This Is Why Aluminum Foil Is Shiny on One Side

published Mar 1, 2024
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Joe Lingeman

Have you ever found yourself engaged in a household debate about  the “right” way to use aluminum foil? After all, there’s a shiny side and a dull matte side — so, which is right? And does it actually matter? 

Let’s dive into what causes aluminum foil to look different on either side, take a look at some of the different types you can purchase, and even explore some creative ways to use aluminum foil in your kitchen and household — as it boasts literally tons of surprising uses outside of cooking, from deep-cleaning to DIY kitchen renovation help

Why Aluminum Foil Is Shiny on One Side

Let’s settle things right here and now: It does not matter which side of aluminum foil you use. As it turns out, both sides of a roll of aluminum foil can be used interchangeably, according to Reynolds Brands, manufacturer of Reynolds Wrap aluminum foil

In order to understand why the two sides of a sheet of aluminum foil look different in the first place, it’s important to understand how it’s made. After all, the different sheens are a direct result of the manufacturing process (nope, it’s not random!). 

To make foil, manufacturers melt aluminum, and then cool it into slabs called ingots. These slabs are then pressed between rollers many, many times to make them progressively thinner. By the time it gets to the final press, the foil is so thin it needs to be doubled up in order to press it through the rollers. Next, it’s separated and rolled onto the tubes that appear on store shelves. 

When you unroll the aluminum foil from the roll, you’ll find the shiny side, which is the side that has been pressed by the rollers, while the matte side is a result of the foil pressing against itself when it was doubled up. On the Reynolds Brands website, they note that “the performance of the foil is the same, whichever side you use.”

The Only Time the Two Sides of Aluminum Foil Actually Matters

When shopping for aluminum foil, you’ll find regular foil, heavy-duty foil, and even grilling foil (which is great for foil-packet recipes on the grill). But there’s one type of foil where there actually is a difference between the two sides of a sheet, and that’s nonstick foil (a must-have for air fryer recipes!). This type of foil has a coating on only one side that prevents food from sticking to it. It’s great for use on cookie recipes, or anything else you don’t want to stick to the foil. 

Different Ways to Use Aluminum Foil

Now that any questions about the different sides of a sheet of aluminum foil are cleared up, here are some of the best uses for aluminum foil that might surprise you.

Now, don’t you feel so much better? If only we could all also agree on the proper way to load a dishwasher.