Carbon steel vs cast iron?

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Joined Mar 18, 2013
I use the cast iron pans. Let's say on bi-weekly basis.
Recently learned about carbon steel pans, never used one.
What would be difference and advantages/disadvantages one over other?

I found couple posts on internet and YouTube, but I found them pretty biased.

Thanks,
Afan
 
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Joined Dec 18, 2010
Carbon steel is slightly lighter. Other than that they really perform quite similar.
 
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Joined Aug 4, 2000
Carbon steel may give the meat a better sear without over cooking in the center. CS seems to hold less heat than CI. Now think of traditional woks, they're made of CS and give the ingredients a great sear without over cooking them in the center.
 
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Joined Sep 17, 2018
I use the cast iron pans. Let's say on bi-weekly basis.
Recently learned about carbon steel pans, never used one.
What would be difference and advantages/disadvantages one over other?

I found couple posts on internet and YouTube, but I found them pretty biased.

Thanks,
Afan
I think it depends a lot of the type of pan you are using and what you are cooking in it. I would use a carbon steel wok over cast for a stir-fry but a cast over carbon steel for cooking a steak. The treatment and maintenance will be about the same for both. And also don't forget to avoid highly acidic foods with either one.
 
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Joined Mar 1, 2017
Cast iron is heavier than carbon steel. That's because its more dense. As such, CI takes longer to come up to temperature but, once it reaches that temperature, it will maintain that temperature. CI will also retain heat longer once it has been removed from the heat source. CI is great for searing meat and other proteins because of these characteristics. But, as Seoul Food Seoul Food said, CI is reactive with acidic ingredients. When CI is properly seasoned, it has very good non-stick properties. Its also very durable. You really have to go out of your way to damage cast iron.

Carbon steel, on the other hand, is lighter and as such, heats faster than CI. The fact that its lighter also makes it easier to handle. It also heats up quite evenly as compared to stainless steel. It can also withstand high temperatures that would otherwise damage other cookware. Like CI, CS should be properly seasoned. Once seasoned, CS is rather easy to clean. Just use hot water and a light bristle brush. Soap is generally not required but, when it is, use a gentle soap to avoid harming the pan's seasoning. On that score, you don't have to worry about any non-stick coating flaking off into your food. Properly seasoned, the pan is inherently non-stick and with a little up keep every now and then, will retain that non stick characteristic for a very long time.

The downsides of CS is that is not dishwasher safe. It must be hand washed. Because of its iron content, its also reactive to acidic ingredients. Also, because of its light weight, it may not be the ideal choice for dishes that require a heavy gauge pan or skillet. It will definitely get the job done. But, as the others have said, if I'm going to pan sear a steak, I'm going with cast iron.

To sum it all up, CS is essentially a lighter weight version of CI that's easier to handle, easy to clean, can handle high temp cooking and is far more durable than almost all other cookware.

I hope this helps.

Good luck! :)
 
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Joined Nov 15, 2012
Vintage cast iron is pretty thin and light, better ones are asking 100$+ on ebay, aquaintance recently picked up such, a 10-11", at a church flee market for a dollar. Don't know why they don't seem to make them that way anymore. Quick search didn't yield the answer, not willing to spend the time.
 
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Joined Jan 31, 2012
Carbon steel heats up faster, cools down faster, is way lighter,
much less likley to be damaged, say from dropping, (well there goes THAT handle)
and in my opinion, cokks more evenly and is easier to maintain.
I love carbon steel, Ive had many stainless, non stick and alluminum
pans come and go over the years while my wood handled, 14 inch
CS wok pan is still going strong after 30 years.
Last week I finally found in a store an 11 inch CS skillet for
17 bucks. I intend to grab one at my next opportunity.
 
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No one has mentioned that carbon steel warps, warps almost as fast as the USS Enterprise. Not such a deal breaker with gas burners, but a warped pan is pretty much useless on electric or French tops.

If you can borrow someone’s S/S lined copper sauté pan, give it a try, and compare to cast and carbon. Not saying one is better over the others, but you must have noticed that everyone has a favourite.
 
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Joined Jan 31, 2012
Well thats true about warpage, to a point, as a lot of carbons, like traditional
woks, are pretty thin. But woks funnel to a narrow bottom which keeps
that to a minimum, A straight skillet or saute pan is more prone.
However, at least one manufacturer must be aware of the problem, as
the one i saw was made of heavier guage steel, and I was comparing
them side by side. Thats the one I'm after.
 
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Joined Jan 8, 2010
Just a personal opinion.
I will take cast iron over carbon steel at any time.
Even as a wok (wadjan) for Indonesian cooking.
Maybe not for Thai, Chinese and Vietnames.
But Indonesian usrs lots of long cooked dishe, and not that many stir-fries
 
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When I started, we used sticks over a fire and grunted at the females as they walked by. Nothing says sexy like a good tiger skin dress! #WilmaFlintstone lol
 
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Joined Oct 23, 2012
I have used cast iron for a while and, because of a series of circumstances and the gossiping of neighbors, have even become fairly expert at identifying and restoring old cast iron pans and stripping and re-seasoning ones that stick. I like what they do well but the lousy ergonomics absolutely frustrates me. How can we still be using the same tiny handles with the funny shape these days? The weight and poor shape of the handle always makes certain things like butter basting a steak a nightmare.

So I broke down and got a decent carbon steel pan. It is way lighter and has a decent handle so I can actually shake my food around if I need to and otherwise manipulate it much easier than cast iron. Problem is, I can't seem to get it seasoned properly. First try, I am sure I didn't get all the wax off but even after starting all over, following manufacturer's directions and using my own methods for cast iron, it still sticks terribly. I watch videos on the interwebs of folks taking them out of the bag, seasoning them and sliding eggs all over them, but mine stick worse than regular clad pans. I am hopeful I will get it worked out, but if anyone has any magic ideas, I am all ears.
 
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Joined Nov 15, 2012
Google "seasoning with flax seed oil." Other than FSO, you ideally need a pure, processed high temp oil. Pure EVO will work, but you now most claiming EVO are actually not, often containing low-temp oil additives. It's a bit of a pain to season properly.

Goodness though I would never butter-baste steak, for one the high heat destroys whatever high-notes the butter has to offer. I much prefer putting on a proper sear at screaming heat, then, if at all, apply butter/herbed butter after plating.
 
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If you really need to insulate the handles here on CI, then a couple of urethane dip coats, or carve out and expoxy together wood scales.
 
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Joined Oct 10, 2005
Uh.... wood scales on pots and pans and gas ranges don’t play together very nicely. I did replace composite handles on a friend’s @mway cookware ( no I’m not an Amroid..) with some nice maple ones. They charred within a few days and became useless after a week. This was with minimal cooking on a plain-Jane Sears-kenmore gas range.

Wood handles would fare better on an electric range, I guess, but I understand where tatnall is coming from— a 12” skillet weighing over 5 lbs with a dinky little 6” handle is really sh*tty design, even if you have forearms like a silverback....
 
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For sure, but the advantage of the cast iron handles is that you can use it in the oven or on the (open) fire .
Or, every disadvantage has it advantage (free translation of the famous Dutch football player Johan Cruijff)
 
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Yeh, forgot about the oven thing, and have been using electric for a long time now.

Cruijff was way cool, I think he had these 26 maxims in particular. He, Ronaldhinio, Messi and Barcelona FC turned me onto football/soccer.
 

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