Are Aluminum Moka Pots Safe?

Are Aluminum Moka Pots Safe?

When Alfonso Billotti started bringing Moka pots to the world, they have been very popular and you can find them in kitchens all over the world.

Early Moka pots were made of aluminum, and in the later years, stainless steel Moka pots appeared, and so began more discussions: Is it safe to use aluminum Moka pots?

Is it safe?

There is research literature, look down together.


What is A Moka Pot?

Let's start with a brief understanding of why Moka pots were always made of aluminum in the beginning.

Alfonso, the founder of the Moka pot, founded the Bilotti company in 1919, whose main business was to produce all kinds of aluminum products. At that time, the Moka pot was made of aluminum. Aluminum was later made a "national metal" by the government of the time and became popular in Italy in the 1930s and is still popular among coffee lovers today.

Moka pot is a tool to extract espresso coffee, although the taste and espresso machine has a certain gap, but the taste is the closest to the espresso.

Its working principle is very simple, divided into three parts: the upper and middle. The lower pot is filled with water, with coffee powder placed in the middle, and the upper pot is filled with the extracted coffee liquid. By heating, the water in the lower pot turns into steam, and the steam pressure is used to push the water to the conduit into the powder tank, thus extracting the coffee liquid.


Is it Safe to Brew Coffee in Aluminum?

The Moka pot, which is highly sought after, is also often asked if it is harmful to health. There is concern that the regular use of aluminum Moka pots for coffee can lead to excessive aluminum intake, which can produce a neurotoxin that may lead to Alzheimer's disease and other health problems.

To answer your questions more objectively, I found a study published in 2017 in Environ Sci Eur: Migration of aluminum from food contact materials to food—a health risk for consumers? Part II of III: migration of aluminum from drinking bottles and moka pots made of aluminum to beverages

It concludes:

“In a systematic study of aluminum drinking bottles, it has been shown that drinking a mixture of apple juice and mineral water in an aluminum bottle may reach 86.6% of the total weekly intake (TWI) for adults, and drinking tea from an aluminum bottle may exceed the TWI (145%) for a child weighing 15 kg. In contrast, preparing coffee in an aluminum moka pot results in a maximum of 4% to TWI, if an average of 3.17 L coffee is consumed per week, even if the pots are washed in the dishwasher, against the explicit instructions of the manufacturer.”

It is not advisable to avoid talking about toxicity by avoiding measurement.

First of all the recommended daily intake of aluminum for humans (calculated at 50 kg body weight) is about 15 mg, and the daily intake is about 20% of that value.

Then there is the pH of coffee, calculated at 4.5 for the most acidic light roast coffee, with a daily intake of 200 ml. It is easy to get 0.2L*10^-4.5 mol/L as the total amount of hydrogen ions, calculated at the extreme 20% reaction (the real must be much lower than this) three hydrogen ions react to give one aluminum ion and then multiply the molar mass to get 3.5*10^-5 grams, which is 0.035 mg.

As you can see, there is no health risk when we use a Moka pot to make coffee on a daily basis.

In addition, the human body's aluminum intake is subject to a comprehensive assessment, in fact, the daily diet of fresh vegetables and meat, and eggs also contains aluminum.


Aluminum Moka Pots vs. Stainless Steel Moka Pots

Stainless steel Moka pots came out much later than aluminum Moka pots, but despite this, stainless steel Moka pots can still be loved by many people. Stainless steel and aluminum, what is different?


Aluminum Moka Pot

  • Advantages: lightweight, high thermal conductivity, faster extraction, and more affordable.
  • Disadvantages: Aluminum is prone to oxidation and stains, not suitable for prolonged immersion in water when cleaning. Aluminum is easily corroded and scratched. Aluminum Moka pots do not have an induction and cannot be used in induction stoves, only open flame or electric pottery stoves as a heating method.

Stainless Steel Moka Pot

  • Advantages: stainless steel metal stability, easy to clean, not easy to rust, more convenient maintenance, can be used for induction, open flame, and electric pottery stove as a heating method.
  • Disadvantages: slightly higher price, slightly heavier weight, difficult to bend, resulting in less style. Thermal conductivity is not as good as aluminum, need to spend a little more time boiling.


Safety Concerns About Aluminum Moka Pots

When people discuss whether or not the Moka pot material is safe, they also discuss whether or not the process of making it is safe.

Obviously, Moka pots are safe as long as we use them correctly.

So what are the common unsafe practices?


1# Coffee powder is too fine

We told the principal of the Moka pot at the beginning if we still insist on using fine powder, it will cause the coffee powder to pile up and the steam can't pass smoothly, which will lead to high pressure in the pot and the water will overflow in the metal valve, at the same time, the water is already boiling at this time, imagine the boiling water spraying to your body, it is a very dangerous thing.


2# The lower pot of water crosses the safety valve

This is a very dangerous "safety test", please consider whether to do this "safety test" under the condition of personal safety and surrounding. The role of the pressure relief valve is to maintain a reasonable extraction pressure in the lower pot of water after boiling, when the water crosses the safety valve, resulting in high pressure in the pot, continued failure to release will increase the risk factor, please be sure not to exceed the amount of water safety valve.


3# Compacted coffee powder

For people who make espresso, this is a normal step, but for Moka pots, please do not pragmatic coffee powder. It will cause the water to not pass through the powder slot smoothly and you may end up with a diluted cup of coffee water. Instead, the Moka pot is broken.


4# Always pay attention

The process of making is not like the French press pot - an alarm clock-type coffee pot, the Moka pot is in the process of boiling, when you hear the fizz, it means the start of extraction, a small time will be able to remove the fire source, let the residual heat to continue extraction. This way the coffee taste is full-bodied. If you keep heating the extraction, it will cause the coffee liquid to spill over the upper pot, and wetting the stovetop will be a risk. So it is important to keep a close eye on it.

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