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Feb 20, 2012 01:53 PM

Confused about De Buyer Mineral Element B pan, is it iron or steel? greatly confused..

Hey guys good afternoon. Well I ordered a De Buyer Mineral Element B fry pan from Amazon for Christmas because I wanted a cast iron pan that didn't have any coating on it or seasoning so I could put my own on!
I went with this one
because it claimed to have a 100% organic beeswax coating which is fine with me, and I could've swore I read and researched that it was all iron! I had first seen it at Williams Sonoma so that is how I first discovered it!

I have received it and am greatly confused. On the back of the insert (when you turn the pan around) it says iron, however on the little booklet at the top it says "steel frying pan" so I am greatly confused. By just looking at it and feeling it it looks to be steel, it doesn't feel or look like my lodge cast iron pan at all!

I emailed Amazon that they sent me the wrong one and was just about to send it back when I started looking at pictures of this supposed pan on a search engine and they all looked the same as mine!

So I am starting to wonder if what they mean is a mixture of iron and steel or something . . It's a shame because I didn't want steel I wanted the iron for safety reasons (I think iron is the best cookware in terms of metals from the cookware leaching into food) . ..

Can someone help me out here? I wanted to ask you guys because I heard De Buyer is horrible with responding to customers, which if I had known before-hand I wouldn't have ordered a product of theirs :(
Thanks :)

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  1. It's steel, but steel is almost entirely iron. Don't worry about it — it is what it is.

    1. Just like GH said. It is steel, but steel is mostly made of iron. Have we answered your question?

      2 Replies
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        I think he's concerned about impurities. Carbon steel would have carbon, and probably some manganese, but could also contain trace minerals. I expect that even if you tried to make a pure iron pan, it would have trace minerals in it. There are also trace elements in the food we eat and the water we drink. And in the air we breathe. What's a person to do?

        1. re: GH1618

          Oh... in that case, everything have impurities. This isn't just carbon steel cookware. It is everything. Stainless steels are not just iron, carbon nickel and chromium, as there are many things. My guess is that aluminum pans are not just aluminum.

      2. ok i appreciate it guys... well gh that is disrespectful to say, it's not "it is what it is" . . . i will return it then. i paid for a cast iron pan and that is what i was looking for.

        so there must be a difference between a cast iron and a carbon/iron then, and that is a big enough difference for me to want a pure cast iron pan . . . i feel if anything is going to leach into my body then better be iron as that is what our bodies need . . just how i feel on the subject and i do better when i eat from things that i feel safe about, so i will have to find a non-seasoned cast iron then . . . virtually impossible, NIIIIICE!!!

        thanks guys

        7 Replies
        1. re: certifiedhumane

          "there must be a difference between a cast iron and a carbon/iron then"

          Cast iron has more carbon than carbon steel.

          "i feel if anything is going to leach into my body then better be iron as that is what our bodies need"

          I doubt cast iron cookware are any more pure than carbon steel cookware.

          1. re: certifiedhumane

            I don't know where you got the idea it was "cast iron." I've never seen anything from de Buyer which states that. And by the way, cast iron has less iron than steel.

            It would help if you would say what, exactly, are the chemicals and compounds which concern you. Mineral B is 99% iron. The other 1% is carbon, and probably some manganese. Carbon is the basis of all organic (life) chemistry. Are you worried about that? Manganese is an essential element in trace amounts, and you ingest more of it from many common foods than you will from any cookware. Other trace minerals which are in carbon steel without being specifically introduced will also be in cast iron and in any other cookware material.

            I do not mean to be disrespectful, but with all due respect, I do not think you know what your body needs, let alone what it takes in from your cookware, food, water, and air.

            In my opinion, carbon steel pans such as de Buyer Mineral are completely safe. If they are not good enough for you, perhaps you should cook on a wood spit, or give up cooking altogether and eat only raw foods. Raw foods have the additional danger that they can contain bacteria, which are completely natural, but some of which can nevertheless cause illness and even death in humans.

            1. re: GH1618

              wow man well thank you for enlightening me, I guess I have a lot to learn. you can't blame me, I am surrounded by things called teflon, cermaic, non-stick, it doesn't take a genius to feel the material, see it flaking, and realize I don't want this in my body! I truly didn't know steel was iron.

              I knew steel was better than non stick or teflon or something, but I still knew there are steel toxicities too and if you want any metal in your body iron would be the best choice...
              but as you said this pan is more iron than a cast iron . .
              so that was my mistake, i really truly appreciate the enlightenment man, i am all the more wiser now! and i get to keep this awesome pan :) can't wait to use it :)
              have a good one then :)

              oh and i hadn't read the raw food comment.. no no no ahaaha i can't stand the raw movement! i believe cooking breaks down foods that we otherwise can't consume and makes them digestible for our body! i LOVE cooking, i actually don't eat anything raw besides fruits! i truly truly believe things like whole grains are actually worse for us because we aren't supposed to be eating the whole grain, cooking lets our bodies absorb all of these nutrients that we otherwise wouldn't get if we ate these things raw!! that is my 2 cents for the day :)
              alright take it easy then

              1. re: certifiedhumane

                "I still knew there are steel toxicities"

                If you starts to worry about toxicities from iron and steel, then I don't know what is not toxic.

                Dude you are freaking yourself out. It is like scaring yourself about "having nightmares will shorten your lifespan... so you try not to watch scary movies"

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  Agreed! If you're concerned about toxicities in steel, you've got much bigger fish to fry than your cookware! As George Carlin so eloquently stated, "take a f*&%ing chance!"

                2. re: certifiedhumane

                  Stay away from surgeons. They have been known to leave teflon coated strings, cloth patches, and stainless steel pins inside peoples' bodies.

              2. re: certifiedhumane

                The difference between steel and iron is the amount of carbon in it. If it has more than 2% carbon is is iron but if it has less than 2% it is steel. Most iron is cast but those pans are formed of heavy sheet steel that has been stamped.

                There are many trace elements in food grade steel and cast iron but nothing that is going to be toxic.

              3. Apparently you don't understand the nature of iron, cast iron, or steel.

                The De Buyer pan is carbon steel, and is actually purer (higher percentage iron) than your Lodge cast iron.

                To put it simply, when iron is refined from ore, it is not pure iron. It has a few percent of other minerals, most notably carbon. That carbon makes the iron hard, but also a bit brittle. The easiest way to make a pan from that iron is to melt it and pour into a mold made from wet sand. The result is a cast iron pan. The pebbly surface comes from the molding process.

                It is possible through further refining and or pounding (as done by a blacksmith) to remove most of the carbon, producing wrought iron. This metal can be shaped and formed, even pounded into sheets. But it is also relatively soft.

                But adding just a bit of carbon back into the pure iron (1% or less) produces steel, an alloy that is much stronger and harder. Big steel mills form this steel into large sheets (rolls actually) of plate steel. De Buyer cuts this plate steel into rounds, and shapes it around molds to form their pans. Because steel is stronger than cast iron, the steel pan can be thinner and lighter than the cast one.

                The carbon steel can be seasoned in the same way as the cast iron. From a health or toxicity stand point there is absolutely no difference between this carbon steel and cast iron.

                1. What is the difference between De Buyer Mineral B pan and De Buyer Stainless Steel pan?




                  29 Replies
                  1. re: Colin2014

                    Hard to tell from the link other than the obvious. The "black steel" pans are well known so, I'm not sure why I would try the stainless one.

                    Also, they both seem to have the new Eiffel Tower handles.

                    1. re: Colin2014

                      Both pans shown are Mineral B, with the appropriate model number. The correct stainless steel model number is 3750.28.

                      Here's a link:

                      The Mineral B is carbon steel and will need to be seasoned, the stainless steel is, well, stainless steel and ready to go right out of the box.

                      1. re: DuffyH

                        To elaborate a bit in a non-scientific way:
                        -Stainless steel will be lighter, and has aluminium layers sandwiched in the middle to help with heat distribution/transfer. The carbon steel one is just a slab of steel which will probably not heat as evenly (may not be noticeable with the thicker pans like mineral B), but will hold heat better.

                        The stainless steel one won't rust, the carbon steel one will.

                        The stainless steel one will be a lot more "sticky" than the carbon steel one.

                        You can cook acidic foods in the stainless steel one but not in the carbon steel one (well you can, but it will strip the seasoning and may cause a metallic taste).

                        In my opinion, you need both. One for searing and frying and things like that, the other for dishes which need deglazing with wine, or simmering a tomato sauce, or drizzling lemon juice etc...

                        1. re: Sirrith

                          Sometimes I feel like I am a chef to collect so many pots and pans! Haha :) Due to space and budget in this case, can't really have all these :( Would love to though.

                          It seems that the Stainless is more expensive... (Better?)

                          One more Q - can Stainless steel be seasoned too to make it non-stick?


                          1. re: Colin2014

                            If you can only have one, it depends on what you cook. If you have other pots/pans in which you can make sauces, stews, deglaze things in etc... or if you never make those things, then go for the carbon steel. If you do use vinegar, tomato, lemon, wine etc... in most of your cooking or in a large part of it, then stainless may be the better choice.

                            Some people say stainless can be seasoned, I don't know, I've never tried it. But stainless isn't as sticky as some people make out; you just have to learn to control the temperature. I haven't quite mastered that properly yet, so my food does tend to stick half the time, and I personally would never even bother attempting things like fish in stainless (since I have carbon steel for that).

                            1. re: Colin2014

                              Yes, stainless steel can be seasoned, although that's not the best word for it, because it's a temporary finish.I've done it, and it does work. It doesn't take long, and can be easily re-applied whenever you need your pan to be especially non-stick with minimal oil. Here's a link:

                              I have cooked fish in my stainless steel frypans with success, although it does sometimes stick. As Sirrith noted, it's all about temperature control. Stainless steel turns out lovely fried eggs on low heat. Personally speaking, if I could only have one pan, it would be stainless steel, because of it's ability to handle those acidic foods that Sirrith mentioned.

                              1. re: DuffyH

                                Hi thanks! Can I season my carbon steel (mineral b) the same way? Or you have another credible link on how to season it?


                                1. re: DuffyH

                                  Ok found it!

                                  How to season a carbon steel wok


                                  Now need to look for seasoning the cast iron ...

                                  1. re: Colin2014

                                    <Now need to look for seasoning the cast iron ...>

                                    Seasoning for carbon steel and seasoning for cast iron are interchangeable.

                                2. re: Colin2014

                                  <It seems that the Stainless is more expensive... (Better?)>

                                  Expensive is not always better. They are different, and it is important to understand the differences. Based on this understanding, you can buy what you need. It is like comparing a sport car to a truck. A sport car may cost more, but it is not universally better than a truck. It depends what you want your automobile does for you. A sport car is definitely not better if you want to tow a boat.

                                  <can Stainless steel be seasoned too to make it non-stick?>

                                  You can apply a hot oil coating on a stainless steel cookware, but most people do not call that as "seasoning". You can call it whatever you like. Just know that it is nothing like seasoning on a carbon steel or cast iron cookware. The overall process is somewhat similar though not really the same. The chemistry is different, and the caretaking is different too. The oil layer you put on a stainless steel cookware is unstable. It readily comes off. So you will have to do it much more regularly than the seasoning on carbon steel.

                                  For most people who use stainless steel surface, they rely on the so called "mercury ball" technique. Food readily sticks to stainless steel, except a narrow temperature range. Therefore, you want to heat it to this temperature range when cooking meats, especially delicate meat.


                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                    I think you all are food science experts! :) No way I would learn all these in order to cook? :(

                                    1. re: Colin2014

                                      There are many old CHOWHOUND posts on the same subject that you have asked. If you have time, you should see if you dig them out.

                                      You may not know everything about these cookware, like you may not know everything about cars. However, you must know what you want from the cookware, right? Just like you should know what you want to get out from an automobile purchase? Do you want a car that has quick acceleration? Or do you want a car with a lot of torque or loading capacity?

                                      What do you want from your cookware?

                                      As for you question about Mineral DeBuyer seasoning, I will jump in. You can actually find an official video from DeBuyer. Keep in mind there are many methods of seasoning a cookware, they all work. This is the beauty of carbon steel cookware. Yes, there are right ways and there they are wrong ways, but they are more than just a few right ways to do it:


                                      P.S.: you can skip the potato skin part.

                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        Thanks for the vid. One Q of that... Before the pan is stored away, it shows the cooled pan is wiped with oil using paper towel. When you want to use it for cooking again, what do you do? Do you just use it straight with the oil still in it or you would wash it with liquid detergent to get rid of the oil and cook? (Re-season it again?)

                                        1. re: Colin2014

                                          <it shows the cooled pan is wiped with oil using paper towel>

                                          In my experience, this is not necessary. You do want the pan to be dry, but you don't have to oil it for short term storage like a week or so. You can dry the pan either use a papertowel or put it back on the stove on low to medium for a little while.

                                          <Do you just use it straight with the oil still in it or you would wash it with liquid detergent to get rid of the oil and cook? >

                                          If you do put oil on it, then it depends on how long the oil was sitting on the pan. If you oil it yesterday and want to cook it today, then I personally won't clean it. If you oil it last month and want to use it again, then yes, I would wash it. Wash it either with hot/warm water, or wash it with mild/trace detergent.

                                          No, you definitely do not need to re-season it.

                                          1. re: Colin2014

                                            I never apply more oil before storing an iron pan, and don't understand why anyone would do this. It is more likely to leave a gummy residue than to improve the hardened seasoning layer. The final steps before storing an iron pan should be merely: rinse well with hot water, apply heat, wipe dry with paper towels, remove from heat when thoroughly dry.

                                            1. re: GH1618

                                              Because some of us live in really humid climates where pans rust if oil is not applied before storage. My pan can rust within a week even if properly dried.

                                              1. re: Sirrith

                                                Rust is a temporary problem. It should not be rusting after the seasoning develops. That depends on how often you use the pan. But I recently rescued an iron skillet from the Oregon coast (a damp climate in winters) which hasn't been used in 30 years or more. It has almost no rust on the inside, and while there is significant rust on the outside it is not enough to damage it. The distribution of the rust suggests to me that the pan wasn't oiled on the outside during the seasoning phase, a problem easily avoided.

                                  2. re: DuffyH

                                    If one looks at this, they would be misled that this is a stainless steel! :(

                                    1. re: Colin2014

                                      Everything is wrong about that listing!

                                      The code is for the blinis pan (the .12 gives it away, it is the size), yet the title says 28cm, and that particular code is for the iron/carbon steel blinis pan, not the stainless steel version.

                                      1. re: Colin2014

                                        Yes indeed. There's no way the average consumer would know that this isn't the stainless line. The model number doesn't match the description.

                                        The stainless steel model number will be 3750.xx.

                                        The model number of the pan shown, 5670.xx, is Mineral B.

                                    2. re: Colin2014

                                      The links may not be 100% as DuffyH said. To answer your general question, stainless steel pans are usually not 100% stainless steel. They are usually cladded with stainless steel on the exterior surface and aluminum in the interior. DeBuyer Mineral B pans are carbon steel pan.

                                      Stainless cladded cookware are different than carbon steel cookware for sure. It can take pages to fully explain, but Sirrith's explanation should get you to the right direction.

                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        But both are safe as in no element will leak into your food?

                                        1. re: Colin2014

                                          Cast iron will generally be recommended to people who lack sufficient iron in their diet.

                                          Tight surfaces like the De Buyer "black steel" are going to be less subject to iron transfer. Now add a good seasoning to further isolate the steel and iron transfer is further reduced. Iron is something you want in your diet whether from "leafy greens" or your cookware. If you are doing acidic cooking then, I would avoid all iron in general.

                                          Stainless Steel without any of the non-stick coatings is very non-reactive and will not transfer flavor or other things under normal circumstances.

                                          1. re: Sid Post

                                            < If you are doing acidic cooking then, I would avoid all iron in general.>

                                            Just to add a bit more comments for Colin.

                                            I should add that some people are more sensitive to the so-called taste of iron. It does not seem to bother me (either I don't care or my sense is not as sensitive). For others, the metallic taste is off-putting.

                                            <Stainless Steel without any of the non-stick coatings is very non-reactive and will not transfer flavor or other things under normal circumstances.>


                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                              Yes, taste (and smell) sensitivity does vary along with what you cook.

                                              Tomato based things in well seasoned cast iron skillets for example isn't an issue for me UNLESS it sits for a couple of hours before serving. Delicate flavors are more likely to be lost in cast iron too.

                                              "Skillet" meals with tomatoes are something a lot of us know. When they are served still sizzling I don't recall anyone ever commenting about an off flavor. Sitting on the stove for a mid-afternoon snack after playing/working outside for part of the day you can start to taste the iron. Whether it is a bad taste or brings back fond childhood memories varies depending on the person.

                                              1. re: Sid Post

                                                <Cast iron will generally be recommended to people who lack sufficient iron in their diet.>

                                                Yes, and it's time this was put in perspective, IMO. There are easier ways to get needed iron with no worries about an odd flavor. Like a bowl of fortified cereal, for example.

                                                This page referencing a paper in Journal of Food Science, points out that "Acidic foods that have a higher moisture content, such as applesauce and spaghetti sauce, absorb the most iron. For example, one study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that the iron content in 100 grams of spaghetti sauce jumped from 0.6 mg to 5.7 mg after being cooked in a cast iron pot. Other factors that boost the iron content of foods include longer cooking time, frequent stirring, and using a newer iron skillet."

                                                Wet acidic food, new pot, long cooking time - good luck with that egg tomorrow. And all you've got is about 1/3rd the RDA for *normal* women. Even doing this for one meal, every day, this is not a realistic RW way to greatly increase one's iron intake. Of course, should you cook something drier, non-acidic and with a shorter cooking time, your intake will not increase nearly as much.

                                                OTOH, a bowl of Multi-Grain Cheerios provides 62.7mg of iron. Rice Krispies is good for 34mg. This website lists 25 cereals with over 33mg of iron per serving.


                                                Note - All these numbers are for 100g by weight, so let's get real. 100g of Cheerios is 3 cups, where a serving is considered 1 cup. But that's still about 20mg per serving. 100g of marinara is about a ½ cup, so that number is realistic.

                                                1. re: DuffyH

                                                  "Yes, and it's time this was put in perspective, IMO. There are easier ways to get needed iron with no worries about an odd flavor. Like a bowl of fortified cereal, for example."

                                                  Whether I get no iron, a little iron, or lot of iron from cereal, leafy greens, or my cookware I want a variety of sources and no silver bullets.

                                                  Easy is taking a pill. Good is getting nutrition from a variety of sources. While I don't rely on a cast iron skillet for iron in my diet, I don't consider it a bad thing either as long as it doesn't "taint' the flavor of what I cook.