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Old 11-07-2019, 03:30 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Cast Iron - Does it matter?

Looking to get a cast iron pan. Never had one. Figured it was time. I see from cheap to expensive, but mostly cheap.

Does it matter which one? I would like to get a good one that will last me a long time, but was wondering if the brand mattered or if there was a preferred brand at all?
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Old 11-07-2019, 03:40 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I have a cast Iron Griddle and a Frying pan. Pretty sure they are both "Lodge" Brand. Neither was expensive. They took a little while to get a good seasoning to them but they work great now and the griddle especially has been put through hell and mistreated more than anyone wants to hear.
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Old 11-07-2019, 04:03 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I have a full set of pans and find that the ones that don't have a brand preform best. Probably because they are the most worn in. I got lucky and found mine at a garage sale before guys started putting a premium on old pans.
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Old 11-07-2019, 04:21 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I have a question for guys with lodge brand pans that come with an ultra rough finish

Does that rough finish eventually become smooth with bacon grease and whatever build up?

I can't imagine any of my older pans having ever been as rough as a new lodge. I've never bought a new one.


Preferred brand of used is griswald and wagner

Preferred brand of new is la creuset very well finished compared to other new pans

I would LIKE to prefer a new lodge pan since they are so cheap but I'm wondering if I need to take the pan to the shop to sand the thing smooth first or...what.
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Old 11-07-2019, 04:25 PM   #5 (permalink)
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As far as I know, if you want the extra smooth finish, vintage is your only option. You won't find it with Lodge. It will change as it seasons up, but will never match the classic smooth finish.

Whether or not that really matters is a separate question.
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Old 11-07-2019, 04:30 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I've never had one other than Lodge, I don't think I can really say that at this point I have any complaints. But like I said. Nothing to really compare it to.
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Old 11-07-2019, 05:05 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Axel View Post
As far as I know, if you want the extra smooth finish, vintage is your only option. You won't find it with Lodge. It will change as it seasons up, but will never match the classic smooth finish.

Whether or not that really matters is a separate question.
Can you sand em when new?
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Old 11-07-2019, 05:12 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I have cheap new and old cast iron and by far the old cast iron is nicer to use (easiest to season or re-season). That being said you can make new cheap cast iron (e.g. Lodge) work just as well.

The smoother the cocking surface is the easier it is to season/use and you only need a thin layer of seasoning (Long chain polymer coating created when fats are burnt onto the surface) It is essentially a non-stick coating made of carbon based polymers (not synthetic polymers). If you have a rough surface to get the benefits of non-stick seasoning you have to build up multiple layers these long chain polymers to smooth out the surface and fully coat the cast iron. This has a problem that it is harder to do and not screw up (gummy residue that is not fully polymerized vs hard thin fully polymerized layers) or the layers do not adhere well and just flake off requiring constant re-seasoning.

Giswald and Wagner are most likely the most sought after Cast Iron Pots and Pans. They are good quality nodular cast iron, cast thick and even pans that after the casting process were milled and stoned down to a smooth even surface with very small pores and no casting voids. They work great take very little effort to season and are relatively easy to maintain with basic care. You can get similar finishes with cheaper cast iron it just takes some time and elbow grease. I have on several of my cheaper cast iron taken my orbital sander with varying degrees of garnet paper to smooth out the cooking surface. I remove any existing seasoning (throw in the coals of a hot fire and let it burn off). once cooled down take 80->120->200 grit garnet paper to it making sure you keep it smooth and flat without creating low/high spots. Make sure you go up the sides of the inside too, the smoother the better. Then re-season the whole thing inside and out. Just slather your fat of choice (I like rendered animal fat like bacon grease but previously cooked pork fat work just as well or even suet from the butcher section). Wipe off the excess and heat up to 500F and let the fat cook off. Do this a couple time then use it.

Warning if you cook off the seasoning the cast iron with start rusting immediately (even before you get it out of the fire) so be ready to clean it up when it cools down to knock off the loose rust and start seasoning.

No matter what cast iron you get use and abuse it. It is tough and does not require much to take care of them. Soapy water is most likely the only thing you have to worry about the soap removes the fats and break down seasoning. You can safely use metal utensils though there is some risk of damaging the seasoning but that is not a big deal just put it back to use and add another layer of seasoning. If you want you can use the same utensils you use with teflon pans but not really necessary (IMHO). Hell when I use my cast iron pans and dutch oven when camping I use stream/lake water and some sand to clean anything stuck to the surface. Basically when done using before it fully cools down just wipe out excess fatty material with a towel and leave it.

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Can you sand em when new?
Yes for both new and old. I like to go to flea-markets or antique shops to find my cast iron over buying something new.
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Last edited by Grendel; 11-08-2019 at 09:42 AM. Reason: Typo, Typo and more typos
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Old 11-07-2019, 05:17 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Yes, the rough texture can be a problem and yes, you can sand it out but there are better (though more expensive) options. Here's a great video I found of this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXCGiRsUwLQ&t=490s

I have a couple Lodge pans that were given to me and while they did eventually smooth out with prolonged seasoning/use it did take a long time. At this point I can cook eggs in them without sticking too badly but if you start with a smooth finish you get better results faster.

That youtube channel is great if you're getting into cooking with cast iron. I've followed their directions on how to season and clean my pans and it has worked flawlessly.
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Old 11-07-2019, 08:38 PM   #10 (permalink)
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My two favorite cast iron pans I have are a la crueset that I got for $35 shipped on ebay ($250 pan) and a no nmame that my father got at a time share seminar in the 80s. Seasoning is as imprtant as anything, but the la crueset is worth looking into, especially with the unlimited lifetime warranty.
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