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Is a vintage Lodge cast iron skillet better than a new one??

There are so many cast iron skillet posts, I hope this doesn't get lost but I haven't seen my question addressed. I want a cast iron skillet but have read so many posters saying " Don't buy a Lodge! Save your money and buy a Griswold! My Lodge was never as good as the Griswold or Wagner! I regret buying a Lodge! You'll never get the seasoning right! "

OK, OK, I hear you loud and clear. Apparently, I better not buy a Lodge. But, after checking every antique store, thrift store, Good will store, thrift shop, second hand store, and consignment shop, all I've seen is one Lodge pan in an antique store. But, unlike the newer pans, this bottom of this one was almost as smooth as glass and quite clean in general. So my question is this: Since Lodge has been making CI skillets since 1896, could this have been a vintage skillet made decades ago and made just as well as the Griswolds? Or have the Lodges always been made inferior to the Griswolds.

I would appreciate your thoughts, all you cast iron experts.

Thanks!

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  1. The new Lodges suck because the "iron" and or the casting method changed about 40 years ago. Buy a Wagner or a grizwald or even a no-name. I was at the Long Beach swap meet (3rd Sunday) and there were 2 vendors there with pretty nice ci. It should be smooth as glass. You will love it and you must treat it lovingly. Look on ebay. I've gotten a couple nice chicken fryer pans there.

    48 Replies
    1. re: SamVee

      The new Lodges suck because the "iron" and or the casting method changed about 40 years ago.
      Really? Explain.

      1. re: Dave5440

        There is plenty of information about older cast iron vs newer cast iron all over CH. I'll leave it to you to do the searches. Some of us prefer the older CI for various reasons. I find the older skillets to be better balanced, and the Griswolds have nice pour spouts. The Lodges are made in the USA, are bulkier, and are harder to handle in general. I believe the difference is mainly in the thinner sides of the older skillets. The finish on the Lodges is also rougher.

        1. re: sueatmo

          The iron sucks and the casting method has changed? is what I want an explanation for. The older and vintage pans are smoother because they have been USED for 25~100 yrs they weren't that smooth when they were made, as for balance and weight that is probably true, but the weight has been explained already.

          1. re: Dave5440

            My understanding is that they were machined smooth at the factory.

            1. re: will47

              :) I think Dave was asking the obvious. Of course, the casting method is not worse, and it is doubtful that the iron ore is the reason. He was just curious how SamVee came to the conclusion of 'The new Lodges suck because the "iron" and or the casting method changed about 40 years ago. '

              P.S.: Will, I agree with you. It is just a difference in the finish.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                I do think it's likely that there may be some differences in the source of raw material and / or method of refining between then and now; however, I'm definitely not qualified to speak to what those differences might be, or to assert that the material used was better "back in the day". While people do say this from time to time, I have not seen anyone provide any kind of evidence to support that claim.

                Having owned both a relatively recent Lodge and as well as a Griswold (not sure if it's pre-takeover) and an older no-name skillet, I do think there's "something" about the older pans. Whether it's the years of seasoning (unlikely, since both of mine were stripped and re-seasoned pretty thoroughly), the raw materials, the method of manufacture, thickness, or simply the way it feels in the hand, I do prefer the older pans. I would still advise someone looking for a cast iron pan to seek out a vintage pan if possible... I'm not one of those people who needs scientific proof or needs to know the exact reason.

                I think someone indicated before that the casting method has, in fact, changed - they said that sand molds used to be used. Actually, I believe this is still the process used for some cast iron, such as Staub, but I doubt it's what Lodge does.

                1. re: will47

                  "I do think it's likely that there may be some differences in the source of raw material and / or method of refining between then and now"

                  What are the likely differences? And do you think these likely differences contribute to the differences you observed?

                  "...the method of manufacture, thickness, or simply the way it feels in the hand, I do prefer the older pans.

                  Prefer the older pans because of what?

                  Because it is thinner? Because it feel nicer in your hand? Or because it has a smoother finish? None of these has anything to do with the casting process. SamVee stated that the new Lodge cookwares suck because the iron has changed and because the casting method has changed, so it would be important (and necessary) to justify such claim.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    Oh the good old days chem, the good old days!!!!!

                    Still waiting for an answer on the sucky iron and sucky casting methods

                    1. re: Dave5440

                      This is where I got my info on the "change in cast iron and cast iron manufacture". But I suppose anyone can post any thing on the web. I know I don't have 72 years to make a pan smooth. I know I've bought a couple New Lodge pans and sent them off to the goodwill as I cannot deal with a rough surface. Let me know what you think 20 years from now. http://blackirondude.blogspot.com/200...

                      1. re: SamVee

                        Bad link (it does not work)

                        "I know I don't have 72 years to make a pan smooth"

                        So your definition of a good cast iron pan vs a bad one is simply based on their smoothness? If so, the older cast iron cookwares were smoothed by hand, not from the casting process and not from cooking it out.

                        1. re: SamVee

                          >I know I don't have 72 years to make a pan smooth.<

                          You say this like it must be smooth to be useable. So not true.
                          Also it doesn't take 72 years or even 7 years to make it smooth.

                          I have new Lodge CI less than 5 years old that is smooth. And I don't use it everyday either, nor was it sanded off to be smooth. It is just wear and tear and seasoning layers. I had them totally non-stick after proper seasoning and the second use. Done this in a weekend.

                          No big deal.

                          1. re: dixiegal

                            I had a Lodge CI for probably at least 7 years with fairly regular use, and the bottom surface never smoothed out at all. Not even a little.

                            And, while my seasoning may have not been perfect, I never was able to cook eggs on it very well. I've had better luck cooking eggs on a smoother cast iron skillet or on carbon steel.

                            1. re: will47

                              Just reprep the surface with steel wool and lots of kosher salt. Dry it well, then get it VERY hot on the stove - to eliminate ALL residual moisture.. Turn off the heat, coat inside with canola oil and cover with foil and let it sit. The foil will contain 97% of radiant heat. After 30 min, wipe it down, Get it really hot again and do this one more time. It will be very non-stick afterwards.

                              1. re: jkling17

                                Here is a site with some interesting details on seasoning a cast iron pan

                                http://sherylcanter.com/wordpress/201...

                                Flax seed oil. Now I need to look for Flax seed oil

                            2. re: dixiegal

                              I have two Lodge Dutch Ovens. One I use a bit more often but not regular-regular (once a month or so). The other one I have recently stripped of the seasoning and rebuilt it. There are noticeable difference in term of the smoothness of the two cookware. So using it does make the surface smoother.

                              People know me, know I like my carbon steel DeBuyer pan. It has a very smooth surface and very easy to season. It took me about several usage to get a brand new cast iron skillet to get to a fairly nonstick surface, while my DeBuyer only took one seasoning session. So I know a smooth surface is easier to season and there is a reason for it.

                              That being said, there is advantages of the rougher surface of the cast iron cookware. It preserve the seasoning surface better. Whenever I cooked acidic or watery dishes, my carbon steel pan would lose some of the nonstick seasoning property and I would need to do a quick stovetop seasoning (5-10 min) to rebuild the seasoning surface. I don't rarely have to do that for the rougher cast iron because there is a deeper surface of seasoned surface.

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                I have always thought in the back of my mine that the roughness of the pan would help with seasoning layers staying on. After all when you finish surfaces for painting, the first thing you do is "rough it up" before applying the paint, varnish, or whatever.

                      2. re: will47

                        " I do think there's "something" about the older pans. Whether it's the years of seasoning (unlikely, since both of mine were stripped and re-seasoned pretty thoroughly), the raw materials, the method of manufacture, thickness, or simply the way it feels in the hand, I do prefer the older pans. I would still advise someone looking for a cast iron pan to seek out a vintage pan if possible... I'm not one of those people who needs scientific proof or needs to know the exact reason."

                        Agree totally.

                        1. re: will47

                          I would almost bet my paycheck lodge uses sand cast. simply from the rough surface

                          1. re: Dave5440

                            Dave,

                            I am very sure that you are correct.

                            1. re: Dave5440

                              If you look at their website they'll tell you and show you a video about how they use sand mold to cast their cookware. No secret there.

                            2. re: will47

                              "I think someone indicated before that the casting method has, in fact, changed - they said that sand molds used to be used"

                              Will,

                              First of all, can you tell us how different casting (like sand casting) will improve the overall quality. As far as I understand, sand casting is the cheap way to go. So I like to understand why sand casting is better.

                              Second, Lodge (vintage or modern) cast iron cookwares are made from sand casting.

                              "Lodge Process:

                              Cast iron cookware is produced in a sand-cast process. Quality cast iron requires sand molds made under high pressure so that their shapes can be precisely controlled. In addition to careful attention to the metal used in cast iron, it is also important to control the components of the sand, which include clay and water.

                              Patterns are pressed into the sand and the molten iron is poured into the resulting cavity. As the iron cools to its solid state and becomes a cooking utensil, the sand mold is broken apart. The sand is cleaned off the utensil. It is then smoothed and packed for shipment."

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                The sand is also reused , being the green here and all, the sand is also green, literaly

                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                  I didn't say that different casting, different metal, or anything else, would improve the pan's quality. I simply said that it's very likely that raw materials and / or production methods have changed in one way or another over a period of 100 years. That's not based on any scientific insight, but just common sense. Whether or not many of those changes have to do with any of the reasons why I prefer the older pans is impossible to say, and, frankly, uninteresting, and not worth arguing about on the Internet.

                                  And just to be clear, I was *not* trying to argue that any such changes are necessarily responsible for one type of pan being superior to another, or that one type of casting is better than another. I am neither a metallurgist nor someone who works in a manufacturing plant. I use a cast iron pan in my kitchen at home, and from that perspective, I can tell you what I like. I don't need scientific facts to back it up, nor do I feel that much curiosity about the exact reasons why I prefer one or the other.

                                  1. re: will47

                                    "I didn't say that different casting, different metal, or anything else, would improve the pan's quality"

                                    I know you didn't, but you were involved an existing conversation which it did.

                                    "I simply said that it's very likely that raw materials and / or production methods have changed in one way or another over a period of 100 years."

                                    Correlation does not make for cause-and-effect. Yes, something must have changed over time, but like you said, that it is just facts of life. Why bring something up if it has no contribution and can cause confusion. We know there are more vaccines out here today than 100 years. We also know there are more reports of mental illnesses today than 100 years ago. Putting these both statements in a single paragraph is not a good idea, and certainly saying "mental illnesses went up when vaccination was given" can be very misleading. Do you not see the same problem of trying to say "vintage cast iron cookwares are much better" and "iron casting methods and iron content have changed over the years" right after one and another?

                                    "I was *not* trying to argue that any such changes are necessarily responsible for one type of pan being superior to another"

                                    Then, why bring it up if you don't think there is any relationship? It can cause confusion. What about statements like cast iron cookwares were better before the fall of Soviet Union? There are suggestive implications (intentional or unintentional) when of two events are mentioned together.

                                    "I can tell you what I like. I don't need scientific facts to back it up, nor do I feel that much curiosity about the exact reasons why I prefer one or the other."

                                    So you don't explain why you prefer one? Not because the vintage cookwares are smoother or that they are lighter? You just prefer vintage cast iron cookware like a person prefers red color? If so, then you should understand that is such preference is very subjective, and do not translate. Some people like red and some people like blue.

                                    No one says you cannot like vintage cast iron cookware much like no one can say you cannot like red color. I certainly didn't say that. If you really prefer vintage cast iron cookware like you prefer a color (no explanation is needed), then there is no need to give extra explanations/statements which you don't even believe in like "casting method has changed" or "iron content has changed". If you are going to mention them, then people are going to ask about them. It is just something very simple. You cannot mention something and then be surprised that other people ask about it. If I said that "cast iron cookware were much better made before the presidency of Bill Clinton". People will ask what does his presidency has to do with cast iron cookware. I probably should not be surprised and replied, "I didn't say Clinton presidency is the cause. I simply said that something likely must have changed before and after his presidency and that is just common sense. I don't know if those something has anything to do with the cast iron cookware. Why are you all asking me about this?...."

                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                      I will add that yes casting and the metal itself has changed,, but for the better, just like cars are better than a 100yrs ago. Why would one assume that it would get worse? Where's the common sense in that?

                            3. re: will47

                              I wonder how they machined, meaning sanded or real machining such as milling.

                            4. re: Dave5440

                              >The older and vintage pans are smoother because they have been USED for 25~100 yrs they weren't that smooth when they were made,<

                              This has been my thoughts as well. My grandmothers and grandmother in-laws, used their cast iron skillets every single day, at least twice a day. Then at least once a year if not more, these skillets were thrown in the fire to burn off the built up grease on them. They were scrubbed inside and out, and metal utensils were used on them. Between all the heat and the scrubbing and rubbing, it doesn't take long for these pans to be completely smoothed out, both inside and outside. The heat over time, would aid in smoothing out the roughness.

                              I have one very old unmarked Lodge pan. I believe it is lodge because it matches all the description of old lodge panes that did not bear the marking of "LODGE" on it. Not to mention it is shaped and feels like all my other marked lodge skillets.

                              Now this pan is very smooth inside (just like my 30 year old dutch oven) the outside does have some roughness too it. Some ever so faint, smooth shallow bumps. It is slightly lighter in weight than my new cast iron skillet of the same size.

                              If these new lodge pans were treated exactly as my grandmothers and great grandmothers used theirs, they would be both slick as glass on the inside as well as slick as glass on the outside, in no time at all.

                              In this day and time and with our modern stoves, our CI isn't exposed to the treatments of the vintage and antique cast iron.

                              Have mercy, there is no telling the cast iron skillets of old that were used as a weapon as well. LOL Such as chasing dogs off the porch, vermin out of the chicken coop and whopping drunk husbands up side the head. :o)

                              I don't for one second believe that the new lodge ci is inferior to the old lodge ci as for as the way they are made. The main difference is that the new CI doesn't have the history or the wear and tear of the old. Nothing wrong with the quality of new Lodge cast iron.

                                1. re: dixiegal

                                  I may be a little late to the party but this is what it says on the Lodge website: they stopped polishing the cooking surfaces of the pan because it was not necessary. I have two signature series fry pans and have zero problems of regrets with them.
                                  There is no other difference in how the pans are made today vs how they were made for the last 100 years.

                                2. re: Dave5440

                                  I have one Wagner Ware and one no name (that I can discern) fry pan. Both are over 30 years old; both were smooth as glass when I got them new. I have two dutch ovens; both 'no name' , both bought new, one smooth as glass one 'pebbly'. I use all 4 of these pans a lot. The pebbly dutch oven will never be smooth by any stretch of the imagination. I could never cook an egg on it and get it out of the pan still looking like an egg. I will never believe that years of use makes pebbly surfaces as smooth as well machined (take that term for what it's worth) surfaces. At least, it hasn't happened for me. I'm just a little concerned that all the 'younger' cooks out there are allowing themselves to buy 'pebbly' surfaced CI cookware thinking that in a few years it's gonna be 'smooth'. I think great disappointment is in store. That is not to say that well seasoned, pebbly surfaces cannot be used at all. Just my opinion.

                                  1. re: rosemarie365

                                    >I could never cook an egg on it and get it out of the pan still looking like an egg.<

                                    This sounds as if you have not actually tried to cook an egg in this pan.

                                    I have had my lodge dutch oven for about 30 years and it is now smooth as glass on the bottom.(and has been for some time) As are the skillets that I got about the same time. I seldom use the skillets anymore because I prefer the helper handles on my new ones. Once again, the pebbley bottom is not what is causing anything to stick.
                                    I suspect the problem with sticky cast iron has to do with improper seasoning and/or cooking technique. For those that were raised and experianced in cooking with non-stick cookware, adjust ing to cast iron cooking takes some effort, for it is different.
                                    I well remember the learning curb it was for me to learn to use non-stick cookware and to this day I have not mastered frying anything in a SS pan. Everything I fry always, always sticks on me. I gave up years ago. I see on these boards that others fry things in their SS without incident, so I am guessing it is me not knowing how to do it.

                                    I scramble and fry eggs in my bumpy cast iron all the time without a bit of problem. But I do have problems if my skillet is not the right temperature and it must be properly oiled, greased, or buttered on the bottom. (I actually don't usualy use butter because I am bad to scorch it.)
                                    Perhaps CI is easy for me because that is what I learned to cook in.
                                    I actually have a pot of green beans and hog jaw boiling in my smooth 30 year old Lodge dutch oven as I type this. I am the only owner of the pot so it has become smooth only with my use and sometimes abuse. :o)
                                    For my CI is scrubbed and scraped with metal spatulas, spoons and SS pads on a regular bases. And re-seasoned with a new layer of baked on lard as often as I see fit. I ocasionally fix tomato based stuff in this dutch oven too. But probably won't much anymore since I have my, oh so lovely, LC enameld dutch oven.

                                    1. re: dixiegal

                                      It would only make sense that the iron alloy now is far different than what it was 50+ years ago. The testing done now would be worthless if this were not the case. Now, does this mean better quality? No. It will be more consistant, but this testing has allowed for finite refining of the viable alloys to be produced. Reducing expensive alloy components with cheaper chemicals and elements is also the goal. Cheaper usually means what?

                                      My vintage Griswald and Wagner stuff is just easier to use than my modern Lodge. Always yielding better pan sauces and easier to harvest suc from. They clean easier. Best of all... they have history. They were not made to fill a cult role in the world of culinary implements... they were made to be used by everyone, everyday. There were many companies producing it and when there is competition, quality goes up.

                                      As for seasoning goes... flax seed oil will give the best results. It is the only food grade oil that I know of that dries completely when it polymerizes. It gives a nice deep black finish that is very durable. 5 coats will do you.

                                      Find a flea market or hunt the rummage sales. That's much more fun than going to Walmart. You will get better quality than modern Lodge and save more than what you spend in fuel (for now). Stripping and reseasoning a pan will make it yours and make you love it even more. Anybody can go buy new Lodge.

                                      1. re: Abaris

                                        >As for seasoning goes... flax seed oil will give the best results. It is the only food grade oil that I know of that dries completely when it polymerizes.<

                                        I don't understand this. Do you mean that as opposed to those that are not dry, as in soft, sticky, what?

                                        I use lard, bacon greaes, and/or crsco shortening, and mine are perfectly dry and black as if you had painted it with black paint. So I don't get it..........

                                        1. re: dixiegal

                                          If your iron is shiny... it's not dry.

                                          http://sherylcanter.com/wordpress/201...

                                          Read and learn.

                                          After trying this method from the posted link... I was blown away. I stripped all of my iron and reseasoned it with flaxseed oil.

                                          The only downside is when anyone sees your iron... they will want you to do theirs. I just did an SK that my Mother found second hand. It's a pre-Lodge and has a heat ring. Nice pan, but I'll take my Wagnerware any day.

                                          1. re: Abaris

                                            What I learn from Sheryl cantor is that she prefers the way her skillet looks after seasoning it by her method. She seems more concerned with how he pan looks than how it performs. I know she likes the way her skillet performs with this method, but I think that is because her skillet now looks like she thinks it should.
                                            I have skillets that look like both of those skillets. The first skillet looks like my lodge skillet that is in the early stages of seasoning and I did not wipe off enough grease before putting it in the oven. The second skillet, hers with the flax oil, looks like all of my vintage and non vintage lodge pans that are well seasoned with pork fat.
                                            In fact, that second skillet looks like any ci pan I could find in my mother in laws cabinets, my mom's cabinets or that we're in my grandmother's cabinet. Non of these women would even know what flax oil was.
                                            But hey, if flax oil works for you, I say use it.

                                            1. re: dixiegal

                                              As a classically trained and educated Chef in the French school... I know my way around cooking processes and variables. The amount of suc a cooking surface retains and how easily it gives it back for intricate saucework should also be considered. A pan seasoned with flax oil seems to hit the sweet spot for me. I know that the suc will release easily and the seasoning will not have to be scrubbed with a wisk. And my sauces never taste like 'the pan' like the way is has with other seasoning methods. The fact that they look kick ass is only a bonus.

                                              If yer just slingin bacon, eggs and the occasional pork chop... anything will work for seasoning. But if you intend to harvest the suc (fond for the uninformed) for saucework... the expensive flax oil is recommended by this Le Cordon Bleu grad. Or if you just want your iron to perform as close to a non-stick pan as it can. And I trust science over what worked for Gma. Flax oil produces a harder surface and has all of the chemical properties that make the polymerization results completely dry. It has the proper iodine value and omega 3 fatty acids that make this happen. Animal fats just don't, anymore (I doubt that they ever did). In a world with voodoo food like pigs that are fed pork protein and chickens chicken protein... you can't count on the chemical values in their rendered fat to be what they were when they were fed a natural diet. I will tell you this... the pans just perform better. If using flax oil was more difficult instead of how it is drastically easier... I would still use it. Believe me... at $16 for a 12 oz. bottle... I would be the first to use lard, but it's worth the $$. I would spend more if I had to.

                                              1. re: Abaris

                                                Well Abaris, I respectfully bow and step aside. For I am not a classically trained chef. Heck, jam not a chef at all, but I guess I could be considered a trained cook as in hand me down skills from those before me. But I really do appreciate the explanation on why the fuss about flax oil as seasoning.
                                                Though I rarely cool or eat pork anymore, I do cook eggs with coconut oilost everyday. As a special treat I do make white gravy for biscuits. This gravy is wonderful in my cast iron. Other uses is sautéing and roasting vegetables. My cast iron is perfect for that. Breads are also wonderful in my cast iron. The ci Dutch oven is for chicken and beef, stews and soups.
                                                I agree with you about the meats we eat now. Grass fed beef and free range chickens are the way to go. As well as wild caught fish. I concentrate more on veggies now. For me, meat is just a little side dish now

                                                1. re: dixiegal

                                                  Yes. Veggies are extyremely important and very few people know how to prepare them properly. I tend to use my Calphalon for most vegitable cookery.

                                                  I use my dutch oven for most of what I do with CI. I have an old Wagner that is a deep skillet, kinda like a dutch oven, as well with it's Drip Drop lid.

                                                  I didn't mean to come off as snotty... but it seems as though you have not tried flax oil. Without actually experiencing how it works... it's kinda rough to have an informed opinion on it. I am very sceptical by nature, and this was one case where something worked well beyond what I had hoped for.

                                                   
                                                  1. re: Abaris

                                                    >but it seems as though you have not tried flax oil.<

                                                    No, I have not tried it. I have tried other oils though and did not like them. Except for peanut oil, I really liked the seasoning finish with that. But went back to lard and crisco because of a grandbaby with peanut allergies.

                                                    Nothing against the flax oil, but I just can't imagine it being any better than what I have. I have considered trying it, out of curiosity, but haven't for several reasons.

                                                    1- I don't know if I would need to strip my pans down. if so, that is a lot of work to start over.
                                                    2- Flax oil is rather expensive to experiment with.
                                                    3- I don't like the taste of flax oil and feel like it might pass on some flavor to my food. I feel like the pork does this, but it could be just the smell that makes me think this. I like the smell of bacon and pork and my pans smell good when they are warming up. While I expect I am wrong about the flax oil, I am thinking that I just would not enjoy using it, smelling it, and tasting it. Sort of like using Omega 3 fish oil to season my pan. I just don't think I would care for it.
                                                    To me, these pans can hold and pass on smells and flavors. I just prefer something that I would like to flavor food with.

                                                    But if I could just apply the flax over the top of the seasoning layers that I have, I might try it on one pan. But if I didn't like it, I don't know what I would do with the rest of the flax oil. I guess I could take it as a supplement if I could get it down. blek.......

                                                    I am in the process of trying coconut oil on one of my pans. It is over the top of the lard seasoning layer, so I will see how it goes. I don't really like using the lard that I have, because it is store baught and full of nasty preservatives. Our groceries don't carry just plain pork fat, so that I could render my own. All they have is smoked pork fat meat for seasoning. Which also has preservatives.

                                                    I would really llike using the peanut oil again. But I just don't know if that would be a problem for those allergic to peanuts. I wonder if once it is baked on as a seasoning, if maybe it would not be a problem.

                                                    1. re: dixiegal

                                                      I've tried flax seed oil and it added zero benefit.

                                                      Primary seasoning only provides a base for additional seasoning to be slowly added as the cookware is used. Unless someone is cooking with flax seed oil each time they use the cast iron, in a relatively short period of time they are cooking on the polymerized leavings of the oils and fats they cook with daily.

                                                      So they are only using flax seed oil as a starter base - and that base is eventually covered up with other polymers.

                                                      IMO using flax seed oil is a lot of effort for very little long term return as the surface that the food rests upon will end up the same for most everyone, reflecting what was cooked in the pan... Not what was used as primary seasoning.

                                                      1. re: slowshooter

                                                        But isn't the base seasoning the foundation. Like a foundation on a house. If it's shaky the whole house is in jeopardy.

                                                        1. re: scubadoo97

                                                          This is my impression as well. If the base seasoning is questionable, then everything else on top of it is insecure.

                                                          1. re: scubadoo97

                                                            Of course. But I don't consider a properly applied crisco seasoning insecure - and since, with appropriate care, it can last a lifetime I am not sure why anyone else would either.

                                                            YMMV.

                                                            1. re: slowshooter

                                                              There are many ways to accomplish the end goal. Do what works for you, since it works. Obviously that's why there was no benefit with the flax for you. The key words in your post was properly applied. You appear to have the technique down pat.

                                                              There have been several post recently about failed seasonings so I recommended one method that has worked for me which has shown to be quite effective and which might work for the person having problems.

                                                              Flax produces a very hard coating which when applied correctly can be a great base from which to build from.

                                                              No question, cast iron skillets have been around longer than commercial flax seed oil. But just because lard was used in since the 1700 to season a cast iron pan doesn't mean there may not be a better way. Just saying

                                                              1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                Completely agree.

                                                                I found no benefit because at my house there was no difference between using grapeseed, flax, crisco, lard, olive, fat or coconut. They each take time (some more than others) and effort to get right.

                                                                I found that after a few weeks they all functioned the same.

                                                                For those new to seasoning I always recommend using crisco because it's the easiest thing to procure and apply. Also, after one or two rounds you can get cooking... Getting sea legs with something like crisco will also make folks more comfortable with the process - and the investment in time compared to a marathon flax seasoning session is smaller. If folks want to move over to flax seed oil, it's a snap to burn off the crisco seasoning in the self cleaning cycle and start from bare metal.

                                                                For me, having a good base is critical. But since my base doesn't get burned off, decay or otherwise get thin (and is covered eventually with the oils I cook with daily) flax seed oil only means more time laying down a base layer, with no measurable benefit when I cook.

                                                                Flax is certainly not a worse way to go than Crisco, it might even be more durable... But since durability isn't a problem here, I won't spend additional time with it.

                                                                One thing I have noticed is that folks tend to be religious about how they season. I can explain why I do must do certain things (extremely hard water, galvanized pipes and humidity) but everyone will do what is best for them and eventually create their own religion around how they get their CI up to snuff. What works for at my place may not be worth diddly on the other side of town, state or country.

                                                                I can't say my way is the "only way" or the "best way" - it's just what works for me in terms of investment vs return.

                                                                1. re: slowshooter

                                                                  Canter's article has always rubbed me the wrong way on many levels. A search of flaxseed oil in four major search engines resulted in linseed oil being listed no lower than the 2nd result. Exact results were 3 engines listing it as number 2 and 1 listing it 1st. A quick glance would lead many to believe flaxseed oil and linseed oil are one in the same, which is not the case. Canter points this out but not in the same manner that she wants to tell people they have been seasoning their cast iron the wrong way.

                                                                  The common fats, shortening and cooking oils used to season cast iron are difficult to find in forms that aren't fit for human consumption. Linseed oil can be found in various forms that are not designed for human consumption.

                                                                  Canter's willingness to throw around terms such as drying oil and polymerization are nothing more than attempts to justify her "science". Linseed oil doesn't need an oven to achieve polymerization. It occurs at room temperatures why is one of the reasons it is used to protect wood. It is safe to handle after it has dried but most people don't dine on a diet of furniture or sides of barns.

                                                                  I find the inspiration for the article similar to humans using horse liniment on themselves in the 1970s. The "If it works on this then it should work on that" mentality fails in that as far as I can find no studies have proved this usage safe. I could find many industrial coatings that would probably give outstanding results when applied to cast iron, the problem is that either the companies that produce these coatings feel they are unsafe for human consumption or do not feel the cost to prove these coatings safe is worthwhile.

                                                                  Canter's own bio http://sherylcanter.com/background.php does not indicate any expertise in chemistry.

                                                                  1. re: SanityRemoved

                                                                    Let me guess... as Greenland and Antarctica melt away... you are still in denial of Global Warming. Cuz "Gpa and Gma never had to deal with sumthin' like that". As Continents vaporize before your eyes...

                                                          2. re: slowshooter

                                                            >So they are only using flax seed oil as a starter base - and that base is eventually covered up with other polymers.<

                                                            I wondered about this too. I think given enough time, most any food oil or grease would do. I have been studying the flax oil thing, and I just do not see those pans any different from my own. I think I can cook anything in my traditional oil/grease seasoning than I could with the flax oil.

                                                            I can scrape, scratch and wisk rue into gravey or sauce in my CI without a hitch. I can even cook tomato based things in my older more used CI.
                                                            My aunt used to make caremal icing for her jam cakes in her cast iron lard/bacon/crisco shortening coated CI skillet. It was wonderful and she was known all over out town for her caramel icing and often taught others how to do it in the CI skillet.

                                                            Anyway, my skillets are very black, slick and the only thing more non stick would be teflon. The only time I have ever lost my seasoning was with a new lodge when their factory seasoning turned lose form the pan, or it I left an empty pan on a burner or stove too hot, for too long. Every day use, my seasoning is sound, but the seasoning process continues on, as is the norm for bare cast iron cooking.

                                                            And another note of unstable based seasoning layers. Most any vintage cast iron you find is going to be layered with lard, bacon grease, shortening seasoning layers. Anyone that has tried to get those layers off, knows just how stable those layers are on that pan.

                                                            When I bake 6 layers of lard or crisco in a 450 to 500 degree oven for an hour, I too see a black pan come out that looks just like the pictures I see on this computer.

                                                            As we like to say where I am from....'there is more than one way to skin a cat' and that saying applies to CI preparation, maintenance and cooking.

                              1. Don't know if I qualify as a cast iron expert, but I have at least four vintage Griswolds (large and small logos) and a couple of vintage Wagners, all found at flea markets and yard sales. Yes, they have thinner walls (so are lighter in weight) and smoother surfaces than modern Lodges, but if you want or need cast iron and Lodge is what you have ready access too, I wouldn't recommend going nuts trying to get the vintage stuff. You can buy Lodge now for cheap (try Wal-Mart), and get your heirloom Griswold later. That being said, vintage cast iron often goes for acceptable prices on eBay; and as SamVee says, it doesn't even have to be brand-name. Do a little research online and you'll find plenty of info and advice. Good luck!

                                1. Here is the way I see it. Cast iron is cast iron. They are not really different. The only argument to get a vinegar Griswold over a modern Lodge is that the Griswold has a smoother surface and thinner. This is really just personal. A thinner cast iron cookware is easier to move and heats up faster, but the heat is less even. A smoother surface is easier to season initially, but it is much harder to scrap off seasoning from the rougher surface.

                                  If you really thinking about a smoother surface cast iron, but could not find one, then I suggest to look for carbon steel cookware. Carbon steel cookwares are made thinner and has perfectly smooth surface, just like any stainless steel cladded cookwares you see at stores.

                                  15 Replies
                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                    CK: "Cast iron is cast iron. They are not really different. "

                                    Yes and no. Depending upon where the ore was mined, different iron castings may have different impurities (substances other than iron and carbon), and different proportions between iron and carbon, which -- at least theoretically -- may give the castings different cooking properties (thermal conductivity, porosity, etc.). An analogy would be the differences among various sea salts (fleur de sel from northwest France, flor de sal from the Algarve in Portugal, Maldon salt from England, Trapani salt from Sicily, etc.), all of which are at least 96% NaCl, but, because of different impurities, taste different from each other

                                    But -- back to cast iron -- no manufacturer gives a full specification of the impurities or of the precise iron to carbon ratio, and in these days of rationalized commodity markets, it is likely that any current manufacturer's products vary slightly from batch to batch. And, like you, I do not know if it makes any practical difference.

                                    To the OP Ritcheyd: you might also look into the nickel impregnated Olvida cast iron cookware, http://www.olvidacookware.com. That new cast iron possibly may be better than vintage cast iron.

                                    1. re: Politeness

                                      Yes, you are correct that different cast iron cookware can be different. However, when we are talking about seasoning an cast iron cookware. The impurities in cast iron have little play. The impurities can contribute the hardness and the toughness of a cast iron cookware, but it should not affect how cooking oil polymerized on it. In any case, I doubt the older Griswold cookware were made from a more pure form of iron.

                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        CK, I think that the OP's question was not limited to matters of seasoning.

                                        I, too, doubt that the older Griswold cookware was made from a more pure form of iron; but I am not sure that purer iron is better for cooking, either. After all, without the carbon that dilutes the iron's purity, the cookware would not even be cast iron. Returning to the sea salt analogy, it is exactly the impurities that cause some cooks to prefer some kinds of sea salt over pure NaCl.

                                        The "right" impurities very well could improve the cooking qualities of cast iron cookware, but I am not about to venture a guess what impurities (other than carbon) might make for an improvement over pure iron.

                                        1. re: Politeness

                                          Ok, I don't mean 100% iron. I meant anything beside iron and carbon and silicon. Pure iron is soft.

                                          "I think that the OP's question was not limited to matters of seasoning. "

                                          But what else can there be beside the whole "vintage cast iron cookwares are easy to season due to smoother finish"?. I would be very surprise if anyone claims the vintage cast iron cookwares conduct heat better or retain thermal energy longer.

                                        2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                          Nickel has always been added to CI , as far as being impregnated with it I call marketing BS. Here's a description of what nickel does in CI

                                          Nickel is one of the most common alloyants because it refines the pearlite and graphite structure, improves toughness, and evens out hardness differences between section thicknesses.

                                          1. re: Dave5440

                                            :) I didn't know about nickel. Thanks. Still, are people really concern that Lodge cookwares (or whoever) do not have the optimal amount of nickel and therefore not being tough enough? Unlike knives, I don't think many people concern about having tougher cast iron cookware.

                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                              I don't think CI needs to be all that tough either but people buy into BS quite willingly I've found. If you've every been whacked over the head with a CI pan you'd agree it's tough enough. I noticed there was a patent pending on the super nickle CI, what a joke, if you add too much nickle to CI , it's not CI anymore.

                                        3. re: Politeness

                                          But -- back to cast iron -- no manufacturer gives a full specification of the impurities or of the precise iron to carbon ratio, and in these days of rationalized commodity markets, it is likely that any current manufacturer's products vary slightly from batch to batch. And, like you, I do not know if it makes any practical difference.

                                          That is out and out wrong, there is a very precise chemical composition for every type of cast iron and if a manufacturer sells nodular cast iron it HAS to conform to the proper chem make-up or it can't be sold as whatever kind of iron it's supposed to be.
                                          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cast_iro...

                                          1. re: Dave5440

                                            As your own post says, "... if a manufacturer sells nodular cast iron ..." But we are not talking about nodular cast iron; we are talking about generic cast iron cookware, and nothing in the world prevents a cookware manufacturer from buying cast iron from several cheap lots offered on the spot market the day the manufacturer decides to buy, even if they are dissimilar, and using them together to make cast iron cookware.

                                            1. re: Politeness

                                              All CI has to conform to it's spec sheet , generic CI as you call it also has it's precise specs or it can't be called cast iron. And just for reference almost all of cast is made from scrap cast , off hand I don't remember why but there has to be a minimum percentage of scrap in each heat, and scrap is the cheapest you can buy on any given day anywhere . As well if you made a pot out of all scrap the end user would never be able to tell.

                                              1. re: Dave5440

                                                Again, we are NOT speaking of sales to manufacturers. We are talking of sales to consumers, who do not care whether the cast iron of the skillet is a mongrel of several distinct cast iron specs. If you combine one type of cast iron with another type of cast iron to make a bastard cast iron, you may sell the resulting mix to consumers as cast iron. As you point out, "if you made a pot out of all scrap the end user would never be able to tell," but one batch may differ from the preceding batch or the next batch. And (therefore) a pot cast from the first heat may have different cooking properties from a pot cast from the second heat.

                                                1. re: Politeness

                                                  I give up, You think the manufacter oders a load of CI and they remelt it?Or they get an order of molten CI and they pour it, OMFGAUFS

                                                2. re: Dave5440

                                                  Hi, Dave 5440:

                                                  I'm late to this one... Just out of curiosity, what is the spec sheet range for nodular CI? Do the alloyants vary much? In all the "engineering toolbox"[es] I've found, there really aren't any variants given (unlike steels); it's basically "grey cast iron". Fungible as hell.

                                                  I would think that, if there *was* any/much variation, someone (LC or Staub or Paderno or Paula Deen(!)) would be touting their formulation over everyone else's. You think?

                                                  Aloha,
                                                  Kaleo

                                                    1. re: kaleokahu

                                                      Nodular CI is part of the group of irons called ductile iron , it's not so much a special formula but controlling the microstructure "as cast" It can be accomplished through heat treating but is easier through the addition of nodulizing elements. You can read the full article here

                                                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ductile_...

                                                      My thoughts are that LC and Staub make a killing on their plain CI, it really is cheap to produce

                                          2. You know, you could buy the old Lodge since it looks good. It probably isn't very expensive. Just use it till you find a Griswold or Wagner. You might want more than one anyway (I have four) and there is no reason for you to do without a CI skillet.

                                            In searching for an old skillet, don't forget to ask your older or elderly relatives. I have an elderly friend who put her CI out on the curb to get rid of them. Also, check Craigslist.

                                            But if you go ahead with the old Lodge, you can get started right away. Just keep your eyes open for a vintage piece.

                                            Also, I wanted to add this: one of my skillets is a vintage no-name, and it works as well as the Griswolds.

                                            1. This is where I got my info on the "change in cast iron and cast iron manufacture". But I suppose anyone can post any thing on the web. I know I don't have 72 years to make a pan smooth. I know I've bought a couple New Lodge pans and sent them off to the goodwill as I cannot deal with a rough surface. Let me know what you think 20 years from now. http://blackirondude.blogspot.com/200...