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Sep 6, 2010 11:05 AM

Chipped enamelled cast iron. Safe to cook in, or not?

one spot about the size of a quarter, another smaller than a dime, and several little "flea bites" in interior bottom. I'm not worried about the cast iron, but could the enamel be dangerous to ingest?

I tried boiling water & sauteing onions, with no flakes coming off at all... but.. is it safe?

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  1. That depends on what brand it is, don,t you think?

    1 Reply
    1. re: diamond dave

      It's a Cousances (pre- Le Creuset)

    2. The official answer is no, don't use it. If you are to ask the manufacturers, they will tell you that it is unsafe to use and they will no longer make any guarantee.

      That said, people often used chipped enameled steel and enameled cast iron cookware decades ago. It is not until the abundance of goods we have now that it becomes so much easier and cheaper to replace cookware.

      1. I wouldn't advise you to use or not to use yours, but I have a piece of Le Creuset that my housekeeper chipped the enamel interior in in 1957 and I've been using it ever since with no ill effects. When the chipped spots rust a bit, I just scrub them out with an SOS pad and I'm good to go. But I'm also fairly fatalistic. It is my firm conviction that everybody dies from something!

        2 Replies
        1. re: Caroline1

          No, ... I thought we get to live forever.

          1. re: Caroline1

            Thanks for your reply! Very helpful to know you are still alive after cooking in it all these years! :)
            Mine has quite a bit of crazing (tiny little crack-like lines) in the bottom, too. Hope that doesn't create a problem of sorts. It's just recently been introduced into my kitchen, so I'm thinking I might take a photo of the interior now, and then maybe again in a month or so, after heavy usage, to see if there is any/much change. If no new chipping has occurred, I think I'll feel better about it.

          2. Le Creuset and probably Cousances before them used cadmium in their yellow, orange or red glazes. I'm not sure if it was also used in the interior glaze. I think Le Creuset themselves says that it's safe to use their pans even if chipped in a FAQ on their site. My main concern is what could leach into the food from the interior under glazes which are now exposed. I would give LC a call and see what they think 800-CREUSET..

            5 Replies
            1. re: blondelle

              The enamel on cast iron pans is simply a ceramic coating. Ceramic is fired at extreme temperatures so there is little chance of leaching as there is with pottery glazes which are fired at lower temperatures than ceramic.

              1. re: Caroline1

                Chemicals in the enamel DO leach which is why Le Creuset changed to a special enamel which doesn't leach cadmium for their yellow, orange and red shades. Their earlier enamel pieces used cadmium and they had to switch to this new enamel which contains the cadmium to conform to new government standards. You can read about it on their site where they answer the question as to whether their glazes contain cadmium.

                1. re: blondelle

                  Thanks. Years ago I did a lot of metal enameling, including scrolling on small bowls and dishes I've used for occasionally serving foods through the years. But my kind of metal enameling uses glass that is fused to copper using flux in very high temperatures. So far no one has dropped dead, but again, I don't serve things in or on it as often as I use my Le Creuset! I don't have any yellow Le Creuset pieces. Mine is all turquoise from the '50s! It appears regularly on vintage episodes of The French Chef on the Cooking Channel. However, I've never read anything about anyone getting sick from food prepared in yellow Le Creuset. I suspect one of those new government regulations cracking down on a few things for show while too many major things go uncorrected. It's the nature of the game.

              2. re: blondelle

                Mine's chipped too but it seems to be a real hassle to return, you don't know if they will replace it until after they get it so I haven't bothered, because I use it too much to sit around and wait for their decision. I have an outlet store 5 minutes away but they can't take it, you have to ship, and I can imagine how much that would cost.

                From what I understand, it is a double coat of enamel, and where mine is chipped, it doesn't look like metal, it looks white. Where the chips went, I hate to think, but what's done is done.

                1. re: coll

                  "Where the chips went," This too shall pass! :) JJ