1905: "Cast Iron Pan"

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freezeblade
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Re: 1905: Cast Iron Pan

Postby freezeblade » Fri Oct 27, 2017 3:33 pm UTC

Hell, I've left a pot of beans on the stove when I went out to grab some groceries plenty of times before, just got to make sure it's on low as possible, with a heat defuser, and nothing else on or near the stove.
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Re: 1905: Cast Iron Pan

Postby JudeMorrigan » Fri Oct 27, 2017 3:45 pm UTC

One thing I'll add: I'm not 100% sure what source ericgrau is using for their stats, but the USFA's "fires caused by appliances" stat includes "televisions, radios, video equipment, phonographs, dryers, washing machines, dishwashers, garbage disposals, vacuum cleaners, hand tools, electric blankets, irons, hairdryers, electric razors, can openers, dehumidifiers, heat pumps, water cooling devices, air conditioners, freezers and refrigeration equipment as source of heat". (Fwiw, USFA seems to be citing 14500 residential fires caused by appliances in 2015, which was the most recent year they seemed to have statistics for.)

I would feel pretty confident that the frequency with which each of those appliances cause fires is not evenly distributed. And I'd bet a wooden nickel that dishwashers are vastly lower on that list than things like electric blankets or irons.

So, I don't know. Characterizing someone leaving a dishwasher running unintended as "dumb-ass recklessness" just seems like poor risk-assessment to me. And I'm completely unsurprised that an insurance company would consider his friend's fire exactly the sort of freak occurrence that people pay insurance companies to deal with.

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Re: 1905: Cast Iron Pan

Postby Hiferator » Fri Oct 27, 2017 3:58 pm UTC

Cygnwulf wrote:[...] I don't have to hold on to it with one pan while stirring with the other.


Thanks for the hilarious mental image, Edward Panhands.

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Re: 1905: Cast Iron Pan

Postby sardia » Sat Oct 28, 2017 12:23 am UTC

Hiferator wrote:
Cygnwulf wrote:[...] I don't have to hold on to it with one pan while stirring with the other.


Thanks for the hilarious mental image, Edward Panhands.

At least I know my cast iron pan won't spy on me. I may be a hermit, but at least none of the tech companies will know who I am.

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Re: 1905: Cast Iron Pan

Postby x7eggert » Sat Oct 28, 2017 12:33 am UTC

orthogon wrote:I assume that cast iron pans are some kind of fresh hipster hell that had passed me by. Is high-maintenance medieval cookware the new thing, in the same way that not having gears on a bike is the new having gears on a bike?


I don't own one, but cast iron behaves differently from other materials. If you put a steak into a thin pan, the pan will get cold, you will get a bad result. Also a thick pan will heat more evenly. OTOH a thin pan will change temperature quickly if you turn up/down the plate or remove it from the heat, and if you're making eggs, you will want that.

A cast iron pan isn't supposed to be problematic. Just don't use soap, and if you do, use oil and potato peels for restoring the seasoning (cook them). Also don't let it catch rust, use bacon to add a protective layer when necessary.

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Re: 1905: Cast Iron Pan

Postby Soupspoon » Sat Oct 28, 2017 12:53 am UTC

sardia wrote:At least I know my cast iron pan won't spy on me. I may be a hermit, but at least none of the tech companies will know who I am.
…until you can be Googled, boasting of such a fact, that is!

:P

(Not yet, at time of writing, but the search-engine spiders can't be far away!)

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Re: 1905: Cast Iron Pan

Postby x7eggert » Sat Oct 28, 2017 1:14 am UTC

GlassHouses wrote:I have scratched my head many times about the supposed coolness of "fixie," i.e. one-speed, bicycles.


My former neighbor had one in order to force himself to train using a specific cadence. It wasn't a fixie though, but single-speed, you didn't need to keep pedaling and you had to have a classic brake on the back wheel.

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It was a case of Minz and Maunz and the fire offices warning against using these materials and everybody playing Pauline again and again until it wasn't just a small house burning down.

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Re: 1905: Cast Iron Pan

Postby xtifr » Mon Oct 30, 2017 8:41 pm UTC

Describing cast iron as "high maintenance" is a bit ridiculous as well. You do sort of have to know what you're doing to get the best out of it, but since you maintain it by adding oil and heating, and since you generally use it by...adding oil and heating...

Compare to:

* Stainless or copper: much harder to clean. If you count cleaning as part of maintenance (and I do), then cast iron is a big winner.
* Teflon: easy to clean, but requires a great deal of care. You need special rubber or wooden tools for ordinary use, and those things have a strong tendency to melt or burn. Cast iron's surface stands up to metal spatulas just fine. And if the no-stick surface starts to degrade, teflon adds poison to your food and usually has to be replaced entirely, while cast iron can be repaired simply by using it normally.

Of course, if you don't know what you're doing, than cast iron can suck. Which is one reason I don't recommend cast iron to people in general. (The other reason is that people are more likely to give me their cast iron if they think it sucks. I haven't paid for a cast iron skillet in decades.) :)
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Re: 1905: Cast Iron Pan

Postby sardia » Mon Oct 30, 2017 9:39 pm UTC

xtifr wrote:Describing cast iron as "high maintenance" is a bit ridiculous as well. You do sort of have to know what you're doing to get the best out of it, but since you maintain it by adding oil and heating, and since you generally use it by...adding oil and heating...

Compare to:

* Stainless or copper: much harder to clean. If you count cleaning as part of maintenance (and I do), then cast iron is a big winner.
* Teflon: easy to clean, but requires a great deal of care. You need special rubber or wooden tools for ordinary use, and those things have a strong tendency to melt or burn. Cast iron's surface stands up to metal spatulas just fine. And if the no-stick surface starts to degrade, teflon adds poison to your food and usually has to be replaced entirely, while cast iron can be repaired simply by using it normally.

Of course, if you don't know what you're doing, than cast iron can suck. Which is one reason I don't recommend cast iron to people in general. (The other reason is that people are more likely to give me their cast iron if they think it sucks. I haven't paid for a cast iron skillet in decades.) :)

Given how long they last, why would you pay for a pan more than once a few decades?

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Re: 1905: Cast Iron Pan

Postby Ranbot » Mon Oct 30, 2017 10:38 pm UTC

xtifr wrote:Describing cast iron as "high maintenance" is a bit ridiculous ...since you maintain it by adding oil and heating, and since you generally use it by...adding oil and heating...

Exactly... cast iron maintenance and use are one and the same. Clearly some people put more effort into maintenance, but the bare minimum is pretty minimal, and it'll probably last forever with any type of utensil being used on it. You have to be pretty lazy/dumb to actually ruin a cast iron pan.
xtifr wrote:...teflon adds poison to your food...

I wouldn't use the term "poison" but yes Teflon has potentially hazardous chemicals, specifically per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, but I believe more assessment is needed to definitively say exposure risk from Teflon pans is significant compared other exposures.* So I wouldn't say people should trash all their Teflon pans yet, but if one is concerned about chemicals in Teflon then cast iron is a ready alternative.

* Those chemicals were put in anything that needed resistance to water, fire, stains, or grease... fire-fighting foams, ScotchGuard carpet and furniture treatments, Goretex or similar waterproof "breathable" fabrics, microwave dinner packages, pizza and take-out food boxes, even dental floss, and many people living near military bases have traces in their drinking water.

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Re: 1905: Cast Iron Pan

Postby ericgrau » Tue Oct 31, 2017 3:04 pm UTC

I was a bit scared of teflon so I looked it up and high heat creates the biggest risk of breaking it down and releasing dangerous compounds into your food. Super high searing temps, high enough to leave some charcoal in the crust, can release some teflon and cause minor danger. To cause major danger is next to impossible though. Your oil would smoke like crazy and/or catch fire... for a very long time while you are still busy getting the pan hotter. Your crust would be a thick mass of charcoal and yet it would be raw in the middle because of how fast this happens. So in other words I'd be more worried about burning the food than the teflon itself.

I suppose if you overheated a dry pan with no oil, and then let it cool back down, you could pull it off without burning your food. So don't heat an empty teflon pan.

It is crazy how many chemicals there are everywhere though.

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Re: 1905: Cast Iron Pan

Postby orthogon » Tue Oct 31, 2017 3:28 pm UTC

ericgrau wrote:It is crazy how many chemicals there are everywhere though.

It's true. Literally everything has chemicals in it.
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Re: 1905: Cast Iron Pan

Postby Pfhorrest » Tue Oct 31, 2017 4:50 pm UTC

Actually the vast majority of the universe is surprisingly bereft of chemicals. It's mostly just intergalactic voids full of dark energy criss-crossed with some skidmarks of dark matter here and there.
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Re: 1905: Cast Iron Pan

Postby Ranbot » Tue Oct 31, 2017 7:25 pm UTC

ericgrau wrote:...Your crust would be a thick mass of charcoal and yet it would be raw in the middle because of how fast this happens. So in other words I'd be more worried about burning the food than the teflon itself....It is crazy how many chemicals there are everywhere though.

If you char food [or burn any organic material for that matter] it creates poly aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are well-known to be cancer causing when ingested. Cast iron won't spare you from PAHs in burnt food. So, yeah nasty chemicals everywhere, including naturally, but risk is a relative calculation. Feel better yet? :P

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Re: 1905: Cast Iron Pan

Postby xtifr » Mon Nov 06, 2017 12:55 am UTC

The big problem with teflon is that it doesn't stick to the metal very well (not sticking to things is rather its selling point), and it's not very strong, so once you scratch or chip it, it tends to continue to disintegrate and add teflon chips to the things you cook in it. And it can't easily be resurfaced, so you pretty much have to replace the whole pan at that point. Especially since the parts where the teflon has come off are no longer no-stick.

With cast iron, on the other hand, you don't have to worry about dropping a knife in it, or stabbing it with a fork to get that last morsel of food out. It's safer to cook with when you're tired or drunk (relatively speaking).

And, while it's a very bad idea to set any of your pans on fire, cast iron is a lot more likely to still be usable once the fire has been put out and the fire engines sent home. (Though it may be time to re-season it.) :)
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Re: 1905: Cast Iron Pan

Postby Peaceful Whale » Mon Nov 06, 2017 1:05 am UTC

After learning about all these things that can kill me, I’ll be living the rest of my days in a plastic bubble...
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Re: 1905: Cast Iron Pan

Postby xtifr » Mon Nov 06, 2017 1:07 am UTC

Best not. Plastic bubbles can kill you. :mrgreen:
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Re: 1905: Cast Iron Pan

Postby Soupspoon » Mon Nov 06, 2017 5:13 pm UTC

xtifr wrote:it tends to continue to disintegrate and add teflon chips to the things you cook in it.

Is that "teflon crisps" (UK) or "teflon fries" (US)…? ;)

(Teflon sprinkles in your cakes and buns!)

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Re: 1905: Cast Iron Pan

Postby Mutex » Mon Nov 06, 2017 5:17 pm UTC

Mmm, Teflon chips. They go down real easy.

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Re: 1905: Cast Iron Pan

Postby ericgrau » Mon Nov 20, 2017 5:25 am UTC

xtifr wrote:The big problem with teflon is that it doesn't stick to the metal very well (not sticking to things is rather its selling point), and it's not very strong, so once you scratch or chip it, it tends to continue to disintegrate and add teflon chips to the things you cook in it. And it can't easily be resurfaced, so you pretty much have to replace the whole pan at that point.

Replacing it is still easier than cleaning and re-seasoning a cast iron pan. :P

But seriously not a single one of my nonstick pans have this problem. All their surfaces are intact. Someone else tossed one in a bin with some knives and scratched one of my pans during a camping trip. I was a little mad, but that pan has caused me zero problems in spite of the scratch mark.

I have a feeling this whole cast iron thing is justified by solving minor problems with major solutions. I'd rather control my heat and follow near zero effort care steps on a regular pan than deal with cast iron. It's true you can do quite well with cast iron with an acceptable amount of effort, but it's still much more effort than a regular pan. Compared to "learn how to adjust heat knob, don't have a metal spatula."

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Re: 1905: Cast Iron Pan

Postby xtifr » Thu Nov 23, 2017 1:43 am UTC

ericgrau wrote:
xtifr wrote:The big problem with teflon is that it doesn't stick to the metal very well (not sticking to things is rather its selling point), and it's not very strong, so once you scratch or chip it, it tends to continue to disintegrate and add teflon chips to the things you cook in it. And it can't easily be resurfaced, so you pretty much have to replace the whole pan at that point.

Replacing it is still easier than cleaning and re-seasoning a cast iron pan. :P


I'm guessing you don't know how to season cast iron, or you'd realize how silly that statement is.

Unless you're saying you don't clean your other pans. In which case...ick!

(For that matter, I can't remember the last time I had to re-season any of my cast iron. Not that seasoning is hard--but the seasoning is also constantly renewed by ordinary use.)

I have a feeling this whole cast iron thing is justified by solving minor problems with major solutions.

Minor problems, yes, but likewise minor solutions. Taking care of cast iron is about 99% knowledge, and maybe 1% effort--at most. It's mostly a matter of...using them normally. And keeping them oiled up. Which is usually a part of using them normally.

I'm not trying to persuade you to switch to cast iron--no skin off my nose either way. But I use cast iron mostly because I'm lazy, and I find it a lot easier to deal with than the alternatives. (Which I also own and use, but nowhere near as often.) The whole idea that cast iron is some sort of complicated, arcane, hard-to-operate thing is what I'm objecting to. If it were complicated, arcane, or hard-to-operate, I would have stopped using it long ago.
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Re: 1905: Cast Iron Pan

Postby ericgrau » Thu Nov 23, 2017 6:00 am UTC

xtifr wrote:
ericgrau wrote:
xtifr wrote:The big problem with teflon is that it doesn't stick to the metal very well (not sticking to things is rather its selling point), and it's not very strong, so once you scratch or chip it, it tends to continue to disintegrate and add teflon chips to the things you cook in it. And it can't easily be resurfaced, so you pretty much have to replace the whole pan at that point.

Replacing it is still easier than cleaning and re-seasoning a cast iron pan. :P


I'm guessing you don't know how to season cast iron, or you'd realize how silly that statement is.

Unless you're saying you don't clean your other pans. In which case...ick!

I'm saying it takes seconds for me to clean other pans. And zero time and little knowledge to care for the surface. With a cast iron pan that gets me to:

"How To Season Your Cast-Iron Skillet:
Scrub skillet well in..." - time's up.

Specifically I said you can work with cast iron with an acceptable amount of effort, but that's still much more effort than a regular pan, include all knowledge and steps to overcome all drawbacks. Specifically to avoid the 100th comment of "You must not know how to do it right cuz it isn't that hard."

I thought I'd check youtube for an easy trick to clean cast iron and it took a few minutes. Repeat if bad. Acceptable I guess, but more than seconds. My trick if a regular pan has stuck on gunk, drop in filled sink 5-10 minutes. Longer if bad. Takes only 3 extra seconds of my time because I'm cleaning other dishes in the meantime. Cast iron is a hobby I guess; because if all my dishes were like that it's add up to hours and I'd hate washing a lot more. But if it's just 1 it's not that bad and you can make youtube videos about it with a cowboy accent.

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Re: 1905: Cast Iron Pan

Postby xtifr » Thu Nov 23, 2017 8:11 am UTC

ericgrau wrote:I'm saying it takes seconds for me to clean other pans.

Yup, and that's how long it takes to clean cast iron. If your sources are telling you something else, then your sources are insane. Cast iron is as easy and quick to clean as teflon. And noticeably easier and quicker than stainless or copper.

I freely grant that knowledge is a barrier. Never denied it. But if you happen to have acquired that knowledge by whatever means, than cast iron quickly becomes a great choice.

Specifically I said you can work with cast iron with an acceptable amount of effort, but that's still much more effort than a regular pan

And again, no. It's purely a matter of knowledge. The effort is identical to or less than other pans.
My trick if a regular pan has stuck on gunk, drop in filled sink 5-10 minutes. Longer if bad.

That's how I clean cast iron--if it's really bad. Normally, it's much easier to clean than that! Hot water and quick scrub.

You seem to be confusing the seasoning (do it once per lifetime per pan normally) and cleaning. They're not the same thing. Learning to season cast iron is a bit tricky--not hard, but tricky. I learned it from my mom decades ago. Now that I know, I like cast iron because I'm lazy and it's so easy to use and maintain.

I get the feeling you think I'm lying about how easy it is. Why on earth would I do that? I don't care if you use cast iron or not!

Now, you want to talk high-maintenance: carbon steel knives are high maintenance. I used to prefer them, till I realized I was too lazy, and life's too short for that. Yes, they take an amazing edge, but they rust at the blink of an eye, even if you know what you're doing. But cast iron? Maintenance is simply ordinary use, for the most part. I'm too lazy not to use cast iron. :)
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Re: 1905: "Cast Iron Pan"

Postby ericgrau » Thu Nov 23, 2017 1:51 pm UTC

Normally I also just give a regular pan a quick scrub if even that.

Now let’s say both are greasy and gunky and you soak, thinking it will be a few minutes . If you forget cast iron in the sink and leave it all day will it rust?

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Re: 1905: "Cast Iron Pan"

Postby xtifr » Sun Nov 26, 2017 7:18 pm UTC

If it's well-seasoned, the inside surface should be just fine. You might get some rust on the outside, but that's really not a big deal. A quick scrub, then use the pan, and things should be fine. The heat from using the pan will drive out any remaining moisture. So rust really isn't a major problem (unlike with carbon steel knives, which don't get high heat and oil as part of their normal operation). The solution to most problems with cast iron is to use it. (You can actually season an unseasoned pan simply by using it often enough, although the stickiness of the unseasoned iron makes this approach annoying.) :)

I generally wash my cast iron before I use it, rather than after. (Like I said, I'm lazy.) For the most part, that avoids the rust problem entirely. But when, for whatever reason, rust does appear, I just treat it as an excuse to make some eggs, or maybe a quesadilla. Really not a big deal.
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-- Donald Knuth, The Art of Computer Programming, Vol I, 3rd ed.

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Re: 1905: Cast Iron Pan

Postby Keybounce » Mon Nov 27, 2017 4:19 am UTC

xtifr wrote:Best not. Plastic bubbles can kill you. :mrgreen:


Especially if you're trying to use one as a bounce ball when dropped from a height.
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Re: 1905: "Cast Iron Pan"

Postby freezeblade » Mon Nov 27, 2017 10:45 pm UTC

ericgrau wrote:Normally I also just give a regular pan a quick scrub if even that.

Now let’s say both are greasy and gunky and you soak, thinking it will be a few minutes . If you forget cast iron in the sink and leave it all day will it rust?


Cleaning cast iron for me is done with a "vegetable brush" which is basically a big round toothbrush (2" DIA), brushing under hot water for about 5 seconds to get any detritus out, then dried with a dish towel. This takes less time than it does to clean my stainless steel pans (which I love as well!). Normally when things are really stuck on my cast iron skillet or dutch oven, I will just pour some water into the pan and let it to soak a bit (as opposed to dropping it in a soapy sink), then proceed as I normally would later. I have left the water in for a few days accidentally before, and it has not damaged the pans one bit.

Like xtifr, about half the time I'm lazy and will just clean out the pan right before I use it, but once the pan is dry, if you don't plan on using it for a while, it helps to have a thin layer of oil on the pan surface. I keep an oiled (flax oil) scrap of cloth in a ziplock (in the fridge) which I will use to wipe down the dry pan when I remember (which isn't often), or when the surface looks particularly "matte."
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Re: 1905: Cast Iron Pan

Postby sardia » Tue Nov 28, 2017 11:13 am UTC

ericgrau wrote:
xtifr wrote:The big problem with teflon is that it doesn't stick to the metal very well (not sticking to things is rather its selling point), and it's not very strong, so once you scratch or chip it, it tends to continue to disintegrate and add teflon chips to the things you cook in it. And it can't easily be resurfaced, so you pretty much have to replace the whole pan at that point.

Replacing it is still easier than cleaning and re-seasoning a cast iron pan. :P

But seriously not a single one of my nonstick pans have this problem. All their surfaces are intact. Someone else tossed one in a bin with some knives and scratched one of my pans during a camping trip. I was a little mad, but that pan has caused me zero problems in spite of the scratch mark.

I have a feeling this whole cast iron thing is justified by solving minor problems with major solutions. I'd rather control my heat and follow near zero effort care steps on a regular pan than deal with cast iron. It's true you can do quite well with cast iron with an acceptable amount of effort, but it's still much more effort than a regular pan. Compared to "learn how to adjust heat knob, don't have a metal spatula."

I don't know how you are cooking with your Teflon pans but my pots go through the gauntlet when I cook. They get blasted with heat, scraped, and soaked. Ain't nobody got time to be gentle with Teflon. Steel, Teflon and cast iron pans work for family dinners, but only cast iron will out last them all.

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Re: 1905: "Cast Iron Pan"

Postby ericgrau » Thu Nov 30, 2017 4:34 pm UTC

I blast them with heat but I soak and clean only with a sponge, no implements; I don't even own any. If it's super bad and won't come off within a few seconds, I soak again after rinsing and wiping and then it does the next time. If I burn something I include vinegar when soaking. Takes literally seconds each time, not a single disastrous exception in years. All are in good shape with coatings intact and I've never replaced one. I guess that's the big secret. Soak and you'll never need to scrape.

If you don't like to leave things in the sink even 10 minutes makes a pretty big difference and you can do other things meantime.


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