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Mar 7, 2011 09:48 AM

French steel?

Is French steel the same as carbon steel? I asked someone if they carried carbon steel fry pans and she told me they're called french steel,When I asked if the pans were made from carbon steel I got the same answer,French steel. Is she right?

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  1. Most steel that isn't stainless is carbon steel (or sometimes called high carbon steel). A French company de Buyer is one of the better known producers of carbon steel cookware, and may be why this person insists on using the term 'French steel'.

    1. This is rather amazing to call carbon steel as French steel. Yes, I think this person is referring to carbon steel. Either this person does not know what carbon steel is, or she thinks it sounds more prestige to call it French steel.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        I think you're both right,but I've decided to go to my local Chinatown to do my shopping.Way better prices.

        French steel..oohlala!! :D

      2. most likely they don't really know anything about metals. At the most basic level you could divide steel into carbon steels, stainless, and alloy steel. Stainless steel you can tell right away by putting a magnet on it, alloy steels you can tell because they are very expensive and would be a total waste for a skillet, the rest are carbon steels.

        2 Replies
        1. re: j8715

          Stainless may or might not be magnetic - this is discussed a lot in the induction burner threads.

          Actually any steel is an alloy. Carbon steel has carbon to improve strength (ductility in particular). Stainless has additions like chromium to protect it from rust. What you call alloy steels are alloys intended for specific industrial applications, such as jet engines (where high temperature strength and corrosion resistance are important).

          1. re: paulj

            paulj: "...any steel is an alloy." Yes.

            If you want to drive yourself crazy sometime, get into what spark patterns different alloys throw from the wheel.

          1. re: Dave5440

            Dave 5440: I think 'crude' steel is the first product after solidification, i.e., ingots or semis, raw steel sold for reprocessing. I don't think its a French thing.

            1. re: kaleokahu

              Hey I didn't write it , market research numbers

              1. re: Dave5440

                Hi, Dave5440: And fine numbers they are, too. But those are national production numbers, not a steel alloy. Those numbers merely break down all of French production into raw steel and furnace iron percentages. I don't think they have anything to do with what the OP was told was "french steel" pans, except perhaps where the steel was smelted.

                French steel is not a different specie than carbon steel. The OP was puffed and misinformed by the sales clerk.

                1. re: kaleokahu

                  Not only was I puffed but i was also chuffed as well. :)

          2. All kidding aside apparently a frenchman was the first to discover stainless steel, here's an excerp from the article
            " The corrosion resistance of iron-chromium alloys was first recognized in 1821 by French metallurgist Pierre Berthier, who noted their resistance against attack by some acids and suggested their use in cutlery. Metallurgists of the 19th century were unable to produce the combination of low carbon and high chromium found in most modern stainless steels, and the high-chromium alloys they could produce were too brittle to be practical".
            This could be an old school reference to "their" invention
            This is a good read too

            13 Replies
            1. re: Dave5440

              Well, then, under this theory, perhaps carbon steel is different than French steel, but I think that was 'way over the head of the clerk who was "educating" the OP. And even if not, she/he would have said "No, it's stainless steel." Don't you think?

              1. re: kaleokahu

                They did it again +6 ,frig, so most sales clerks will/can only tell you what they were told, none of them care or are interested enough to ask or research on their own about the product they are selling, To prove the point go into a knife shop and inquire about a product they don't carry, if someone there knows what you are asking about ,and has ya thats a great_____ "but this ___ is better because it's_____ ,,you found a place to do business with.I had a recent experience when I ordered my miyabi mc, the owner of the "gourmet" shop said "why the hell do you want that, they even discontiuned it in canada", By the way Kal where do you live? and while i'm at it the mods are looking at everything I post , Mods tell the powers that be , that a private message button would be a great addition, might even save you some work

                1. re: Dave5440

                  Dave you can't win a nickle!! LOL.I think you might have a world record on your hands.
                  The woman I spoke to sounded like she wasn't having the best of days..Oh well off to Chinatown to procure my french steel/carbon pans :)

                  1. re: Dave5440

                    The easiest way to exchange email is to put your email in your profile, either under your "blog" or "address". I actually understand why CHOWHOUND does not have the private message option because it can lead to abuse. For example, everytime you ask about a sharpening stone, 10 people PM you and try to sell you their products.

                    I have certainly seen knives described as German steel and Japanese steel because it helps to sell products. They don't really say a whole lot really. French steel would simply mean the steel is made in France -- as far as I can guess. I do agree with Kaleo. Petek asked the sale clerk if it is a carbon steel pan, the sale clerk should have at least said yes or not, instead of repeating "French steel". Maybe Petek should have changed the question to "Will it rust then?". Then again, the sale clerk may say something like "It is made in France."

                    By the way, what got discontinued? I didn't know Henckels Miyabi got discontinued or do you mean just the Miyabi "MC"?

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      The can. distribruter dropped the mc and mcd lines, and Petec did you make it to the show? I think I gained 10lbs so much food, i'm awaiting +7

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        Thanks for the tip Chem. I don't think I'll post my email address on here.It wasn't just what she said,but how she said it like I was bothering her.Their loss not mine.

                        1. re: petek

                          Thats why I didn't post it either, did they finish spadina yet? driving in is such a pain in the &&& anymore

                          1. re: Dave5440

                            I usually TTC it.Spadina is way too busy, regardless of construction.

                          2. re: petek


                            I understand. I think she probably chose the worst possible answer. She could have said "It is stainless steel" or "It is carbon steel" or "I don't know, but I will look for the answer for you" Of course, like you said, it is almost always the tone more so than the words.

                            1. re: petek

                              What was the original store you went too?

                              1. re: Dave5440

                                Dave: It was Nella on Queen St east.I called first,then decided not to buy from them.

                        2. re: Dave5440

                          Dave5440: Yes, clerks in chains and box stores who barely make a living wage, and who may not have much experience or education, tend to just regurgitate. They are not trained to answer salient questions. Frankly, even many kitchen store owners know only what the manufacturers put in their literature and manuals.

                          I'm in Seattle. Yeah, a PM button would save *everyone* a lot of work, but then the community would be deprived of reading your thoughtful input.

                          1. re: kaleokahu

                            would be deprived of reading your thoughtful input.
                            They are anyway, some of my posts only lasted minutes, soooo touchy