Can You Use Metal For Marinating? (Fact Based)


Wondering if you should marinate your meat or other foods in metal (steel, iron, aluminum, copper, etc.) bowls/containers?

Here is a detailed guide based on scientific facts to help you out.

Can You Use Metal For Marination?

Yes, you can use metal containers for marination, given they are made of nonreactive metal such as stainless steel and not with reactive ones such as aluminum, copper, cast iron etc.

To understand the reason, we would need to understand a bit about the process of marination itself.

If you are already aware of the chemistry behind marination, you can skip
the next section.

What Is Marination?

Marination is the process of soaking food in a seasoned, often acidic, liquid before cooking. The origin of the word alludes to the use of brine (saltwater) in the pickling process. The liquid in which food is marinated is called a “marinade.”

A marinade is a wet mixture of ingredients, typically acidic, that is used to flavor or tenderize food. Marinades are often used on meats and fish before cooking, but they can also be used on vegetables.

The acidic ingredient in a marinade helps to break down the fibers in the food, making it more tender.

It is the presence of acids that is an area of concern while using metal containers and bowls.

Here are some of the most common acidic foods used to prepare marinades –

  • Lemon juice
  • Lime juice
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • White Vinegar
  • Buttermilk
  • Beer
  • Red wine
  • Carbonated drinks (coke, Pepsi and so on)
  • Hard drinks (Whiskey, etc.)
  • Other juices such as grapefruit, orange, etc.

Many of these in the presence of salt or otherwise may react with certain metals.

Also, it is a function of how long you keep your food to marinate. Longer the period, the more the chances of a reaction.

Can You Put Vinegar In A Stainless Steel Bowl?

Yes, you can safely put vinegar in stainless steel bowl for marination. Stainless steel cookware is non-reactive, which means there will not be any chemical reactions between the acid content of the marinade and the container.

It is important to note that certain low-quality steel bowls may still end up reacting with the marinades if kept for a long time.

Thus, if you are unsure of the quality of stainless steel bowl, best to use a glass of a plastic one instead.

Will Vinegar Corrode Metal?

Vinegar is an acidic liquid and, as such, it can corrode metal such as aluminum, copper, iron. Vinegar can contain anywhere from 5-10% acetic acid. This acid reacts with metal.

For example, in the case of iron, the positive hydrogen ion of the acid removes the electrons from the iron atom. This is called ionization.

When used with aluminum, the acetic acid can dissolve the metal (if kept in contact for a long time). This leads to discoloration of the food and causes changes in taste.

Vinegar is not known to react with quality stainless steel, which is considered a nonreactive metal.

Is It OK To Marinate Meat In An Aluminum Pan?

No, it is not a good idea to marinate meat in an aluminum pan. When aluminum comes into contact with acidic foods, it can cause a chemical reaction to leach aluminum into the food. That’s is why you should not marinate in aluminum pans.

This is especially true if you plan to marinate meat with marinades with strong acids such as white vinegar and for a longer duration, such as 24 or 48 hours.

Can You Marinate In A Metal Bowl?

Yes, it is safe to marinate in metal bowls made of non-reactive metal like stainless steel. It is not recommended to marinate in reactive cookware.

Does Lemon Juice React with Aluminum Foil?

Yes, lemon juice reacts with aluminum foil/pan. Lemon juice is acidic because it has citric acid, and aluminum is a metal. When these two substances come into contact with each other, a chemical reaction occurs that produces salt and hydrogen gas.

This reaction happens because the acid in the lemon juice causes the metal to corrode or break down.

The aluminum chloride produced by this reaction can be harmful if ingested, so it’s important to be careful when handling lemons and aluminum.

Here is a great video on whether aluminum foil/pans etc. are safe to use –

Final Words

I hope this guide helped you decide which metals are safe for marinating your food and which ones are not.

If you have any queries and suggestions, please write to us.

Do share this with your friends and family, who love marinating and may find this information useful.

Show Some Love by Sharing!

About Amanda Jones

Amanda is a person with an eye for detail. She has been cooking since her childhood and loves to bake too. Recently, she's made the decision to pursue baking full-time and quit her 9 to 5 job. In the meantime, she still enjoys cooking and baking for friends and family, especially when it comes time for special occasions like birthdays or holidays!