Debra Lynn Dadd

Cast Iron Skillets made in China

QUESTION:

Hi Debra,

I recently bought a set of 3 cast iron skillets that had a "Made in China" sticker on them. After washing and using them a few times,the black finish started coming off on the towel I dried them with. The inside of the pans started to look brown where the finish had come off. Does this sound normal for cast iron? I have an old cast iron skillet that I picked up in a thrift store that is not doing this. Do you think it is safe to use the newer skillets? What with the problems of items coming from China lately, I am afraid to use them.

Thanks for your help,
Nell

POSTED BY NELL COVINGTON :: COLORADO USA :: 04/28/2008 11:32 PM


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

I've had some cast iron skillets and I've never had any black finish come off on the towel. In fact, there shouldn't be a finish at all, only the cast iron.

Who knows what they might have added in China. This doesn't sound right to me.

The brown is probably rust, which does happen to cast iron if you don't season it. Be sure to follow the directions for seasoning the pan before you use it (coat with oil, bake in the oven, etc). Your pans should have some instructions for this. If not, search the web for "season cast iron pan".

5/1/08 Click on COMMENTS for the explanation of this black coating...

Debra :-)


COMMENTS:

I'm actually having the same problem... I purchased a Martha Stewart cast iron pan about 3 years ago. I followed the directions for seasoning the pan. The seasoning didn't really change much, and when I cooked in the pan, everything would stick. I was told to just keep using it and that over time it would become more seasoned and non-stick like it should. So over the years it has gotten much better, but I've noticed that towards the center of my pan (where food gets tossed around most) it looks as though flecks of dark come off here and there, revealing bits of the gray pan underneath. If I scrape at it, more black pieces break off. It seems to me that the black coating (this is supposed to be the seasoned effect right?) on the pan is chipping off, but only in the center. The outer edges of my pan look dark, smooth and nice. Has anyone else experienced this with their iron skillet and if so do you have any insight or advice?

COMMENT FROM DEBRA: OK, I've figured out what is happening here.

Traditionally, "seasoning" is layers of oil that gets built up on cast iron when used. When you first get the pan, you need to season it by putting oil on it and baking it in the oven.

Recently "preseasoned" pans have come on the market.

Lodge Cast Iron Cookware pans are seasoned in the foundry with vegetable oil, which is baked on at high temperatures. These pans are pre-seasoned and ready to use.

The cast iron pans made in China, which are sold as "seasoned cast iron" are coated with an FDA-approved bakeon paint for seasoning, rather than vegetable oil. The black stuff that is chipping off is the "seasoning" and it is paint.

If you are using cast iron that is chipping paint, throw it out.

If you are purchasing cast iron, buy Lodge, or cast iron that is not preseasoned.

Cast iron is an excellent choice for cookware. It is made from simple materials, lasts for a lifetime, and when it's life as cookware is over, it will just rust away back into the earth.


POSTED BY SUZANNE MIKULA :: CALIFORNIA USA :: 05/01/2008 11:24 AM


Dear Debra,

The pans I bought were labeled as "pre-seasoned" and I also clean the pans with salt and a few drops of water, then oil it before putting them away. Like you say, black stuff shouldn't be coming off, so I think will throw these pans away, as they were not very expensive to begin with.

Thanks,
Nell

POSTED BY NELL COVINGTON :: COLORADO USA :: 05/01/2008 11:26 AM


My pan isn't chipping off--just causing a smear on the towel--the brown left behind does not look like rust. Just to be safe, I'll get rid of them

Thanks!
Nell

POSTED BY NELL COVINGTON :: COLORADO USA :: 05/06/2008 11:33 AM


REAL Cast Iron cookware can be purchased at:

www.lodgemfg.com


Retailers in the U.S.:
Ace Hardware
True Value Hardware
Wal-Mart
Linen N Things
Sears
JC Penney
Check with a sporting/camping store

Retailers in Vancouver, BC:

3 VETS LTD.
2200 Yukon Street, Vancouver, BC V5Y 3P2
604.872.5475

COOKSHOP-VANCOUVER
www.cookshop.ca
555 W 12th Ave, Vancouver, BC V5Z 3X7
604.873.5683

MING WO LTD.
www.mingwo.com
2170 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver, BC V6K 1N6
604.737.2624

RUSSELL FOOD EQUIPMENT LTD
www.russellfood.ca
1255 Venables Street, Vancouver, BC V6A 3X6
604.253.6611

THE MARKET KITCHEN
2-1666 Johnston Street, Vancouver, BC V6H 3S2
604.681.7399

For a list of retailers elsewhere in Canada:
Counseltron Marketing
Phone: 416-640-6100
Email: [email protected]

POSTED BY MEL :: VANCOUVER CANADA :: 05/06/2008 11:52 AM


It is my understanding that cast iron must be covered with either oil, wax or FDA-approved "paint or resin" before it leaves the manufacturer or the product will begin to rust. These coverings can and should be scrubbed off with soap and water before you use the pan. Even if your pan is "pre-seasoned," as is so popular now,

you must continue to season it well each time you use it. My feeling about the "pre-seasoning" label is that it's merely another marketing gimmick. High heat seasoning (450 F) with very thin layers of Crisco works especially well to create a smooth, water-impervious finish that will resist scrubbing, soap, and even tomato-based foods.

POSTED BY SB :: KANSAS USA :: 05/15/2008 12:51 PM


Cast iron seasoning is more effective with shortening than vegetable oil. For years we kept a can of shortening in the fridge just for this purpose. Now there is an organic shortening available that is free or nearly free of transfats.

POSTED BY KIPPERCAT :: TEXAS USA :: 05/15/2008 11:09 PM


As I posted elsewhere, anthropologists have found that poorer cultures that abandoned heave cast iron cookware for lighter metals began to experience iron deficiencies -- which resolved when some cast iron was re-introduced. Interesting!

Also, as a side note: Teflon non-stick ware may be a menace. The original Teflon (and I doubt the modern stuff has changed much) was considered safe by the inventor only for temperatures less than boiling water(!), and only for brief periods. Otherwise it gradually breaks down and outgasses and leaches and flakes fluorine compounds. Nice.

POSTED BY BRIAN H :: BRITISH COLUMBIA CANADA :: 05/15/2008 11:31 PM


I use a cast-iron skillet and find it a great way to cook. My question is: What difference would it make if the skillet were allowed to rust a bit? Is rust a health issue (if ingested via food cooked in the skillet), or is it merely a matter of the skillet's cosmetic appearance and longevity? Thanks for any insight about this.

COMMENT FROM DEBRA: No harm in eating rust. It's just iron.


POSTED BY RDC :: UTAH USA :: 05/19/2008 9:30 PM


The red of your blood cells is bright rust!

POSTED BY BRIAN H :: BRITISH COLUMBIA CANADA :: 05/26/2008 2:04 PM


I just purchased a lodge cast iron skillet. I followed the directions (scrubbed with a hard bristle brush and hot water and towel dried). I noticed a couple small black specks come off when I dried the skillet. I went ahead and made scrambled eggs - sprayed with Pam and used butter - and noticed black on the eggs. Did I do something wrong?

COMMENT FROM DEBRA:I would suggest that you contact Customer Service at Lodge. This doesn't sound like a Lodge pan.


POSTED BY NIKI :: ILLINOIS USA :: 12/08/2008 4:57 PM


FeO is black:

Wikipedia:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron(II)_oxide

"Iron(II) oxide, also known as ferrous oxide, iron oxide/oxidized iron or more commonly rusted iron, is one of the iron oxides. It is a black-colored powder with the chemical formula FeO. It consists of the chemical element iron in the oxidation state of 2 bonded to oxygen. Its mineral form is known as wüstite. Iron(II) oxide should not be confused with rust, which usually consists of hydrated iron(III) oxide (ferric oxide). Iron(II) oxide is an example of a non-stoichiometric compound and the ratio of the elements iron and oxygen can vary, samples are typically iron deficient with a compositions ranging from Fe0.84O to Fe0.95O.[1]"

COMMENT FROM DEBRA: OK, but does it chip off into food? That hasn't been my experience. However, as explained elsewhere, there are "preseasoned" cast iron pans from China that are simply painted black, and paint can chip off.


POSTED BY BRIAN H :: WASHINGTON CANADA :: 12/09/2008 1:17 AM


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