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Jan 25, 2012 07:39 AM

Thinnish carbon steel wok - OK for high BTU cooking?

I've been on a bit of a voyage of discovery about woks and am planning on getting a high BTU (around 90,000) propane wok burner for outdoor wok cooking.

The place selling the burner also sells 35 cm carbon steel woks. I asked the vendor what the thickness is of the metal and he says probably around 0.5-1mm thick. This is about half as thick as the standard 14 guage woks one sees advertised widely.

Assuming he is right that the woks he carries are only that thick is there likely to be any issue with the high heat burner I am planning on using? Obviously its not a price issue - the woks he's selling are 19€. More that I am just not sure if I should be getting a heavier guage CS.

Dave M

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  1. 1 mm is fine. 0.5 mm seems a bit thin. There are pros and cons for getting a thin wok vs a thick wok. You just have to balance the advantages and disadvantagess and see if they mean your criterea.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      I would have to agree .5mm(it's only .019") is pretty thin for 90k burner, it falls between 25 and 26 guage, I would hesitate on 1mm on 90k if it was me

      1. re: Dave5440

        Hey Dave,

        In reality, it may not really matter if the cook knows what he is doing.

        Here is the way I see it. One danger of using a very thin cookware on a very high power stove is that the cookware can be over-heated: soften the metal, warping...etc.

        On the other hand, the whole point of having a high power stove is to allow the cookware to quickly reach a high temperature, so there really isn't a point to increase the temperature beyond the desire cooking temperature, and cook should/would turn the heat down after the initial stage.

        On the physical abuse (aside from the temperature abuse), 0.5 mm just seems too thin for long term use. It would be fun to use such a light cookware :).

        I do want to state some of the advantages of a thin cookware. It will heat up much faster, and it will be much easier to handle, to toss the foods, to move the cookware in and out of the stove. It is true that a thin cookware has more pronouned hot/cold spots, but those are never an issue for a wok, which relies on moving the foods at rapid speed.

        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          Thanks Dave and ChemicalK,

          Very helpful. I would have to describe myself as very much an amateur when it comes to wok cooking. To be honest it is thanks to these great boards that I have had a resurgence of interest in cooking.

          I take your points about the control of temperature and I guess I could get by with what he is selling. A cheap lesson in case it does wear through, and I'll keep a close eye on it as I wouldn't want it wearing through as I am cooking.

          On the general topic, are there any particularly good books (apart from breath of a wok and stir frying to the skys edge) that I should be getting my hands on to help me along?

          Thanks for your advice and best wishes,

          1. re: dave_in_gva

            0.5mm seems a bit thin. With that propane jet burner you have to be very careful re: overheating. oils may spontaneously combust on contact, also issues with warping and metal fatigue/failure if you don't watch it. i also wonder if the seasoning will hold. Initially when I didn't know the power of my jet burner I plain burnt off my seasoning which I had developed over months, much like a self-clean cycle in an oven.

            most of the books written in English have slightly westernized adaptations of traditional chinese recipes meant for stovetop cooking on a lower/normal powered range. Grace Young's books are by far the best. Try the oven method described in the 'Breath' book, it was by far the easiest method.

            Search on youtube for professional wok cooking videos, especially ones using jet burners.

            1. re: doctorandchef

              Thx Doc. Like you, I am going with the X73. Thanks for the advice re seasoning getting burnt off.

              I've placed an order for Breath of ...and stir-fry to the sky so can read up before making a final decision. I have to space this purchase out a bit from a recent Demeyere cookware buy.

              My inclination though is to simply take a punt with this "thin" wok when I do place the order in a month or two. The way I see it, it will be a cheap mistake in case it doesn't work out (as long as I don't ignite the cooking area or myself) and probably good training to slowly discover the capabilities of the X73 burner.

              Thanks again everyone,

              Dave M

    2. I am interested in hearing about you experiences. I want to do this too. Keep us posted.