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A couple of Le Creuset questions

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Hi everyone - I'm new to this site and pretty new to Le Creuset as well. In addition to some pieces I've picked up at Outlet stores, I've also gotten a couple pieces on eBay. The questions I have are:

1) Why do some pieces have unfinished cast-iron bottoms, and other versions of the same piece are enameled? Is the cast-iron bottom the new style, the old style, or neither?

2) One of my eBay pieces has a tiny chip through the enamel on the bottom. Is there something I can do to "seal" the chip, so it won't chip further or develop rust in the chip?
TIA!

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    1. The unfinished bases are the old style, this was apparently because the enamel wasn't strong enough to prevent chipping in the areas that took the most wear, such as the base and rims, so they didn't enamel them.

      I think small chips are fine, as long as it doesn't look like it will chip further into your food it should be a-okay. I would heat some liquid in it and give it a gentle bash or two with a wooden spoon to judge if it was safe or not,

      1. Why don't you try calling the LC helpline for question #2? I would want to get a recommendation directly from the manufacturer on that one ... You're talking the outside bottom of the piece, is that right?

        2 Replies
        1. re: foiegras

          I think TC means inside bottom.

          I've heard in the past that one of the dangers posed by cracked or crazed enamel is that it loses its non-porous quality, so bacteria can seep in and pose a danger. I'd definitely recommend contacting LC.

          Last time I did, they actually called me within 5 minutes and immediately mailed a part to me.

          1. re: foiegras

            Yes, it's on the outside bottom of the piece, so no danger of bacteria in my food, I just don't want it to get any larger.

          2. I have a couple of vintage European (but not LC) enameled cast-iron casseroles that weren't treated very well by the original owner, so they came to me with multiple chips in the outside enamel and a fair amount of wear on the inside. One of them even has a crack in the lid, starting at the rim. Nevertheless, I've used them often, they perform just fine, nobody has gotten sick, and as far as I can tell, the damage hasn't gotten any worse. I just try to handle them with the same care that I'd give to any of my enameled cast iron pieces, including new ones.

            Over the years, Le Creuset has been made with exposed cast-iron bottoms, enameled bottoms, and even ridged bottoms, but it seems to me that they started enameling the bottoms of everything about 15 years ago. Maybe it was a response to the rising popularity of glass-topped stoves, which could have been scratched by the rougher surface of the exposed cast iron.