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Jul 7, 2012 04:43 PM

Le Creuset- again

Here's a story. In 2009, I bought a 6 quart Le Creuset, a discontinued model that I got for a deep discount. It lasted one year, whereupon I found that a small chip of enamel flaked off on the bottom (not underside) of the pot. I sent the pot back to Le Creuset, anticipating that they would replace it. Instead, they said that the chip was the result of "improper use" of the pot - too high temperatures. But they offered to sell me a new pot in the same model at half price (still more than I paid for the original). Since I liked the pot, and couldn't find an equivalent for (much) less, I bought it. Tonight, I fried up some vegetables in the pot, and ended up burning the pot. Nothing extraordinary, the enamel blackened - but that happens all the time, even with moderate heat. I was able to wipe the blackened portion off, relatively easily, with a sponge. But. Two small chips in the enamel came up!

So what should I do? The pot is all of 2 years old, and I've obviously had limited success with Le Creuset. Should I 1) just go ahead and use the pot with the small chips in it. I'm not really worried about doing that, but Le Creuset says never to do so (of course not- that way you have to buy a new pot; or should I 2) look for some other model of enameled cast iron Dutch oven that's more durable or; 3) go some other direction. I have a 20+ year old copper lined aluminum Dutch oven that I used forEVER before I got the Le Creuset. And it got scratched, but nothing major, is light weight, but cooks evenly, works great. I'm inclined to just stick with that, though I do like the enamel surface for soups, etc.

Please share your thoughts! Thanks.

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  1. <Two small chips in the enamel came up!>

    Yes, these things happen. It is unfortunate that whenever someone has a chipped Le Cresuet, the owner/user is accused of being a moron.

    <Should I 1) just go ahead and use the pot with the small chips in it. I'm not really worried about doing that, but Le Creuset says never to do so >

    Not just Le Creuset, any enameled cast iron company would told you not to cook with a chipped pot due to potential harms. For example, you can eat a chip enamel piece, right? And there are many other potential issues. The companies are liable if they told you that it is ok to use a chipped pot.

    <2) look for some other model of enameled cast iron Dutch oven that's more durable or; >

    Le Creuset claims its pots are most chip-resistance. Maybe you other bet is with Staub. Alternatively, you can go with the nonstick pan philosophy. Basically accepting nonstick pans have a certain timespan, and just buy an inexpensive one.

    <3) go some other direction. >

    Go other direction is probably best.

    <I have a 20+ year old copper lined aluminum Dutch oven>

    Copper lined on top of aluminum? Or Aluminum on top of copper? Either case, it is an unusual design.

    <I do like the enamel surface for soups, etc.>

    Why do you like enameled surface for soups? Just curious. Have you considered nonstick surface? It is very easy to clean up and very inert especially for making soup.

    1. I was lucky - I had the same thing happen to my 9 Qt dutch oven, and they sent me a new one (albeit in my first alternate color choice - they didn't have the color I orginally purchased in production).

      While I was waiting for their verdict, I hemmed and hawed about what to do next, and considered all three of your questions. Here are my thoughts:

      (1) I have young kids - I decided not to use the chipped pot as the chips that came up in my situation were quite sharp, and I would've hated to have them have something go wrong from eating the enamel pieces. If it was just me, I'd probably have chanced it. My damaged area also had "shalling" marks, or lines moving outward from the initial chip. I figured it was just a matter of time for those pieces to flake off.

      (2) I don't know if other brands are more durable - there seem to be less complaints about chipping in other brands, but I think the smaller number of complaints were due to the fact that the pots were significantly less expensive and cooks didn't expect them to outlast a generation. Perhaps a non-enameled version (wow - they are pretty inexpensive) might be better for your use - if you can bear the seasoning process.

      (3) I love my pot as I could simmer soups and beans forever without the dreaded burnt crust at the bottom - I don't think that is as easy to achieve in other types of cookware. And watch for the copper lined pan - it needs to be lined in tin to prevent the copper from leaching into food. We need copper, but it is also a toxic heavy metal, so too much isn't a good thing in our diets.

      I am counting on the idea that the chipping on my post was a manufacturers error - if it happened to me twice in similar ways, I'd definitely be swearing off the Le Creuset.

      Please update us and let us know what you decided!

      2 Replies
      1. re: Spierings

        It's interesting, because my LC dutch ovens are in pretty heavy rotation and I haven't chipped the interior at all. I would consider them to be extremely durable. (which is not to say that you or the OP are morons -- just I wonder if there are differences in manufacturing. )

        1. re: Savour

          I know! I was mortified - and mine wasn't even because of utensil use - I was just warming some oil to brown some meat. I was worried that they wouldn't send me a new one as so many have deemed to be "at fault". Perhaps there was a manufacturing defect after all! I'll have to call and ask why it was deemed faulty.

      2. Well, if you've had trouble with Le Creuset, then you don't want one of the inexpensive knockoffs, as they are considerably more chip prone. I would give Staub a try. Not that it can't be chipped, but I think that is the only other well manufactured enameled cast iron out there with a reputation for not chipping easily.

        Since it's happened to you twice, I would give serious thought to reviewing my technique. Enamel chips for some reason and it could be a manufacturing defect, however, since you have had this experience twice, it could be "pilot error". Keep preheat to a minimum, heat slowly, and don't add cold ingredinets to an already hot pot. Let the pot cool slowly and only wash it after it is completely cool. You may already be following these techniques, and if so that's good, but these would be the things that I would think contribute to enamel chipping from thermal expansion and contraction and not impact (a totally different issue).

        Between our house and our children we have 9 Staubs in service and have had no issues with chips.

        2 Replies
        1. re: mikie

          +1 for trying Staub. If I ever use an immersion blender for my soup, I make sure to make the soup in the Staub. The light colored interior of the LC scares me and, for some reason, I feel that the Staub is tougher (maybe because it's heavier?) Also, just out of curiosity, are you using metal utensils in your pot?

          1. re: sherrib

            Yes, but very gingerly. Not for stiring, but the large metal spoon is used to remove contents or a set of metal tongs to pluck items from the pot. I'm not deglazing with a metal utensile either. So even though metal enters the pot, it's not in harsh contact with the enamel.

        2. I have had Le Creuset for about 30 years before I bought my first Staub, and now I'm a Staub convert. So many things I like about them compared to Le Creuset. The dark interior does not need to be cleaned so thoroughly (I'm a bit OCD about cleaning cookware, I guess). I also like the drip spikes which introduce the moisture from the lid back into the dish more evenly. And lastly, I just think the designs are far superior, and the colors incredibly beautiful. That said, it seems to me that cookware stores push the Le Creuset brand a lot more than they do Staub; is it because Le Creuset is offering incentives to dealers? I don't know. I know I've gotten a bit off subject here. One of my Le Creuset pieces does have a small chip that's never gotten any larger over a period of years. I do not hesitate to use it.