Even though copper cookware has been manufactured, sold, and used by countless people for many years, it is potentially dangerous. The problem lies with the type of coating on the cookware, or lack thereof. Ingesting copper in small amounts is generally not harmful, but large amounts all at once or in a short period of time can be dangerous, according to Health Canada. Before using copper cookware to prepare food, make sure it is safe to use.
Acidic food, such as tomatoes, cooked or stored in copper cookware over a long period of time can cause the copper coating to be released into the food. Instead of cooking acidic foods in your copper cookware, use some other type of cookware. Never store acidic foods in copper cookware. The amount of copper exposure that proves toxic to humans is unknown, according to Health Canada.
Improper cleaning techniques can scratch the coating on copper cookware. It is important not to use any type of abrasive cleaners, scouring sponges, or tools to clean copper pots and pans. If your copper pots or pans have scratched linings, either discard them or use them for decoration.
Older copper cookware may be coated with tin or nickel, which is unsafe for food use. If you have older cookware and you are unsure of the coating, don't use it for cooking. Instead, display it as a decorative item. Some copper cookware is lined with stainless steel, which is safe for food use.