Stainless Steel vs. Plastic Dehydrator. Which Is The Best?

A hot topic in  when picking the best food dehydration is the question of the potential health risks associated with the presence of plastics in food dehydrators, and the phenomenon of ‘off-gassing’. Even food-grade BPA-free plastics are not considered safe enough by many people. For this reason, they would prefer to have a food dehydrator, or at least drying racks, made of food-grade stainless steel rather than plastic. Unfortunately, the price of food dehydrators tends to increase with their stainless steel content, and all stainless steel dehydrators such as TSM, STX, and Raw Rutes products, cost several hundred dollars.

What’s The Difference?

DifferenceModern plastics used in food contact surfaces are usually BPA-free, with non-food-contact components made from food-safe polycarbonate, which is more rigid. As an example, Excalibur Dehydrators use only BPA-free polypropylene #5 for their food trays and FDA-approved polycarbonate for their dehydrator cabinets. Plastic components can be moulded to a wide variety of forms, allowing the production of appliances in a number of styles and shapes. This is most clearly seen in the spectrum of stackable vertical airflow dehydrators tray shapes to be found, including, square, rectangular, and oblong. For example, NESCO supplies both round and square shaped food dehydrators. Added variation can be found in the design of the fan – heater control unit, whether it be base-mounted or lid-mounted, digital or analog, rounded or angled.

Plastics are used for both stackable vertical airflow food dehydrators such as the Waring Pro DHR30 and the Presto 06301, and cabinet-style horizontal airflow food dehydrators such as the Tribest Sedona Express and the Excalibur 3948CDB.

Excalibur 3948CDBStainless steel food dehydrators are generally fabricated from 22 gauge 304 food-grade stainless steel, which can be used for both the body and the trays. Chrome-plated metal is not considered as good quality or as safe as stainless steel (which is an alloy that contains at least 10.5% chrome), as there is concern that the chrome plating may flake off into food and also expose the metal below to corrosion.

Stainless steel food dehydrators are all cabinet shaped, with variety being found in the details, such as placing of controls and vents, and door styles. Examples range from the functional appearance of the STX International and TSM stainless steel dehydrators to the ultra-modern looking Raw Rutes stainless steel dehydrators. These details can improve the visual appeal of the product, but on the whole they tend to be similar in appearance and vary mainly in size.

Pros And Cons Of Each Material

Plastic Food Dehydrators:

Pros Cons
  • Come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes
  • Tend to be less expensive than stainless steel dehydrators
  • Should be BPA-free in food contact areas
  • Should be FDA-approved polycarbonate where not in contact with food
  • Should not off-gas at normal food dehydration temperatures
  • Tend to be more compact
  • Are lighter and easier to move
  • Can be see-through to monitor the dehydration process
  • Are not as durable as stainless steel appliances
  • May warp at higher temperatures or if washed in hot water (or during a dishwasher drying cycle)

Stainless Steel Dehydrators:

Pros Cons
  • Are robust and long lasting
  • Are easy to clean
  • Usually have larger capacity
  • Are generally more expensive than plastic models
  • Are usually heavy and difficult to move
  • Are only available in cabinet shape
  • May have sharp edges
  • Are not as well insulated as plastic models
  • Surfaces may get hot
  • Have to be made of high grade stainless steel or they may discolor or rust

So, Which One Should You Choose?

Which One?A growing number of people, including most Raw Food diet adherents, try to avoid processed foods and synthetic materials in food preparation. Since food dehydrators are a useful appliance for preserving raw foods, making the best beef jerky, the question of plastic versus stainless steel is a big issue in these circles. Concerns have been expressed about the potential of off-gassing of chemicals from the interior of polycarbonate shell dehydrators even at lower temperatures, as well as about bisphenol S (BPS), the replacement for bisphenol A (BPA) in plastics ( For people with these concerns, a stainless steel food dehydrator such as those made by Raw Rutes, STX International or TSM is the preferred choice.

Given that the outgassing of BPA from plastics is understood to occur at high temperatures or in direct contact with food, and that stainless steel food dehydrators are much more costly, many people will be less uncomfortable with plastic and polycarbonate dehydrators. Plastic food dehydrators are available in a much wider variety than stainless steel ones, and it will be easier to find a plastic dehydrator that best suits their situation and their needs.


For those who can afford it, owning a stainless steel food dehydrator may represent the pinnacle of the hobby, but for most newbies, starting off with a BPA-free plastic dehydrator will be the way to go, offering a wider variety of choices.

Stainless Steel vs. Plastic Dehydrator, Find Out Which is the Best!
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Stainless Steel vs. Plastic Dehydrator, Find Out Which is the Best!
We analyze the main features of stainless steel dehydrators along with the plastic ones, PROs and CONs for each and what is the best choice for you.
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  • Updated February 9, 2017
  • Guides