12 Cast Iron Myths You Can Finally Stop Believing

Cast iron cookware has been a kitchen staple for centuries, but it’s also surrounded by a fair share of myths and misconceptions. From seasoning woes to cleaning fears, these cast iron rumors can keep home cooks from fully enjoying this versatile and durable material. 

Let’s bust some of the most persistent myths and set the record straight on cast iron care!

1. Cast Iron is Too Much Work to Maintain

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The idea that cast iron is high-maintenance is one of the biggest misconceptions out there. While it does require some special handling, caring for cast iron is actually quite simple once you know the basics.

A well-seasoned pan can handle gentle washing with soap and water, as long as you dry it thoroughly afterwards. And re-seasoning is as easy as rubbing on a thin layer of oil and heating the pan – no need for lengthy oven sessions.

2. Acidic Foods Will Ruin Your Pans

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Contrary to popular belief, cooking acidic ingredients in cast iron is totally fine! A well-seasoned pan can handle things like tomatoes, wine, or vinegar for normal cooking times without issue.

The seasoning may dull slightly after prolonged simmering of very acidic liquids, but a quick re-seasoning will restore the surface. So go ahead and make that chili or simmer that pasta sauce – your cast iron can take it.

3. Seasoning Cast Iron is Extremely Difficult

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Seasoning cast iron has a reputation for being a complicated and time-consuming process, but it’s actually quite simple. Forget the elaborate methods and endless oven hours – all you really need is some oil and heat.

For a new pan, rub on a thin layer of oil and bake it upside-down for an hour. Repeat this process 2-3 times and you’ll have a great foundation seasoning that will keep improving with regular use. No need for perfection right off the bat!

4. Cast Iron Leaches Dangerous Amounts of Iron

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Some worry that cooking with cast iron will lead to excessive iron intake, but for most people, the amount leached is either negligible or even beneficial. The iron absorbed depends on factors like cooking time and food acidity, but is generally within safe ranges.

Unless you have a specific condition like hemochromatosis that requires limiting iron intake, cooking with cast iron a few times a week is perfectly healthy. It can even help boost iron levels in those prone to anemia.

5. You Can’t Use Soap on Cast Iron

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The “no soap” rule is one of the most persistent cast iron myths, but it’s actually fine to use a mild dish soap and warm water to clean your pans. Just avoid anything too abrasive and be sure to dry the pan thoroughly.

The soap may remove a bit of the seasoning, but that’s easily fixed with a quick re-oiling. Avoiding soap altogether can actually lead to more stubborn buildup over time, so don’t be afraid to suds up when needed.

6. Cast Iron is Only for Certain Types of Cooking

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Cast iron’s rustic reputation leads some to think it’s only suitable for certain dishes like cornbread or campfire meals. But these versatile pans can handle all kinds of cooking – from delicate fish to deep-dish pizza to skillet desserts.

With proper preheating and a slick seasoning, cast iron works great for everything from searing to sautéing to baking. Its excellent heat retention also makes it ideal for dishes that require a consistent temperature or a crispy crust.

7. You Can’t Repair Damaged Seasoning

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If your cast iron seasoning gets worn or flaky over time, don’t despair – it’s totally fixable! While it’s best to avoid damage by drying thoroughly and re-oiling regularly, you can definitely restore a damaged coating.

Use a stiff brush or abrasive pad to remove any loose bits of seasoning, then simply re-season the pan by applying a thin layer of oil and heating it. With regular touch-ups, even vintage cast iron can regain a smooth, non-stick surface.

8. Enameled Cast Iron is Just as Fussy

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Enameled cast iron like Le Creuset or Staub has different care requirements than traditional cast iron, but is often lumped into the same “high-maintenance” category. In reality, the enamel coating is very durable and easy to clean.

You can use regular dish soap, scrubby sponges, and even the dishwasher on enameled cast iron without damaging the coating. The enamel also prevents rusting and doesn’t require any seasoning, making it a lower-maintenance option overall.

9. Cast Iron is Too Heavy for Everyday Use

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Cast iron’s heft is often seen as a drawback, but that weight actually comes with several advantages. The heavy material helps with heat retention and distribution, leading to more consistent cooking.

A preheated cast iron pan will also stay hot far longer than thinner pans, making it great for searing meats or stir-frying veggies. And with a naturally non-stick seasoning, you can use less oil overall. The weight becomes less noticeable with regular use.

10. New Cast Iron is Better Than Vintage

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There’s a common debate over whether new or vintage cast iron is superior, but both have their merits. Some prefer the lighter weight and smoother surface of older pans, which may be due to differences in manufacturing.

However, modern cast iron is still very high quality and will develop its own smooth patina over time with proper care. Vintage pans can also have issues like rust or residue that need to be carefully cleaned. Ultimately, both new and old work great.

11. You Shouldn’t Use Metal Utensils on Cast Iron

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While it’s best to avoid anything excessively sharp or abrasive, you don’t need to baby your cast iron by only using wood or silicone utensils. A well-seasoned pan can handle metal spatulas, tongs, or spoons just fine.

Using metal utensils carefully can actually help smooth out the pan’s surface over time, improving the non-stick properties. Just use a gentle hand and avoid anything that could gouge the seasoning.

12. Cast Iron Doesn’t Work on Glass Cooktops

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If you have a smooth-top stove, you may have heard that cast iron is off-limits to prevent scratching the surface. But it’s entirely possible to use cast iron successfully on glass or ceramic cooktops.

The key is to avoid sliding the pan around, as that can lead to scratches. Always lift the pan to move it, and be careful not to drop it on the glass. You’ll also want to make sure the bottom of the pan is smooth, with no rusty spots. Enameled cast iron is an especially good choice for glass cooktops.

So there you have it – twelve common cast iron myths debunked! With a little know-how and some simple care techniques, cast iron can be a reliable workhorse in any kitchen. 

Whether you opt for a vintage pan or a brand-new skillet, you’ll be able to enjoy the versatility and durability of cast iron for years to come.

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Davin is a jack-of-all-trades but has professional training and experience in various home and garden subjects. He leans on other experts when needed and edits and fact-checks all articles.