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Mar 27, 2012 06:03 PM

Any issues cooking in a warped cast iron dutch oven?

I recently acquired a vintage 1920s Wagner DO which is beautiful, but the bottom is a bit warped (not too much of a problem on my gas stove). The bottom interior has some wavy lines, and I'm curious if these are a result of the warping, and/or if I should expect it to crack in these spots- i.e. are these lines a weakness? It is not yet cracked, but I'd like to avoid that happening if possible. Any recs or info are appreciated.

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  1. I'd be curious how anyone got the thing hot enough to warp, or how you'd do anything in the same vein that would cause a fracture. You'd need a heck of a thermal gradient to stress it a lot - like super hot DO dropped into a icy pond kind of thing..

    9 Replies
    1. re: grant.cook

      I would be interested to know, as well. My guess from looking at it is that it was left on a stove for quite a long while, but after that, I don't know. Even this is only a guess.
      Would love to know any problems I might anticipate and hopefully head-off.

      1. re: dost

        I was thinking that but couldn't honestly give a good answer. I won't worry too much about warping if it is an aluminum or carbon steel cookware, but the fact that it is a cast iron cookware, which is more brittle, makes me wonder. Hopefully, people who has more hands-on experience can give you a more definite answer.

        "The bottom interior has some wavy lines"

        Yeah, the wavy lines part worries me.

        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          Hey Chem, Thanks for the input- they worry me too, but then, I've not had a piece this aged before. Other than the wiggles and slight gradients, the interior is quite smooth after a salt-scrub and boil clean-up by me. I don't know what the heck oil was in there before, but it was goopy, uneven, and had a rainbow-y green sheen to it. Made me afraid it could be antifreeze or something!

          1. re: dost

            1 pic: long wavy line (created when casting, perhaps? or damage from warping?)
            2 pic: a "scratchier" wavy line- about 3- 3.5 in long
            3 pic: same as 2, but more visible due to dried salt during scrubbing.

            1. re: dost

              Is part of it raised a little? Sometimes when casting with sand, some of the sand will fall away before the metal is poured and cause a high spot.

              1. re: SanityRemoved

                yes, there are broad high & low areas, so that could be from casting

            2. re: dost

              Another thought concerning the strange oily stuff. Often times after a pot or pan warped it would be used for other things other than cooking. It very well might have been used to drain the oil from a truck or tractor or used to wash or soak something in oil or some other chemical. The same for old fruit jars. They have been used to hold all kinds of things other than food.

              1. re: dixiegal

                Thanks so much for both of your replies, dixie. I loved learning about "cleaning" the pot fireside at the brush pile, and really appreciate you mentioning that it's possible these pots may have been used for motor oil and other non-food items. I have not cooked in this pot yet, and I think I'm going to give the whole interior a good salt boil (I'd previously just done this to the lowest 2 inches or so) and season again before using it. Better safe than sorry!

                It is amazing that this could have been through a house fire....who knows the stories it could tell!?

        2. re: grant.cook

          >I'd be curious how anyone got the thing hot enough to warp<

          Many years ago, cast iron pans and pots were put in the edge of a fire to burn off the built up grease on them. Sometimes, the pans would get too hot and warp. I have not done this but have been warned by our grandparents, to be very careful of this. My mother-in-law would give her cast iron to my father-in-law to put in the edge of the brush pile when he was ready to burn it. Then she would begin the process of reseasoning her pans. She does have one favorite pan that she would not hand over to him for fear he would put it too far in the fire, get it too hot and warp the pan.
          Anyway, there is a good chance that is how it got warped. Or it could have even been in a house fire. Alot could have happen to that pot in the last, oh, 90 years..............

          I have a little vintage CI iron skillet with a crack in the wall of the pan. So far it has not cracked further or broken. Though I do expect that one day it will. So I baught another new little lodge skillet than I am using in place of that one. Though I do occasionaly use the old one, when I am working in the seasoning of my new one or if I am just in need of two small skillets at the same time.