Aluminum tin foil might be a staple in your kitchen, but it falls short when it comes to your zero waste lifestyle goals.
It’s a much better idea to switch your trusty tin foil for a greener aluminum foil alternative.
Why is tin foil bad?
Tin foil is regularly used during cooking when lining baking sheets or covering food in the oven to prevent it from getting burned on top. But tin foil doesn’t often get reused, and it often can’t be recycled because it’s come into contact with food.
There are other important things to bear in mind about tin foil, such as when it comes to the safety of food that’s prepared with it.
Here’s what you need to know about tin foil and what to replace it with in your sustainable home.
If you’d like to see a graphical breakdown of the green alternatives, we got you covered:
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The Downsides Of Tin Foil
Tin foil is so convenient in the kitchen.
You reach for it when you want to cover a lasagna that’s cooking in the oven, or when you want to wrap some food leftovers or cover your fresh salad (after tossing it with eco-friendly bamboo salad servers, of course!). But aluminum foil comes with many drawbacks.
These include the following:
It Can Be Harmful To Health
Some research has found that tin foil can be harmful to our health by increasing the amount of aluminum in our bodies.
Aluminum containers and cooking utensils, as well as aluminum foil, all leach aluminum into food, as reported by Healthline. While the amount of aluminum we’re exposed to is considered safe, the site goes on to say that research has found higher levels of aluminum in people with Alzheimer’s disease.
It’s Bad For The Environment
Producing a ton of aluminum requires 170 million BTUs (British Thermal Units, a measure of energy).
This is the equivalent of 1,400 gallons of gasoline. It also releases approximately 12 tons of greenhouse gases.
Unlike the regular aluminum, which is often used to contain refillable zero-waste products, aluminum foil is not infinitely recyclable. When it’s disposed of, aluminum takes 400 years to decompose, as Curiosity reports.
Luckily, you don’t have to continue using aluminum tin foil in your home.
There are safer and eco-friendlier options available to you.
What Can You Use Instead of Aluminum Foil?
The best aluminum foil alternative to use for baking is a silicone baking sheet. Metal lids, silicone food covers, and even parchment paper can be used to cover dishes cooking in the oven. The best alternative for grilling is a cedar wrap. Beeswax wraps and glass containers keep sandwiches and stored food or leftovers fresh.
The best alternatives to aluminum foil are:
- Cedar Wraps
- Beeswax Food Wraps
- Silicone Food Covers
- Silicone Baking Sheets or Mats
- Glass Containers
Let’s look at each of the aluminum foil alternatives we listed above in more detail:
5 Best Aluminum Foil Alternatives Use Today
Here are five of the best alternatives to aluminum foil for you to try. We have chosen ones that can be used for most foil applications, from grilling to baking and food storage:
1. Cedar Wraps
These are made of cedar wood and are a creative way to wrap food that you’re grilling.
Simply soak the wraps in water for a few minutes, then wrap them around the food you’re putting on the grill.
Since they’re made of cedar wood, they give food a lovely smoky flavor.
You can find cedar wraps at the meat and seafood counter in your local grocery store, or in the grilling and BBQ section of your local hardware store. If that fails, look for them in shops that specialize in selling outdoor cooking products and utensils.
Although you can’t reuse cedar wraps, they can be recycled and put in your compost heap in the form of wood shavings so they don’t go to waste.
Where to buy them
You can find them in almost every grill store (I recommend fire & flavor as they sell only natural products. You can check them here) or on Amazon:
2. Beeswax Food Wraps
These food wraps have been gaining popularity lately because not only can they be reused, but they’re also a fantastic aluminum foil alternative.
Beeswax food wraps consist of cotton infused with food-grade beeswax and oils such as jojoba and coconut.
What’s so great about beeswax wrap is that it’s so flexible it can be shaped around containers in different ways, thus making it very versatile.
How to use them
Place beeswax wraps over foods to protect them, such as when you want to wrap a sandwich for lunch. When they’re no longer needed, gently rinse them clean with cold water and zero-waste dish soap before reusing them.
Avoid cleaning them with hot water as that can have a melting effect on them.
While beeswax wrap is an exciting option, you have to take care of it so that it lasts. Generally, beeswax wraps can last between six and 12 months.
Where to buy them
A simple internet search will show you many online stores that stock beeswax wraps. Beeswrap.com offers different designs and sizes of Beeswax wraps. There are also DIY tutorials if you’re interested in making your own!
3. Silicone Food Covers
Silicone covers for food, sometimes called stretch lids, are a great alternative to both plastic and foil when you need to cover food that’s just been cooked or leftovers for the next day.
What’s so great about them is that they can be used to cover different items, such as cans, cups, bowls, or dishes, and some even seal the item with clips so that your food stays fresher for longer.
Silicone food covers are especially useful for eco-conscious parents looking for ways to keep little people’s leftovers fresh without using plastic tubs or aluminum foil. Reusable silicone lids and some eco-friendly, biodegradable wet wipes are ideal sustainable alternatives for plastic containers, tin foil and paper towels!
As with any silicone product, always make sure it’s FDA approved and “food grade” labeled, as low-quality silicone is not as durable and not considered safe for food.
Where to buy them
You can find a range of silicone food covers on Amazon.
4. Silicone Baking Sheets Or Mats
Silicone comes to the rescue again when it comes to eco-friendly baking. Silicone baking sheets are much better for the environment than aluminum foil.
They’re also better than parchment paper because they are thicker, lie flat instead of curl up, and they can be reused many times.
They also prevent you from having to use non-stick sprays because silicone naturally prevents food from sticking to its surface.
Eco-Friendly Pro Tip: If you have any batter that spreads around the edges and onto the pan, simply crush an eco-friendly toothpaste tablet, wet an old bamboo toothbrush and gently scrub – the burnt batter will come away instantly!
Where to buy them
You can find silicone sheets or mats in a variety of places, such as your local supermarket or online at Amazon.
A note on silicone in baking
As mentioned earlier, always make sure the silicone products you buy are labeled “food grade.”
When cooking or baking with silicone products, avoid using temperatures higher than 484 degrees Fahrenheit (251 degrees Celsius) due to low levels of chemicals that get released at extremely high temperatures.
5. Glass Containers
When you’ve finished cooking and you want to store food in the fridge, the best thing is to choose glass containers. These are a classic and simple option that makes the most sense.
Glass can be reused many times, it’s odorless, and if you’re worried about space in your fridge, you can purchase Snapware that offers containers in a variety of sizes for easy stacking.
The bonus of using glass to store food is that you can see what food is in it immediately, which helps you prevent accumulating food waste that doesn’t get eaten.
Other Green Alternatives To Aluminum Foil
Sometimes you need to use an alternative product to aluminum foil but other times a bit of creative thinking proves you don’t need foil or anything! Here are some ideas for greener cooking:
Stack Your Food When Grilling
If you’re grilling fish, cut some lemon slices and place these first on the grill. Then put your fish on top of them.
This is a clever way to avoid using foil and it infuses the fish with the taste of lemon. You can also place the fish on veggies.
Bake Veggies In The Oven Without Foil
You can avoid foil just by learning how to bake veggies so that they come out as tasty as they do when wrapped in foil.
In the case of baked potatoes, rub the potato all over with olive oil. Place the potato on a plate and cover it with coarse salt.
Then, put the potato in the oven. You’re looking at approximately 45 minutes of baking. Baking the potato without foil prevents soggy potato skin, which is a bonus.
Pro tip: When buying potatoes you want to bake in the oven without foil, choose Russet potatoes. These are best for baking because they have thick skins that become nice and crispy while preserving the fluffy potato inside.
Why Should You Avoid Aluminum Cookware?
Although it’s considered safe, it releases aluminum into food.
Acidic foods, like tomatoes, cause more aluminum release, and longer cooking or storing times also increase the amount of this metal that enters your food, as reported by Livestrong.
How Can You Cover Foods Cooking In The Oven?
There are many options instead of using aluminum foil. Use a metal lid, silicone lid, or baking sheet to cover your foods.
The benefit of these items is that you can reuse them for a long time and for other uses around the kitchen.
Is Parchment Paper Eco-Friendly?
It’s not eco-friendly – it’s made with the use of chemicals like acid, sulfur, and chlorine, which can seep into foods.
In addition, it’s not very sustainable because parchment paper is brittle and coated with silicone to make it non-stick.
This is also what makes it hard to recycle and you can’t compost it.
It might be hard to imagine cooking without the use of aluminum foil, but as we’ve shown in this article, there are many green and safe alternatives to using aluminum in the kitchen.
From silicone mats to beeswax food wraps, choosing an aluminum foil alternative is one of the best ways to make your cooking more sustainable and healthier for the whole family.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is aluminum tin foil eco friendly?
No. Aluminum foil or tin foil is not eco friendly because it is not reusable, is tricky to recycle and the production of aluminum foil is energy intensive. Luckily, there are some great alternatives that will cost you less in the long run and are much better for the environment! Check out these 5 Green Alternatives to Aluminum And Tin Foil here.
Can you recycle aluminum foil?
Aluminum foil can be recycled in the same way that aluminum cans/tins can be recycled but it needs to be thoroughly cleaned (if it is contaminated with food stuffs it cant be recycled) and many recycling centers do not accept it. Check with your local recycling depot if they accept aluminum foil or check out these 5 Green Alternatives to Aluminum And Tin Foil.
Are beeswax wraps better than aluminum foil?
Beeswax wraps are better than aluminum foil because they can be reused for much longer than aluminum foil, do not require a great deal of energy to produce and are compostable. Aluminum foil used a lot of energy to manufacture, is difficult to recycle and takes hundreds of years to breakdown in landfills. Read here for more info on beeswax wraps and other green alternatives aluminum and tin foil.