals Company and they produced lead and tin foil, the latter of which was used for purposes such as lining cigarette packages.

In 1926, the company moved into the aluminum business, rolling aluminum foil for packaging. Aluminum foil, which is cheaper to produce, may have a tin-like look but it’s almost 99 per cent aluminum, with the rest containing strength-enhancing iron and silicon.

According to, website of the company that is now called Reynolds Consumer Products, Reynolds Wrap aluminum foil designed for home use was introduced in 1947. It was advertised as “the pure aluminum foil for 1,001 kitchen miracles.” That message, of course, was to highlight its many uses.

I don’t know about 1,001 miracles, but aluminum foil can indeed be used in a variety of ways.

Because it’s moisture proof, grease proof, has a low vapour transfer rate and can withstand extreme cold, it’s great to use for short- and long-term food storage or freezing. This could include wrapping up a sandwich for lunch, or over-wrapping cuts of meat or other foods to prevent freezer burn even after months of freezing.

Aluminum foil also withstands high heat and can be used to cover casseroles or other items baked in the oven. It’s also easy to mould and shape, making it useful for packaging foods, such as a whole fish, to cook on the barbecue. Aluminum foil has also long been used to tent a roast after cooking, keeping it warm while its juices are allowed set before the meat is sliced.

You’ll notice that aluminum foil has a shiny side and dull side. That’s because during the last step in its production, two layers of foil are passed through the mill at the same time. One side of the foil contacts the mill’s highly polished rollers and becomes shiny. The other side does not touch the rollers and comes out with a matte finish.

Some believe that when covering or wrapping a food with aluminum foil, if the shiny side faces out it will reflect the heat of the oven and affect cooking time. But according to Reynolds, it makes no difference which side of faces out.

When aluminum foil is used to cover a dish, such as saucy lasagna, the moisture rising up during cooking may cause the foil to darken. This is a result of a buildup of aluminum oxide, a totally harmless substance naturally present on the surface of foil.

As for where not to use aluminum foil, Reynolds says that you should not line the bottom of your oven with it as it may cause heat damage.

On some occasions when aluminum foil comes into contact with a different metal or a food that is highly salted, seasoned or acidic, small pinholes can form. According to Reynolds, this is a harmless reaction that does not affect the safety of the food. However, the holes will cause sauces or fats to leak out of the foil and onto the pan it was lining, potential causing them to smoke.

So, if you’re going to line a pan with aluminum foil, it’s best to use a cooking pan that is aluminum, glass or ceramic, not one made with a different type of metal.

With regarding to recycling, according to the Capital Regional District, aluminum, including aluminum foil, pans and plates, is one of nature’s great recycling success stories.

On its website, (which is rich with information on recycling), recycling aluminum does not involve what they call downcycling. They note that old aluminum pie plates or pieces of foil are made into a new plate or other items, over and over. This is not the case with, say, plastic, which can be remade only into a lower-quality plastic.

The CRD says that all clean aluminum, including baking pans, plates and foil, can go in your curbside CRD Blue Box. They say to wash it when doing the dishes and throw it in with your drink and food cans. That said, it always best to check with your own district to determine what is and what isn’t allowed.

Of course, energy is required to make new or recycled aluminum products. So, if you want to limit the environmental impact, it’s best to use only what you need. Also limit situations where the foil is used to line pans or other surfaces, becomes uncleanable, and must been thrown in the garbage because its no longer recyclable.

Rather than cooking a roast or pieces of chicken or fish on a pan lined with foil, instead invest in pans you don’t have to line, such as a good quality non-stick baking sheet or a sturdy roasting pan. You could also limit your use of aluminum foil for covering baked foods by buying ovenproof casseroles and pans that come with lids.

If you absolutely have to line a pan with something before cooking food on it, parchment paper could be a better option than foil. If it’s soiled with food, you could put it in your green bin if your district offers that surface, something you could not do with foil.