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best cast iron pan, any price

erly Apr 22, 2011 08:25 AM

I just threw away my second Chinese cast iron pan.
Couldn't keep the rust away.
I purchased a Staub pan and after a dozen uses and oiling, etc.
it still sticks.
Not happy with Staub.
I have had a smaller Copco Cast Iron for 30 years and it is amazing.
Smooth as a coated pan.
Any suggestions would be appreciated.

  1. b
    blondelle Apr 23, 2011 06:42 AM

    Do you live in a humid area? Even if you dry the pan well, if not seasoned well, it can rust if there's a lot of moisture in the air, or there isn't much air circulation where it's stored. A 30 yo old pan has a good amount of seasoning on it which prevents rusting, so it's not fair to compare it to a new one.

    You might have to give the Staub more time to build up a patina that will aid in sticking. It will never be like a non stick pan though. The NY Times article recommended the LC fry pan though to use for eggs, but it takes a while to build up the coating to help with sticking issues.

    As mentioned, you do want some sticking to leave some fond to build a sauce with, so some is desirable. If you want to make eggs and fish, get one of the new non toxic green nonstick pans and just keep it for that use.

    I just went to a cooking class at WS that featured eggs. If you use an All-Clad pan properly eggs won't stick at all as they were sliding around the stainless interior, just like nonstick. I mention it because how you use the pan in terms of the temperature of the oil, the temperature of the food, and preheating also determines if it sticks or not.

    1. r
      Rick Apr 23, 2011 05:23 AM

      I think the reason you like your 30 year old Copco is because it has 30 years of seasoning on it! I'm perfectly happy with my two Lodge skillets. I use them several times a week and so far (about 5 months) have had no rust.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Rick
        Politeness Apr 23, 2011 10:57 AM

        So far as I am aware, the only cast iron cookware that Copco ever sold was enameled cast iron, which does not accept seasoning.

        1. re: Politeness
          Rick Apr 23, 2011 12:24 PM

          I have no clue as to that, from the OP's post it sounded like the Copco was plain cast iron.

          1. re: Rick
            Chemicalkinetics Apr 23, 2011 01:14 PM

            Somewhere in the conversation, I already suspected that it could be an enameled pan, and the original poster simply does not know. It is possible that it is a black mattee enameled cast iron cookware:



            This is why I repeatedly asked if the pan has ever been properly seasoned. I simply cannot envision a person with the sufficient skill to season a cast iron cookware would also toss out a pan at the first sign of rust on a towel.

            The fact that the original poster have described the pan as being very smooth, never ever rusted... etc and that the pan probably has never been seasoned at home leads me to question if it is a real bare cast iron pan. Alternatively, the pan has been very nicely seasoned out-of-the factory.

            Moreover, a true bare cast iron pan is actually grey, not black, so there is no way the original poster's cast iron pan is a true bare cast iron cookware.



            Either it is a black mattee enameled pan or it has been absolutely nicely seasoned. Either cases, the underlying problem cannot be solved by simply spending more money to buy the best bare cast iron cookware. Purchasing the "best" bare cast iron cookware ain't going to help the rust problem. The best cast iron cookware - rust, the worst cast iron cookware - rust. Rusting has nothing to be with being best or worst.

      2. t
        terlin Apr 22, 2011 09:46 PM

        Get vintage cast iron cookware such as Griswold, Wagner, etc. made prior to WWII.
        ebay is a good source if you don't find it at garage sales, swap meets, or thrift stores.

        1. Politeness Apr 22, 2011 09:43 PM

          erly, the Copco Michael Lax designed (enameled) cast iron was made by Morso in Denmark. Morso, a maker of cast iron heating stoves, was commissioned by the great Sam Farber (founder of Copco and, later, OXO Good Grips) to manufacture the Michael Lax designs for Copco. After Farber sold Copco, Morso exited the cookware business, but pieces of the Morso/Copco cookware regularly show up on eBay. You probably will have more luck on eBay using Michael Lax as a search term than by using Copco as a search term.

          For nonenameled cast iron, quite possibly the best cast iron that the world has yet to see comes from the Nambu region (a small area centered around Morioka) in northern Honshu, Japan. It is not far (but well inland) from the epicenter of the March 11 earthquake. The artisan craftsman (there are hundreds of small makers) of the Nambu region have been plying and perfecting their craft for over four centuries. The largest of the Nambu producers, Iwachu, is represented in the United States by Natural Import Company, http://naturalimport.com/shop_for_cas...

          1. s
            Sherri Apr 22, 2011 05:45 PM

            I've read the 26 replies and am still confused ...........................
            Nevertheless, with a cast iron - non-enameled - pan, I never use a dishcloth on it. To dry the pan after washing, I put it on a burner and heat it to evaporate any remaining water. Let it cool and put it away.
            No rust. No schmutz on the dishcloth.

            To cook, bring the pan to temperature, add oil/fat and I'm ready to go.

            1. e
              E_M Apr 22, 2011 05:27 PM

              FWIW, I have heard that Chinese cast iron is really made from melted down recycled used cars, ergo they contain impurities and who-knows-what.

              9 Replies
              1. re: E_M
                Chemicalkinetics Apr 22, 2011 05:34 PM

                :) That sounds like very environmental. I believe DeBuyer also makes their pan from recycle steel as well. In all honesty, the impurities (if any) actually make the cast iron less susceptible to rust. Pure iron and carbon combination of cast iron is very very easy to rust. So impurities are probably not the best explanation for a rusty pan.


                1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                  petek Apr 22, 2011 05:37 PM

                  Maybe it's time to switch to carbon steel pans?

                  1. re: petek
                    Chemicalkinetics Apr 22, 2011 05:38 PM

                    I do have a carbon steel pan (DeBuyer) or are you telling E_M to get a carbon steel pan?

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                      petek Apr 22, 2011 05:43 PM

                      No,not you Chem, I was suggesting the OP should think about switching.

                      1. re: petek
                        Dave5440 Apr 22, 2011 07:28 PM

                        I think they should just go with non-stick, to throw out a pan with from "detecting a bit of rust on the dishtowel" screams clean obsessed.

                      2. re: Chemicalkinetics
                        E_M Apr 22, 2011 06:09 PM

                        EM is searching high and low for a vintage cast iron pan, because she has found that they are considerably lighter than new ones. She has yet to find a DeBuyer carbon steel pan with a handle that won't give her carpal tunnel.

                        EM also suggests that the OP put the pan over a low heat for a few minutes to dry the pan completely.

                        She does admit to reading a whole lot of stuff, from sources both credible and not, and her only point of reference is her old car that rusted out on the bottom that the dealer bought as scrap metal to sell to a Chinese buyer.

                        1. re: E_M
                          Chemicalkinetics Apr 22, 2011 06:19 PM

                          Why do you talk like Bob Dole?


                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                            petek Apr 22, 2011 07:04 PM


                  2. re: E_M
                    Dave5440 Apr 22, 2011 07:52 PM

                    Cast Iron can only be made from recycled cast iron , pig iron , older engine blocks , some brake discs, to overly simplify!

                  3. srsone Apr 22, 2011 12:08 PM

                    regular cast iron...love my lodge pieces...

                    enameled cast iron...i only have a le crueset....

                    and like CK said iron will rust no matter who makes it or how expensive it is...
                    its all in the use and care...

                    20 Replies
                    1. re: srsone
                      erly Apr 22, 2011 01:29 PM

                      The Staub is enameled Cast Iron.
                      Wasn't aware that it was available without the enamel.
                      Yes eggs do stick, as does everything else.
                      I will reiterate, my Copco pan is 30 years old, and amazing, and has never rusted.
                      I just wanted a larger pan.

                      1. re: erly
                        Chemicalkinetics Apr 22, 2011 01:33 PM

                        "I will reiterate, my Copco pan is 30 years old, and amazing, and has never rusted."

                        Did you bought your Copco pan brand new? Or did you get it handed down from your parents?

                        Get a Lodge pan then if you want to get an American-made pan. Though I don't think a Lodge cast iron pan is any more "stainless" than Chinese made cast iron pan. I have both. I have two Lodge cast iron cookware and a Chinese made Calphalon cast iron cookware.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                          Dave5440 Apr 22, 2011 02:37 PM

                          If it's rusting all the time , either it's not seasoned or it's having the oil or grease washed away and stored wet or in a very damp place, even unseasoned with a smear of bacon fat won't rust for a very long time

                          1. re: Dave5440
                            erly Apr 22, 2011 03:00 PM

                            I purchased the Copco pan new 30 years ago.
                            I didn't mind the "sticking" with the Staub, it was just that it didn't clean up easily, and needed scrubbing, especially after searing a steak on it..
                            I did oil my Chinese pans, and always dried them well, but over a couple of years rust would appear.

                            1. re: erly
                              Dave5440 Apr 22, 2011 03:05 PM

                              You only use them every couple of years? or only oil them every couple years, I leave bacon grease in mine at all times and they never rust

                              1. re: Dave5440
                                erly Apr 22, 2011 03:45 PM

                                no they lasted only a couple of Years before rusting.
                                Sorry if I wasn't clear.

                                1. re: erly
                                  Dave5440 Apr 22, 2011 03:54 PM

                                  You should be able to clean the rust out there's a thread on here somewhere on how to do it

                                  1. re: Dave5440
                                    erly Apr 22, 2011 03:58 PM

                                    been there done that
                                    Spent so much time cleaning it the suggested way.
                                    In a couple of Months I detected Rust on the Dishtowel.
                                    That is when I tossed it.
                                    The Copco pans online don't look exactly like my Omelette Pan, which is all black.
                                    The back says
                                    Michael Lax Design
                                    I think that I will look for vintage Copco

                                    1. re: erly
                                      Bada Bing Apr 22, 2011 04:44 PM

                                      Something doesn't quite add up here in your descriptions, or is otherwise creating confusion in the responses.

                                      For one thing, enameled cast iron is, under any circumstances, a poor surface on which to cook eggs. (In fact, the propensity of enamel to stick is a selling point for creation of tasty browned bits--"fond.")

                                      And bare cast iron, Chinese or whatever, would probably rust just about the same. It's not high-tech gear. I wonder if your old Copco pan is simply a well seasoned bare cast iron, something that will always be superior to an enameled cast iron pan for non-stick purposes.

                                      About the rust: even cheap cast iron will not rust if it is cleaned after use and stored nice and dry. My approach is to wash the pan and then put it on a burner just long enough to FULLY evaporate any moisture. I don't oil the pan then, but instead before the next use.

                                      1. re: Bada Bing
                                        erly Apr 22, 2011 04:53 PM

                                        It is not enamel, and it has never rusted.
                                        It has with time become smooth, and the food and burned bits almost slide off.

                                        The Staub which I described is enamel.
                                        So I will simply try another Brand of plain Cast Iron, which is what my original request was for.

                                        1. re: erly
                                          srsone Apr 22, 2011 04:59 PM

                                          which u have gotten several replies to ...mine was for the lodge...

                                          but if u search on CH for more than 5 minutes u can find many,many heated debates about cast iron,enameled,seasoning,use and care,cleaning even rust removal...
                                          so even a simple question about CI will garner several heated responses...
                                          especially when u say "mine rusted so i threw it away"
                                          thats just asking for it on here

                                          1. re: srsone
                                            Dave5440 Apr 22, 2011 05:02 PM

                                            when u say "mine rusted so i threw it away"
                                            thats just asking for it on here

                                            It sure is

                                            1. re: Dave5440
                                              Chemicalkinetics Apr 22, 2011 05:19 PM


                                              "In a couple of Months I detected Rust on the Dishtowel.
                                              That is when I tossed it."

                                              I think a bit of rust here and there is acceptable for cast iron cookware. One simply has to remove the rust with a soft brush or paper towel and then reseason it. It does not sound like we are talking about real deep rust, just some very minor rust which shows up on the towel, but visually difficult to see by eyes.

                                              This reminds me a rather funny ads I saw on Youtube. At 7:05 min, Noel said, "...When my knives become dull, I just buy new ones..."


                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                Dave5440 Apr 22, 2011 07:41 PM

                                                Geez all the time I wasted sharpening , I could have just bought one of those!!!!

                                                1. re: Dave5440
                                                  Chemicalkinetics Apr 22, 2011 07:46 PM

                                                  :D I hope you are teasing because I cannot imagine one of these electric sharpeners can match the results from your manual sharpening

                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                    Dave5440 Apr 22, 2011 07:48 PM

                                                    Oh yes I am kidding, I thought you would pick up on that

                                                    1. re: Dave5440
                                                      Chemicalkinetics Apr 22, 2011 07:51 PM

                                                      :) I was pretty sure, but I just want to be sure.

                                          2. re: erly
                                            Bada Bing Apr 22, 2011 05:00 PM

                                            Clear enough, then. I think that people (I, at least) think of cast iron meaning bare cast iron, unless otherwise indicated, so the comparison of the Copco and the Staub is apples and oranges.

                                            I own some Lodge and other pans, which predate the new "pre-seasoning" that Lodge does on everything now. Get any bare cast iron pan. There are some brands that go for a smoother initial surface, but I don't own them and cannot speak from experience. Many folks here seek out vintage pans to restore and re-season. It takes some real time to get the pans to be egg-ready.

                                            There is a Cooks Illustrated story on how to season a cast iron pan. This Chow discussion treats the method:


                                        2. re: erly
                                          Chemicalkinetics Apr 22, 2011 04:50 PM

                                          This may sound like a stupid question, but have you "seasoned" your cast iron cookware?

                                          Most today bare cast iron cookware have a preseaoned coating which will last a few months to couple of years, but it may not last much longer. If you have never "seasoned" the cast iron cookware, then this explains it.

                                  2. re: erly
                                    Chemicalkinetics Apr 22, 2011 03:12 PM

                                    Do you have a photo of your Copco pan? Does any of these look like yours?


                                    Many Copco pans are enameled.

                          2. d
                            DougRisk Apr 22, 2011 10:29 AM

                            When you say Staub, do you mean Cast Iron or Enameled Cast Iron, because, I was not aware that they made non-Enameled Cast Iron Cookware.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: DougRisk
                              Chemicalkinetics Apr 22, 2011 10:51 AM

                              I bet the original poster meant the enameled cast iron. My take is that the original poster has experienced problems with the regular bare cast iron cookware due to rust and also experienced problems with the enameled cast iron cookware due to food sticking to the surface.

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                DougRisk Apr 22, 2011 11:58 AM

                                OK. Because, if you try to make Scrambled Eggs in an Enameled Cast Iron pan/dutch-oven, with the normal amount of butter and heat, it will stick. I understand that you know this, but I felt the need to say it for Erly.

                            2. j
                              j8715 Apr 22, 2011 10:19 AM

                              cast iron isn't going to be REALLY non-stick like teflon until many many uses.

                              you need to think of it more like a grill. you put in something and don't touch it and when its ready to move, it will release. cast iron requires a level of patience.

                              1. Chemicalkinetics Apr 22, 2011 08:51 AM

                                " just threw away my second Chinese cast iron pan.
                                Couldn't keep the rust away."

                                I really don't think the best cast iron pan has anything to do with this. A better and more expensive cast iron pan is more beautiful, more smooth and constructionally more durable... etc. These properties will benefit the pan in an array of aspects. However, the best cast iron pan will rust just like the cheap ones. Cast iron is cast iron, and it can rust. If you want to look for a smoother cast iron pans, there are certainly some, especially the vinetage ones.

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