Cast Iron VS Carbon steel: Which is Better for You in 2020?

Are you wondering why there are comparisons between cast iron and carbon steel cookware now? What is carbon steel anyway? Cast iron has always been known and found in most kitchens. Whether you are a cook or a newbie in the kitchen, cast iron will always ring on your ear. It has been used for long years already not only because it is the only one which is readily available but also because of its proven quality.

With a new name, carbon steel, and a competition, let us find out what makes it different with cast iron and which is better by looking at its worth, benefits, and disadvantages.

Cast Iron VS Carbon steel

Cast Iron Cookware

What is Cast Iron?

Cast Iron is actually not pure iron, as its name suggest. It is an alloy containing about 2 to 4 carbon and has amount of silicon and manganese, also.The carbon content of cast iron is the reason why it has rough surface, and a higher carbon content makes it heavy and thick.

Cast Iron was first produced by Chinese in the 5th century and in 15th century Europe began producing them sporadically not until it became widespread in 16th century. It was in 1619 when America has its first ironworks. With the patenting of sand-casting method similar to iron cookware in 1717, by Abrahan Darby, the cast iron cookware was seen to have a place in the market. Since then, cast iron cookware was a hit but its popularity declined when aluminum and other materials were introduced.

Cast Iron Cookware

With health concerns on the use of aluminum and other materials, however, cast iron is once again reemerging. Plus, it has proven its durability and quality which are the main factors of choosing products.

Are Cast Iron Worth It?

Cast iron cookware are definitely worth it considering its functionality, durability, versatility, and compatibility with heat sources. Plus, it is affordable. If you get good quality at an affordable price, you are winning!

What is the Benefit of Cast Iron?

Cast iron has been an old but tested and proven cookware, it fits perfect with the saying, “old but gold.” The benefits of cast iron are the following:

1. Heat Retention

Cast iron is one of the best materials in heat retention. Pans using other material has the tendency to drop its temperature with adding something that has low temperature, unlike in cast iron pans. Once it gets hot, the cast iron remains hot of a long period. This characteristic is useful in searing meat as the process needs intense heat.

2. Durability

The durability of cast iron is no joke! Cast iron cookware can last a lifetime and they are so durable to the point that it is almost virtually and deeply indestructible. The thing about iron cast is that aside from being durable, it ages well. So, even after decades, it is still strong and good for use.

3. Non-stick

The best thing about cast iron is that you need no chemical coating as it can naturally do so through its seasoning process. When a cast iron pan is correctly seasoned, it will develop coating that makes it non-sticky. The seasoning is chemically bonded to the metal such that you can use any kind of utensils without worrying of chipping.

A cast iron is seasoned by placing oil in the pan and rubbing it around and thenheating the pan repeatedly. While this makes the pan non-stick, it does not come close to a specifically designed non-stick cookware sets with the use of Teflon. This is only a substitute when you need a non-stick pan.

4. Affordable

While a lot of people may say that cast iron is expensive, if you consider its benefits such as heat retention and durability, this high-end cookware is actually affordable. If you compare it with other cookware with the same quality and material, you can see that its price is relatively low. Overall, for its high quality, the price is reasonable.

5. Versatility

The cast iron cookware is a versatile kitchen product. It can be used for almost every cooking method like frying, baking, searing, roasting, slow cooking, and sautéing vegetables.

6. Compatibility with heat sources

The problem with other cookware is that some are not compatible with induction stoves. For cast iron cookware, however, it is compatible with any stoves such as gas, electric, induction, even on wood burning stoves.

What is the disadvantage of Cast Iron?

While it has many benefits, there are also disadvantages of cast iron such as poor heat conductibility, seasoning requirement and others that are explained below:

1. Poor Heat Conductibility

While iron cast is good at heat retention, it does not hold true with heat conductibility. Due to its thickness, it does not heat up quickly like aluminum and other cookware types. Plus, it heats unevenly, concentrating only some areas, this is so if the burner is smaller. To avoid this, you should use a stovetop burner that is of the same size with the cast iron pan.

2. Heavy

If you want a cookware that you can maneuver easily, cast iron cookware might not be for you. As cast iron is made to maintain durability and longevity, it is mostly heavy compared aluminum and stainless-steel cookware.

3. Unsafe Handles

The design of the handles of cast iron cookware has not changed over the last decades. As it is made out of literally metal, once it heats up, the handles could really be too hot. Before cooking, always ready your potholder!

4. Seasoning requirement to be non-sticky

Since the non-sticky characteristic of cast iron cookware is natural and is made possible by seasoning, you may have to keep seasoning it to be non-sticky at all times. The new cast iron cookware offered today has been claimed to be pre-seasoned but you might still need to season it as its non-sticky nature might be affected through constant use and washing.

Carbon steel Cookware

What is Carbon steel?

The origin of carbon steel dates back to the ancient times with China being known as the first to create steel. Unlike cast iron, carbon steel had been created by experiments in lessening carbon in steel. So, what is carbon steel? Carbon Steel, like cast iron, is an alloywhich is made of two mixtures of metals namely iron and carbon. It has, however less than 2% carbon, which is why it is considered as steel. Compared to stainless steel, it has a matte finished and it is harder.

Carbon steel Cookware

Moreover, if you compare it to cast iron, it is lightweight. This is because of the lower carbon content making it more malleable. The bad thing about carbon steel, however, is that it can rust and corrode.

Are Carbon steel Worth It?

Absolutely! Carbon steel cookware are worth it as this cookware allows you to have the best of worlds, a high-end piece, and a reasonable price. You will not regret buying this cookware as it would be the most important appliance in your kitchen. With its, versatility, you can use it in whatever cooking activities you have. To add, this is safe to use as no chemical coating is utilized to make it non-sticky. With seasoning, the cookware becomes naturally non-sticky. What will you have to ask for? You have durability, quality, versatility, safety and a lot more in your hands!

What is the Benefit of Carbon steel?

The benefits of Carbon steel are provided below:

1. Lightweight

As carbon steel are malleable and with lower carbon content, it can be manufactured in thin and lightweight cookware. Being such, it can be easily maneuvered when used in the kitchen, a big plus for the consumers!

2. Versatility

Like cast iron, carbon steel is versatile in that it can be used in any cooking methods such as frying, grilling, roasting, and the like.

3. Durability

What is carbon steel made of that makes it highly durable? It is made of 99% iron and less than 2% carbon. With such composition, it become unbelievably strong although malleable. Should you then worry breaking it when it falls to the ground or that it may be scratched when piled with other cookware in the storage? No.

4. Affordable

Similarly, carbon steel and cast iron’s price, although of top-quality, is relatively lesser than the other cookware. You need not worry with your budget as you can get it at a reasonable price.

5. Heat Tolerance

Carbon Steel Cookware has high heat tolerance, meaning it can contain high temperatures. This is useful when cooking steaks and other means, as searing requires high heat.

6. Heat Conductibility

Carbon steel cookware heats up quickly being very much heat conductible. This makes possible the transfer of heat faster which means that cooking time is reduced.

7. Compatibilitywith Heat Sources

This is big factor as consumers will no longer be burdened with looking at heat sources compatibility. Carbon steel is compatible with gas, electric, induction, and all other heat sources due to its being ferromagnetic material.

The benefits of carbon steel cookware are overwhelming numerous that you will be instantly convinced to buy one. Although all the benefits cited are material in choosing a cookware, the main features that you should really look for is durability, versatility, and compatibility. these factors mostly eliminate your worry in picking the right cookware for you.

What is the disadvantage of Carbon steel?

Of course, carbon steel has disadvantage too, even the most perfect product can have down sides too, you just have to weigh it in with the advantage so you can evaluate the product properly.The disadvantages of Carbon steel are:

1. Requires Seasoning to be Non-stick

Carbon steel is not intentionally made as non-sticky. Its non-sticky nature comes naturally by seasoning. It requires correct seasoning to achieve a good non-stick feature. Although it requires effort to do this, at least you are safe from possible leaching which are concerns with non-stick cookware sets. The seasoning will also help prevent rusting.

2. Bent to Rusting and Discoloration

Unlike stainless-steel, carbon steel is prone to rusting when unseasoned. It is susceptible to rust since it is does not actually have corrosion resistant layer, allowing oxygen to penetrate the material resulting to the rusting. Aside from this, it can discolor which may be due to acidic food or improper maintenance.

3. Unsafe Handles

As most carbon steel cookware have flat handles attached to the base of the pan, it can get too hot when the pan is hot. So, you should be very cautious and always have with you a potholder!

4. Not Dishwasher Safe

Carbon Steel cookware cannot be washed through a dishwasher. Washing it through the dishwasher might disrupt the seasoning which will cause the rusting of the cookware and the eventual inability to be non-sticky. You should then check the proper maintenance of this cookware form the manufacturer.

Winner?

Cast Iron and Carbon Steel Cookware is relatively the same in all aspects and that they are both high-end cookware. However, as to the convenience of use and features, Carbon Steel Cookware may be the winner.

In cooking, it is important that you can move with ease to avoid encountering accidents. Cast iron cookware are heavy which will impede some movements while carbon steel is lightweight, allowing easy movements. Additionally, carbon steel cookware has high heat conductibility which means that cooking is faster than usual. This will help the consumer save much time in cooking. This is a good factor to consider, as with your busy schedule, you may not have all the time to cook.

With these considerations, carbon steel cookware can best provide the needs of consumers in the kitchen.

What are Cast Iron Cookware’s Strengths & Weaknesses?

The Cast Iron Cookware has been used for so many years already with its quality and durability having been proven by time. To evaluate more the cast iron cookware, let us look at its strengths and weaknesses.

Cast iron cookware has a good heat retention. When it gets hot, it remains hot for a long period. This is not found in other cookware as they tend to lose their heat when added with a food that is of low temperature. While it has this strength, its weakness is that it has por heat conductibility. It does not heat up quickly like aluminum or stainless-steel cookware. This does not help then the consumers in sabing time.

As to its non-sticky characteristics, it comes naturally through seasoning. This eliminates the concern on aluminum or chemical leaching present in non-stick cookware sets. Since it is not really designed to be non-sticky it has to go through another seasoning to maintain non-stickiness.

Moreover, as cast iron are literally made out of a metal, it is super durable and nearly indestructible. This might be a very good point for cast iron but due to this, it is heavier than other cookware. With this, consumers might be dissuaded to buy cast iron cookware as it goes against their convenience of having unhampered movement while cooking.

The good thing with cast iron is that it is affordable, considering that it is a high-end cookware the price is very reasonable. Overall, if you are looking for a cookware that can withstand time and the rigors of everyday use which is within your budget, then cast iron cookware is definitely made for you.

Related Question (FAQs)

We listed some FAQs for you for additional information on the topic:

Is carbon steel cookware safe?

Carbon steel cookware is safe to use as this is made of iron and carbon, which are non-toxic metals. Additionally, it is free from any leaching issues as its coating come natural through seasoning. You are best assured that it has no chemical coating.

Is carbon steel more expensive than cast iron?

Carbon steel and cast iron is nearly the same in price. They are both affordable even when they are high-end cookware. But you can find cast iron cookware that are cheaper than carbon steel on the market.

How long do cast iron pans last?

Cast iron has been popular due to its durability and longevity. Many people claim that they up to now they are using their grandparent’s cast iron pans. With the composition of cast iron, it is indeed strong, and durable can last for many years, even decades! This is how long cast iron pans especially if properly maintained and kept.

Conclusion

Cast iron and Carbon steel cookware are both good brands that has through time proven their quality and durability. They are nearly similar in every aspect like price, compatibility with heat sources, versatility, and durability. You cannot actually set them apart as whatever you choose between them if you consider the mentioned factors, you are still going to have a great cookware. These two brands do not pose so much concern on health risk as the coating for non-sticky is naturally produce by seasoning, which may be a bit effortful to achieve. Since it is all natural, you are worry free with any chemical leaching.

If you really have to pick from these two brands, however, Carbon Steel may be the better choice. It provides more convenience with its lightweight and heat-conductible nature, which are not found in cast iron.

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