Storing Food in Metal Pots? All You Need to Know

By Kimberly


Are you fazed by the fact that you might poison yourself from food storage? Or will you like to know the best way to store your leftovers? Well, you are just 5 minutes away from being well informed on that topic.

Storing food in metal pots is not recommended as some metals can leach into the food. Leaching happens when metal from the pot interacts with acids in food, which leads to the food being discolored and tainted with metal. Stainless steel cooking pots are the least likely to leach into foods.

So while it’s tempting to store soup (or other foods) in that metal pot in the fridge overnight, we will discuss a lot of other non-toxic, non-metallic-leaching ways to keep your food safe. Ready? Let’s do this.

An image of Stainless steel pots filled with water on a black ceramic hob and marble countertop.

Are Stainless Steel Pots Safe for Food Storage?

Storing food in stainless steel pots is fine for short-term storage as long as:

  1. There aren’t lots of scratches in the pot, and
  2. better options aren’t available.

Storing food in a metal pot with its lid can lead to the food going bad faster than storing it in a metal pot with an air-tight covering, like plastic wrap.

Stainless steel is a popular choice for cooking pots because it is non-reactive and the presence of chromium in the stainless steel prevents it from rusting.

Scratched stainless steel pots are not safe for food storage as the scratches increase the chance of leaching. Based on my research, the amount of nickel and chromium in the stainless steel pots isn’t much, but it can still get into the food.

Usually, this isn’t a big deal unless you’ve got metal allergies – then this is a bigger deal depending on your level of allergy.

Are Aluminum Pots Safe for Food Storage?

Food-grade aluminum pots and pans can be safe to store food, especially in a freezer. Non-food-grade aluminum is never safe for food storage. Disposable, food-grade aluminum pans should be discarded per the instructions, as not all can handle the extremes of heat and cold.

There are two kinds of aluminum as structured in the table below.

Versions of AluminumExamples
Food GradePans, Pots, and Cooking sheets.
Non-Food GradeAluminum foils, Disposable baking trays, and Foil packets
Table: types of aluminum available

Food-grade aluminum tends to withstand certain conditions that cause aluminum to leach into foods than the non-food-grade version of aluminum. These conditions include:

  • Temperature: When subjected to a higher temperature, aluminum may be discharged into the food.
  • Food acidity: When you cook with citrus fruits, red meat, or other acidic foods.

Aluminum, as with any other metal, should be carefully considered as a food storage device. Because some science says it’s generally safe – while other science says it can have harmful long-term effects. But we aren’t here to discuss those – just the fact that only some aluminum pans are safe to store food.

When in doubt? Err on the side of caution. Find something else to store your food in besides aluminum.

Is Tin Safe For Food Storage?

Tin can be safe for food storage and canning as long as it’s not lined with BPA or other potentially harmful compounds. Tin can react with certain foods and ingredients to leach into the food, so it’s important to consider which foods are in the dish being stored.

You can read more about how safe it is to use tins for cooking in an article I wrote on it right here: Is it Safe to Cook Food in a Tin Can?

Is It Ideal to Store Food in Metal Containers in the Fridge?

Some metal containers, like stainless steel and Non-stick Teflon pans, can be used to store food in the fridge. Please wait for the dish the food is in to be cool enough that you can carry it with your bare hands before you move it to the fridge.  

Just remember that using the pan’s lid can shorten the overall shelf-life of the food, as it’s not air-tight. This can mean that the food also takes on the smells and tastes of whatever else is in the fridge. Or it can mean that the other food in the fridge starts smelling and tasting like what’s in the pot!

Pro tip: When you get your food out of the fridge, move it to a new container before heating it back up in a microwave. Metal should NEVER be put in a microwave.

Glass or Stainless Steel? Which is Better for Food Storage?

Most people who want BPA-free containers in their homes always come up with this question. Generally, many consider glass the best container for food storage.

This is because, it is suitable for storage, and unlike stainless steel, glass can be used as cookware as they are microwaveable. It can also be fancy enough to use for serving dishes. Glass is also a nice option because you will be able to see its contents when in the fridge due to its transparent nature.

On the other hand, you don’t need to worry about your stainless containers when they mistakenly slip off your hands as they won’t shatter when they hit the floor.

Key Takeaways on Storing Food in Metal Pots

Most metal pots are not safe for storing foods because they react with acids that are present in some of our foods. Stainless steel pots, however, can be fine for storing some dishes in short term quite well.

In fact, any time we do a large batch of chili or stew, we end up storing it in the fridge in the large cooking pot (it’s stainless steel). We do cover it with saran wrap, though, because we don’t want to make everything else taste like what’s in the pot (and vice versa).

  • So if you’re wanting to go for pure safety, then stick to food-grade plastics or glass.
  • If you’re wanting to steer clear of plastics (as much as possible), go for glass or stainless steel containers with air-tight lids.

We try to live responsibly – we have reusable containers made of glass, stainless steel, and a few plastic containers that we were given. We use them until they need to be recycled – and then we try to stick to our reusable containers. We are by no means perfect at it, but we are trying.

If you’re in the market for some non-toxic, food-grade safe food storage options, then here’s a list of non-toxic containers you can use to store or preserve your food. These links below are available on Amazon, so click the link to check the best prices.

We’ve got an assortment of each of these – and they each work well for various purposes. So get what you need so you can best enjoy your backyard homestead. Happy homesteading!


Learning from your own experience is essential, but learning from others is also intelligent. These are the sources used in this article and our research to be more informed as homesteaders.

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