Carbon steel is a popular material for cookware due to its durability, versatility, and affordability. However, there has been some concern about its safety for cooking.
In this article, we will try and answer the question “is carbon steel safe for cooking?” look at the pros and cons of carbon steel cookware and things you need to know before using it.
See also: What are the 5 basic cooking skills?
What is Carbon Steel?
Carbon steel is an alloy of iron and carbon, with other elements such as manganese, silicon, and copper added to enhance its properties. It is stronger and more durable than stainless steel, which makes it ideal for use in high-heat cooking applications such as searing, sautéing, and frying.
Is Carbon Steel Safe for Cooking?
Yes, carbon steel is safe for cooking. In fact, it is one of the safest materials for cookware. Unlike non-stick coatings, which can release toxic fumes when overheated, carbon steel does not contain any harmful chemicals or coatings that can seep into your food.
However, like any cookware material, carbon steel can potentially leach iron into your food, especially if it is acidic. While this is not harmful in small amounts, it can affect the taste of your food and lead to iron overload if consumed in large quantities.
How to Season Carbon Steel Cookware
To prevent your carbon steel cookware from rusting and enhance its natural non-stick properties, it is important to season it before use. Here are the steps to season your carbon steel cookware:
- Preheat your oven to 400°F.
- Wash your carbon steel cookware with soap and water, then dry it thoroughly.
- Apply a thin layer of vegetable oil or flaxseed oil to the entire surface of the cookware, including the handles.
- Place the cookware upside down on the middle rack of your preheated oven.
- Bake for 1 hour, then turn off the oven and let the cookware cool down inside.
Repeat this process two or three times to achieve a well-seasoned surface. After each use, clean your carbon steel cookware with hot water and a soft sponge. Avoid using soap, as it can strip away the seasoning.
Pros and Cons of Carbon Steel Cookware
Like any cookware material, carbon steel has its advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of the pros and cons of using carbon steel cookware:
- Durable and long-lasting
- Suitable for high-heat cooking
- Natural non-stick properties when seasoned properly
- Affordable compared to other high-quality cookware materials
- Can rust if not properly seasoned and cared for
- Can leach iron into food, affecting the taste and potentially causing iron overload
- Prone to warping if exposed to extreme temperature changes
How to Choose the Best Carbon Steel Cookware
When choosing carbon steel cookware, consider the following factors:
- The thickness of the cookware: Thicker carbon steel cookware is more durable and retains heat better than thinner ones.
- The size and shape of the cookware: Choose the size and shape that best suits your cooking needs and fits your stovetop burner.
- The quality of the manufacturing: Look for cookware that is made with high-quality materials and craftsmanship to ensure durability and safety.
- The price: Carbon steel cookware is generally more affordable than other high-quality cookware materials, but the price can vary depending on the brand and quality.
Carbon steel is a safe and versatile material for cookware, but it requires proper seasoning and care to maintain its non-stick properties and prevent rusting. While it can potentially leach iron into your food, this is not harmful in small amounts and can even be beneficial for some people. When choosing carbon steel cookware, consider the thickness, size and shape, quality, and price to find the best one for your needs.