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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.


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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


                                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


                            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"


                              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.


                                          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.


                                                            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.

                                          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?


                                                    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


                                                      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...

                                              1. Well I make perfect eggs including omelets with no added fats to the pan in my Griswold all the time. I don't even want to think about doing that in my Lodge pans.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: rasputina

                                                  I can and do eggs in my new and old lodge all the time,

                                                  1. re: Dave5440

                                                    Dave, I do eggs in my new Lodge pans too. Honestly, it is no big deal. Folks, quit being so spooked about the new lodge CI until you try it. It's like pre-judging people until you get to know them.

                                                    The only trouble I had with the new Lodge was when I baught my first one that was pre-seasoned. When I seasoned over the top of the seasoning that came over it, it all flaked off. But once I scrubbed it all off and started new, it was great.

                                                    Also, just because the pan is pre-seasoned does not mean it is ready for use. Because it isn't. Several layers of seasoning needs to be applied first, then you will be good to go.
                                                    The roughness does not cause the food to stick. Lack of proper seasoning causes the food to stick as well as not having the skillet the proper temp when you put your food in.
                                                    My new and rough textured cast iron is so slick that I have trouble getting my spatula under my eggs to flip them over. The eggs just keep scooting away from my spatula and runs up the side of my skillet.

                                                    1. re: dixiegal

                                                      Honestly, it is no big deal. Folks, quit being so spooked about the new lodge CI until you try it. It's like pre-judging people until you get to know them.

                                                      Oh so true

                                                2. First of all, a big Thank You to everyone who posted a reply. And while I appreciate everyone's opinions and thoughts I think we sort of veered off of my main question which was about an older (possibly vintage) Lodge pan. Nodules?? Graphite?? Alloyants?? I really don't know about the mineral/chemical composition of the pan. I just wondered if an OLDER Lodge pan might be as easy to season as a Griswold or Wagner.

                                                  And thank you to sueatmo. I appreciated your response to a different post on a seperate thread. None of my elderly relatives have cast iron anymore so that's out. While I'll keep looking for the Holy Grail ( A Griswold for cheap), I think I'll try the Lodge and see what happens. Whats the worst that can happen?

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: Ritcheyd

                                                    Save your pennies so when you find a Griswold you can POUNCE! And in the meantime enjoy your vintage Lodge.

                                                    1. re: Ritcheyd

                                                      I believe the older Lodge pans are said to be quite good. I'm surprised that so few people picked that up from the original question, but I would definitely pick up a vintage Lodge pan if I came across one.

                                                      1. re: Ritcheyd

                                                        Also agree your strategy is sound. I have 4 old cast iron skillets in 3 sizes. Two are lodge, two are no-names. They all are well seasoned and work wonderfully. Season yours and use it frequently, especially for nice fatty applications such as frying up bacon. Save your pennies so you can invest in a griswold in due course if that is what you want. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good, as they say.

                                                        1. re: Ritcheyd

                                                          I agree with getting the vintage Lodge. I've got CI skillets of varying sizes and ages, no name, Wagner, etc. and all look as if they began with a machined cooking surface. I also have a newer (maybe 15 years old??) Lodge fryer that looks like a saucepan with a basket inside, about 2.5 qt or thereabouts, and it definitely has that pebbled finish that we're all complaining about. I think my CI grill pan also has pebbled finish but smooth tops to the grill ridges. It is also less than 20 years old, so I gather at some point the machining gave way to the less refined, pebble finish--although aren't they all sand cast? Not everyone has the money or luck in their relatives to be able to acquire a vintage CI pan, you sometimes have to work with what you've got. It seems to me that, given proper seasoning and using enough fat in the beginning should give you an acceptable, if not ideal, skillet. You may not be cooking eggs, but burgers will be great. And definitely check out carbon steel pans, you can achieve a finish like glass with them. Less weight, less heat retention, more responsive. Good luck.

                                                        2. OK. After my last post I was depressed but the last 4 posts have me all excited again.

                                                          " Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Hey, tcamp, who said that? That's one of those quotes that I need to write down.

                                                          So I guess I'll buy that old Lodge and give 'er a try. And I'll post back and let you guys know what happened in a week or two.


                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: Ritcheyd

                                                            I don't understand why you need to be depressed. There is nothing wrong with the Lodge cast iron cookware. People shouldn't get depressed or excited just because of numbers of people agreeing with them. That would be simply going along the masses without a true opinion of yours to claim. If the Earth is round, then it does not matter if 1% of people believe it or 100% people believe it, it is still round.

                                                            I use a carbon steel wok for Chinese cooking. I had used Teflon frying pans to do when I was young, and I know for a scientific fact that carbon steel woks offers advantages over the Teflon frying pans. After Cook Illustrated published that nonstick skillet is better for Chinese stir fry, numerous people also bought into this idea and telling people that Teflon skillets are the best tool for stir frying.


                                                            Should I be depressed? No, because I know that Cook Illustrated got it very wrong on this.

                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                              Perhaps "depressed" was a bit strong. I was just frustated because I felt like I had opened a can of worms because several posters were getting somewhat "testy" with each other and rather technical which would be fine, but only several posters had opinions about my original question about an older (vintage perhaps?) Lodge vs. a newer Lodge. I was just wondering if there was even a difference.

                                                              And then I was all excited because four people in a row had actually given me their opinions in a positive way. It wasn't about "agreeing with me" because I didn't have a position -I had a question!

                                                              But thank you anyway, Chemical. I did appreciate your info. This is why I love the Chowhound boards. The rest of the world could not care less about cookware, but on here we can all give our opinions and people will respond without their eyes glazing over with boredom.

                                                              By the way, one poster suggested buying cast iron pans from Olvida. And I intend to. Just as soon as I win the Lottery !!

                                                              1. re: Ritcheyd

                                                                I honestly think the old Lodge is fine -- that is a direct answer.

                                                                The reason I got technical is because I want to explain/understand why people like the older Griswold. If the main reason is because of Griswold's smoothness, than a smooth surface Lodge (old or not) will do the same, right? If the main reason is some special chemical or some unusual casting, then the old Lodge will not be the same as the old Griswold.

                                                                Now, I understand other posters love their Griswold and also understand that casting has changed and iron content has changed, but I believe those are unrelated events. Just like my silly example that cast iron cookware were better made before the presidency of Clinton. Yes, I know it is silly. It is to illustrate a point that two events happen and be unrelated.

                                                                So long story short, I think the preference is due to smoothness, so your old Lodge is fine.

                                                                "people will respond without their eyes glazing over with boredom"

                                                                You won't know even if it happens :)

                                                            2. re: Ritcheyd

                                                              Voltaire. Yep, I trot that one out pretty often. My kids *hate* it.

                                                            3. Is'nt Griswolds owned by T-fal?

                                                              1. I don't know anything about cast iron composition, or sand casting or what have you. I did, however, buy two new (gasp!) Lodge skillets a few years ago. They were pre-seasoned (double gasp!) and cost me under 20 bucks.

                                                                They cook flawlessly. I can happily make anything I want in them - eggs, pancakes, etc and never had any sticking problems.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: serah

                                                                  "They were pre-seasoned "

                                                                  Did you strip the preseaoning or did you start right away? I actually had trouble (sometime) with the preseasoning. Like the primer in painting, an unstable layer of preseasoning will make everything on top of it unstable as well. So I usually strip the preseasoned surface off and start off my own.

                                                                2. I own 3 Lodge pieces: 10" and 12" skillets and the 5 quart dutch oven. And I use them all regularly - they are GREAT. The skllets are my workhorses when I don't need non-stick (eggs and crepes) and the dutch oven is my perfect sauce creater - the high sides keep the splatter where it belongs and the heavy iron allows me to have superb temperature control.

                                                                  Do I have anything for comparison? Uh no ... but I have been cooking for over 30 years and got these only 2 years ago and they have changed my life - for the better!

                                                                  Now granted I'm 6'6" tall and 200 pounds so to ME, these aren't overly heavy but I could see that being the case for someone else.

                                                                  1. I have new Lodges as well as old Wagners and Griswolds. I cook in all of them, and they all cook well and were all easy to season The advantage to the new Lodges is that they are cheap and readily available in a variety of sizes and shapes, so why not try one? Yes, the interior of the new Lodges is a bit rougher than the vintage models, but I've not found it to be an issue. I would advise staying away from new made-in-China cast iron - the pans I've seen were very rough and looked badly cast.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: lawhound05

                                                                      Now that's the best answer to date

                                                                    2. This is the OP here with an update. I bought the Lodge and so far so good. After 2 days of soaking in Easy-Off she's lookin' good. I rinsed it off first and then scrubbed all the dissolved gunk off. I then scrubbed it down with a green scrub pad with dish soap. So now the inside is near pristine save one wierd little coin-sized burned on black splotch on the side. But the outside still has some really black patches of build-up so I'm giving it a couple more days of soaking. I suppose I don't really need to worry about getting the outside of the pan perfect but since I have soak it to get off the weird spot anyway, I guess I might as well try to get the whole thing as clean as possible.

                                                                      Incidentally, the reason I think is must be vintage is because the Lodge name on the back ISN'T their usual logo (the Lodge spelled in block letters with the O shaped like a frying pan). It just has the word LODGE on it. And as I mentioned, the inside is just too smooth to be recently made especially after I've removed all the previous seasoning. I think I'll try to get in touch with the Lodge people and ask them if they know anything about their previous logos. I like to try and find out approximately when this thing was made.

                                                                      Stay tuned for future updates!

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Ritcheyd


                                                                        This is a cast iron forum, where there are Lodge collectors. You might want to register and ask questions there. Have fun! Finding a new obsession is always rewarding. And, if you find out any good stuff worth sharing, please do.

                                                                        1. re: sueatmo

                                                                          Thanks, sueatmo, for the link. I was all hepped up until I got to the site and found out that I can't register with an AOL address. So I'll have to get a new seperate account to register and I'll let you know what I find out.

                                                                          And while I didn't actually get in, there was a section for Lodge collectors. And apparently all Lodges records were destroyed so they're trying to "put back together their history".

                                                                          This thread ain't over yet. Stay tuned!

                                                                        2. Aside from physical sizes, wall thickness and surface finishes, I believe the newer CI cook ware may be slightly better due to improved melt/remelting processes that remove metallic impurities. This in turn minimizes microscopic internal voids tending towards a more uniform heat distribution. In summary this is known as, "picking fly sh*t out of ground pepper"!

                                                                          1. OK, guys. Here's the update: I soaked the old Logde in Easy-Off for several days, scrubbed it down to the bare metal, and seasoned it in the oven per another websites directions and it was looking pretty good.

                                                                            In my first post I had mentioned that I couldn't find a Griswold or Wagner, which was why I was settling for the old Lodge. But then I heard that there was a midweek flea market a couple towns away. I thought it couldn't hurt to just go and look. So I go to this one table full of old junk and happen to notice undeneath the table, a box full of old, rusted cast iron pots and skillets! So I started digging through and found a #10 and #5 Wagner and casually asked him how much he was asking. He goes, "Oh... a couple bucks each." So I gave him 4 bucks and happily sauntered off. All the others were no-name skillets. Then today I started to think about all the other pots and skillets which might actually be worth something all cleaned up. So I went back but he wasn't there. But as I was wandering around I saw a guy witha big tarp on the ground with all kinds of stuff and found a number 7 GRISWOLD !!! And he only wanted 8 bucks. So I finally found 3 great pieces for 12 dollars. So I guess the moral of this long post is that if you look long enough you just might be able to find a few good pieces out there.

                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Ritcheyd

                                                                              Just curious... What process do you use to restore the rusted cast iron? I see skillets, Dutch ovens, etc. at antique stores all the time, but have never purchased one since I'm not sure how to "fix" the rust issue.

                                                                              1. re: Ritcheyd

                                                                                Excellent hunting. Have fun restoring your CI. You have saved treasures from the dump.

                                                                                1. re: Ritcheyd

                                                                                  Are you willing to share the location of your "mid-week" flea market?

                                                                                  1. re: Ritcheyd

                                                                                    Have you checked ebay prices for Griswold? The prices are astronomical, like in the thousands

                                                                                    1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                      Collectible antiques can go for a lot of money, especially if they're in mint condition, but there are plenty of usable pans (Griswold / Wagner as well as no-names) in the range of $20-80 (or even cheaper if you happen across a great deal), as long as you don't mind some utensil scratches or other minor cosmetic flaws. I have heard there are some fakes and overpriced items on eBay, so it might be safer to check local flea markets, estate sales, Craigslist, and so forth. I have also had some success on the Griswold / Wagner forum.

                                                                                      I paid about $30 for a #8 slant logo Griswold in Oct. of 2010. The bottom is a little beat up, but overall, it was in good shape, and is really a pleasure to cook with.

                                                                                      Also, there are old pans from other manufacturers or unmarked pans that are frequently available even cheaper.

                                                                                      1. re: will47

                                                                                        I have bought a Griswold via ebay and it was an unpleasant experience, and I haven't bought anything since. If you go that route, I'd doublecheck that the skillet is perfectly level before bidding. These skillets do get warped, so in lieu of handling it yourself, I'd ask questions up front. Otherwise I think these are findable locally, as you say, if you look in a determined fashion.

                                                                                  2. My lodge pans that I got early in my marriage (25 to 30 years ago) were brand new at the time. They are "slick as glass" now.(and no, I have not used them daily by any stretch of the imagination) My lodge pans that I baught about 5 years ago, are now very close to being "slick as glass". (Just a few smooth bumps left on the bottom. These are not used daily either. Sometimes not even weekly) With that said, even in there newer and not "slick as glass" stage, my eggs were still sliding right out as if the pan was "slick as glass".

                                                                                    As for vintage cast iron. They can be great or not so great. Some vintage pans are very worn and some can be damaged, either from use or abuse, or both. Sometimes you don't know about the damage, (cracks, pits, warping) until you get it home and clean it up. There can also be weak places that you can't detect until they give way. For me, it is sometimes worth the risk, just to have and use a piece of history. But most of my everyday cast iron that I use, are lodge pans that I aquired brand new in the last 1 to 7 years, because I like the helper handles on the skillets. Many of these within the last 1 to 5 years, because I have been giving my older (but not antique) cast iron to my children as they move out.

                                                                                    And yes, cast iron pans can and do wear out over many years of use. I was with my grandmother in-law when her very old and used cast iron skillet gave way in the bottom while she was frying chicken. Yep, she had worn a hole in her skillet. :o) So if this pan had been baught a month before the hole incident, the new owner of this pan would have experianced the pan wearing through. Also, many old cast iron pans are found in storage in basements, sheds, barns, under the house, chicken coops, etc. So these pans could easily have weak spots from rust and temperature changes over the years. Not to mention that they may hve been put in these places because they were damaged in some way.
                                                                                    Still worth the risk if they are not too expensive. Jjust something to consider when buying old cast iron.

                                                                                    I wonder how one determines one CI pan being inferior to another. Most everything I have seen posted on these boards about the different cast iron pans, has to do with prefrence. Such as weight and smooth or roughness of the surface of the pan.

                                                                                    I have not experianced one as better quality over another. Just the differences of weight, handles, texture,etc.

                                                                                    I like most all CI. But not attracted to the modern cast iron I see. Some of which are branded by the TV Chefs. I just don't like the looks of them.

                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: dixiegal

                                                                                      Thanks "dixiegal". I enjoyed reading your post. That was exactly my point in that I really don't know what I have until I get them cleaned up. But I figure for 2 bucks I'll take my chances! And that's why I was really leery about buying vintage pans on e-bay. (I've never used e-bay but the whole idea of buying something used from someone I've never met before over the mail just makes me nervous.)

                                                                                      Sam - Yes, I'll share my secret. I don't know where you live, but it's in Turlock, CA. I live in Modesto. Apparently, it's been there for years. Every Tuesday, rain or shine. I'ts about 1/3 farmers market, 1/3 merchandise ( mostly from Mexico from what I can tell), and the other third is your usual flea market stuff.

                                                                                      And Amy, I'm new to the whole restore/rust thing myself but on my vintage Lodge which wasn't rusty, I used Easy-Off oven cleaner. And while it took nearly a week and several applications of it, the pan came out surprisingly clean. Now, of my 3 news pans, only the smaller Wagner is super rusty. So I'm doing the Easy-Off thing on all three and to get off the rust, I'll be soaking it for several hours in a vinegar solution. ( But not too long because the vinegar will damage the iron. But apparently the lye in the Easy-Off is safe on it.) And then I scrub and rinse like the dickens to get all the Easy-Off off of the pan before the seasoning steps. Everything I'm doing is from what I've read on Chowhound and other Cast Iron websites. So we'll have to see what happens. I think this is kind of fun and exciting.

                                                                                      And a special thanks goes out to 'Sueatmo" who encouraged me from the this and another thread to hang in there and keep looking for that elusive Griswold. We'll see if it lives up to its' hype.

                                                                                      So I guess I'll report back when I get them cleaned up if anyone's still interested.

                                                                                      Thanks everyone.

                                                                                      1. re: Ritcheyd

                                                                                        Ritch, 2 bucks is definately worth it, no matter what you find after the clean up.
                                                                                        Many times you can truely turn out a diamond in the rough. Just adds to the excitement of uncovering a possible treasure.
                                                                                        Not to mention the hunt for the old cast iron is so fun. Much like antique furniture and the treasure you might find once it is stripped down to the bare wood.

                                                                                        Have fun on your CI treasure hunts and keep us posted.

                                                                                        Another thought on old Lodge. I am thinking that some of the old Lodge was not marked. I have a very old CI small skillet with no marking, that I would bet anything, that it is Lodge. For it is identical to all my newer lodge. Shape, handle, everything, (with the exception that it is smoother, like all old, heavily used old CI is.)

                                                                                        1. re: Ritcheyd

                                                                                          You are welcome. How is the cleanup progressing?

                                                                                      2. Going through the thread hurt my head:

                                                                                        1) Sand casting...to the best of my knowledge ALL CAST IRON IS CAST IN SAND MOLDS.

                                                                                        2) Lodge has not machined their skillets in a REALLY LONG TIME, maybe not ever. If you see a Lodge pan that is glass smooth, that is most likely because it has been used...and used...and used. And if you take care of it, will serve you well for a lifetime. Corrolary to this statement: old Lodge = new Lodge. (Griz andd Wagner machined the interiors of their skillets...smoke 'em if you got 'em.)

                                                                                        3) Pre-seasoning: uh, this is a GOOD thing. Strip it if you must. Hell, grind it, sand it, sacrifice virgins to it. My humble opinion is that you're wasting precious time and effort (not to mention, virgins) trying to remove the pre-seasoning.

                                                                                        10 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: MikeB3542

                                                                                          When you say machined, what excactly is "machined" I'm a machinist/mechanic and when I machine something you take a substatial amount of metal off, and in the case of CI it would be rendered useless for cooking , so I wonder is sanding "machining"

                                                                                          1. re: Dave5440

                                                                                            I have an old no name 6" skillet and it definitely looks machined and not sanded. From the center outward are circles of removed metal.

                                                                                            1. re: SanityRemoved

                                                                                              My guess is that you guys are all using different definitions. Some people will call anything using a power tool is machined. So one may call a powert sanding job as machining:

                                                                                              Other will call machining as drilling, cutting, ... something with significant redesign of the objects -- basically something will put you in front a drawing board or Auto-CAD.....

                                                                                              While I have played witha lathe with a cutting tool for steel, stainless steel, aluminum..., I have trouble believing that I can cut into a cast iron cookware without some bad things happening to cookware or possibly me (I used manual lathe, so I would be standing right in front of it...



                                                                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                I will attempt to photograph my skillet later today but the concentric circles are equidistant to the naked eye. This leads me to believe it is machined and not sanded.

                                                                                                And the possibility does exist that there were numerous accidents back when it was commonplace and may be a reason why Lodge doesn't do it. It would be interesting to know what set up was used due to the off balance nature of having a handle.

                                                                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                  Cast is generally very soft, once the crust is broken it comes off in almost a powder I wouldn't hesitate to stand infront of it.
                                                                                                  The weight of the handle wouldn't matter to much at 350~500 rpm

                                                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                    Automobile engines have been made from cast iron for years...and these castings are heavily machined. Think of all the holes that have to be drilled and tapped, surfaces where parts meet ground smooth and level, cylinders bored and machined smooth, cranks and cam shafts ground and polished on lathes (better shafts are forged, which changes the structure of the iron, but casting had been common since it is cheap.) .

                                                                                                    1. re: MikeB3542

                                                                                                      Cranks and cams are made of steel(forged or not) and in iron blocks the cylinders are sleeved with steel liners, all mating sufaces have gaskets and the water channels and galleries are cast in.

                                                                                                2. re: Dave5440

                                                                                                  By "machining", I mean that the inside cooking surface has been ground smooth...the surface no longer has the rough finish from sand casting, and it is smoother than Lodge which is shot-blasted, which is pebbly.

                                                                                                3. re: MikeB3542

                                                                                                  >Pre-seasoning: uh, this is a GOOD thing<

                                                                                                  I agree as long as it stays on. One of my new preseasoned pans turned loose of its pre-season and took all my hard work of seasoning on top, with it. I had to start over.:o(

                                                                                                  So for me, I scrub new preseasoned CI with a stainless wool pad (or even bake it off) before I start my own seasoning. I would rather do that than risk loosing my carefully applied seasoning. Then I might apply 5 or 6 layers of lard or bacon grease seasoning before I start to use it.

                                                                                                  Oh and to help the smoothing of the roughness, I use metal utinsals and often scrub with steel wool pads. This of course means that I have to re-season more often, but that just helps the pan along it's journey of non-stick perfection. :o)

                                                                                                4. This thread got me really interested in re-seasoning my Lodge Logic cast iron. I've got a few pieces that I bought new only 2-3 years ago. I've got the 10 and 12 skillets and the 7 quart dutch oven. The top is interchangable between the dutch oven and smaller skillet. The 10" skillet gets daily use.

                                                                                                  I took a look at some google links, youtube videos and even read what it said on lodge's web site. Sounds pretty simple ... I scrubbing with salt and steel wool for a while, gave it a good drying, wiped with canola oil and popped them into a 375 oven for 1 hour, opening down with foil underneath. THen turned off the oven and just let them slowly cool down on their own, oven door shut.

                                                                                                  Wow ... what a difference. I had to give them at least 1 more hit after the initial session but ... wow ... "the original non-stick". Ok ... I finally GET IT - thanks. My 10" skillet is used DAILY so I have season'd that one 4 times - twice in the oven with the other pieces and twice just on my portable butane burner (for much less time than 1 hour) - I just got them to 400+ across the entire bottom (measured with an infrared thermometer) coated them with canola, put foil across the top, turned off the heat and walked away. Super easy to do and they have taken on a super dark glossy look.

                                                                                                  Thanks everyone - my appreciation of these has been taken to a new level. I LOVE my cast iron that much more.

                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                      You are welcome. I did scrambled eggs today in the 10". EGGS! It really is non-stick now. I'm really impressed.

                                                                                                      1. re: jkling17

                                                                                                        Yep, it is all about the seasoning. Once you are able to get a decent layer of seasoning on these cookware, foods do not readily stick to them and they perform almost like nonstick cookware.

                                                                                                  1. This thread has gotten me interested in the idea of sanding/polishing compound-ing my cast iron pans and my griddle to get the cooking surfaces nice and smooth.


                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: AsperGirl

                                                                                                      My goodnes. How passionate folks can get about their CI. My favorite pan is a 10 1/2 inch chicken fryer bought on E-Bay for about $30. It's a Wagner, a little warped, but the oil still covers the bottom. Now to upset about half of you, I beat the he!! out of this pan. I wash it with soap, scour it with a pumice stone or sharp metal spatula and season it with beef fat. I think CI likes to be used. Just don't let you roomie put it in the dishwasher.

                                                                                                    2. Hi everyone. The OP here. I hope you all had a great Christmas. Here is an update on those cast iron skillets I got a couple of weeks ago.

                                                                                                      The small #5 Wagner was in pretty bad shape. I got all the gunk off but there was so much rust inside , it had eaten through some of the surface so I don't know if it's worth anymore trouble. Next was the big #10 Wagner. It cleaned up so beautifully, I'm thinking it's one of the newer ones made after the Wagner company was sold. Plus, it's quite a bit heavier and has thicker "walls" than some of the older ones. But the interior has a wonderful smooth surface so we'll have to see. And last of all, my baby, the Griswold #7. It's coming along nicely. But the problem is that it has so much burned on, stuck on, shiny black buildup, the Easy-Off is taking forever. But I think the problem might be that I'm doing this outside in the back yard and it's been so cold and perhaps that slows down the whole process. I've already put it through 3 separate applications over a week and a half. It's coming along, slowly but surely.

                                                                                                      Stay tuned...

                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: Ritcheyd

                                                                                                        "And last of all, my baby, the Griswold #7. It's coming along nicely. But the problem is that it has so much burned on, stuck on, shiny black buildup, the Easy-Off is taking forever. "

                                                                                                        If it still does not work, then just bake off all the burned on.

                                                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                          I thought about doing the oven cleaning method but I would have to leave in one of the racks with the pan on it and and the oven cleaning process will cause the racks to lose their shine, supposedly. So that's a no go.

                                                                                                          Unless I rigged up some kind of rack with metal scraps. Perhaps with some re-bar. Huh, hadn't thought about that...

                                                                                                          Although, someone had warned aginst that method saying it could crack the pan. I get antsy when people make dire warnings like that. I like to play it safe. I had thought about the whole battery charger/plastic tub/ process but that takes up too much space (and I don't have a battery charger).

                                                                                                          Incidentally, I don't know how to include links in posts but I like the "Black Iron Blog" website complete with lots of pictures. I use his process for cleaning my pans. Plus,I like his writing style. Check it out.

                                                                                                          I'll be back.

                                                                                                      2. I see the OP has already gotten some cast iron, but I'll throw my two cents in anyway :-) I prefer the vintage cast iron because it's lighter than the contemporary stuff. The walls of the vintage (what I have is Griswold ~1940's, I think) are visibly thinner. I bought this skillet for $11 at an antique store AFTER spending $$$$ on a Le Creuset skillet because I didn't realize it was black enamel on the surface trying to emulate the look of regular cast iron (WHY?? *eye roll*).

                                                                                                        It's true that the new stuff has a rough surface, as it is no longer machine smoothed. BUT! My father, who has cooked on cast iron for about 60 years, has no objection to the new Lodges. He bought one a year or so ago, and until I picked it up I mistook it for vintage, as the surface was glass smooth. He uses stiff metal spatulas and over a bit of time that wears down the finish to make it wonderful, like the vintage. So I completely agree with the poster who said not to go crazy trying to get vintage, unless weight is a concern. Your new pan will smooth from use as long as you use the nice metal spatulas like Dexter and not soft silicon or nylon ones.

                                                                                                        I have heard people say that the iron used post 1950's is not as "good". I don't really know what this means. Perhaps purity? And this may explain the difference in weight? Again, this is the only difference I see when using old vs new.

                                                                                                        I also want to mention that my father does not season his skillet! He uses it daily, dries it thoroughly, and puts it away. It does not have a shiny look but it also isn't rusty! Perhaps it's a bit like silver flatware: If you use it all the time, it doesn't tarnish...or maybe it's because he lives in AZ :-)

                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: 64airstream

                                                                                                          "It does not have a shiny look "

                                                                                                          It has a dull powdery look, right? That is actually better in my experience.

                                                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                            That's exactly it, Chemical. A bit like concrete!

                                                                                                        2. For all who are following this incredibly long post, I'm the OP with an update. Of those 3 pans that I got at the flea market, the little #5 Wagner that was so terrbly rusted is definitely too far gone. I got all the carbon and burned on junk off but even after a brief soaking in vinegar, it's just a mess. The rust had eaten through the iron. (Incidentally, it turns out it was a #6.) But it only cost me 2 dollars. So, you live and learn.

                                                                                                          Meanwhile, the Griswold is still soaking in new applications of Easy-Off. And, as an aside, I just found out that it's illegal to buy lye in California now. So that plan's out the window.

                                                                                                          On the bright side, I went back to the flea market and found 3 small no-name skillets but in relatively good condition,(smooth interiors), and not very rusty at all for a buck a piece. So we'll see how they turn out.

                                                                                                          And get this - I went to a thrift store which usually has nothing and found a cast iron cornbread stick pan - for 4 BUCKS! Just like I've seen in the books and on-line For me, this is really exciting. It's in very good shape but I'll have to get a brush to scrub out those nooks and crannies so I can give it a good seasoning.

                                                                                                          Well, time to check on my Griswold.

                                                                                                          Stay tuned.

                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: Ritcheyd

                                                                                                            Can't buy lye in Cali? How do you make pretzels now?

                                                                                                            1. re: MikeB3542

                                                                                                              I think you can still buy it; there are just more restrictions. From what I can read, the rules require companies to keep track of how much they sell to whom, to make it harder for people to use the lye to make meth.

                                                                                                              Easy-off is exactly lye, and you can still buy that here, can't you?

                                                                                                            2. re: Ritcheyd

                                                                                                              How wonderful that the thrift store gods smiled upon you! I went to three today and found 0 cast iron...not even wobbly stuff for me to reject. Send me some of your thrifting karma :-)

                                                                                                              1. re: 64airstream

                                                                                                                I strike out in thrift stores too, when it comes to kitchenware. I have found CI in junky antique stores from time to time.

                                                                                                            3. I have a 2 year old Lodge 12-inch CI frying pan. I love it. I cook eggs in it - no sticking. It came pre-seasoned, and I've touched up the seasoning a bit. I did find some variability in smoothness at the store (target), and bought the smoothest one I could find. They are cheap, and so worth the $$.

                                                                                                              1. I was at a hardware store to buy some Easy-Off . Yes, you can buy Easy-Off which does have lye in it. But I remember seeing Red Devil lye in even grocery stores years ago though not lately. But I thought I could use that as a cheaper alternative to the Easy-Off. So I asked the cashier who had no idea what I was talking about. He told me to ask one gal who was "working the floor". She had no idea what I was talking about - "Lime? Lye, what?" So she had to ask her manager, who had to ask the store director, who finally told me you can't buy lye in California anymore. I guess anyone younger than 50 has never had a reason to buy lye and therefore has no idea what it even is. I'm thinking you're right "will47". There are probably restrictions on buying/selling it but I didn't want to push the subject with that bunch. I probably wouldn't have gotten very far.

                                                                                                                Mike, I've never made pretzels. Where does the lye fit in?

                                                                                                                1. I like the SK skillets that don't have the Lodge Logo anywhere on them. The #3 and 5 have the rougher finish but the #6 on up have a smooth bottom like a griswold. The sks are harder to find but are cheaper than the griswold and wagners, and the pre lodge logos are more than likely at lest 50 years old and they cook great. I found mine on Ebay.

                                                                                                                  1. I have a cast iron skillet that was from my great grand-mother in which the bottom is smooth as glass, and a Lodge I purchased a few years ago that is textured on the bottom. I think the textured finish works much better. It's easier to cure, and nothing seems to stick to it. I think it's similar to a seersucker shirt- it has more surface area and therefore disperses the cooking heat very evenly. The Lodge is much better in my opinion. I'm not a Chef mind you, but I haven't even used the other skillet since we got the Lodge. Cast iron is cast iron!

                                                                                                                    1. After 30 years of cooking professionally I would like to consider myself somewhat of an expert on cast iron. In my kitchen we always cook on cast iron in the meat station, stainless steel in the veg station and on french blue steel for fish and eggs. I dumb it down a bit at home and consistently cook on cast for most applications.

                                                                                                                      In many of the posts that I have read people are using Easy- Off to clean up vintage pans. I am sure this can work with lots of elbow grease but I prefer putting them in a self cleaning oven for a cleaning cycle. Another equally effective option (if you live in the country) is to throw the pan in the coals of a well stoked fire and let it burn off for an hour or more. Both methods will bring the pan back to its original state and then its time to re-season.

                                                                                                                      My method for seasoning is to heat the pan over high heat and then throw in a handful of kosher salt, remove it from the heat, and rub it into the pan with an old cotton cloth then pour in olive oil and rub that it. Repeat four or five times until the pan takes on a well oiled patina. I rarely have to re-season my cast iron pans. I just use them frequently to keep them working well.

                                                                                                                      Another cast iron misconception is that you shouldn't wash a cast iron with dish soap and water. In the restaurant we always dropped them in the dish pit for cleaning. The main thing to remember is that the pan needs to be dryed thoroughly afterwards and oiled if nit being used immediately.

                                                                                                                      I have cooked on many brands of cast iron pans, vintage and new alike. I prefer the vintage and have spent alot of time searching flea markets and antique stores with great success. Prices range from $5 to $90 for small pans to top end dutch ovens. General Steel Wares out of London, Ontario produced an excellent quality pan for over 3 decades. They will have GSW cast on the bottom. I own and have cooked on many Lodge pans and like they way they work but find that the handles have a habit of cracking off under the heavy work of a commercial kitchen.

                                                                                                                      Hope this chef's prespective is beneficial.

                                                                                                                      1. Okay, I've seen enough speculation and conjecture to have almost no confidence is what several people are purporting to be gospel about Lodge cookware.

                                                                                                                        I don't have time to learn about the history of Griswold and which Griswold cast iron to avoid because it's crap.

                                                                                                                        I don't have time to drive around from place to place searching for old cast iron cookware simply to have a smooth bottomed pan.

                                                                                                                        I don't have the money to buy over priced junk on ebay and pay ridiculous shipping costs.

                                                                                                                        I do have time to go across the street to Walmart during my work break and buy a new 8" Lodge skillet for less than $11 or a new 10" Lodge skillet for less than $16. I do have time to improve on the factory seasoning the way Lodge says to do it.

                                                                                                                        So what if the inside bottom of a Lodge skillet has little bumps on it. Who says bumps can't be slick after seasoning?

                                                                                                                        I've seen people so proud of the Griswold skillet with the smooth bottom and dozens of rust pits. Why? Just because it says Griswold on the bottom of the pan?

                                                                                                                        No thanks! I'll buy some new Lodge pans and add to the seasoning and end up with a good bunch of cast iron.

                                                                                                                        1. A) I am not a cast iron expert, although I grew up with it and have been using a Wagner for 39 years.
                                                                                                                          B) the older CI does seem smoother.
                                                                                                                          C) I concluded several years ago that Heavy a French steel pans are smooth, easier to season, and have the benefit of a longer handle. So my CI languishes and the DeBuyer Au Carbone has all the fun.
                                                                                                                          D). It does make a difference to start with a smoother surface.

                                                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: tim irvine

                                                                                                                            With all due respect, why does it make a difference to start with a smooth surface? Do you think that a good seasoning on the very tiny bumps in the Lodge cookware can't be slick? If so, why?

                                                                                                                            It's the seasoning that needs to be slick. That's like saying a spherical piece of cast iron can have a slick seasoning.

                                                                                                                            1. re: tim irvine

                                                                                                                              Honest to God, I'll bet people at Lodge are reading some of this stuff and laughing their butts off thinking how idiotic some of the stuff here is.

                                                                                                                              1. re: tim irvine

                                                                                                                                I shouldn't be replying again but the more I think about this the more ridiculous some of this stuff sounds. Some of this is like saying Teflon can't be slick unless the metal underneath it is super smooth and we all know that isn't true at all. Have you ever checked out the metal on a skillet where the Teflon has worn off? Not smooth or slick. Typically a somewhat roughened surface but the Teflon still worked. Same with a well seasoned Lodge cast iron skillet. The seasoning still works because the seasoning is slick.

                                                                                                                                1. re: pgmrdan

                                                                                                                                  I have a Lodge griddle pan of recent vintage.I use it almost every day for eggs; before I hurry off to work, I have a quick pair of sunny side up eggs (or occasionally even an omelet, but the pan's weight makes it annoying to shake).

                                                                                                                                  When I bought it, it was pebbled. I have worn it quite smooth through scrubbing mostly, and metal utensils. In my experience there is no difference whatsoever in seasoning or cooking with pebbled vs. smooth. The eggs come out identical, and don't stick.

                                                                                                                                  I season with lard, mainly because I render lard for my first choice cooking fat. I don’t go for a perfect finish, I just smoke off another layer of lard after I wash the pan. Oh. I also use soap sometimes; I can’t imagine it would be problem with a seasoned pan, as the carbon from seasoning ought to have filled the pores.

                                                                                                                                  While it's fun to discuss cookware and all, some of the claims on this thread seem to border on voodoo. Cast iron cookware isn't complex, nor should it be. In fact, I expect most of the differences in performance between my cast iron griddle and my carbon steel (different alloy!) wok’s performance have to do more with shape and thickness than the alloy. Intangibles are exactly that.

                                                                                                                                  Finally, I think it's worth bearing in mind that like knife sharpening the tool user matters MUCH more than the tool.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: zeusbheld


                                                                                                                                    Thanks for posting! I need this kind of information.

                                                                                                                              2. So to answer your question, "Is a vintage Lodge cast iron skillet better than a new one??" my answer would be no because I can stroll across the street to Walmart and buy new Lodge cookware at very reasonable prices and I can't do that for the vintage Lodge cookware. I also don't see any reason to buy vintage Lodge cookware instead of new Lodge cookware if the vintage stuff was readily available. In fact, I don't have any reason to buy any vintage cast iron cookware over new Lodge cookware.

                                                                                                                                10 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: pgmrdan

                                                                                                                                  So your logic is that because new stuff is cheap and readily available at Wal-Mart it is therefore better? I find that logic rather confounding.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: JTPhilly

                                                                                                                                    Old Lodge and new Lodge can be equally good (except for the wear and tear on the old Lodge) but new Lodge is more readily available, is inexpensive, and it's not a mystery so it's better. Sounds like good logic to me.

                                                                                                                                    What's your logic?

                                                                                                                                    1. re: pgmrdan

                                                                                                                                      IMO they are not equally good but if you apply the convenient and cheap at Wal-Mart test to things Lodge is probably about the best it will work out for you. Mostly that test would result in purchasing junk.

                                                                                                                                      A new Lodge is not useless and not junk but it is not AS GOOD as a vintage one. It is still better than a made in China junk skillet.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: JTPhilly

                                                                                                                                        Bit of a straw man, that, really. The actual premise in question is that old CI and new CI are approximately comparable in quality, and therefore the difference in price and convenience matters significantly.

                                                                                                                                        Also, you make the claim that the new stuff IS NOT AS GOOD. Many people have. Yet, I've not seen one poster back the claim up with anything a) objective and b) compelling.

                                                                                                                                        For example, the best reason I've seen so far to favor the old stuff is that it's lighter and smoother. Well, OK, fine. You can sand or grind a new one equally smooth, and thin it to lose weight (sanding and grinding again).

                                                                                                                                        So I'm a bit baffled as to objectively why the old stuff's worth a high price and extortionate shipping compared to a similar new Lodge item you can (even here in Thailand) find at the supermarket.

                                                                                                                                        Also, if weight's an issue, one poster measured carbon steel (such as De Buyer's). It's lighter, and takes seasoning the same way as CI.

                                                                                                                                        For what it's worth, I'm another one of those that grew up with CI utensils, so I've at least seen and used old stuff, like my grandma's.

                                                                                                                                        Short version: to my eye, reasons given so far for the alleged superiority of vintage CI appear to be based on either aesthetics or superstition.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: zeusbheld

                                                                                                                                          In my experience having considerable stove time with both types, and I use raw cast iron close to daily, there is simply no comparison in terms of ease of seasoning, ability to hold of the seasoning, ease of cleaning or pleasure of cooking in them. To me there is no question that one pan performs better than another. Of course aesthetics and ergonomics play a part in increasing enjoyment of cookware as well. My Grisowld #8 skillet and my no name DO are near perfect pieces of cookware for me - they are just a pleasure to use. Cast Iron is not great for everything though and the 14" griswold I was so excited about is frankly a terrible skillet for stove top use (conventional hobs are not a good match or large CI skillets) but it makes a fantastic roasting pan

                                                                                                                                          Is a new lodge a serviceable skillet? Yes. Is is "as good" as one made 50 years ago, in my opinion and experience no, it is not. They chose to cut a corner in finishing the skillet and the resulting product is, while ok, not as good.

                                                                                                                                          I certainly don't advocate paying extortionary prices for anything, certainly not paying collector prices for something you are going to use but you can find a good quality wagner or vintage lodge for cheap they often go pretty low on ebay, like ten to twenty bucks and i see them for 5 to 10 bucks pretty regularly at thrift shops and flea markets. I have finally learned to leave them there and let someone else discover them as I have more than I need and enough in the pipeline to clean and give away. I cannot be bothered to sell them but I do like to restore them and share with friends who will appreciate them.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: JTPhilly

                                                                                                                                            But it's useless to argue first hand experience with people that don't have it and yet claim they know which is better.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: rasputina

                                                                                                                                              Who here doesn't have first hand experience?

                                                                                                                                              If you are referring to me I began cooking on cast iron nearly 50 years ago. I'm going back to it now.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: rasputina

                                                                                                                                                Are we reading the same thread, Rasputina? I got the impression that the vast majority of people who insist the old stuff is better AND those who say it isn't have plenty of first hand experience.

                                                                                                                                                As far as seasoning a new Lodge pan goes, it's seasoned when you buy it. I like tinkering so I burnt all the Lodge seasoning off and re-did the pan myself. Only significant issue in how it takes season is that the pores are already filled when you buy it. Bake it clean and it'll season up easily.

                                                                                                                                                Also, if you get a vintage pan that's pitted and rusted, you'll need to spend a lot more time sanding it than if you want to remove the pebbly finish from a new Lodge. That said, if I got a good deal on an old one, I'd jump on it. Not because anyone's put for a strong case for its superiority (I don't care about lighter weight, there's Carbon steel for that), but they just look cool and I enjoy projects like that.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: zeusbheld

                                                                                                                                                  Obviously my comment wouldn't apply to those that do have experience cooking on vintage ( and I don't mean 30-50 year old pans) and the new stuff.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: rasputina

                                                                                                                                                    50 years ago I was cooking on my mother's inherited cast iron. She still has the pieces. They're probably near 80 years old, at least. She also added some when she got married over 63 years ago; 3 new skillets for less than $3. She picked up a Griswold skillet at a thrift shop a little while back for $2.

                                                                                                                                                    She prefers the old stuff.

                                                                                                                                  2. Oy there is so much misinformation in this thread it makes my head spin

                                                                                                                                    If one was to put side by side a new Lodge, a vintage Lodge and an antique Wagner or Griwold the differences between the three are very obvious. It would be to the user to decide what was "better" for their needs.

                                                                                                                                    A new lodge vs an early 20th century cast Iron skillet are quite different pieces of cookware - other than being made of cast iron and skillet-shaped they are materially different, the older skillet will be considerably thinner, rather lightweight and smooth as glass even unseasoned. A new lodge is thick, much heavier and has a grainy rough texture.

                                                                                                                                    The old stuff was made to be your primary cookware - multi-purposed every day pans the new Lodge is made more as a specific use pan - heavy for heat retention outweighs lightness for easy handling in a skillet used mainly for searing or camping.

                                                                                                                                    The vintage lodge like later Wagners is somewhere in between, heavy but still machined smooth - the elimination of machining was a cost cut deemed acceptable for the current market it is definitely not an improvement - I would take an old lodge over a new one any day, new ones are not junk or worthless but they are IMHO not as good.

                                                                                                                                    The older Wapacks, Piqua, Erie, Wagner etch skillets are something else entirely - I love to use them but see where others may not.

                                                                                                                                    8 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: JTPhilly

                                                                                                                                      Not a grainy rough texture on the new Lodge. It's a uniformly pebbly texture. Not a problem.

                                                                                                                                      Smooth as glass on the old stuff may just be a sign of wear according to what I'm reading.

                                                                                                                                      Machined smooth? Are you certain it was machined smooth? Did they use a lathe or mill on every piece of old cast iron?

                                                                                                                                      Sounds to me more like you just prefer the older stuff due to your tastes.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: pgmrdan

                                                                                                                                        Mo, they were not worn smooth - they were machined smooth - they were ground down and polished. If you were to handle one you would be able to see and feel this.

                                                                                                                                        Weather or not the smoothness is of benefit can be debated, how the smoothness got there is a fact.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: JTPhilly

                                                                                                                                          Again, how were they machined smooth? Machining cast iron is not an easy job. It's dusty, dirty, and very time consuming. 100 years ago it would have taken some primitive machines a very, very long time to machine a skillet and the chances of damaging it would have made it risky.

                                                                                                                                          I seriously doubt that antique cast iron skillets were machined smooth. It's much more likely that they were worn smooth.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: pgmrdan

                                                                                                                                            no, they were ground down and smoothed - in factories when factories were dirty and labor was cheap

                                                                                                                                            does not happen from a spatula

                                                                                                                                            I own and use both types of cast iron, I have stripped and re seasoned at least 50 pans of different makes and vintages - the old pans and new are very different things and granny's cooking did not make that surface glass smooth.

                                                                                                                                            its a fact weather you want to believe it is up to you

                                                                                                                                            1. re: JTPhilly

                                                                                                                                              I appreciate the link. Thanks!

                                                                                                                                              I do question the use of the word 'machined'. If they were sanded or polished I can accept that but that would not be 'machined'.

                                                                                                                                              The real point IMHO is whether or not the new Lodge products can be seasoned to be as slick as the old Lodge products and I've read way too many accounts that they can have just as slick a seasoning as any of the old cast iron.

                                                                                                                                              The article at the link mentions that the older cast iron was thinner and didn't require as much heat to cook at the same temperature as the new cast iron requires. I may as well use thin stainless steel skillets if that's what I'm looking for.

                                                                                                                                              The thinner cast iron may have some different attributes than the newer stuff but I'll take a heavier cast iron skillet any day. That's why I'm using cast iron, for holding an even temperature all over the bottome of the skillet. If I cooked on a cast iron stove with the covers in place those covers would make up for the missing cast iron in the skillet.

                                                                                                                                              Sounds like the thinner cast iron on the vintage stuff may have been a way to make them cheaper.

                                                                                                                                              Anyway, this discussion is interesting and if I wanted to collect cast iron instead of cooking with it I guess I too would travel cyberspace and the flea markets and pawn shops looking for the old stuff but I'm intersted in cooking with it. The pebbly finish caused by bead blasting with steel shot doesn't both me one bit because I've seen that a good seasoning will make it just as slick to cook on as the old stuff.

                                                                                                                                              I'm happy. You're happy. That's all that matters. :)

                                                                                                                                              1. re: pgmrdan

                                                                                                                                                pgmrdan -

                                                                                                                                                engineers have as much loose 'shop talk' as politicians - so "machined" can in fact include grinding, etc.

                                                                                                                                                however one does not "sand" metals - that would be perhaps better described as honing if using tape type abrasives or lapping for liquid / paste abrasives.

                                                                                                                                                none of which matters a hoot because methinks you've got the idea right.

                                                                                                                                                on the old stuff, the thinner castings / lighter weight is immediately obvious. I've heard the "the old cast iron is better quality" theory but it is a bit difficult to believe with all the new fangled computers / metallurgical analysis while still in the furnace / etc / etc that "modern" approaches / qa /qc can't replicate the old stuff. a new CI pan with 2x the amount of CI can't be less expensive (materials wise...) - add handling / shipping / customer happy/unhappiness - there must be something else regards thickness.

                                                                                                                                                had new stuff; used the pebble surfaces, not happy, spent the effort to smooth out the bottom with wet/dry paper on a circular hand drill powered pad. stumbled over (my first) old Griswold - it works better than any of the 'new' stuff - thick, thin, ridged, flat, pre-seasoned, post-seasoned, all star break seasoned, whatever....

                                                                                                                                                'seasoning' has taken on a new alien life form meaning for CI. every blogger has a new and surefire way to do that. it's really not that complicated, difficult, nor does one need exotic materials to make it happen. just fry fatty foods in the CI until it stopping sticking. regrets, in the world of IM and instant-everything-else, it is not an accepted technique.

                                                                                                                                                shot/bead blasting does not cause the pebble surface. the rough surface an inherent result of sand casting.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: PSRaT

                                                                                                                                                  Thanks PSRaT.

                                                                                                                                                  You bring up another point that I've been pondering. All the talk about flaxseed oil I've seen has me wondering if there's any truth to it. I see a lot of people using Canola oil and Crisco shortening and claiming great results. If carbon is what we're after when seasoning it would seem that the choice of material to use in seasoning wouldn't be a big deal as long as one uses a relatively clean fat. Carbon is an element so carbon is carbon. I wonder how much other stuff ends up mixed in the carbon that adheres to the pan? I doubt there's much of anything other than carbon. It probably doesn't matter which type of fat is used. Any comments?

                                                                                                                                            2. re: pgmrdan

                                                                                                                                              Grinding CI isn't all that risky, or time consuming (dusty, yes). It's quite soft as metals go, and sands easily. I decided I like the smooth surface on my griddle (from wear and tear) so I'm sanding my new skillet. I may thin it too, as my wife's rather tiny (if I do I'll grind it with a Dremel and then smooth it with sandpaper).

                                                                                                                                              Again, though, if smooth and light is important, carbon steel's superb. My woks are spectacular utensils. Next pot, rather than more CI I'm going to get French-style carbon steel. I still want a CI campfire-style Dutch oven though.