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Why is only 1 side of aluminum foil shiny?

TODAY logo TODAY 8/21/2017 Courtney Cox

Aluminum foil might be one of our favorite inventions ever. Whether we're grilling up some fresh veggies in a neatly-wrapped parcel or folding a leftover slice of pizza to save for later, it's the perfect solution to pretty much any kitchen situation. Seriously, our list of uses for this shiny staple is endless.

We noticed that the handy tool comes with two distinct sides: a shiny, reflective side and a dull, matte side. That got us thinking. Is there a purpose behind the two different textures? Should we be using different sides for certain reasons? Have we been doing everything wrong for years?!

Salmon in aluminum foil © Shutterstock Salmon in aluminum foil

Good news! According the the experts at Reynolds, there really isn't a difference.

"Regardless of the side, both sides do the same job cooking, freezing and storing food," Mike Mazza, marketing director for Reynolds Wrap, told TODAY Home via email. "It makes no difference which side of the foil you use unless you're using Reynolds Wrap Non-Stick Aluminum Foil."

Non-Stick foil actually has a protective coating on one side, so the company recommends only placing food on the side marked "non-stick" for maximum efficiency.

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If both sides of traditional foil can be used the same way, what's the reason for the difference in appearance? Mazza had an answer for us!

"The difference in appearance between dull and shiny is due to the foil manufacturing process," he said.

"In the final rolling step, two layers of foil are passed through the rolling mill at the same time. The side coming in contact with the mill's highly polished steel rollers becomes shiny. The other side, not coming in contact with the heavy rollers, comes out with a dull or matte finish."

Freezer breakfast burrito on foil © Lauren Salkeld Freezer breakfast burrito on foil

So, there you have it — one side gets a little extra buffing and comes out shining like a sheet of silver!

As for our preferred side, we'll probably stick to matte facing out just to avoid potentially catching our shameful reflection when sneaking that last slice of pizza out the fridge.

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