Are Cast Iron Pots and Pans Safe?
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Whether your pancakes will slide off the frying pan easily or stick to it may set your mood for the whole day. My husband used to look forward to making pancakes because of the ease of removing them from the pan. It made him feel good as a cook. When I replaced all the non-stick cookware in the kitchen with cast iron pots and pans, he was not pleased. However, after learning how to use cast iron to make it work, he totally forgot about all the toxic non-stick pans he had used before. Read on to find out why we chose cast iron as safe non-stick cookware for our kitchen and what makes it non-stick. You will also learn about cast iron safety in general.
In my opinion, it is best to avoid Teflon and even ceramic non-stick cookware.
Let me tell you why I decided to get rid of our non-stick cookware for good.
On the one hand, non-stick pots and pans are easy to use and easy to wash, assuming you do not scratch them. But on the other hand, the material of their coating may be unsafe for your health.
Teflon non-stick cookware
To begin with, Teflon® is a trademarked name for a slippery polymer discovered in 1938 and patented by DuPont. Its “real” name is polytetrafluoethylene (PTFE), and it contains perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and other undisclosed materials.
When you heat a PTFE-coated pan to 464°F, it starts off-gassing toxic particulates, and at 680°F, it releases at least 6 toxic gases. The latter include two carcinogens, namely, PFOA and tetrafluoroethylene (TFE), and two global pollutants. They also include monofluoroacetic acid (MFA), which is lethal to humans even in small doses. In fact, a non-stick frying pan can reach 800°F when you preheat it on an electric stovetop burner, and 1,000°F – on a gas range top (source).
Additionally, please do not fall for the “PFOA-free” label. If the PFOA is not there, there must be something else to replace it. And you do not know if it is better or worse than PFOA.
Thus, even though Teflon® cookware is light and easier to handle than cast iron pots and pans, I recommend you stay away from it altogether.
Ceramic non-stick cookware
What about ceramic non-stick pots and pans, such as GreenPan – are they safe non-stick cookware?
Well, the good news is that GreenPan uses Thermolon instead of PTFE coating. The Thermolon coating results from a Sol-Gel process and is comprised mainly of silicon dioxide, the component of sand from which glass is made. So, from this standpoint, ceramic non-stick cookware is better than Teflon® cookware. However, there are two reasons that prevent me from pronouncing it as completely non-toxic cookware.
First, although GreenPan provided me with their test reports, which I applaud, there is no way to say that they are comprehensive. For example, we know that one of the components of Thermolon coating is silicon dioxide. But what about the other components? We still do not have the full list. Consequently, it is hard to say what substances we need to see test reports for.
Second, GreenPan is facing a class-action lawsuit from three law firms that they filed in September 2019. The lawyers filed the lawsuit because of GreenPan’s claims to be “completely toxin free,” whereas (alleges the lawsuit) the patent for Thermolon lists numerous toxic chemicals that comprise it. To read more about the lawsuit and GreenPan cookware, please head over to my Is GreenPan Non-Stick Cookware Safe? post. And I also wrote about the safety of Our Place Always Pan, another popular brand.
For these reasons, I cannot recommend ceramic cookware as safe non-stick cookware. But I do recommend cast iron pots and pans, and here is why.
I like cast iron non-toxic cookware because it contains no lead.
To start with, cast iron is made of an alloy comprised of over 90% iron. As you may know, cast iron cookware has a long history of use in Asia, Europe, and the US. It was especially popular during the first half of the 20th century because it was cheap and durable. Therefore, most American households had at least one cast-iron cooking pan at the time. Even though it fell into disfavor, it is now seeing a strong comeback as non-toxic cookware.
For example, according to Tamara Rubin, a leading lead-poisoning prevention advocate, cast iron has a much higher melting point than lead. As a consequence, simple cast iron pots and pans almost never have any lead as it is unlikely for the metal itself to contain lead. The two exceptions, though, are cast iron cookware with a decorative high-temperature enamel finish and some antique cast iron cooking items (source).
With the right use, your cast iron can serve as safe non-stick cookware.
Although cast iron cookware does not carry “non-stick” marketing labels, it has non-stick properties. All you need to do is learn how to use it correctly. When you do, your non-stick cast iron will serve you long and well.
First, make sure you heat the pan well before you add any food. A few drops of water dancing across the surface as they boil off are a good indicator.
Second, season your cast iron after every use. For example, after washing my cast iron, I put it back on the stove in a wet state. Once the water has boiled away, I take it off the stove and apply a thin layer of avocado oil (the best oil to use at high heat). When it cools down, I wipe any excess with a paper towel before putting it away.
How does seasoning cast iron pots and pans work?
Apparently, heating the cast iron opens small holes, or pores, in its surface. These pores collect and trap the oil as it cools and contracts, making it act as a non-stick surface the next time you use it. And if you do not do this, the cast iron may rust. But you can restore even a rusty pan with some elbow grease and a new seasoning.
Don’t let the need to season your cast iron cookware after each use intimidate you. It is easy to do once you get in the habit. Besides, a cast iron skillet usually comes with instructions on how to season it before the first use. And there are lots of videos online as to how to do it.
Thus, with the right treatment, your cast iron has a potential to become your favorite safe non-stick cookware. Based on experience, I can say that non-stick cast iron is perfect for pancakes and other potentially sticky food. After a couple of months, our cast iron skillet became non-stick.
Is cast iron safe? It depends.
Cast iron safety is a moot point. First of all, cast iron leaches iron into food during the cooking process. Thus, studies show that the amount of iron varies from 1.7 mg per 100 g to 26 mg per 100 g. In addition, acidic foods, high moisture content, and the long duration of cooking increase the release of iron significantly. Therefore, not to overdose on iron, it is best not to use it frequently or at all for acidic food that requires long cooking time, such as tomato sauce.
Can iron cause harm to our health?
On the one hand, iron is a necessary substance for our health. Therefore, cast iron cookware may help with iron deficiency when the diet is poor in iron or when the iron does not absorb well. Clearly, we should not consider this safe non-stick cookware the only source of iron, though.
On the other hand, too much iron is toxic. Accumulating too much iron can be due to a genetic disease called hemochromatosis. But many people do not know they have this disease. In fact, symptoms of iron overload can be very few, or can include joint pain, fatigue, general weakness, weight loss, and stomach pain.
So, how much iron do we need?
Basically, the amount of iron we need daily depends on age, gender, and whether a woman is pregnant or breastfeeding. That is to say, the range is between 7 mg to 27 mg daily. And pregnant women need the highest amount. For more details, please visit here.
Therefore, I recommend that you determine your iron needs before making cast iron pots and pans your primary cookware and use it accordingly.
You can do that by asking your doctor for some blood tests. For example, Myrto Ashe, MD, MPH, IFMCP, who reviewed this post, recommends getting both a ferritin level and a serum iron and TIBC (total iron binding capacity). The ferritin is a measure of iron storage, but it is also a measure of inflammation and insulin resistance. Thus, the ratio of iron divided by TIBC gives you the information you really need. When the ratio is too low, there is likely iron deficiency. When the ratio is too high, there is iron overload. How high is too high? There is a debate: 35% is safe, 40% less so, 45% probably too high. When the ratio is too high, the protein that carries iron is a bit overwhelmed. It drops iron in various places in the body, which is harmful as it causes oxidative stress.
Stargazer and Field Company produce safe non-stick skillets.
Speaking of safe non-stick cookware, I cannot help but mention Stargazer and Field Company.
When I learned about Stargazer, I asked them about their proprietary 2-step finish for their non-stick cast iron. That is to say, I wanted to know if they used additional substances that created that non-stick finish.
The company answered that that they applied two layers of seasoning. They emphasized, however, that it was important to keep it seasoned, because that was what made it non-stick.
As we discussed above, it is best to use a high smoke point oil for seasoning your cast iron pots and pans. For example, Stargazer uses a blend of grapeseed, canola, and sunflower oils. And Field preseasons their non-toxic cookware with grapeseed oil.
While Stargazer offers two sizes of skillets, Field offers a variety of skillets and a Dutch Oven. The cookware of both brands has non-stick properties because the cookware surfaces are very smooth versus textured. Alternatively, some new Lodge cast iron cookware has textured surfaces that make it harder to achieve a non-stick effect. In contrast, Stargazer and Field grind and smooth the surfaces of their non-stick cast iron cookware.
In addition, I appreciate the fact that both companies produce their cast iron cookware in the USA.
Conclusion about safe cast iron cookware
In conclusion, I want to emphasize the benefits of cast iron cookware. First, it can serve as safe non-stick cookware if you treat it right. Second, it has no lead or other heavy metals that are harmful to our health. Third, it can supply your body’s need for iron. However, I do want to say that fried food is not good for you. Conversely, eating a lot of fresh or steamed vegetables is very important.
Regarding cast iron safety, if your iron level is high to begin with, do not use cast iron cookware. Always select cookware according to your health condition. Thus, you can find out about other options of non-toxic cookware in my Safe Cookware Guide That Makes Sense.
For options of cast iron pots and pans please visit my shop. Also, I am available for consultations on the safety of products you consider buying for you or your household. Finally, become a part of the Savvy Consumer Circle to learn how to make your home a non-toxic haven.
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My cast iron was scrubbed with a stainless steel scrub pad – does that mean it now leaches “extra” iron?
I don’t think so. As long as you it is well seasoned.
Thank you for the information. Cast iron pans are too heavy for me. What do you think of carbon steel? I’m currently using hard anodized and would like to switch to something healthier. Thank you for your advice.
Hi, Ping: carbon steel is safe but the problem is that it is very hard to find it without coating that has PFAS chemicals. Anodized cookware may have it too. You have to check with the manufacturer and ideally it would be great to see test reports showing the absence of them. ~Irina
Thank you for all the information sharing that you do. I only use old cast iron pans that I fond in antique type stores. I have never trusted the Lodge “pre-seasoned” coating. It is bumpy and actually makes my things stick to them. I do not know what the pre seasoning is made from. My old pans are great as long as I use them for making eggs or sautéing. I do not use them for acidic things or making sauces – stainless steel for those. Also, along the lines of cookware, I have spent many years looking for a stainless steel tea kettle, inside and out, NOT made in China. Even the big stainless names that make their stuff in US import tea kettles from China. If you are able to locate a stainless kettle with a whistle not made in China, I would SOOO appreciate it. I just use a pot to heat my water right now.
Yeah… It might not exist. Most of stainless products are made in China. Even All-Clad makes their stainless steel kettles in China now. I use a ceramic kettle now instead, which I like but my husband hates.
Irina, have you tried the Simplex Tea kettles? They are solid copper with chrome finish over, still hand made in England.
No, I have not. I believe copper without finish is toxic. I have not looked in-depth into chrome finish yet but I know there are some concerns… Thank you for the suggestion.
I’d love to hear about Simplex Tea kettles, as I have one…
Also – what waffle maker do you use?? I’ve been trying to find one to replace my non-stick one. The only option so far is an old-fashioned cast iron with no timer that goes on the stove top and that you need to turn to cook both sides. I’m hoping there’s a good modern version out there! Thank you!!
Hmm… This is a really good question about a waffle maker. We do not make waffles so I did not think of that. Is there anybody else who is also interested in a safe waffle maker? Are the Simplex tea kettles made with copper? Copper can be toxic so normally it is lined with stainless steel. Is it the case with Simplex tea kettles? Thank you, Julia! ~Irina
All Clad makes a fully stainless
I LOVE my cast iron pan! I switched to it for cooking most things a year or more ago, and haven’t looked back! I even bought cast iron muffin pans (on Amazon) and love those as well, as I am trying to move away from other non-stick cooking items! You do need to season them, but since muffins stick on my “non-stick” muffin pans anyway I figured it couldn’t be worse, and it’s very easy to clean up any bits left behind (I typically do not use muffin liners as I find they stick to some of my muffins).
We did the same thing after finding out about Teflon non stick cooking but read this article because I just watched a talk about Althiemers and heavy metal build up in brain. They mentioned cast iron cooking, to limit use to once a month. I’m going to get my iron levels checked. But of course may alternate between steel for acidic foods or long cooking stews. Eggs and meals that are grilled may be cast iron. It sucks because we are addicted to using this ware.
thanks for the all the great information, I recently got rid of all my non-stick cookware and have been searching for an alternative, eggs is our biggest challenge. I will get a cast iron to pan now that I know they do well with eggs.
Irina, thank you for not giving up on my “frying eggs” dilemma! 🙂 I have Emeril’s iron cast pan, but I haven’t had such luck with it, maybe I don’t warm it up long enough. I also don’t like the black smudges it leaves on the food I make. Is it normal? Thank you!
Yes – it is important to warm up the pan first. Try it and let me know if you are more successful. I don’t think it should leave black smudges… I am not sure what it is. Anybody? Do you season it the way I recommended in the post?
The seasoning on your pan is most likely flaking. You are probably not seasoning it correctly. What I like to do when I buy a new cast iron pot/pan, is to throw it in my ovens self clean cycle which will strip all that crappy factory “seasoning” off. You will completely start fresh, a great oil to use as a base is flax seed oil, I would do research about which flax seed oil to use, but usually after the first 5 coats, I use avocado oil after every time I cook.
Thanks for the info!wish i knew this before i soaked my cast iron pan after pan frying fish. It rusted. Any way to get rid of the rust or is it best to dispose of it?
Hi Fatima: I do not know how severe the rust is but I believe you can get rid of the rust. You can scrub it with something like a nylon sponge, wipe it, and season it. Let me know.
I have just purchased a cast iron tea kettle and am wondering your thoughts on them as I was planning on using it on top of the fireplace for chai and other tea. Thank you
Hi, Alice! Did you buy this brand by any chance? https://ireadlabelsforyou.com/tea-kettle-made-china/
Thanks Irina, I have never used the tea kettle for tea as it does not even have a name/brand (thanks for your great info by the way!) I got the tea kettle from a vintage local Facebook selling page.. i thought maybe just to use it on the fire top to diffuse essential oils in? but maybe thats emitting toxins into the air too?
Also I read the comments about oil, I use Coconut oil to cook and to season our cast iron camping oven, i believe it to be able to be heated to the highest temperate without turning toxic.. thanks so much
I just switched back to cast iron after my husband finally agreed (he does much of the pan using). We’re loving our Lodge.
I did want to mention that hemochromatosis is a genetic disorder affecting iron processing that leads to iron overload. People without this disorder can still overload on iron, however.
I have cast iron pans (Cuisinart) that were made in China. Think these are safe to use?
Also have an enameled cast iron dutch oven gifted to me. It is from the Christmas Tree Shop, which is a bargain store so I am concerned about its safety as well as I have learned it was also made in China.
Worried about lead contamination…any insight?
Hi, Madelyn: Regardless where they are made, cast iron pans do not contain lead. As for the enameled cast iron dutch iron, you will have to contact the manufacturer. The best way to get a peace of mind is to ask if their products were tested to Prop. 65. ~Irina
This gives me such peace of mind as I just bought an unbranded cast iron pan at a local market the other day and later found it was made in China… hopefully it’s lead free and non toxic as you’ve mentioned 🙂
I ordered an inexpensive set of cast iron cookware, made in China. It has a rough finish, and the black color keeps wiping off. There is a Cadmium emblem stamped on the box. So, I looked up cadmium, and it is a toxic , carcinogenic heavy metal. Most cast iron does not contain this. It also has left a metallic taste in my mouth after frying eggs in it 2 days ago. I am returning it. It is not Lodge brand. It’s something cheaper. So, research before you buy.
Ok thank you!
Most of our cookware is stainless steel – do you consider this a safe alternative in terms of leavhing lead and other heavy metals?
I saw that in one of your posts above you mentioned cooking tomatoes and other acidic things in stainless steel and how it causes metals to leach…I’ve been cooking my tomato based things in my stainless steel because I thought cast iron was bad for that type of thing. What do you think? What should I be cooking my tomato based things in?
Thanks so much! Just feeling very overwhelmed today with all the possibly toxic things out there 🙁
I know exactly how you feel. Actually, I wrote a whole e-book to make it easy to understand. Please check it out: https://ireadlabelsforyou.com/seven-days-healthier-kitchen/. Thank you! ~Irina
Hi, I use my lodge cast iron skillet and I see your recommendation on how to season it after each use. I wanted to know what kind of vegetable oil you use? I can’t seem to find organic vegetable oil. I see you use the organic high heat sunflower oil, do you use that to season the pan and what kind of oil do you use for your cooking? I have the Spectrum expeller-expressed high heat organic canola oil but is that good for cooking? Thank you for all this wealth of non-toxic healthy living choices!
You can use any high heat cooking oil. Sunflower oil is a good one. Recently, I’ve switched to avocado oil as I think it is the healthiest for high heat cooking. We buy it at Costco. ~Irina
I have been doing some research as we just bought a Lodge 2 sided griddle and we own bigger cast iron pots we use to make “potjie” in, a very South African dish made on an open fire… And my husbands pots have a really sticky feel to them from him using vegetable oil previously. We are trying out the Spectrum Sunflower oil now and will also try out the Avocado oil soon, but I read somewhere that it is best to season with lard (which we struggle to get here, like Crisco), or with Flax Seed Oil. The opinion on using Flax Seed is quite mixed at the moment, and I was wondering if anyone could shed some light on it’s safety etc? Also, been seeing a lot of companies have Cast Iron Seasoning Oils or Sticks, but I am scared it might not be safe enough to use as one never knows what goes into it. Is it also wise to bake the cast iron item in the oven for 1 hour after every seasoning, or is that not necessary? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Cast iron takes a lot of abuse and is very flexible in its use. Traditionally cast iron is seasoned with lard, an animal fat and assuredly not Crisco. If a brand new, unseasoned pan, or a rehab project scrub with soap and water to remove unknown oils and detritus, make sure all rust is removed. Rust can be removed with sandpaper, as well as the occasional manufacturing defect, but be careful not to be too aggressive as to create an uneven surface. Once clean, completely dry by wiping down, coat all the way around with lard or high temp vegetable oil, (avocado works well) and allow to sit in oven for 2 hours at low temp (250f). Recoat/spread about every 1/2 hour. (Expect drips) After initial seasononing plan on using extra fats for a little while and avoid acidic foods.
After every use clean with plain water, dish soap if absolutely needed, and dish rag, nonmetallic scrubber if needed. Finally recoat food contact surfaces with fat, not thick just glisten, and store for next use. I use avocado oil on a paper towel that I leave in the cast iron and then reuse. I prefer avocado oil as it is non animal, is high temp, low flavor, and does not cause stickiness. I will occasionally cook acidic foods in my cast iron, but will not do so on consecutive uses. If I notice that things are sticking a little I’ll use that as an excuse to fry something with that pan. When storing I place my cast iron on something that I don’t mind absorbing a little oil.
Cast iron is heavy and takes a while to heat up and cool down. Cast iron can go from stove top to oven. Cast iron is generally not recommended on ceramic/glass cooktops, but I use it on mine. There is concern about scratching plus there may be concern about oil tranferring from the pan to the cooktop.
You may also get enameled cast iron which is not seasoned and can handle all the marinara sauce and other acidic foods you can throw at it. (Enameling is basically melting glass to cover the surface.) It also supposed to be okay for ceramic cooktops. With enameled be careful of chipping. I only use wood/bamboo utensils to reduce this possibility. I’m also careful not to throw a bunch of cold liquid into the pan as that can be hard on the enameling. Finally some enameled cast iron, have handles that can’t handle the oven. I do not have data on the pigments that are used with enameling.
So do you season the pan after every use with the avocado oil? Thanks!
Is coconut oil ok to use to season pans?
Hi, Ellie, Yes, as long as it has a high smoke point. ~Irina
Is there any brand or avocado oil you recommend? I can’t seem to find any organic avocado oils
Avocado oil does not come in organic. Because avocado is protected by the skin, non-organic is okay. The brand name is Chosen Foods. ~Irina
There are several organic avo oils available. Please consider that although eating non-organic avo is fine, chemicals like hexane are used in the manufacturing of nearly all food oils and are banned if organically produced/certified.
My understanding is that it’s good to shoot for “USDA Organic” rather than just the generic organic label which can be abused.
Abs, thanks for noticing that. Yes, a organic USDA organic avocado is available, it’s the only one I’ll consider using. Besides your local healthy food store, there are a couple of choices on Amazon–and even better, try Azure Market (a really find place to do online shopping if they deliver to your town).
Oh yeah that’s right, great!!
Wow, this post has been so interesting to read… I will have to share it with the hubby. Will using olive oil to season it also work or is sunflower or avocado oil best? Wait, I also wanted to ask, what type of utensils to you suggest to use with Cast Iron, Stainless Steel and or Ceramic etc? Going to start looking at where I can get your suggestions in the Middle East, otherwise I will have to improvise….
Hi, Martie: I use wooden spatulas. Good to hear from you on your progress. ~Irina
Thanks for the tip. I picked up some untreated Birch Wood spoons and spatulas, not sure if I should treat them though. Don’t know if the untreated wood would harbour bacteria? Do you use the spatulas you recommend in your Kitchen ebook? Just curious as I know mineral oil should be avoided, although I think treated utensils will probably last longer.
I use untreated wooden spatulas. If you keep them dry, they will be fine. Again, because wood can get fully dry without pockets of moisture, bacteria won’t be able to grow as it needs moisture. ~Irina
I have cooked on cast iron cookware for 20+ years. This year I decided to buy a unique piece of cast iron for Hubby. It has holes in it to char veggies. Since I like to make fire-roasted salsa, I thought this would be perfect. I ordered the pan (Mr. Bar-B-Q skillet made in China) from Walmart. When the pan came, I noticed it was nicely pre-seasoned so I washed it lightly and seasoned it again. Then I put my skillet on the grill to warm up. The toxic fumes that emanated from the skillet was unbelievable. After a lot of research, I finally decided my cast iron skillet was safe…but not the chemicals they used to season it. I’m sure my cast iron was seasoned with cosmoline to keep it from rusting. It smells just like my rifles. I returned it to Walmart. Stick with USA brands!
So I have been using the avocado oil and I like it! I have it stored in the fridge per directions, but it solidifies in the fridge. Do I let it get to room temp each time I use it or can I just use the liquid stuff that comes out which is all collected on top of the solidified fat in the bottle?
Cynthia, I believe you can use liquid stuff that comes out. ~Irina
idk if you are still replying to comments here but i recently switched to using a cast iron, and was wondering about the enamel do they all have that now and is that safe.. also i noticed it dramatically made the colour of my tea and coffee alot darker then before, im assuming that is normal for cast iron? any info or tips you could give me about this would be appreciated, Thanks, susan
Hi, Susan: are you talking about enameled cast iron by Lodge? Thanks! ~Irina
Have you had any success with using cast iron to make pancakes? Is there a particular trick to get pancakes to not stick on cast iron? Thanks so much!
Yes, it works great for pancakes. The trick is seasoning. ~Irina
I want to buy a safe and good quality of cast Iron , do you recommend field company or something better ?
regarding oils for cooking , I know that avocado oil is best oil for cooking.
I saw some nutritionist do not recommend canola oil . so I was wondering to know your idea about Organic and non-GMO canola oil ? do you think Organic and Non GMO canola oil in the market is safe to use ?
THANKS A Lot
Hi, Eli: Yes, Field cast iron cookware is a good option, too. Even organic and non-GMO canola oil is not good for us just because it is not rapeseed is not a good thing to eat. Thank you. ~Irina
Can canola oil be non-GMO? I though that all canola oil was GMO.
Hi, Eugene: canola oil can be USDA-certified organic, which means that it is non-GMO. ~Irina
Thank you Irina but I did not catch your point that why Organic , Non Gmo canola oil is not healthy,
could you please make me clear ?I know that canola was created through traditional plant cross-breeding by removing two things found in the rapeseed plant: glucosinolates and erucic acid.
One of concerns about canola is GMO BUT with Non-GMO one still is not healthy to use ?
Not only is Canola unhealthy it’s one of the most mislabeled as “non-GMO” food. Less than 1% grown across the world is organic, let alone non-GMO. Studies have shown at least 5-10% of world’s annual supply is consistently sold as non-GMO.
While technically true it is considered “traditionally” created, the process which was carried out in a university genetics lab to maximize marketability and profits, is in my opinion much closer to the invasive unnatural GMO processes of today than traditional cross breeding procedure used successfully for hundreds of years.
Can (Canadian) ola’s (Oil) [clever marketing] biggest use is industrial lubrication and found in the cheapest fry pits of fast food giants for one reason only, it’s the cheapest of the cheap to produce and doesn’t break down easily, it’s no wonder marketing has convinced many of it’s health benefits enabling profit squeeze at the cost of consumers’ health.
I would like to know if cast Aluminum Cookware is safe for cooking ?
Hi, Eli: The short answer is no. Do you have access to the Savvy Consumer Circle? Thanks. ~Irina
Lodge’s enameled cast iron Dutch Ovens are now MADE IN CHINA, according to Lodge. So, how do we know how safe and/or durable it is? Low prices don’t help if you eat toxic flakes in your food.
Hi, Cammy! Lodge enameled cast iron has been always made in China. That’s why I only recommend their cast iron, not enameled cast iron. ~Irina
Irina, so many good works! I am proud to report that with seasoning with ½tsp lard (from Targét) after each use (becomes routine), I can fry an egg without sticking! 🥰 I also found that with a 50¢ brush from Walmart and ¼tsp salt, my Lodge pans clean up great! Your Pearl’s of wisdom are spot on!
Found a 10” cast iron skillet at Tuesday Morning on sale ($13). It’s by Smith & Clark Ironworks (made in China and a brand of Tabletops Unlimited) It’s preseasoned, no enamel, quite heavy. Another 6”, oil-seasoned one by Sharper Image made in China. Do you think buying a cast iron skillet from brands like these is unadvisable? Is it common for soles brands to have toxic materials in cast iron?
It should be okay. ~Irina
Was worried about cheap brands taking shortcuts and using aluminum. Thanks! You’re site is so helpful!
I have a glasstop electric stove. Do you know if Field Day iron skillets are smooth on the bottom? Thank you so much for the information you provide to the community. You’ve helped me tremendously in the past.
Hi, Dorothy, I am not sure because we own Lodge. Please contact the company. ~Irina
I have read a few of your article, starting with GreenPan. I have sever fibromyalgia and my hands and wrist are very painful. I desperately need sauce pans. Can you recommend any that aren’t too heavy. Right now I have The Rock fry pans. I like them, but recently heard they are bad.
Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us.
This is an informative article, thank you. I have been a big fan of cast iron but recently I’ve become concerned about seasoning, which is the polymerization of fat. You are essentially turning the fat into a plastic molecule, somewhat similar to PTFE (I think). And, when heated above smoke point, I am concerned that these polymerized fats can release toxic and carcinogenic chemicals. I’ve spent the last several hours scouring the Internet and there doesn’t seem to be a consensus or much information at all. Most people’s opinions are that it’s “it’s probably safe, or if dangerous, not TOO dangerous.” Can you shed any light on this topic? Here I thought I’d found the safest type of cookware, but now I am rethinking it. Thanks for any input you can provide.
Hi, Melanie! Thank you for the question! It is best to use a high smoke point oil for seasoning your cast iron pots and pans. While we use avocado oil, Stargazer uses a blend of grapeseed, canola, and sunflower oils, and Field uses grapeseed oil. We hope this helps! You are always welcome to book a personal healthy living consultation with Irina: https://ireadlabelsforyou.com/services/consultations/
i read your post about safe cookware with interest.
i am trying to avoid non stick cookware as it can be toxic so i thought about buying stainless steel but wans’t sure
if safe and also need non stick as it is a milk pan i am looking for.
nearly bought green pan but then read you were unsure…
is cast iron safer than ceramic?
what is this pre seasoned pans you are talking about ? what does pre season mean?
do you know of any good quality safe non stick milk pan? i tried to look for lodge but couldn’t find?
i live in uk so if you could recommend any brand i can find in uk i would ever so much appreciate as i
switched to 100% grass fed milk but need to heat to a quick boil of 210 f to pasturise…
thanks so much.
I live in Germany and here many people use stainless steel cookware. Would that be as a safe alternative just like cast iron?
Thank you for your answer in advance!
Hi, Emese: you can find an answer to your question here: https://ireadlabelsforyou.com/skinny-safe-cookware/ Thank you for asking. ~Irina
Besides Covid I now have another challenge. To keep busy in times of quarantine, I’ve been restoring old cast iron pots, pans, and skillets. While I understand iron does not contain lead, I believe I may have come across one vintage dutch oven from France that may have some lead. And, it’s a reputable brand (so i thought) that got purchased by Staub. After lots of youtube videos on how to clean, restore and seasoning vintage cast iron I found one video that shows how to test for lead. Bought the kit and did the simple test and result was crushing. I really thought I found a gem! Could cast iron have been contaminated inadvertently somehow? From this same video, I learned that sometimes fishing lead weights were made using old cast iron pots to melt lead and casted in muffin pans (for example) so the advice in the video is to always test vintage cast iron pieces. This dutch oven I got looked unused, in fact no cleaning or restoring was necessary. Long story short, i wonder if you can shed some wisdom on the matter. Im in denial that I have a contaminated vintage piece, but your thoughts would put my mind at ease. Thanks in advance for your two cents!
Hi, Thuy: feel free to book a consultation with me so we can make a plan that you reduce your stress load: https://ireadlabelsforyou.com/services/consultations/ ~Irina
I am on a whole food plant based diet, and do not cook with oil. Additionally, my understanding is that men are rarely iron deficient and it can be adverse for them to get too much iron. What do you suggest for a nonstick cooking option? Thanks.
Hi, Paul: Please take a look at this: https://ireadlabelsforyou.com/skinny-safe-cookware/ ~Irina
Hi, I purchased the Smith and Clark cast iron pans. After purchasing I noticed they were made in China. I wanted to return them but the packaging was recycled by my family. I’ve tried contacting Tabletopsunlimited to ask about their safety inspections and have heard nothing back from them.
Do you think this is a safe brand?
Have you tried/tested the Ozeri pans? They utilize GREBLON ceramic – an ultra-safe ceramic coating from Germany which is 100% PTFE, PFOA, APEO, NMP and NEP. I was thinking of getting one. Kindly let me know what you think.
The lodge cast iron come with vegetable oil coating on it. Is that ok? How can I remove that coating and coat with avacado oil?
I wasn’t sure if the vegetable oil coating stays forever and will leach into the food. Kindly advise.
Hi Sara! We just used our Lodge the way it was, and after a while started using avocado oil. Hope this helps!
I have a question regarding using cast iron cookware. Instructions on care usually say to apply a coat of oil after cleaning a pan. If the pan is used infrequently, the layer of oil becomes ‘gummy’ and possibly has bits of dust etc., clinging to the oil on the surface. I cannot bring myself to cook in these pans without washing them first, which makes me think that cast iron is just too much trouble from a maintenance standpoint. Do you also wash your pans prior to using them again? I’d appreciate your input.
Hello, Joanne! Thank you for the question! This is what we do: to prevent dust from landing on the seasoned surface, we keep cast iron cookware in a pantry or a kitchen cabinet. If your cookware has a lid, you can put it on, too, or use something else to cover the pan. Dark space is also better to prevent the oil from getting rancid and “gummy.” We hope this helps! By the way, friends and readers, the Cast Iron Pots and Pans post has been updated with new info and two new brands – Stargazer and Field Company. So, check it out!
I noticed that Stargazer and Field Company pans are quite a bit more expensive than Lodge pans. Does the finish really make that much difference and are they really much lighter than Lodge? And I find it hard to believe the finish can be so difference with just seasoning. It is important that my pans are safe to eat from them.
Thank you !
Hi, Julie! Lodge is not a bad choice; however, we believe that Stargazer and Field are better. Lodge uses non-organic vegetable oil for their seasoning, which is not that big of a deal, but if you want to be extra careful, go for organic. In addition, Lodge pans’ surface is not as smooth as that of the other two brands. As for their weight, we haven’t handled the Stargazer and Field pots and pans, but we assume their cast iron is as heavy as any other brand’s.
thanks for sharying good informaction!
You are so very welcome! Thank you for your feedback!
I appreciate your blogs and have found them to be helpful. I am trying to switch old cookware out for safer options. I was just looking at the Lodge Cast Iron Deep Skillet, Pre-Seasoned, 10.25-inch (Black) on Amazon. I scrolled down to see more details and found that the country of origin was China. I thought perhaps this was a mistake but after reading the questions and answers I wonder if it is true. I copied and pasted the Amazon Q&A below. Do you know if all of Lodge products are now manufactured in China?
Q: Are these made in America???
Thank you for reaching out to us. This product is made in China. Lodge has outsourced many items to keep up with production demands.
Have a good day
Customer Service Team
By Lehman’s Home and Garden on January 11, 2022
Hello, Steven! Thank you for the kind words about our blog! We do not know if all Lodge products are manufactured in China. Have you contacted Lodge directly to ask this question? We encourage that.
Do you know of a cast iron company that is not using seed oils to season? Fo Stargazer I see they use grapeseed, canola, and sunflower oils. For Field I see they use grapeseed oil.
Thank you for reaching out to I Read Labels For You!
Have you tried Lodge?