Stainless steel stock pots have a melting point of 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit. In contrast, aluminum stock pots have a melting point of 1,220 degrees Fahrenheit. Stainless steel stock pots and aluminum stock pots can range in thickness from two to sixteen gauges. A gauge is equal to roughly one millimeter. A stainless steel stock pot does not conduct heat as well as an aluminum stock pot. This fact aside, both stainless steel stock pots and aluminum stock pots are great for outdoor cooking. Stainless steel stock pots that have copper and aluminum bottoms are preferred. Look for an aluminum stock pot that is consistently thick on the sides and bottom. Avoid aluminum stock pots that have thinner bottoms. Some manufactures decrease the bottom thickness of an aluminum stock pot to cut manufacturing costs. For large crawfish boils or fry batches, be sure to buy a higher gauge stainless steel stock pot and aluminum stock pot, as they will be exposed to heat longer. For large boils and fries, keep in mind that stainless steel stock pots do not conduct heat as efficiently as aluminum stock pots. Stainless steel stock pots will take longer to heat.
Aluminum stock pots are most often silver; however, some aluminum stock pot manufactures will offer colors. If the color coating is applied to the aluminum stock pot during an anodizing process, it will be durable. Do not purchase aluminum stock pots that are colored through methods other than anodizing. Prices for stainless steel stock pots and aluminum stock pots range from the tens-of-dollars to hundreds of dollars depending on capacity, thickness and over quality of construction. Typically, an aluminum stock pot is cheaper than stainless steel stock pots. Stainless steel stock pots are heavier than aluminum stock pots. Aluminum stock pots are prone to chemical reactions with acids and can add an undesirable taste to slow-cooked, acidic mixtures like chili, tomato based stews, beer and cheese. A stainless steel stock pot is chemically neutral, meaning they will not react to acid or alkaline mixtures. Stainless steel stock pots will not add an "off-taste" to your stews and chilies. Aluminum stock pots will react to some detergents and their finish can dull after several washings. Stainless steel stock pots will remain bright after cleaning because they do not react with detergents.
If you are not sure whether a stock pot is aluminum or stainless steel, there are three main ways to make an evaluation