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Jan 10, 2010 05:02 AM

Ruined enamel on my Creuset


I was wondering if i could just season the bottom of my Creuset the way i would my cast iron frying pan to build back a non-stick surface? It's just like a cast iron pan once the enamel has gone, right?

Also, am i injesting any funky chemicals or metals (lead, rust?) by still using this enamel-lss dutch oven?

Any other tip are welcome!


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  1. In theory, you can. In practice, it is not as simple. When you have a bare cast pan, you can apply oil and heat up the entire pan and build your seasoning surface. The problem of building a seasoning surface on a enamel pan is that you cannot heat up the pan to very high temperature. I am assuming that you have a chipped off surface, so most of the cooking surface is still enameled and only a small spot is bare. If the pan is heated up to high temperature for seasoning, then you can crack more of the enameled surface off.

    Lead no. Rust probably.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      No, the whole bottom is void of enamel and about one inch up the sides... does that mean that i could do it, since i could heat the whole bottom up?

      1. re: Arktik

        ??? How did that happen? Yes, if the entire bottom is bare, then yes you can season it quiet easily.

        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          Eek! Obviously from years of cooking, what, sand? Lots of stirring...May I suggest a new dutch oven? Seasoning is possible, but the whole point of an enameled piece is to be able to do things that would be troublesome in plain cast iron. I will leave up to you to decide whether you want to spend the money on Le Crueset or Staub, or buy a cheap Chinese knock-off that you can use and abuse without as much guilt.

          Seasoning does not require high temps. Some cast iron afficianados prefer a high-temp (450F) seasoning to get a hard, jet black patina. The directions "stamped" on the old Wagner Ware suggested seasoning at 300F. Lots of pans and dutch ovens were seasoned that way and work fine. The seasoning will be more of a honey color. Use shortening or lard, since oils with high smoke points (canola) will turn into a gummy mess.

        2. re: Arktik

          I think Mike is right. It may be better to just buy another enameled cast iron cookware or a straight bare cast iron one.

      2. Le Creuset has a lifetime guarantee. I would call them and see if they would replace it. Google their website and there should be a toll-free telephone number. I've had pieces replaced (mainly interior chipping cause by "normal" usage) at no cost except for my shipping without any problem. But having the whole bottom enamel chipped away might require an lengthly explanation. I am sure they would be curious as we are.

        17 Replies
        1. re: PBSF

          Yes, i did call and they told me that they would offer a 40%off coupon for my next purchase; i wonder if i can use it for a "Second Choix" Creuset dutch oven...hmmm...

          There is a service also, i found out about that will re-enamel the pot, at a cost of around $80, but it will change the outside color (boo, i love the red) to either blue, black or a horrible green.

          I do have a smaller 24cm one (about 5litres i think) so i can use that one too...this one maybe, i thought, since it is alread ruined, i could use if more like a cast iron pot and sear at high heat?

          Also, I'm much too embarassed to realy why this fiasco happened :)

          Thanks for the tips!

          1. re: Arktik

            I so want to beg for the story, but my dignity won't permit it :D

            1. re: foiegras

              I'll bite: Arktik, WTF did you do to a pan to dissolve porcelain enamel?! For the bottom to "void of enamel" as you said above, it would have to be some INCREDIBLY caustic material to dissolve glass (porcelain enamel is basically glass). Or did you take an angle grinder to it? Perhaps put it in a kiln?

              I'll also add: I'm not gonna believe you until I see some pictures! ;-)

              1. re: Joe Blowe


                If I pour straight Clorox Blench into a Le Creseut and heat it up at low temperature for overnight (~12 hours), will I able to crack the porcelain surface or not?

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  Why do you bother asking? Are you planning on doing this?

                  If you heat sodium hypochlorite (bleach), it breaks down into chloride and oxygen, with some chlorates -- none of which are able to DISSOLVE GLASS (or *remove* the interior of an LC pot) at household strength!

                2. re: Joe Blowe

                  Here is the picture. If i run my finger down the side, i can feel the bump where the enamel used to be.

                  but i mean, come one, i can still use it for soups, and stews and braising and stuff...it's still a good pot, right?!?

                  1. re: Arktik

                    Do you see the white enamel interior *peeking* out from underneath the bottom surface? That's a nice layer of carbon you got there, but IT'S NOT BARE IRON!

                    You may have done a good job burning the hell out of your pot, but you surely did not achieve the removal of porcelain enamel...

                    1. re: Joe Blowe

                      That is my reaction as well. You have burnt stuff on top of the porcelain enamel that needs to be removed. From a quick google, one thing to try is the combination of baking soda and water. Have you tried the following?


                      CLEANING Le Creuset

                      What is the best way to clean Le Creuset, especially when food is burnt onto the piece?

                      1. Once you have removed the food from your pan fill with hot water and a squeeze of detergent. This makes it very easy to wash later.
                      2. For stubborn marks you can use a nylon scourer with Le Creuset Pots and Pans Cleaner or liquid washing detergent. We do not recommend powder cleansers or metal scourers, as these are very harsh and will scratch the surface.
                      3. For really stubborn stains, mix a little baking soda (about 2 teaspoons) with some liquid washing detergent to make a paste, and rub over the stained area.

                    2. re: Arktik


                      If the enameled surface is removed, you will feel a drop ~2 mm on the surface. I don't think you have removed that surface.

                      I was so excited that I thought you acheived something very cool, but I guess not. :)

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        You guys have given me hope!! I will try to clean this pot with the directions provided by "souvenir" and report back!

                        re: Chemicalkinetics...sorry to disappoint :)

                        1. re: Arktik


                          One last suggestion. If I am you, I will clean the dutch oven by alternating baking soda solution and vinegar solutions. First, clean it with the baking soda method as suggestion: soak the cookware interior with baking soda solution for at least 2 hours, brush it with soft nylon brush and rinse. After rinsing the baking soda solution, soak the cooking surface with white vinegar solution for at least 2 hours, brush and rinse. Repeat if necessary.

                          You broke my heart with all the false promise.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            For the tough stains and stuck on gunk, I use a "paste" of kosher salt and water. My largest Le Creuset is white and the outside gets ugly fairly easily. I'm careful not to press too hard (not sure if kosher salt could actually scratch the enamel or not) and it always works wonderfully.

                            1. re: Azizeh

                              "...(not sure if kosher salt could actually scratch the enamel or not)..."

                              No. See above. Enamel is basically glass.

                              Can you scratch a drinking glass with kosher salt?

                          2. re: Arktik

                            Or, you could skip the oh-so-gentle methods of baking soda or vinegar and go straight for the Easy-Off Oven Cleaner. Just spray it on, wait a couple of hours, and wipe it off. (Protip: Spray it on, put the pot in a black garbage bag, and set the bagged pot out in the sun for a few hours.) You could even use Carbon-Off if you wanted to: http://www.discoveryproducts.com/prod...

                            Don't be afraid of those products. Remember, they're made to clean porcelain enamel:  The stuff that lines the inside of your oven AND your LC pot. After you rinse off those products, wash the pot with some dish detergent, give it another good rinse, and you're good to go. (If you're really paranoid, boil some water in the pot and toss that water down the drain -- but it's really not necessary. Then again, there's a lot of paranoid people these days.)

                            Save the elbow grease for something else...

                  2. re: Arktik

                    Yeah, I have to say that I have no idea how you did what you did (took off an entire layer of porcelain enamel). I mean, I don't know how to do remove an entire layer of porcelain if I want to.

                    I think you may want to share this knowledge with the rest of the Chowhounds because some people may want to do this one day. Alternatively, you may want to find a book publisher and write a book about this. :)

                    1. re: Arktik

                      Can you by chance let us know what "Service" I can reach out to.
                      I have a le creuset I found at my moms. Enamel is chipped away at the bottom... she used it to feed her chickens not knowing what it was.

                    2. re: PBSF

                      I took my LC with flaking enamel back to the place of purchase today, and they replaced it for free with no questions, so I am thinking this is not a new problem.

                      PS. I had been using it for 10 years and it had never been abused. No metal utensils, no scorching or burning and no temps over 375. I expected better from this product.

                      Although the store sure did the right thing. THANK YOU SUR LA TABLE.

                    3. Did you ask Le Creuset about it when they told you they would only give you a coupon? Enameled cast iron is not made as strongly as uncoated, so this is probably not a good idea. You could get a Tramontina for less than 60% of the cost of a new Le Creuset, and they have been known to replace chipped enameled dutch ovens. http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/co...

                      1. Go to Walmart and buy a Tramontina enamel or cast iron pot - they have 3 1/2 qt and 6 1/2 qt, $30 and $35 respectively. Am Test Kitchen found no perceptible difference between them and Le Crueset or Staub. I bought everyone in my family one of these for xmas using ship-to-store and didn't have to pay any postage

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: kayakado

                          I second the motion for the Tramontina. Bought the largest one they had at Walmart a few years ago for ~$40 out the door. Has seen regular use and is still going strong. And if I ever damage it, I'll just go out and get a new one... still will be a fraction of the cost of Le Creuset. Kind of like the Hoover vs Dyson vacuum cleaner debate...

                          One note: if you plan to use it in the oven, replace the Tramontina lid handle/knob with a Le Creuset knob (under $15 when I looked some time ago) or to save $$ buy a metal drawer/cabinet knob at your local hardware store.

                          Even if you can't use your damaged Le Creuset for cooking... drill some holes in the bottom for a pretty/quirky planter.

                          1. re: caliking

                            Right now at our Aldi discount grocery store in Tampa they're selling the red 6.5 QT Tramontina (by another name) for $29.99...
                            I have the Tramontina and it's EXACTLY the same...
                            They're selling an oblong model too, as well as a big red nonstick frying pan for $19.99...

                            1. re: Mild Bill

                              Arktik, you may want to consider purchasing a Staub dutch oven over another LC if you're planning a new pot purchase. Unlike the LC, Staub's interior is enameled in a way that still leave pores and allows you to achieve a seasoned pot. Not one that stains or gets more and more dull. The exact text from Staub is:

                              " *Black matte enameled interior does not discolor or rust and gets better with use.

                              * No seasoning required; oils from cooking penetrate the enamel pores and create a smooth nonstick surface."

                              Oils penetrating pores and creating a non-stick surface sure sounds like seasoning to me. This has been my personal experience as a Staub owner and user. For me my Staub pots get better and better, while not requiring the seasoning that a raw cast iron pot does. I used to be a LC fan until my pots dulled and stained over the years. Pot improving vs. pot breaking down was the deciding factor to me. LC has much better marketing and history in the USA - vs. Staub which has a bigger fan base in Europe. I'd say try one out and decide which one you prefer. FYI amazon.com sometimes has great sales on Staub, you just need to keep looking.

                              Good Luck!

                              1. re: beauxgoris

                                Hey, great suggestions. I may get a Staub one day.

                                1. re: beauxgoris

                                  Or just consider that with your half-black Le Creuset, you're halfway to a Staub. Why would you clean it when all the Staub fans are paying for that lovely black finish?! Consider it a feature. (The people I work with have been doing that for years.)

                                  1. re: foiegras

                                    ^^Actually the Staub pots have a different interior finish than the Le Creuset enameled pots do (hence my post above). The Staub enamel is a porous enamel hence why the pot gets better with years and years of use, instead of dulling and staining like the original posters pot did. Sadly not remotely the same thing at all.

                            1. re: Soop

                              I'd also like to know. I agree with the others that you might just have really badly burned food residue with perfectly good enamel underneath - that stuff is incredibly durable.