HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >


Cast Iron - a Cautionary tale.

I'm curious about different forms of Cast Iron.

I bought this pot which looked a little different. Its 10" across and 5" deep. It has a fitted lid and very straight sides and bottom.

It feels roughly made but I thought it would be fine. What ever goes wrong with cast iron?

I discovered that the bottom of the pot wasn't cast to the sides but welded. Furthermore the weld is incomplete and the pan won't hold water. It leaks. (see the last picture "Dutch Oven-00001.jpg").

It has some neat looking features, but it's been a huge waste of time.

Has this happened to anyone else? Anyone ever fixed it? I assume fixing it is too much work. If it was fixed, would a weld in that location be reliable?

Anyone ever see this sort of design before? I'm curious about where it might have come from.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. UGH I hate when a cast iron purchase goes other than expected - I have a very old local pan with a gatemark that was hiding a nasty crack and a old "erie" cauldron that turned out to be impossibly painted

    my guess is its old and its neat looking but I would not try to fix rather find a display/storage type use for the sucker

    1. Are you sure it's an incomplete weld and not a crack? Or perhaps a failed attempt to repair a crack? Hard to imagine such a vessel not being a singly-cast piece. I assume you got this used. Sounds like it's destined to be a container for a vase or flowerpot, or to hold kindling or a decorative pinecone display.

      1 Reply
      1. re: greygarious

        That was my thought too, but the pictures don't lie.

        The top was cast but the walls and the bottom look like they were welded.


      2. Its an uncommon piece, I like the straight bucket shape of it.

        Of course, it's possible that a weld cracked, but it looks to have been made with a bottom welded on all (or most of) the way around. If you look at the third picture. On the inside there are signs of a weld but not around the whole bottom. It doesn't look like it was cast as one piece. I've never run into that before.

        Its a bummer for me, but I thought it was an interesting topic to share. I wish I'd seen a post like this here before I bought it :).

        There are a lot of people talking up the old stuff but not a lot of frank discussions about the problems.


        1 Reply
        1. re: Sigurd

          Well, frankly, problems are quite rare, IME. Inspect for warping and cracks before buying, clean up any rust and reaseason if necessary, then use it for the next 60 yrs and will it to your beneficiaries.

        2. I hate when this happens. Sorry to hear about your problem, and yeah - sunflowers are pretty popular this time of year.

          I have an English teapot that I love, but was unaware of a crack that prevented it from holding water. So, it's a very pretty blue and white vessel for dried flowers and holiday greens.

          1. I'm no expert, but cast iron isn't easy to weld. I have a BIL that's been a professional welder for decades and he has difficulty with cast iron. It would be odd to make this in two pieces since CI is so difficult to weld. I would guess it was cracked and the weld was an attempted repair.

            3 Replies
            1. re: mikie

              Perhaps. The corners of the pot are really severe. It doesn't have the slope I expect of a cast piece. It also has some 'bubbling' of metal in the corners that look like an uncleaned weld (you can see it in the pictures), but maybe that's a repair.

              I'll see if there's an apparent difference that I can see. Its all under seasoning now so close examination is difficult.

              You might be right. I'll give it another look.

              1. re: Sigurd

                My wife has a very large cast iron caldron if you will. It was cracked and said brother in law made several attempts to repair it. Although it doesn't fall appart, it doesn't hold water either. That's why I say it's darn near impossible to weld.

                Perhaps the sharp inside corners made it more suseptable to cracking?

                1. re: mikie

                  Hi, mikie:

                  +1. I have tried getting cast iron welded--unsuccessfully. What the master welders told me is that modern, new cast iron can be welded, but the older it is the nearer to impossible it becomes.


            2. Hmmmm... I'm not sure that's a weld. It would be much more difficult to make that in two pieces & weld it than to cast it as one piece. Like a LOT more difficult & expensive. It's a bit hard to tell from the pics but it looks to me like there is either some debris from the casting or a poorly made pattern. I think what you have there (not to be offensive) is a cheap casting made from a poorly made or designed pattern. Possibly the iron was poor quality or something else caused a flaw in the casting which results in your leak. I've seen lots of similar casting flaws in cookware & machinery. Welding cast iron is not all that difficult or expensive but you have to find a welder who knows how to do it. If you can find the right guy that pot could be properly repaired & usable. Good luck with it - it's a cool design.

              1. Cracked Pot. Unsuccessful/impossible attempt at welding.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Uncle Bob

                  I know that welding cast iron is extraordinarily hard,due to the very high heat needed and for the trouble, it would be easier to spend on a new one and use the old cracked (or whatever it is determined to be) as a conversation piece. Put it on a mantle or just haul it out now and then or for a lull in a social gathering. I do know , as another poster suggested, that it can be done. MIG welding possibly? I did not read all posts above, but think the 'bad weld' is more like a crack, possibly with a repair attempt as noted.
                  I have a fairly old cast iron dutch oven type thing that is straight sided and very well made. a solid top ,too. And the ears on it seem to be part of the casting.
                  I see new inexpensive cast iron sets which are clearly nowhere near the quality of my older pots. The set had one of the pots with an obvious crack in a side near the bottom.
                  Above JoeB.quickly explained about the poor casting process possibilities , whether it is advisable, cheap or practical to try to mend a leak in a cast iron pot is up to the owner and location. If there is a wrought iron place in one's area, they will surely know, and many skilled welders may know though many more might try without ever having tried before. I have no idea if lots of experience would be needed.
                  I have a dozen cast iron pans of all shapes sizes and functions from flat top to griddle on stove or open fires. almost all of them have been heated to white hot glowing cherry red and survived. I know some people who ruined their new rather cheap stuff trying to blacken something or another.

                  This is a good post...not all cast iron is the same quality. But, now, there are a couple/few well known brand names who offer really great products and made to survive long enough to become old and passed on.
                  I love cast iron cook ware and use it exclusively for some particular meals. I use aluminum pans to sautee, though, too.
                  thanks for the post/thread w/pix , though by now, I would guess this issue has come to some conclusion...flower pot,repair or in the process,

                2. http://www.lincolnelectric.com/en-us/...
                  I wanted to add this to my post as it gives one business's view on cast iron welding and when/where it might be applicable.