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    Is it good to use cast iron utensils? Is cooking with cast iron healthy? Whether you are a consumer or manufacturer of cast iron cookware, these are common questions that you must have thought about. Cast iron utensils are emerging as a much in-demand alternative to non-stick cookware in India. It undoubtedly has its benefits. Let’s take a look at the unique cast iron cookware manufacturing process to understand what makes it superior to other materials. We’ll also share some basic tips on how to clean and re-season cast iron utensils easily to ensure its durability and longevity.

    What is the process of manufacturing cast iron cookware and pans?

    Before we understand the process of how cast iron cookware (pots, pans, woks, tawa, kadai, tec.) are manufactured, let’s understand what is cast iron and its main properties.

    What is cast iron? What are its main properties?

    Cast iron is an alloy made out of pig iron and parts carbon (2% – 4%) and silicon. It is strong, robust and durable. It’s less malleable and can break under high stress. It’s however heat and wear resistant and can be mold into different shapes and sizes easily. It is also affordable, especially when compared to stainless steel utensils.

    Now, let’s take a look at the manufacturing process of cast iron cookware.

    Also read: Iron vs Cast iron – Which is better and why?

    Step-by-step guide to how is cast iron cookware manufactured?

    The manufacturing process of cast iron cookware is both an art and science. In India, with a wide and varied culinary tradition, the innovation of cast iron utensils like pots and pans is steeped in utility, convenience and heritage.

    Step 1: Selection of raw materials

    To make cast iron, the process begins with the selection of high quality pig iron and other elements that goes into it (e.g., carbon, manganese, sulphur, silicon etc.). In a controlled environment, the metals are heated at extremely high temperatures. The heating and melting process ensures that the melted iron is purified and suitable for casting.

    Also read: Raw material sourcing strategy

    Step 2: Casting

    Once the iron and other metals are melted it is poured into casts or molds to give it its desired shape and form. These molds are designed with precision as it will give the cookware its shape, structure and form. The quality of the mold therefore impacts the end result. In time, the molten iron cools within the molds, taking its shape of the desired utensil.

    Step 3: Removing iron from molds

    This is a slightly complex process as any rush can lead to cracks and wastage. In this stage, once the cast iron has cooled and taken the desired shape, it is slowly removed from the molds. Since it is still newly formed, care should be taken during removal of the cookware to prevent damage.

    Step 4: Smoothening the edges

    The edges of the cookware at this stage might be rough and uneven and requires smoothening. Usually, skilled workers grind and trim these imperfections to achieve a uniform, smooth and seamless finish.

    Step 5: Seasoning the cookware

    This is the final stage that involves smoothening the cast iron cookware. Seasoning is a critical process. Done properly, it prevents the utensil from rusting and gives it a natural non-stick surface. Ideally, the cast iron pot/pan is coated with a thin layer of oil and heated/baked in an oven. This step lets the oil polymerize and form a protective layer over the cookware.

    This step ensures the longevity and durability of the cast iron utensil and enhances its performance in the kitchen.

    Also read: The different types of cast iron

    Now that we understand the process of cast iron utensil manufacturing, let’s take a look at some of the popular questions people ask about it.

    Is cooking with cast iron healthy?

    Many ask if it is safe and healthy to cook in cast iron utensils.

    In general, cast iron cookware has been used for years and are considered safe to use. However, it can rust and even leach iron in time. As such, it is recommended to maintain and re-season the cast iron utensil periodically to ensure safety and minimise the risk of iron overload.

    Moreover, certain cooking activities such as simmering food, acidic food or boiling water should be avoided as it may increase the chances of absorbing a higher quantity of iron. In general, cooking in cast iron cookware can marginally increase the quantity/absorption of iron in food.

    It’s therefore recommended that you take medical advice if you are using cast iron cookware, to ensure safety in cooking.

    Also read: Iron vs steel – How are they different and which is better?

    Is it good to use cast iron utensils?

    Another popular question asked about cast iron cookware is – Is it good to use or is it safe to use?

    In general, cast iron cookware comes with its benefits in cooking and many prefer it over basic non-stick cookware. However, when it comes to cooking, some basic points must be kept in mind.

    For instance, when cooking in cast iron cookware, there is small quantity of iron released. Basic type of iron is also found in general food items (vegetables, legumes, etc.). However, considering that there is a recommended limit on the amount of daily iron consumption, care should be taken to not overdo it.

    As such, there are basic benefits of cooking in cast iron cookware (i.e., since the pots and pans release minor quantity of iron into the food being cooked), and it is a common practice.

    However, do consult with your medical practitioner on the same before you switch to cast iron cookware to ensure that there are no side effects.

    Also read: Cast iron vs steel – Which is better?

    What are the disadvantages of cooking with cast iron?

    It’s often debated if there are any drawbacks or challenges of cooking in cast iron skillets, woks, pans and pots.

    In general, there are benefits of cast iron cookware. However, there are a couple of disadvantages of cooking with cast iron.

    • Requires re-seasoning: Since cast iron cookware are prone to rusting, it requires to be oiled, heated and re-seasoned from time to time to ensure that rusting does not form.
    • Is heavy: Cast iron utensils are heavier than its counterparts. While it doesn’t matter much for domestic pots and pans, when it comes to industrial usage, it may require additional support during cooking and cleaning.
    • Is brittle: Though cast iron is heavy and strong, it is also brittle. This means that there can be small cracks and breakage if the utensil is dropped or stress is applied on it.
    • Long heating time: Though cast iron utensils can retain heat for long, it takes time to distribute heat evenly across the utensil. It’s a slow process and even the handles can get hot (single casting).

    What kind of utensils to use on cast iron?

    If you are using a cast iron cookware (e.g., pots, pan etc.), a common question is – what kind of utensils to use on it?

    Wooden utensils:

    In general, a wooden utensil (e.g., ladle) is recommended. These hardwood utensils are strong and unlikely to break or heat up rapidly when used with cast iron utensils. Moreover, due to the nature of the material (i.e., wood) it will not scratch the surface of the cast iron cookware and is natural and sustainable.

    Silicone utensils:

    Alternatively, you can also use silicone utensils on cast iron. Similar to wooden utensils, silicone is a poor conductor of heat and will not get hot when cooking. They are easy to clean and food stains/odour can easily be removed. They bend easily and have smooth finishes that don’t leave any scratches on the cast iron surface.

    However, it is recommended that you invest in a high-quality silicone utensil considering there are poor imitations available in the market, that do not have the same qualities and may release toxic elements.

    It is also recommended that you avoid using plastic when cooking with cast iron cookware. Plastic can catch the heat from cast iron quickly and melt in parts, releasing toxic elements into the food.

    How to clean and re-season cast iron utensils?

    As a manufacturer producing and selling cast iron utensils, it’s a best practice to share a manual with tips on how to clean and re-season cast iron cookware.

    Some of the basic steps that consumers can take to clean and re-season their cast iron utensils are:

    • Wash the utensil gently with mild soap water and scour the excess rust or oil
    • Leave it to dry or heat it slowly for the water to evaporate
    • Rub a small amount of vegetable oil with your fingers or a tissue or soft cloth
    • Re-season it by gently baking or heating it
    • Let it cool and it is ready for re-use

    Remember, cast iron cookware has its advantages and disadvantages, and there are other materials that consumers use, such as steel and iron, for their daily cooking needs.

    At Tata nexarc, we aim to make it easy and convenient for you to procure steel. We have partnered with leading steel sellers and offer quality steel from top brands across steel types. You can buy steel at the best prices, get doorstep delivery across locations, and avail credit facility. To know more, get in touch with us now.

    Sohini Banerjee

    Sohini is a seasoned content writer with 12 years’ experience in developing marketing and business content across multiple formats. At Tata nexarc, she leverages her skills in crafting curated content on the Indian MSME sector, steel procurement, and logistics. In her personal time, she enjoys reading fiction and being up-to-date on trends in digital marketing and the Indian business ecosystem.