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Old 05-29-2008, 12:11 AM   #1
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Cast Iron vs Black Steel

I have two cast iron skillets, a 10" Griswold which I love, and a 12" Lodge which is OK, but not nearly as nice as the Griswold. Last time I dropped in at Sur La Table, I noticed that they had some very nice looking black steel frying pans. They are at least as thick and heavy as the cast iron, and seem to be constructed very well.

I'm very tempted to replace my 12" cast iron with the black steel pan of similar size, but wanted to check in here and see if anyone had experience with both and wanted to give me some input about how they compare.

As an aside, my gf's nonstick pan is near the end of its days and I'm hoping that the black steel will seem more accessible to her than the cast iron does (I've never managed to get her to try cooking with cast iron, not sure why I think I'll do better with black steel, but I do, at least a little).

Thanks for any opinions,

Russ

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Old 05-29-2008, 07:39 AM   #2
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My advise is if your GF likes nonstick that would be what to get.
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Old 05-29-2008, 09:32 AM   #3
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the black steel (carbon steel) frech style fry pan is a great tool. Excellent for saute work and browning. keeps just like a cast iron pan
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Old 05-29-2008, 09:42 PM   #4
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Thanks guys. Still haven't decided, will have to think about it for awhile. Maybe a sale will come along and help me decide - that'd be nice.
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Old 05-30-2008, 10:27 AM   #5
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Carbon steel frying pans take seasoning just like cast iron, makes them very nearly non-stick, and they are lighter and easier to maintain than cast iron. Cast iron will still be better for baking cornbread. Inexpensive, good quality carbon steel pans can be found online. The size range you have can be found for under $25. Be aware that carbon steel frying pans come in two basic styles for two different kinds of cooking. The ones with a shallower sloping side are made to give up liquid quickly, and are great for searing and sautéing. The Lyon style has a steeper side, and tends to retain liquid longer. Black steel is thinner than carbon steel, heats very quickly and burns your food much more readily. I have an excellent carbon steel frying pan, welded handle, 20 cm, about 8 1/2 inch, that I use daily. Great pan. $4 in a thrift store. I'm sure you'll find something nice and affordable.
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Old 05-30-2008, 01:48 PM   #6
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Hmm, interesting. I always thought that "black steel" was just the name for carbon steel frying pans. Now I'm not even sure that the ones I saw were actually what should be called black steel.
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Old 05-31-2008, 01:05 PM   #7
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A restaurant I worked at for awhile favored black steel over cast iron- it's thinner and also has the sloping sides, as was mentioned above. We didn't really use them for anything involving liquid, but man you could NOT beat those things for putting a great sear on anything. They are thinner than cast iron, though just as heavy, imo, but were a bit easier to care for. Though I use cast iron at home (because its what i have already), i think I prefer black steel.
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Old 05-31-2008, 04:23 PM   #8
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LOL - without carbon ... steel would be iron. So I really wonder, what is "Carbon Steel?" Steel is generally 0.4-2% carbon ... but, ironically ... Cast Iron is iron and about 2.15% carbon!

Steel is an alloy - so what other ingredients are in the mix besides iron and carbon to make "black" steel???

Steel is a good heat conductor - it heats and cools quickly, cast iron is a poor heat conductor - it heats and cools slowly. An amazing difference in properties for similar ingredients with just a little chenge in the recipe.
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Old 06-01-2008, 01:58 PM   #9
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So technically what we call cast iron is actually a form of steel too?

At this point I'm really leaning towards getting the new pan, just putting it off for awhile to see if I talk myself out of it.

Thanks for the input everybody.
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Old 06-02-2008, 01:35 AM   #10
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"Steel" specifically must fall within the carbon content range Michael pointed out. It's the same stuff, but in different proportions. Lemon curd is not the same as Hollandaise, if you will.
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