The Health Hazards of Cast Iron Pans

by Sarah Healthy LivingComments: 200

cast iron pansGiven the amount of time I spend in the kitchen preparing meals for my family, you might be surprised to learn that I do not own any cast iron pans. What’s more,  I don’t intend to purchase or use cast iron pans anytime in the future (I choose to cook in toxin free, traditional clay pots).

This may seem like heresy particularly since cast iron skillets are almost universally considered to be a healthy and durable choice for preparation of homecooked meals. However, I have good reasons for my head scratching decision, and science bears out my serious concerns about using cast iron pans unless they also include a quality enamel layer to prevent contact of the food with the iron surface.

Excess Iron is a Health Hazard

My primary reason for opting out of cast iron revolves around the health problems caused by excess iron in the diet.

Women do not typically need to worry about this problem as long as they are still menstruating as losing blood each month is a protective factor against this condition.  Growing children also are not particularly susceptible as growth obviously requires more blood and more iron.

However, for adult men (even fully grown young men) and menopausal women, cast iron can definitely pose a problem as the iron that naturally gets into food from utilization of this type of cookware can result in iron rising to toxic levels which is associated with a host of serious health conditions.  Iron is one of  the few minerals we cannot eliminate except through blood loss, therefore supplements should never contain iron and cooking with cast iron is a questionable choice for this segment of the population.

Most people view iron as a nutrient, and indeed it is.  It is also a powerful agent of oxidation in the body, which means it increases the chances of cancer and can severely damage the heart, arteries, and other organs when intake is excessive.  In addition, persons with an inherited condition called haemochromatosis, or iron overload disease, can be especially harmed from iron intake.  If you have any family members with this condition (about 1 million Americans), you should be especially careful with sources of iron in your diet.

Iron Overload Symptoms

Unfortunately, the symptoms of iron overload are similar to those of other conditions, therefore it may be wise to request a transferrin saturation test at your next check up to eliminate iron as a potential source of your health woes if you suffer from any of the following and are an adult male or menopausal female:

  • Fatigue
  • Joint or muscle weakness
  • Mysterious stomach or other gastrointestinal pain/nausea
  • Weight loss that cannot be explained
  • Elevated liver enzymes
  • Shortness of breath
  • Early menopause
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Impotence
  • Loss of body hair

Later stage symptoms include:

  • Greying or bronzing of the skin
  • Blood sugar issues
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Liver problems
  • Arthritis

If you’ve been cooking with cast iron for a long time and are an adult male or menopausal female, it might be wise to donate blood on occasion to reduce iron stores and switch to another type of nontoxic cookware such as enamel, glass, or titanium.

Anemia Problems Are Usually an Imbalanced Gut – Not Inadequate Iron Intake

Believe it or not, there is plenty of iron in the diet of the typical American. There is almost certainly adequate iron intake for a person eating a diet based on traditional foods and even in the diets of vegetarians.

Therefore, if you are anemic and feel the need to use cast iron to increase your iron levels, you may wish to consider an imbalanced gut as a  more likely source of the problem as common gut pathogens consume iron and are a frequent cause of anemia.   These pathogens include Actinomyces spp., Mycobacterium spp., pathogenic strains of E. coli, Corynebacterium spp., and many others.

Increasing iron intake with cast iron only makes these iron loving pathogens grow stronger and does little to remedy anemia.  Therefore, rebalancing the gut with beneficial bacterial strains through diet and lifestyle changes rather than use of cast iron or iron supplements is the best approach to solving this problem.

Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist.com

 

Sources:  Excess Iron: A Health Risk?

Gut and Psychology Syndrome

Photography Credit

Comments (200)

  • Priscilla Irizarry

    I get frequent blood work, at least once per month, and my hemoglobin and iron levels are always within normal range. I use cast iron cookware, as I am vegetarian, to increase iron consumption. To make sure I don’t get anemic, I also I take a multi-vitamin/multi-mineral everyday that contains iron. I have never had iron overload. I am have not passed menopause yet. When I do, I will take less supplements. The best thing to do is to ask your doctor or dietitian to make sure that we are getting a good amount of these important minerals in our diet.

    April 16th, 2016 11:14 pm Reply
    • Sarah

      Blood work at least once a month? Wow, that seems seriously over the top medicalization to me.

      Also, menstruating women are NOT likely to have this problem because they are losing blood every month. As stated in the article, adult men are the biggest risk with middle aged/older men the highest risk.

      April 17th, 2016 1:48 pm Reply
  • Richard

    People have been using iron to cook for over 2500 years…. i think we are safe…

    April 7th, 2016 9:58 pm Reply
    • Sarah

      Ummm, the Romans used to use lead for cooking … many went crazy because of it and it apparently contributed at least somewhat to the fall of the Roman Empire. Don’t think your argument holds water.

      April 7th, 2016 10:43 pm Reply
  • LodgeLogic

    Normally I would say this is bad science, but there’s no actual science involved.

    What are we supposed to cook with? Nonstick has Teflon and clay pots have traces of lead.

    Teach us!!!

    April 1st, 2016 10:19 pm Reply
    • Sarah

      Enameled cast iron is good as it keeps the iron out of the food. Stainless steel and titanium are also very good.

      April 2nd, 2016 8:22 am Reply
  • Karolina

    Hi Sarah!

    Thanks for addressing this problem of excess iron. Im sorry that there are grownups in this comment field with behavioral problems 😛 But access iron is a real issue.

    Thanks again~ 

    January 10th, 2016 11:38 am Reply
  • KIF

    BEWARE of the assumption that enamel cookware is safe. Many contain lead and cadmium. Le Creuset and Cuisinart are two brands that have no lead content in the cooking surface.

    December 21st, 2015 11:15 am Reply
    • Sarah

      Totally agree! Trust but verify all claims.

      December 21st, 2015 12:27 pm Reply
      • Moses Benny

        What about Staub?

        March 16th, 2016 5:30 pm Reply
  • Marhum

    Thank you for this article. Now I have learned this, I should throw my iron pans right away.

    December 21st, 2015 9:36 am Reply
  • Me

    Well my great grandfather lived to be well over 100 and cast iron is all they had to cook with. My grandmother 86 and her sister 96 both have used cast iron all of their life.

    So if there were great health problems you would think all the old people I know who cook with it in the south would have died at a young age.

    Stainless steel can be scratched so where does that go. Enamels contain lead now some Le Crueset products are made in china!!! All other cookware has a long list of problems too except for lead free glass which I love.

    Most woman don’t eat a lot of red meat so our iron is usually low.

    So I say season it well with grape seed oil and store it properly cook in it properly and you would be fine.

    Oh and my great aunt was almost 100 and she used it all of her life too. hmmm.

    Then there’s my health concerned mother-in-law she weighs 114 lbs her whole life and who used any thing but cast iron and she’s almost dead at 77 and has been very ill for about 15 years now. She used stainless.

    I have heard doctors say it’s extremely hard to take in the iron from cooking in it. So we breath toxins every day. Toxins are in the air and water etc so just enjoy life eat healthy and live.

    November 22nd, 2015 4:14 pm Reply
  • petal

    Found this study which clearly mentions “Study reports on nickel release from different grades of stainless steels clearly show that even in the worst cases, the Ni release from stainless steels is usually clearly below the limit of 0.5 µg/cm2 /week. Only studies with one grade (AISI 303, high sulphur content) have shown release rates above the limit.”. Guess SS should be safe for all kinds of cooking.
    ttl.fi/en/publications/Electronic_publications/Documents/Stainless_steel.pdf

    August 30th, 2015 5:49 am Reply
  • Dave

    Interesting article and perpective, but I believe oversimplified. There apparently is evidence that iron cookware can add some iron to your intake; and iron overload is a hugely overlooked problem.I know, because I have an overload problem that is genetically induced. However, I also just bought iron cookware because I’m tired of eating Teflon. I donate blood 4-6 times per year and have my iron levels checked annually. They are now nearing normal levels, and I plan to aim for an optimal level of 50-100 micrograms per milliliter. Iron tests are almost never part of a normal physical; the should be. Everyone should have their iron levels checked; donate blood as needed to bring it to an optimal level (the very low end of what’s considered normal); and if this were done, it might preven vast amounts of health problems. Iron cookware, per se, is not the problem. The problem is a complete ignorance of, and lack of action about iron overload issues.

    June 10th, 2015 4:53 pm Reply
    • Jen

      Sorry to use your post as a starting point but I couldn’t find a “post reply” option. So first of all I agree with you. People that use Teflon just don’t realize how many pieces of that stuff gets scraped into every meal they cook. It’s a poison and was NOT designed for long term use as cast iron was. I grew up with the ol’ cast iron skillet and proudly use one today. For anyone to become afflicted with “iron poisoning”, you’d have to probably use the stuff for every meal, every day for years. I’d be more worried about overdosing on iron from supplements than I would be cookware. Secondly, going back to the Teflon issue, unless one replaces their Teflon coated cookware every six months or so, you my friends, are the ones in danger of food poisoning. Not only from the Teflon itself, but also from the left behind food particles that it absorbs. If you are to really against cast iron, the buy stainless with copper bottoms. . .but I hope you know how to cook! :)

      October 1st, 2015 12:11 am Reply
  • Jayne

    Thanks Sarah for saying this. I read about 20 years ago that cast iron cookware was identified as a major cause of liver cancer particularly in developing countries. Iron is ageing and not something you want to add to your load, particularly if you are post menopausal or not allowed to donate blood. For those suggesting lack of evidence they also do not cite any studies about the long term use of cast iron cookware on mortality, because they don’t have any studies. There seems to be this huge sales job going on with cast iron cookware on the internet which is quite recent. Dr Mercola sells some ceramic cookware for those of you wanting a healthy option.

    January 30th, 2015 7:14 pm Reply
  • L Redmond

    Please share your sources that Cast Iron cookware is a source of Iron overdose.. There is such a small trace of additional iron in a final cooked food that the only way for a person to to O.D. on a CI pan would be to eat the pan.. Considering for almost a century Cast Iron was the primary cookware on this planet I find it amazing that we have all survived.. And the claim that we can’t eliminate if from our Bodies???? Really???? The most common cause of that problem is an hereditary disease known as Hemochromatosis……
    http://www.livestrong.com/article/185197-how-to-get-rid-of-excess-iron-in-the-human-body/

    October 31st, 2014 1:17 am Reply
  • Lisa Allen

    people have been using cast iron for a long time and they’ve been fine… case closed.

    August 30th, 2014 11:33 pm Reply
    • Sam

      People have been using it for a long time and MOST of them have been fine. Just like most people don’t get cancer. But iron in cookware can be a problem for some people, and that problem can be fatal. For them it’s not so much case closed as casket closed.

      October 8th, 2015 3:14 pm Reply
    • Dom

      That’s not how it works. I work in healthcare field. What it comes down to is individual vulnerabilities. One person might be fine with higher levels of Iron while another person can develop toxicities. We see same thing with smokers. Some can smoke for 70 years and not develop lung problems and another can smoke for 20 years and develop advanced COPD. Everyone has disease process they are vulnerable to. It depends on if those vulnerabilities are triggered enough to initiate the disease process.

      October 18th, 2015 1:55 am Reply
  • Pingback: Excess Iron is a Health Hazard | Health & Natural Living

  • Dirk

    I recently switched to cast iron pans, mostly because I got tired about replacing my cookware every 2 years. So, I switched to the all American Lodge pans. Although they are pricey in my part of the world, they still are a lot cheaper then Le Creuset or Hackmann.

    Before switching to the scientific part- the shocking truth was how much tastier everything seems to taste. I was truly amazed.

    OK now the scientific part – as always, the truth is somewhere in the middle:

    According to some studies (e.g. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2621.2002.tb09582.x/abstract) apparently it CAN add to your iron intake:

    ABSTRACT: Amounts of iron released from iron pots vary from meal to meal. The effects of salt, pH, and organic acids as iron chelators were studied. Maize (corn) porridges were prepared in a cast iron pot from maize flour and 12 aqueous solutions with different pH (3.7 or 7.2), salt contents (0% or 0.5% NaCl), and organic acids (1% lactate, 1% citrate, or none). Salt had no effect, but acidic pH or organic acids (citrate > lactate) significantly increased iron amount, from 1.7 mg to 26.8 mg Fe per 100 g. The amounts released could be important in the treatment and prevention of iron deficiency.

    These levels are nothing to be worried about. And I will, for sure choose cast iron again.It is imho opinion, the safest, and tastiest way to cook.

    July 3rd, 2014 4:12 pm Reply
  • m. joy

    I was just wondering what brand of titanium you would recommend?

    April 15th, 2014 12:48 pm Reply
  • Ironman

    9 out of 10 doctors say that 1 out of 10 doctors are crazy.

    I supposed the doctor on this page recommends PFCs (perfluorocarbons) in everyone’s meals.

    April 2nd, 2014 5:14 am Reply
  • CJ

    I wish there were some references here. I’ve read a gazillion blogs about this and everyone says different things and only one study is referenced in any of them.

    March 10th, 2014 8:09 pm Reply
    • Gudrun B

      CJ i hope you get the updates to this – the latest was July 3-14 from Dirk and that might help you a little;
      otherwise go with your gut feeling – i just purchased an old cast iron pan, found it at the re-use it store- it seasoned quite well (will do one more layer) and it looks so much better than the new pan i have, i am not happy with the new one!
      love my cast iron pot with the ceramic coating however! takes all the guess work out of this subject here as well.

      July 4th, 2014 12:34 pm Reply
  • Jamie

    Hi Sarah,

    Old thread, but I find myself with a dropped jaw at your obvious lack of proper writing – a 12th grader knows to back claims of reason with data. Hopefully since the writing of this atrocious article you have taken it upon yourself to attend a couple college english/writing courses. Your propaganda does nothing to help your ’cause’; only to expose your poor writing skills.

    Please do everyone a favor and misinform your Facebook friends and not people looking for qualified and factual information.

    January 29th, 2014 12:11 pm Reply
  • Ed

    PLEASE!!!! You are cooking in the pan NOT EATING IT! I use my cast iron cook ware maybe twice a month…I doubt VERY SERIOUSLY this poses any problem or risk. Spreading this type of PARANOIA helps NO ONE! If you want to be concerned about something focus your attention to non-stick surfaces which shed chemicals into your food over time.!

    January 24th, 2014 1:52 pm Reply
  • Gary hopkins

    Hi, I work in the lab of a foundry that produces cast iron products. For any iron to transfer from an unprotected cast iron pot you would have to generate heats that normal every day cooking would never reach, cast iron also contains traces of lead, copper, aluminium, phosphorous and other elements that on their own are not good for ones health, however when mixed as an alloy of cast iron they are trapped within a complex matrix and so harmless. Stainless steel is also an alloy with iron in it but high chromium level protect it from rusting. I understand people want to be health conscious but I use cast iron cook ware with no worry. Hope this helps.

    November 17th, 2013 6:06 am Reply
  • TTM

    With cast-iron you’re basically cooking on a surface made up of charred, oxidized fats – the same thing we hear is bad for us on grilled meats. Has anyone heard anything about this issue?

    October 2nd, 2013 5:37 am Reply
  • Benjamin Ganser

    I have heard a lot of this information and I have always made sure to properly season my cast iron and I use enameled for cooking sauces that have acidic properties than will eat away your seasoning. I believe that if you take care of your cast iron and keep it seasoned properly, the iron leaching into your food is negligible. You have to look at all the facts and who puts the studies out there. Here’s a fact: Once you buy cast iron you never have to buy anything else, ever.

    Now who hates this? People that market cookware of other kinds. Nothing against this site because i do believe the author has only the best intentions into maintaining our health. The internet and media is loaded with studies that are backed by marketing campaigns for the sole purpose of separating people from their hard earned dollars. I will never give up my cast iron. My father still cooks with it constantly and he has no problems with iron related disorders at all.

    September 12th, 2013 2:57 am Reply
  • Amy

    So many experts want to criticize this blogger, I certainly appreciate your insight and expertise. As a diagnosed sufferer of Hemochromatosis, let me enlighten everyone to two facts that no one seems to know through their extensive online research, 1. Every physician I have ever seen for treatment of this condition instructed me to NOT use cast iron cookware because I need to avoid every source of additional iron beyond that which is naturally occurring in the food I eat. 2. Hemochromatosis is much more common that people realize but goes relatively untested thus untreated. People die from it’s side effects never realizing Hemochromatosis was the real cause for their heart attack or cancer.

    What she is telling you is not a scare tactic, it is just information she didn’t cite well with references. Many people, especially anemic women could benefit from cooking with cast iron but everyone should consult with their doctor before making any decisions about their healthcare.

    September 8th, 2013 2:44 pm Reply
  • Sandra L

    The worst problem is in cooking acidic foods like tomatoes, vinegar, etc. They will leach iron out of your pan, which makes them taste rather metalic too.

    September 6th, 2013 8:13 am Reply
  • Ty Weakly

    I apologize in advance for my bluntness, but this article is nothing but a bunch of bad facts. The human body only absorbs as much iron from the diet as it needs, which is why excess iron is excreted in feces and will turn it black. There is a rare condition in which the body absorbs too much, but that is MUCH more uncommon than anemia. Shame on you for discouraging the use of cast iron because many more people would benefit from using it than wouldn’t.

    August 23rd, 2013 10:59 am Reply
    • Sam

      Iron metabolism is still very poorly understood. It may be implicated in many common disease processes and not just in those people who have genetic hemochromatosis (iron overload). My iron levels increased dramatically after 1 year of regular use of cast iron cookware which took me well out of the healthy range. This was discovered when I had tests to see why I developed back and joint pain during that period despite not having any injuries. As my iron levels diminish – through giving blood – the pain is slowly, very slowly, subsiding. Which is good because even strong prescription painkillers did very little.

      October 8th, 2015 3:36 pm Reply
  • Miriam

    Here’s the thing:

    1) I don’t doubt that people can get an overload of iron. BUT, this article doesn’t discuss if, in fact, a traceable amount of iron is absorbed from food cooked on cast iron. I’ve heard from other sources that the iron from cookware is not absorbed.

    2) The philosophy behind this website is that of using traditional food preparation. Well, guess what? Cast iron has been in use for hundreds of years. One would think that concerns about using cast iron cookware would have surfaced earlier.

    3) The entire conveyance of this information is that of a “scare tactic”. Classic “tells” of a scare tactic include sharing controversial information about a topic of little consequence, while providing no referenced backing and no alternatives to the thing being bashed (Unless you’re a millionaire and can afford the gold-plated version of everything). Unfortunately, I’m seeing a trend of scare tactics in recent posts on this website. Certainly, sometimes the truth and facts are little-known and not well-received. (Take the truth about “healthy” fats like margarine!) I’m all about listing to the little-known voices, especially in the medical/health realm. But when a source is frequently and consistently “discovering” controversial information that has little to no scientific or historic backing, it makes the source less than credible. At this point, I feel this website is drawing at straws simply to keep fresh content going. I am disappointed, since I’ve appreciated and respected Sarah’s research in the past.

    August 7th, 2013 12:27 pm Reply
  • Karen

    I’m wondering if anyone has used the “Cast-iron lite” pans made by Hertiage and if there are any health hazards with these pans? They are ceramic coated and state they are PTFE & PFOA free, but unfortunately they are made in China.

    July 9th, 2013 3:12 pm Reply
  • Mildred

    Inaccurate article :(

    June 30th, 2013 9:08 pm Reply
  • Anabella Kliewer

    My husband and I are trying to choose the best cookware. We have some stainless steel frying pans, but those eggs sure to stick! About is your opinion about the following non-stick pans?
    http://www.ecolutionhome.com/pfoa.html

    April 17th, 2013 2:16 pm Reply
    • Waqas Shaikh

      Did you ever find facts about the non-stick pan you were interested. Can you share with us the information?

      Thanks.

      WS

      June 28th, 2015 2:45 pm Reply
    • Jacqueline

      A really well seasoned cast iron skillet cooks the best slow cooked scrambled eggs ever :)

      Using the stainless steel I find if you heat the pan slowly wait for it to get really really hot and then really really really hot then drop a drop of water in and see if it dances across the pan is a good way to learn if the pan is at the right temp. Then add oil or butter just enough to barely coat the pan and then when the oil is hot add eggs and cook how ever you like. It takes a bit to learn how to keep an egg from sticking but I find a little olive oil with a little butter works great.

      Don’t know if that helps there are big differences in stainless steel cookware brands.

      November 23rd, 2015 9:03 pm Reply
  • Dawn

    Hello Sarah,

    Your claims are not backed up by any cited research. The iron given off in American made cast iron cooking is miniscule. It does improve an iron poor diet. There is no proof that it harms menopausal women or men. It also is broken down in the body to be excreted. It also can be excreted whole through defecation. IT IS THE ONLY WAY OXYGEN IS CARRIED TO CELLS. It constipates the system because it has an Iron binding capacity that BINDS. Therefore if you have average to high iron levels, it is a good idea to regularly take stool softeners. New research is old research. There is growing eveidence that a theory produced in 1934 is correct in killing cancer cells. That is the ability to oxygenate cells, increasing ooygen inside a cancerous cell, thus killing it. Most cancer cells survive, mutate and grow through aneorobic means, i.e. fermentation and acidosis. It is the sugars from aneorobic conditions that feeds cancer cells. Oygen litterally reverses this process and eplodes and kills CA cells. Again the only way O2 gets into cells from the blood stream is through Fe+ or iron carrying through the blood.

    April 12th, 2013 7:54 pm Reply
  • crabtree jickle bone

    Interesting article, but I have to disagree with you. No offense or anything but my own personal research and involvement in the health community has led me to favor cast iron (with proper use and seasoning). good luck to you.

    April 12th, 2013 11:25 am Reply
  • Ken

    Cast iron cannot be that bad using it just a few times a week. You stated that oxidation causes cancer ? Wrong ! It fights cancer cells and free radicals. Although you do have a point. You must be middle aged, using cast iron for breakfast and dinner cooking ? Users that use it 2 to 3 times a week may be good for you.

    April 11th, 2013 7:25 pm Reply
  • Jack

    My wife and I have a chronic iron deficiency. In my wife case, it is really bad. We bought a whole Lodge Signature collection from the USA to cook two years ago. My levels of iron are now normal. My wife’s level improved but were not sufficiently good, so she takes some iron suplements sometimes.

    We were going to buy unexpensive old French cast iron pottery from the late XIX and early XX century, when we discovered that the old sale brochures (from 1914) of Pied-Selle cast iron (from Fumay in France) had a mild cover of tin. Then we realised that we have to buy something modern and made in Europe or in America, not Asian and not old, that is truly safe (no tin or heavy metals).

    The choice was then between the only two US or EU manufactures of non-enameled cast iron cookware: Lodge from the USA or Skeppshult from Sweden. We choosed Lodge Signature because it was the most beautiful one.

    March 7th, 2013 9:59 am Reply
  • jeremy

    I am tired of you tools. Cast iron is fine to cook by. And if it is not what would you have us do, cook by the spit. You will only come in with comments about how we are using the wrong wood. Please do us a favor and use a proper knot to hang yourself.

    February 23rd, 2013 10:58 pm Reply
  • jeremiah

    I read today, (been researching fluorine), in a subtitle of an article that you have to pay for to read, that ceramic over cast iron has fluorine in it, not good, too bad since I love the old blue speckle ware. I am, however, tossing out my green teflon pan today, into the trash, I didnt realize that teflon had fluorine in it. Gonna go garage saleing for old cast iron immediately to add to my cast iron collection, not going to use anything else anymore if I can help it. except clay.

    February 21st, 2013 2:40 pm Reply
  • dee m

    I have cooked in and have had my meals prepared in cast iron all my life. I have no intentions of using other alternative cookware. I have two stainless steel pans that I use rarely. I have generations of family that have used them, some I have are handed down, others purchased used 36 years back. They are well seasoned, and I occasionally reseason them. Most of what I use are over 50 years old and ALL made in USA. A rarity now. I have never heard anything so negative about cast iron skillet cookware before. It will be just a matter of time before other cookware will be in the spot light, titanium cookware included.

    January 31st, 2013 12:16 am Reply
  • Pingback: The Virtues of Cast Iron Cookware — Granny's Vital Vittles

  • Ryan

    I love cooking with my cast iron pan and I am a young male adult. I give a pint of blood every 2 months so I’m not worried about iron build up. Cast iron pans, like every other kitchen implement, has its time and its place. I wouldn’t recommend using it for everything, but it has no equal for recipes that benefit from browning… indoor steaks, skillet potatoes, etc. I agree its not the end all, be all, pan, but I strongly recommend having one on hand.

    November 11th, 2012 12:01 am Reply
  • Bonnie

    I have also thought of using ceramic or glass. Would these be safer options?

    October 31st, 2012 7:26 am Reply
    • jeremiah

      check for fluorine content of the glass, I believe it may be in ceramic, if it is true, then it is not safe.

      February 21st, 2013 2:42 pm Reply
  • Kathy

    This article lacks any scientific data. You can find many opinions on the internet that supports your own, but please do not make medical decisions based on someone’s opinion. I honestly feel that people who write articles such as this one are doing more harm to their readers than good.

    October 22nd, 2012 11:08 am Reply
    • Ryan

      good point

      November 11th, 2012 12:04 am Reply
  • John

    Enough of this BS. Everyone should just drink water and not eat. Oops, our water is contaminated too! Give it a rest, you can only live so long so why be over conscious on everything.

    September 6th, 2012 2:13 pm Reply
  • Jml

    I fully disagree with this article. The blogger should not be posting this kind of medical advise
    Without scientific evidence. Very disappointing! Beware and make sure you do further research before falling for anything that is said in this article.

    August 11th, 2012 11:57 pm Reply
  • KY GLUTTON

    This is bull. Just look at the alleged symptoms. Your grandfather parented many children worked 12 hour days and lived more years than your father did. And he did this all on food that was cooked and cast iron. So get real folks stop being a bunch of lemurs.

    August 4th, 2012 9:09 pm Reply
  • Susan

    I am looking at cookware from a health POV and also looking at cooking for ‘survival’. I don’t like aluminum, not crazy about other cookware and am investigating others. BUT, is there anything besides cast iron that can be used over an open fire or campstove? To me that is a big issue in this day and time.

    July 5th, 2012 1:29 am Reply
  • Janette@Janette’s Sage

    Very interesting…funny thing is my adult son, age 22 is low on iron, so is my daughter-in-law age 28…so are many of their friends.,, this came from blood test. I was very surprised to hear that from their doctors…and I turned to cast iron to cook in increase their iron absorption.

    June 23rd, 2012 11:19 pm Reply
  • Pingback: Cast Iron Cookware problems – Cast Iron Cookware | Cookware Guru » Blog Archive

  • Bob Henrick

    Sarah, in your blog (castigating cast iron cookware, I see absolutely no documentation of your charge against cooking in cast iron. Even the doctor in your source doesn’t refer to cast iron. I wonder if somehow you have ever looked into the dangers of teflon in ones diet. It is a given that it leaches into the food we eat that was cooked in a pan coated in the stuff.

    May 14th, 2012 10:50 am Reply
  • Pingback: Why You Want a Vintage Cast Iron Skillet — Mrs Dulls Nourished Kitchen

  • Chelle L.

    A wee tad of extremism here? There’s so little risk of iron toxicity from cast iron, this position is really pretty over the top. Especially from a well-seasoned pan which puts a barrier between the pan and the food. If you already have iron toxicity (almost certainly not CAUSED by your cookware), by all means lay off the cast iron, but this is a case of a little bit of knowledge leading to a ridiculous assumption being passed off as fact. Look at a few dozen other sites seeking out the stats, as I have been doing, and you will find no need for such dire action against your lovely cast iron ware.

    March 14th, 2012 11:37 pm Reply
  • Jeff

    Note:
    If using glass cookware make sure it is made out of BoroSilicate Glass. This is what the Europeans used and it was awesome, this is also the way pyrex used to make their cooking glassware. Now Pyrex uses soda-lime glass.

    Le Creuset is very good for enamel.
    All-Clad is one of the best if not the best for Stainless Steel.

    February 23rd, 2012 12:33 am Reply
  • Angelique

    Hemochromatosis runs rampant in my family. There is a genetic test for it, to know for sure. (1 in 8 Caucasian Americans carries it, by the way). It’s highly manageable by donating blood regularly (or getting medical phlebotomy every couple weeks if your iron is reeeeaally high). Ask your doctor for your iron levels (cheap and easy) if you can’t afford the genetic test. Also, enjoy a cup of iced tea with your cast iron cooked meal. Tea blocks iron absorption. Don’t panic, be informed. Hemochromatosis is only a danger when you DON’T know if you have it.

    January 16th, 2012 9:25 pm Reply
    • Jonas

      Hate to break up the club, but Caucasian American is a pretty broad term that cannot be quantified, seriously?

      August 8th, 2014 1:38 pm Reply
      • T

        O.K….how about, honky, cracker or white-bread?

        December 10th, 2014 5:35 pm Reply
  • Pingback: Stocking The Dream Kitchen « The Mommypotamus

  • Carmen Chase

    Dear Sarah I wanted to know if cast iron pans were safe so I went to the web site and found you. I’m so glad I did. You helped me alot to understand about cast iron pans. My mother grew up using them and I started using them when I got married. But a few years ago I heard it was bad to use them so I stopped. I really didn’t understand why they were bad until I read your article. Thank you so much for all the information. If you can please let me know which brand is safer to buy I would appreciate it. On Sept 10,2011 Melisssa’s comment at the end of her letter about Dr.Mercola safe set of pots & pans, can you tell me where they are sold. Thank you again for all your Great help. I hope you and your family have a Blessed Holiday.
    Carmen

    December 13th, 2011 12:25 pm Reply
  • Melissa

    Hi, I know this is way late from when the post was actually written but I hope you will still see my comment and be able to respond. Thank you so much first of all for all your advice & opinion. I am so grateful for it and always seem to trust the advice you give because Iknow whatever you post you have put time and research into & deem it safe for your family, whereas I feel like I don’t have the time to do as much research because i have 3 children under the age of 3 so things tend to be a bit crazy :) (in a good way) I was curious what you think about Dr. Mercola’s Ceramic cookware (that supposedly??? isn’t supposed to leach anything?) I currently own Calphalon one anodized pans (Not sure how bad those are for you?) http://store.calphalon.com/calphalon-one-infused-anodized-8-piece-set/322565 a Large SS pot for making stock & a cast iron pan for frying eggs. I definitely would like to replace them with what would be best for my family, but tend to get overwhelmed in figuring out what!!!! I know you posted enamel (no lead), glass and titanium are best. Do you have any brands, links, or any pans specific you would feel safe using for your family? And is that Dr Mercola set safe & a good option or is there another set you would recommend?

    Thank you so much for your help! I greatly appreciate it! Blessings, Melissa

    September 10th, 2011 1:05 pm Reply
  • April

    What about pregnancy supplements that have iron in them?

    April 28th, 2011 10:10 pm Reply
  • Beth

    Ha! I guess there’s more than one way to cook an egg! I have great luck using a small stainless skillet with a heavy base (like All Clad or Emeril copper/stainless base). I heat it on super LOW heat and use homemade lard for the fat. It doesn’t stick at all — in fact, it practically floats right out of the pan. I fry farm-fresh eggs this way, low and slow, sunny side up, and it cooks the whites nicely while leaving the yolks less cooked, preserving their yummy goodness.

    April 24th, 2011 12:15 pm Reply
    • Beth

      P.S. Nitrate-free bacon grease works well, too.

      P.P.S. Speaking of enamel potentially containing lead, does anyone know if Rachael Ray enamel cast iron dutch ovens are lead free?

      April 24th, 2011 12:27 pm Reply
      • Lloyd Braun

        I heard that they are not lead free. As a matter of fact, I’ve heard she insists that EXTRA lead be added to her products.

        January 26th, 2015 2:29 pm Reply
  • Amanda Dittlinger

    Oh wow, speaking of iron, have you seen this video? http://potsnpies.blogspot.com/2011/03/ewwww.html

    He shows how there are actual iron filings in fortified cereal.

    April 22nd, 2011 1:27 pm Reply
  • Weldon

    I believe I read a study that green tea chelated free iron in the blood and this one of it’s key benefits for men and preventing prostate cancer?

    April 21st, 2011 3:46 pm Reply
  • Anastasia @ Eco-Babyz

    I am anemic, probably wouldn’t be so bad for me. But I don’t have cast iron, I love love love our stainless steel pans. Didn’t love them at first, but with coconut oil, they’re as good as quality non-stick pans for performance! So glad we ditched non-stick a while ago, chemicals, blah.

    April 20th, 2011 7:14 pm Reply
  • EM

    I really want to impress upon people to do their own homework and not allow fear to guide them.. as even HHE admits there are no studies that show cast iron usage directly causes abnormally high levels of iron. Abnormal Levels in the body are an indication of Dysfunction in the body and the mechanism that shuttle iron out of the enterocytes and into the blood.

    Just because your diet has iron in it from food or from cast iron…does not guarantee it is actually absorbed much less USED in the body. Prenatal vitamins that have iron in them often use an form of iron that is not good for the body and actually causes elevated iron levels. Iron from cast iron is not a significant source of iron in the diet… if you are consuming lots of greens…. they have quite a bit of iron as well…as do meats. So if you are allowing your fear to guide you…cut out meats, beans, veggies, grains….etc And go on an air and water diet.

    I PAYS to understand how iron is absorbed….: http://www.vivo.colostate.edu/hbooks/pathphys/digestion/smallgut/absorb_minerals.html

    Once you understand that the body actually controls it’s usage of iron… and it’s levels…. (unless there is a dysfunction present) you realize that if cast iron has been used for such a LONG TIME with out widespread excessive Iron levels… that it is pretty safe unless YOU, The individual, has a dysfunction that affects iron levels in some way.

    April 20th, 2011 4:10 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Hi EM, again … iron used in the past was by people who did not have the guts that are in the terrible shape of modern people. Even folks like me who eat well have very poor gut function compared with the pre-antibiotic/ pre-baby formula age. Folks like me (who are the majority of people) have imbalanced guts despite all our best efforts because the gut wall was improperly populated from the get go. We manage it with good diet, lots of probiotic foods, etc, but the fact remains that our guts hold the key to our absorption levels and people without excellent gut function (almost everyone) can be more easily poisoned by metals than folks who have excellent gut function. You cannot compare the 2 populations as Traditional Cultures had no pollution, no antibiotics, no birth control pill, no processed foods etc etc to mess up their gut flora.

      April 20th, 2011 4:14 pm Reply
      • EM

        If the villi are as damaged as is supposed today… then you run into BOTH issues of poor performance in regulating absorption/usage AND the inability to ABSORB. If you are warning people about iron… you SHOULD have made gut health a major portion of your article… as such, you did not. You made it about cast iron…. not about the health of the individual and ended up spreading your own fear to others instead of providing the full information. I am not debating your intent… i am presenting the reality of one of the affects this article had. You only focus on the health of the gut being involved in the deficiency of Iron…when it is involved in both sides of the spectrum.

        I appreciate your blog as do many people…and what i do not like is having to do damage control (not here but in other places) from the fear triggered by the incomplete article…. by providing the rest of the information that should have been provided.

        I completely agree that we can not compare traditional cultures with modern…. and had you included this reply to my post in your original article…. you would have a lot less people focusing on cast iron… and a lot more people focusing on getting their gut health improved. 😉

        April 20th, 2011 4:59 pm Reply
        • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

          You are correct .. gut problems are affected on both ends. Sorry you didn’t like the article. I stand by it regardless. It is what it is and I don’t apologize for what I write. I am glad the post has sparked debate nonetheless. I have found that no matter how I write a post, there is a segment of people that misinterpret what I write anyway. I do the best i can and don’t worry about the naysayers.

          It is very easy to back seat drive a blogger. The information on this blog is free after all. You are not paying me for it, so just accept the debate it sparks and be grateful that someone is brave enough to at least broach the issue at all.

          April 20th, 2011 5:10 pm Reply
          • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

            I should also add that the comments are a critical part of the post. The gut issues are well covered here. If I tried to cover every single angle about a post before I wrote it, it would take me 20 hours to write a single post and I would never write anything. Therefore, I write what I know about in a reasonable piece of time and the very amazing readers of this blog discuss in the comments and the back and forth completes the picture if I have missed anything. My blogs are not supposed to be research papers to be printed in a medical journal; they are posts about my opinion and other things I have discovered in my journey of wellness.

            April 20th, 2011 5:33 pm
          • Cary

            I would be careful about making these kind of statements about a mineral so basic to life as Iron. Where is your research backing this up? Dr. Weil? C’mon, you and I both NEED iron to survive.

            ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3999603/

            Of course too much of anything is a bad thing.

            April 21st, 2015 10:40 am
          • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

            Of course we need iron! But, it is easily possible to get too much especially with all the iron fortified foods these days and using cast iron can push some people over the edge of what’s healthy with this mineral.

            April 21st, 2015 11:28 am
  • Sheila

    I don’t own any cast iron (except an enameled La Creuset dutch oven), but I still found your facts about excessive iron quite interesting. My husband sometimes suffers from IBS and other GI problems, fatigue, and joint pain. We’ve been trying everything to help him out. This spring, he gave blood, and reported that he felt a ton better. His problems have been much less ever since. He used to give blood all the time, and didn’t have these issues then, so I wonder if it might be related!

    Personally, I think men are given extra iron with the expectation that they would be injured more often while hunting or defending the tribe. In our modern, less violent and physical society, men aren’t shedding blood as often as they used to, so giving blood is a good substitute (and a very generous action!). I myself often have low iron, so I don’t worry about it so much, or for the baby either, but I think my husband would benefit from making blood donation a regular thing. Thanks for the info!

    April 20th, 2011 1:34 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Wow Sheila. That is very interesting. I hope this post helps connect the dots for your husband.

      April 20th, 2011 2:18 pm Reply
  • Gabrielle

    Thank you, Sarah. I had very low iron levels until I started using cast iron daily, so there’s something to it. What scares me is that I’ve been cooking for a house full of men! Will be shopping for better alternatives for them now.

    April 20th, 2011 8:41 am Reply
  • Elizabeth

    Just wanted to share my story about this.
    I recently went to my MD because I have been exhausted constantly. He did a slew of bloodwork and found that my iron levels are elevated. All other numbers are ok, or so he said. I haven’t seen the results with my own eyes yet.
    Just a little history though, I have 19 month old twins and during that pregnancy I became quite anemic as multiple moms tend to do. I refused to take their iron supplements and instead took a little floradix instead. My numbers came up just enough to go ahead with a homebirth and then I stopped taking it. But what I started to do and have continued doing is COOKING WITH A CAST IRON PAN. Then my numbers came back high.
    I have become MORE tired over the past 6 months even though the babies sleeping patterns have improved. And I was cooking everything in the cast iron pans all along this time. So for the past month and a half or more I have stopped using my favorite pans and am due to go have my bloodwork repeated. I am even more curious now to find out if my levels went back down after reading this article. And as soon as I can find the time to escape my house and two of the cutest crazy babies, I’ll get to the lab! I can say that I have been feeling a little bit better the past couple of weeks but we’ll see if it’s related to this or not.
    I have never cooked in glass or enamel (yes, lead free, I know…) or even heard of titanium pans. Unfortunately, they would require an investment that I probably can’t make since I am not working right now. I’ll just keep scraping my stainless.

    April 20th, 2011 1:51 am Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Thank you for sharing your story, Elizabeth. I was greatly encouraged by my midwife to switch to cast iron when I was pregnant to ensure safe iron levels, but I never would do it. She said she never saw a pregnant woman cooking with cast iron that had low iron levels .. I’m sure that was an exaggeration and there are exceptions to that, no doubt, but it goes to show that cast iron in her experience (many years as a midwife testing hundreds of ladies for iron levels) cast iron has a significant impact on iron levels.

      April 20th, 2011 7:01 am Reply
  • Amanda Dittlinger

    I have one cast iron skillet that I love very dearly. I use it several times a week to fry eggs and bacon. I love reading everything you post Sarah, but for now, I’m sticking with my beloved cast iron skillet from my Mema. The rest of my cookware is Al-Clad. I paid a lot of money for good sturdy cookware and I hope that as long as the ingredients that are going in it are healthy that the leeching will be minimal.

    My husband and I once were invited to this dinner party where the guy was selling cookware called “Salad Master” the price of this cookware made my Al-Clad look like I got it from a thrift store! The theory was that this awesome “salad master” cookware was not supposed to leech ANYthing into the foods. They did a horrible taste test with baking soda but the entire presentation felt like a huge sham to me. Maybe there was something to their skillets, but then again, it might have been all smoke and mirrors. We did not purchase anything that night and I’ve been happy with my cookware!

    Thanks for keeping us thinking!

    April 19th, 2011 11:37 pm Reply
  • Jessie

    I cook eggs in my All-Clad skillet all the time. Here is what I do. Heat the skillet gently before adding fat. Add fat and allow it to heat – then add eggs. If you scramble them – let them sit for 3 minutes w/o stirring & then stir. This generally works for me. And the butter doesn’t burn either.

    April 19th, 2011 10:04 pm Reply
  • ladyscott

    I love my cast iron! What I don’t love is the iron in my drinking water. That scares me. Although, I was anemic with my first pregnancy when I was drinking bottled water. With my other pregnancies, I wasn’t anemic when I was drinking my tap water. But still, I have a dreadful amount of iron in my water.

    April 19th, 2011 9:58 pm Reply
  • Jenny

    Wow! Sarah…I salute you!

    Most people don’t want to hear that their beloved cast iron may have some drawbacks…I know I didn’t.

    I have now managed to replace all my cast iron, except the rarely used griddle, with glass or magnetic SS.
    http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/iron-dangers.shtml

    Coffee ( or in the south, Sweet Tea) is good to drink with meat as it helps remove heavy metals including iron from the body.
    http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/caffeine.shtml

    April 19th, 2011 7:23 pm Reply
  • LYM

    Julie, hemachromotosis organizations state that you do not need to eat a low-iron diet, b/c dietary meat doesn’t contribute to the problem. I haven’t seen their stance on cast iron, but the reality is, stainless steel leaches nickel, most enamel leaches lead or other chemicals, Teflon definitely leaches all kinds of chemicals, and I’ve never seen a glass skillet. Properly seasoned cast iron turns the coating into a polymer which I seriously doubt is leaching. I want to see some hard proof via properly controlled studies showing ferritin levels rising to a dangerous level when cast iron is used regularly.

    April 19th, 2011 7:18 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      I have not personally seen any hard data on it. I have seen plenty of places that talk about using cast iron to boost blood iron levels. I do not feel comfortable waiting for a study to say its dangerous before playing it safe. The cautious choice would be to avoid it, i think. Obviously an occasional meal is not a big deal. I would worry more about all the aluminum they use in the preparation of food in the restaurant industry. But, it is indeed something to ponder and think about which is why I posted about it for those who might have some issues and not be aware of the potential dangers.

      April 19th, 2011 8:54 pm Reply
      • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

        I must say that I cringe when I’m at a pizza restaurant and I see them cut the freshly cooked pizza on a big aluminum pan with a metal pizza cutter! YIKES.

        April 19th, 2011 8:56 pm Reply
  • Julie

    Sarah, I think it’s also important to think about meat factor. Meats like hamburger have a lot of iron too. If you are not cooking with cast iron due to worry of iron in your food are you eating heavy iron meats like cow meat? It it certainly something to be aware of in your cookware, and it is important to use safe cookware, but if you use your cast iron CORRECTLY without acidic things and have it well oiled it should leach very little iron into your food and be nothing but your friend. If you are worried about exessive iron I would be more corncerned about the high levels of iron in meat foods.

    April 19th, 2011 7:07 pm Reply
    • Lucy

      Good point! Its true that men aren’t losing iron on a monthly basis in the same way as women, but they still need it as it is vital for red blood cell production. The absorption of iron from the diet is variable based on the requirements of the individual, therefore if you are fit and well (and in this case male) then you are incredibly unlikely to get iron overload.

      December 3rd, 2013 7:35 pm Reply
  • Grace

    A quick perusing of titanium cookware on amazon.com shows that they are just aluminum pans with a titanium nonstick coating. Is that what you meant, Sarah?

    April 19th, 2011 5:38 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      I think you can get ones that are full titanium as well last I checked. Everybody freaks out about aluminum, but it is not a problem unless it comes in contact with the food. So a titanium coating should be fine. Aluminum really leeches if you scrape it with cooking utensils (metal ones), for example, which is one reason aluminum cookware is so bad. If you aren’t scraping it so that it gets into the food and it’s not contacting the food anyway, that should be quite safe. Most ice cream makers have an aluminum interior (mine does). No big deal unless you go scraping the ice cream out with a big metal spoon.

      April 19th, 2011 5:48 pm Reply
  • Grace

    For the person who was wondering about Mercola’s cookware, it’s here: http://cookware.mercola.com/ceramic-cookware.aspx

    I guess ceramic is kin to enamel (lead free, of course).

    April 19th, 2011 5:30 pm Reply
    • Natschultz

      Pretty sure that is made in CHINA!!!

      I searched “ceramic cookware” and it came up with Ceramcor and it seems to be the exact same stuff. No mention where it is made … until I checked here:
      http://www.chefsresource.com/ceramic-cookware.html
      they carry Ceramcor and list country of origin: CHINA!

      They also carry Emile Henry – the cookware I DREAM ABOUT!!! Now, that is safe, beautiful 100% ceramic, made in FRANCE! And not much more money, either!

      Ceramic cookware is NOT enamel! Enamel is glaze-coated metal. Ceramic cookware is glazed ceramic. Stove-top ceramic is specially formulated to resist the thermal shock. It will break if you drop it.

      BTW, searching that site, I found out that the LeCreuset French Press I was considering purchasing is not made in France – it is made in CHINA! :( Well, I guess my only option is German stainless steel (the glass ones no longer last like they used to).

      January 5th, 2013 9:31 am Reply
  • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

    It’s great if all of you want to continue to use your cast iron and love it .. I just am not willing to take the risk with an adult male in my home when other very affordable nontoxic options exist. The blog, after all, is about my reasons for not using it. Whether or not you choose to use it is your own choice.

    April 19th, 2011 4:54 pm Reply
    • Savannah

      I think maybe we were all just thrown off a little. You did not give any alternatives, which makes things even more confusing.
      I personally love your articles, and am very thankful for them. I knew about cast iron contaminating food, and take that into consideration with what I cook.
      I just thought that you didn’t seem to tell the whole story, or give any hope for people now left in the dark. Cast iron cookware may not be for you and your husband, but it is a much safer option than what most people are cooking with. There is significant evidence that the absorption rate is much lower than that of food. The fact that you didn’t have any sources threw us all for a loop too, I believe. Also, the body does eliminate iron through the sloughing of the intestine, which happens about every week or so.

      Please don’t feel like we are attacking you in all of these firey comments. There may just be a little more to the story. This is great information, like you always give to us! Thank you!

      April 19th, 2011 5:04 pm Reply
      • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

        Hi Savannah, I did mention nontoxic alternatives in the article (glass, enamel, titanium). I guess it just got missed somehow.

        April 19th, 2011 5:09 pm Reply
        • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

          Oh and no worries about very strong opinions contrary to mine. This is a blog for thinking people after all. :)

          April 19th, 2011 5:15 pm Reply
  • Melissa @ Dyno-mom

    I had never thought about the flip side of the iron transfer into food. I have a few cast iron things but largely cook in stainless steel and enamled cast iron (which technically means I am cooking with glass touching the food). Definately something to think about, which is why I like your blog. You make me question myself. Thanks again!

    April 19th, 2011 4:31 pm Reply
  • Linda

    Shoot! I have mostly stainless steel pots & pans. I was thinking about getting a cast iron skillet. I thought stainless steel was ok. I can’t afford to get rid of them & start over. It’s always something, isn’t it?

    April 19th, 2011 1:32 pm Reply
    • Stanley Fishman

      According to Sally Fallon Morell in Nourishing Traditions, cast iron and stainless steel are fine.

      April 19th, 2011 3:52 pm Reply
    • D.

      I’ve used Wolfgang Puck’s stainless steel cookware ever since it came out (7 yrs?) and I’ve seen no health issues come from those. The secret to using stainless is to warm it first, not overheat it – just warm it.

      April 19th, 2011 5:01 pm Reply
      • Ann Marie @ CHEESESLAVE

        I use cast iron, stainless steel and enameled cast iron in my kitchen.

        April 20th, 2011 11:42 am Reply
  • Deb

    Because I have used cast iron — almost every day — for literally decades (I’m 55 yrs old), and recently heard that post-menopausal women can inadvertently overload their systems with iron from cooking in cast iron, my naturopath and I thought it would be a good idea to test ferritin (iron) blood levels. Not only were my blood iron levels in the normal range, they were on the low side–which is my normal level and consistent with my lifelong health history. Meaning, cast iron made no difference at all. Since cast iron has been used on a daily basis by thousands over several centuries, I don’t believe cooking in cast iron affects the overwhelming majority of people. Perhaps a few, very rare, bizarre cases, but, isn’t that true of everything? I suggest everyone have a ferritin test done, and once you see everything is normal, go back to enjoying cast iron cooking. There’s no better way to cook (okay, stainless steel is better for a few things, but cast iron still rocks).

    April 19th, 2011 12:53 pm Reply
    • Natalie

      I agree with Deb here. If you are worried, get a blood test. Do NOT go out and buy new cookware because of this article. A blood test, which most insurance companies will pay for, will probably alleviate any fears. You can get it tested once a year to make sure you are in the clear. I just had my tested and my iron levels are wonderful. I’ve been using cast iron daily for a few years. My husband is in the Army and they test his blood all the time. He’s fine too. I think the information here is, like Deb said, for the absolute minority.

      April 20th, 2011 3:48 am Reply
      • Katie

        I agree completely, Natalie and Deb. And not only do I feel like it’s for the absolute minority, I also fear it’s a little sensationalistic. I’m sincerely disappointed in this post.

        April 21st, 2011 12:36 pm Reply
        • Shannon

          I agree with Deb and the others here. I have read articles about the dangers of stainless steel in leeching heavy metals as well. I think it is just too easy to worry too much about all of this. I say if Ma Ingalls used it (and many, many, many of our foremothers) without any known issues then it’s not too big of a deal. But getting a blood test if you are worried is a far better idea than buying a new set of cookware.

          April 22nd, 2011 6:32 pm Reply
          • Lloyd Braun

            But the Waltons used titanium….

            January 26th, 2015 3:39 pm
  • Shawna

    I can’t give blood because I have cancer, but anyways, I’ve looked for good cast iron skillets just to use now and then & as soon as I find one, even the tried and true good brands, u scrape ur fingernail on them & this rust or black stuff comes up. Is that the iron? That would end up in our food. I dont understand it. I really just want one of those cast iron pans that u put corn bread mixture in and it shapes it like corn cobs…like the pans at cracker barrel. Can someone explain what that coating is that comes off and is that what iron is that gets in ur food??

    April 19th, 2011 12:24 pm Reply
    • Stanley Fishman

      The black stuff is the seasoning or cooking residue. It is not iron.

      April 19th, 2011 2:30 pm Reply
      • Natschultz

        If you are buying NEW cast iron BEWARE!!!

        First of all, ONLY buy LODGE – it is made in America. ALL OTHER BRANDS ARE MADE IN CHINA = TOXIC additives!!!

        Second, even if you buy new Lodge, it comes “pre-seasoned.” You MUST REMOVE their SOY-BASED “seasoning” and re-season it yourself!!!

        I would scrub the heck out of it with dish soap and a copper scrubby until nothing comes off. Dry it off thoroughly.
        Then, put it into a cold oven and turn it up to 350-400 degrees and let it heat up for 30 minutes or so (after it hits temp), then use a fat of your choice (lard, coconut oil – NOT a liquid oil) and rub the ENTIRE pan with it (bottom and handle as well) and put it back in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove pan and wipe off any excess grease and char. Re-apply more fat all over, put pan back in oven, turn oven off and allow it to sit inside as oven cools. After 20 minutes or so, remove pan, wipe it all down, and re-apply another thin coat of fat only on the inside, put back in cooling oven and leave until oven is completely cool.
        Season pan on rack in middle of oven, and put the extra rack below it with tin foil or a larger pan or cookie sheet to catch any fat that may drip down.

        This will create a safe, initial seasoning. A well-seasoned pan happens over time with use – from the fat you cook with.

        NEVER WASH A CAST IRON PAN WITH SOAP AND WATER!!! To clean it, simply wipe it off after each use with a paper towel. Store it in a CLOSED, dust-free place – otherwise dust will adhere to the seasoning! I store mine in the oven.

        If it collects grime or you burn something realy bad, you can clean it by pouring some boiling water into it while it is on the stove and adding a bunch of salt and let it boil and scrape out any crud. BUT, you MUST immediately dry it off (while hot), put it back on the burner and re-season it with fat.

        Soap will destroy the pan if used more than once or twice every ten years or so, and water will cause it to rust. So, always make sure it is fully dry before storing.

        You can salvage an old rusty pan by either washing it off and then heating it up really hot and scrubbing off the rust, or even just try heating it up really hot and scrubbing off the rust (depending how bad it is). Then, immediately re-season it as above.

        January 5th, 2013 8:12 am Reply
        • Justin

          Ugh… This whole cooking ware thing… I Well, we where using clay before cast iron, and clay is red, im pretty sure, because of the iron. Not to mention all the people that would just eat the clay. I cant imagine that there would be that much leaching from a pot or pan Sarah. Its a good post though with some good thoughts. I cook out of a cast iron pan pretty regularly and I still get pretty hot and bothered when I see your vids so my manliness cant be suffering that much. It certainly cant hurt to use it once and a while.

          January 29th, 2013 10:02 pm Reply
          • Justin

            *were*

            January 29th, 2013 10:15 pm
          • Justin

            I also think that salt is red because of iron…

            January 29th, 2013 11:54 pm
  • Stephanie Finn

    Wow, I was surprised at that article. Thanks for the info and doing the research.

    April 19th, 2011 12:21 pm Reply
  • Kelly

    Never heard of this! What is your opinion of the best kind of cookware???

    April 19th, 2011 12:11 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Glass, enamel, or titanium.

      April 19th, 2011 4:50 pm Reply
      • Savannah

        Enamel can have many worse contaminants, mostly lead. Don’t buy enamelware that you don’t know is guaranteed lead-free.

        April 19th, 2011 4:54 pm Reply
  • lg

    What about copper pots and pans? Does anyone use those? Are they worth the investment?

    April 19th, 2011 12:11 pm Reply
    • Mikki

      They are “Hell” to clean!!

      April 19th, 2011 8:38 pm Reply
  • Erica

    Hi Sarah,

    Is enameled cast iron skillet fine for men?

    April 19th, 2011 12:10 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Hi Erica, it is my understanding that the enameled versions are fine. Just double check that there is no lead in the enamel.

      April 19th, 2011 5:12 pm Reply
  • Barbara Geatches

    I have enamel, stainless steel and cast iron… they all get used regularly and each have their place. Given that every cookware I’ve heard of has some sort of issue, we will continue to utilize cast iron as our primary cookware. Cast iron presents far fewer health issues than teflon, aluminum or low quality stainless steel. The issues stated with cast iron are easily solved by donating blood and that simple act will not only help the donor eliminate excess iron it may very well save someone’s life.

    April 19th, 2011 11:53 am Reply
    • Lloyd Braun

      Wouldn’t it be ironic if the person whose life you were saving by giving blood NEEDED the blood because they got deathly sick from using unsafe cookware??

      January 26th, 2015 4:08 pm Reply
  • Emilie

    I too am interested in seeing some valid sources as to how much iron actually leaches out of the pan. Until then, I’ll continue cooking on my awesomely-seasoned cast iron skillets.

    April 19th, 2011 11:50 am Reply
  • Alicia

    Hmm..definitely food for thought….thanks!

    April 19th, 2011 11:40 am Reply
  • Stanley Fishman

    Cast iron is one of the oldest forms of cookware. Most of the healthy peoples studied by Dr. Price used it. The long lived peoples who have been studied in the last century, such as the Okinawans, Georgians, Hunza’s, etc, all use it. These peoples often lived to their nineties and even longer, remaining in excellent health, often eating food cooked on cast iron cookware every day of their lives.

    I cook on cast iron every day, and have done so for almost forty years. Yesterday I used it three times, which is not uncommon. My mother cooked with cast iron, so I have had food cooked on it on an almost daily basis for over 50 years. No symptoms of iron toxicity, and my blood iron content was always ideal, when I had blood tests.

    That said, many people suffer from iron toxicity. But as I understand it, this toxicity is caused by the forms of iron added to supplements, and used to “enrich” breads, flour, and other foods. That form of iron is quite different than cast iron. These forms of iron were never placed into human bodies until the twentieth century.

    People have been using cast iron for thousands of years. I have never heard of cast iron pans causing this problem. If you have can refer us to some source material that supports cast iron pans causing iron overdose, I would like to review it.

    I would never take a supplement containing iron, or a food product that was “enriched”.

    April 19th, 2011 11:29 am Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      It is my understanding that iron is iron where ingestion and toxicity is concerned. My research on iron overload does not specify that one type of iron is ok and another is not. All sources are a threat. I think its an important point to make that the folks studied by Dr. Price didn’t have imbalanced guts either and an imbalance of gut flora contributes to absorption of metals to toxicity levels.

      April 19th, 2011 4:48 pm Reply
      • L. W.

        Have you looked at the absorption rates of heme-iron and non-heme-iron? They are different. All iron is not absorbed at the same rate.

        February 8th, 2013 2:59 pm Reply
    • Savannah

      It is true that the absorption of iron from cookware vs the absorption from food is different. The body doesn’t absorb all iron anyhow, because it know too much is a bad thing. The absorption from cookware may be as little as 2%.

      April 19th, 2011 4:53 pm Reply
    • D.

      I quite agree. I sure hope, Sarah, you didn’t base your entire article on the word of Dr. Weil. The second source was a source through which to buy the Gut and Psychology book, and the third listing under sources is a photo credit. I’ll need more than that on which to base an opinion against cast iron.

      Mercola sells cast iron pans and he has hemochromotosis, as did his father (so stated in one of his articles). Ok then. Is he a salesman or what??!

      April 19th, 2011 4:54 pm Reply
      • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

        Hi D., I made the decision not to use cast iron many years ago when I first read about the dangers of too much iron particularly for adult men. Dr. Weil and I happen to agree on this issue although I do disagree with him on a number of points. Yes, Dr. Mercola is quite the businessman, isn’t he! :)

        April 19th, 2011 5:42 pm Reply
    • lisa

      Thank you for the great feedback, Stanley. I was thinking what you articulated. If you were going to buy a new set of pots/pans what material would you choose? We have a mix of stainless steel and cast iron now.

      April 19th, 2011 6:52 pm Reply
  • MAS

    I donate blood every 8 weeks. Problem solved.

    April 19th, 2011 11:24 am Reply
  • Janet

    I am not convinced that the increase in iron with most foods is significant. A study I read indicates that acidic foods cooked in iron does raise the iron absorbed significantly, but a steak or hamburger in an old cast iron pan is very, very small. I actually have the genetic propensity to haemochromatosis and am post-menopausal. My iron levels remain in the normal ranges and I use a cast iron skillet for all meat cooking that isn’t grilled, though I do use stainless for spaghetti sauces and the like. I have used my old cast iron skillet for at least twenty years and my mother in law for forty before that. I understand that new skillets/pans cause more absorption than older ones, but still ~ I don’t think using a cast iron skillet even daily for frying an egg is that risky.

    April 19th, 2011 11:07 am Reply
  • Lanna

    I use cast iron… its what we have.. Stainless steel pans are just aluminum with stainless steel on them. You have to pay particular attention to the grade of the stainless steel. I have thrown out my teflon and my aluminum.. I will check into the ceramic and the glass–but I have a feeling those arent very easily acessable.

    April 19th, 2011 11:03 am Reply
    • Savannah

      and almost all ceramic will have lead. cast iron would be better than ceramic,

      April 19th, 2011 4:49 pm Reply
      • Jessie

        you can often find Corning visions cookware on ebay.

        April 19th, 2011 10:06 pm Reply
  • Therese – Artistta

    Have you looked into how how much iron truly does leech out, especially in a well-seasoned pan? The coating of grease/oil on a well seasoned pan can protect certain leeching properties. This is why tomatoes and other acidic foods can actually be cooked in cast iron, although only if the pan is well seasoned. As you use your pan it builds up a natural coating. Now if you use soap or don’t re-grease your pan after cleaning it, this can present a different set of issues.

    Also, do you have any references for this info.? I would be interested in doing further research. Thanks so much!

    April 19th, 2011 11:02 am Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      It really depends, Therese, on many factors (heat, cooking time, seasoning of the pan, food being cooked etc). I personally choose not to take the risk at all as there are plenty of nontoxic options for cookware.

      April 19th, 2011 4:43 pm Reply
      • Nicole Rice

        So what are the nontoxic options? You are saying- Teflon is out, aluminum is out, now stainless steel is out, cast iron is out, the only safe enamel coated pots cost $200 and more……what’s left that I don’t know about????

        January 16th, 2012 3:06 pm Reply
        • Wayne

          “Titanium, enamel, and glass are best from what I have read, although I am by no means an expert on cookware.” (From Sarah, May 2011)

          May 6th, 2013 5:59 pm Reply
  • Samantha Jacokes

    I bought an All-Clad stainless steel omelet pan for eggs. I use butter. The key is that you have to make sure the pan is HOT before you put the eggs in. Otherwise they stick like crazy!!

    April 19th, 2011 10:54 am Reply
    • Gabriella

      Doesn’t the butter burn before it gets very hot? I suppose ghee would be pretty much fool proof..

      April 19th, 2011 4:31 pm Reply
    • Chris

      Skillet cooking almost always entail putting the food item into it when it it is already hot.

      April 20th, 2011 11:10 am Reply
  • Mikki

    I searched on Dr. Mercola’s site for these pans he was pushing months ago; claimed to be a healthy alternative to Teflon, not stick and all. I could not find them today. Do you suppose they weren’t all they were cracked up to be? Pretty hard to make frittas and omelets without Teflon; sad but true.

    April 19th, 2011 10:44 am Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      You know, I cook my eggs in a stainless skillet. It just builds up my muscles scraping it off. Oh well. Trying to think practically about it.

      April 19th, 2011 10:48 am Reply
      • Amy Love @ Real Food Whole Health

        I have finally figured out how to make eggs in stainless steel without them sticking. I heat the pan up until a drop of water will skate across it. Put cold butter in, let it sizzle minute, it will turn a tiny bit brown (yuum, brown butter!) Pour eggs in and if making an omelet, use a thin spatula like a fish-turner. Done in 2-3 minutes and NO STICKING!!

        April 19th, 2011 5:13 pm Reply
        • Mikki

          What did they do back before Teflon anyway??? I am going to research this starting with my Julia Child’s, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Me thinks they used, gasp…..aluminum!!

          April 19th, 2011 8:36 pm Reply
          • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

            I think it was the Romans that used lead for cooking of all things. They loved it because it added sweetness to the food as lead tastes a bit sweet from what I remember reading. Problem is, they all went nuts from it.

            April 19th, 2011 8:49 pm
          • Lhzack

            I HATE Teflon!!!! :)

            January 2nd, 2013 10:54 pm
      • Kirsten

        I always pop a lid on my eggs when they’re cooking in the stainless skillet… fried or scrambled. The moisture from the eggs produces steam which releases them perfectly along with the butter. No scrubbing.

        February 17th, 2013 10:59 am Reply
        • petal

          Even I do the same and it never sticks.

          August 30th, 2015 5:11 am Reply
    • Natschultz

      I make omelets everyday – in an antique cast iron pan well coated with coconut oil and ghee.
      The key to ANY metal pan is to heat it up really hot FIRST, and then add your fat and turn down the heat before you add the eggs to prevent your eggs from burning. I let my omelet cook slowly so it doesn’t burn on the bottom. It has to be hot enough when you pour in the eggs that they sizzle and bubble a bit, but you must immediately turn the heat down quite low as soon as you see the eggs starting to set on the bottom and edges – then add the cheese and cover with a lid and turn to low and let sit until it all cooks through and the cheese melts. It takes some getting used too – too hot and the bottom burns, not hot enough when the eggs hit the pan and the omelette never sets right. Also, even though it finishes on low, it will not burn, but don’t walk away and forget about it – after 10-15 minutes it will taste like chewy cardboard!

      Yeah, I know you can fry an egg on a well-seasoned cast iron pan with no oil – but, sorry, an egg with no oil is DISGUSTING!!!

      January 5th, 2013 7:18 am Reply
  • Primal Dave

    I doubt chlorella will, but I wonder if Cilantro will chelate Iron? Too busy to research it right now, but something to think about. Even so I’d be screwed… I can’t stomach cilantro. :( *blech* lol

    I can definitely see a lot of guys with iron overload, though…. especially on a high meat diet. Periodic blood donation should help offload it as well.

    April 19th, 2011 10:35 am Reply
    • Libby

      The supplement IP6 WILL chelate excess iron from the body. Everybody should be getting regular blood work done that includes: iron, ferritin, b12, vitamin d (25-hydroxy). But seriously, unless you suffer from hemochromatosis, there is absolutely no reason to be frightened of cooking with cast iron cookware. I cook with it ALL THE TIME and so has my mother and grandmother. I fry chicken in my dutch oven, I make tacos in my fry pan. I make pancakes and french toast on my griddle and grill cheese and omelets in my small 6″ fry pan. You can get tested for hemochromatosis very easily.

      Available Tests
      Ferritin Blood Test
      Hereditary Hemochromatosis DNA Test Kit
      – Simple, painless cheek swab test to check for the major and a second gene mutation for Hereditary Hemochromatosis.
      Iron Deficiency (Anemia) Blood Testing Profile, Comprehensive
      – A complete blood count that screens for both iron deficiency and iron overload.
      Iron Panel
      – A blood screening for an iron overload disorder.
      Total Iron Binding Capacity (TIBC)
      – A test that measures the ability of transferrin (a protein) to carry iron in the blood.

      April 14th, 2012 11:07 am Reply
      • Annie

        I assume this website is American, because that is a very American attitude and not shared by a lot of the world!

        There is no reason at all why people ‘should be getting regular blood work done’ at all. In the UK the general view is that people should not undergo unnecessary tests, particularly invasive ones. If there is no clinical indication for bloods then why have them? In the US attitudes to healthcare are a little different, and if you can charge people for tests, even if they’re not required, then it will happen.

        December 3rd, 2013 7:20 pm Reply
    • Cindy

      I know this is an old thread, but wanted to respond anyway. There’s no need to chelate iron. Just donate blood every 55 days. It will help you and help others at the same time. It’s free.

      May 20th, 2012 2:42 am Reply
  • Jo at Jo’s Health Corner

    Thanks for sharing this! I’ve heard this before. I invested in stainless steal several years ago but then I heard they were not supposed to be that good. It can get really confusing and once something is considered to be safe then it is hard to change that.

    It’s great that you shared about anemia, far too many get the wrong advise from their doctors..

    April 19th, 2011 9:58 am Reply
  • Teresa

    Sarah,
    The article did’nt mention switching to stainless steel pans. Is it still the safest to use although I always have the food to stick no matter how much fat i use. I have just went through menopause last year and I definitely don’t need excess iron issues, however i never even thought about this. Thanks for sharing this food for thought!

    April 19th, 2011 9:54 am Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Hi Teresa, stainless steel has it’s own issues. They are generally fine for nonacidic foods like eggs and such but for cooking tomato products and other acidic items, stainless can leech alloys like nickel. Titanium, enamel, and glass are best from what I have read, although I am by no means an expert on cookware.

      April 19th, 2011 10:47 am Reply
      • Daryl Rogers

        What about enameled cast iron? Does the enamel coating prevent the leaching of iron?

        April 19th, 2011 11:15 am Reply
        • Savannah

          Yes, the enamel does protect from iron leaching, however, most enamel will contain lead, which your body cannot use at all, and is much more dangerous than iron. Make sure to buy enameled cast iron that guarantees no lead-such as Le Creuset, and nothing from China.

          April 19th, 2011 4:45 pm Reply
          • Karen

            Savannah, I just got finished browsing a Le Creuset store last weekend. Every piece I picked up and looked at was made in China. Not one was made in France. I won’t be spending that kind of money on Le Creuset. I love my good ole American Lodge cookware. And my antique corning ware.

            August 4th, 2013 10:08 pm
      • McNugget83

        If you’re no expert on cookware, then why are you writing articles on it, and arguing the point as if you were?

        March 2nd, 2013 2:25 am Reply
        • Rebecca C

          most of us are not experts on cookware, yet we use it every day. so there is nothing wrong with sharing your opinion about it in an effort to share what you have learned. what are you an expert on McNugget, and is that the only thing you ever write or talk about? sheesh!

          March 20th, 2013 9:17 pm Reply
  • Sarah Smith

    Eek, I have never heard of this! I wonder how much I should be concerned about this for my husband. I seem to cook most dinner meals in the crockpot, but do use cast iron for scrambled eggs (which we eat almost daily) and the occasional steak. So I’m wondering if this is an issue even for the small amounts I do cook with cast iron.

    Have you seen anything about the amounts of iron that end up in food cooked in cast iron vs. the amounts the body actually needs? Also, what type of skillet do you use? I have some plain stainless steel ones that I use as well, but the clean-up is always much more of a pain than with cast iron.

    April 19th, 2011 9:35 am Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Yes, I skip cast iron specifically for my hubby! Would like to keep him around awhile longer! He gives GREAT back rubs! :)

      April 19th, 2011 10:45 am Reply
      • Ryan Meyer

        This article is so full of scientific inaccuracies and misconjecture that you should be sued for blogging malpractice. Shame on you, seriously.

        April 27th, 2013 11:42 am Reply
        • JHS

          Agreed. And using the expression “hubby” should be further grounds for retribution.

          November 24th, 2013 12:50 pm Reply
        • Diego

          I agree…this article is not evidenced-based at all! Im a doctor, and i have never heard of or encounter in ky practice that excess iron can cause heart disease and cancer in menopausaul women and mature old male!

          December 21st, 2013 7:10 pm Reply
        • Jill

          Totally agree. Cast iron poses no dangers at all, other than a pan can be used as a weapon on an attacker.

          January 4th, 2014 1:34 pm Reply
    • Mike Carter

      I am a registered nurse and a cast iron expert. The amount of iron that is given off is so so minimal in every case study done. This article is soley based on an opinion with no supporting facts, numbers, stats or case studies. I encourage you to keep using your cast iron pans. What’s the alternative? Teflon? made overseas? Teflon pans release at least six toxic gases, including two carcinogens, two global pollutants, and MFA, a chemical lethal to humans at low doses. Perhaps you’re using stainless steel but, that requires oils, fats and butter. Not very healthy.

      Keep grilling, cooking and baking with Cast Iron Made only in the United States.

      March 21st, 2012 6:35 pm Reply
      • Diana

        Wow Mike, you really have no idea what this blog is about if you make the statement ‘but, that requires oils, fats and butter. Not very healthy’. You’ll find that people who follow Sarah and the Weston A Price Foundation principles LOVE to eat loads and loads of butter and healthly fats (NOT to be mistaken for vegetable oils) (I’m talking coconut oil, olive oil).

        You make the statement that you’re an expert and yet you also do not provide supporting facts, numbers, stats or case studies. Could you perhaps elaborate?

        Sarah would never suggest someone use Teflon for cooking. The use of stainless steel is by far superior.

        I wish you all the best in getting to know and understand the principles of the WAPF.

        May 20th, 2012 4:53 am Reply
        • ruth barr

          kudos Diana!

          January 17th, 2014 6:34 am Reply
      • JIm Stewart

        Couldn’t agree more. The opinion appears to be based on some misconceptions. Food cooked in a well seasoned CI pan, the iron. The pan would leach only a minor amount of minerals.

        I’ve used cast iron for years, as did my mother and grandmothers with no health problems.
        The remainder of my pots and pans are tin lined copper. Again, if the lining wears thin, come copper may leach, but not enough to cause a problem. No so with other cooking surfaces. Most leach something. l have heard that stainless is not leach proof,

        I agree, buy American made cast iron. All of mine is years old, most decades old. I don’t like the new stuff, and there is no telling what is in the iron in foreign pots. Season it wall, which requires a little effort, and do not use chemicals or abrasives to clean and you are good to go.

        Opinion, I know, but so too was the article

        September 4th, 2012 9:29 am Reply
      • Deborah

        Not very healthy Mike?

        We are all FULL of FAT and living well. Source Weston A. Price for more information if you are willing to do some real studies with real results…

        December 8th, 2012 2:00 am Reply
      • Lhzack

        I love my simple but VERY heavy-duty stainless steel small frying pan. I use Smart Balance, olive oil, and so forth — I just use it for scrambled eggs and grilled cheese. But I feel SAFE using it for my little girls and husband. :)

        This is a great discussion!

        January 2nd, 2013 10:49 pm Reply
        • Natschultz

          Smart Balance is NOT SAFE AT ALL!!!!!! Use REAL BUTTER!!!!!!
          Actually, use Coconut oil and ghee to fry your eggs in a cast iron pan – that’s what I do.

          To Mike – you NEED FAT TO SEASON CAST IRON! 😉

          January 5th, 2013 7:03 am Reply
          • Brooke

            i hate using stainless steal, i always seem to burn the food (gets hot too fast, even on low heats, that could be partially due to the stupid electric oven though). i agree with mike, cast iron can’t leach out that much and is way healthier than tephlon and way easier than stainless steal.

            February 20th, 2013 4:47 pm
      • McNugget83

        Disclaimer: I agree that too much iron is a bad thing. My grandparents both had iron issues… they stopped using their cast iron pans (switched to stainless at great expense) and… lo and behold… no change in their blood-iron levels! Turns out they were getting too much iron from their well water.

        That said, I’m not arguing the point that iron is one thing we don’t need to supplement in our diet… but to suggest that cast iron pans are a source for iron contamination in our food and bodies tells me either you are cooking on unseasoned cast iron, or, you don’t know what you’re talking about/making shit up. Where’s your proof? Where’s your facts? Scientific support? I think you are just in love with yourself and think you know best for everyone.

        Frequent cast iron cooker here… and a scientist to boot… and I am not at all swayed by your “expertise”. If a cast iron pan is properly seasoned, your food will not contact the iron at all. The seasoning (I.E. baked-on oil AKA patina AKA dehydrated, carbonized lipid material) creates a water-proof, non-stick barrier between your food and the iron. IF you learn first how to properly care for your cast iron pans (most include instructions) you will come to realize this yourself.

        For everyone else who is reading this article and ready to throw your pans away, send them to me! OR, stop using soap to wash them (heat over 160*=sterile!) just hit them with some hot water (wait till they cool first!) and scrub them with a copper/stainless scrubby, put them on low heat till they’re dry, then give them a coat of oil or shortening (IMO olive oil produces the best, longest lasting patina, though it takes a few “seasonings” as the layers are relatively thin)

        Seasoning instructions: coat your pan in a thin layer of oil or shortening –

        (olive oil would be my first choice, then crisco-type shortening, things like butter work too but give the food more of an off flavor when baked on… vegetable fat > animal fat for seasoning)

        Once lightly coated, place in an oven at around 400*F, until they stop smoking. This will stink/smoke up your house, so best to do it on a nice day with the windows open. Allow the pan to cool, wipe it with some more oil, and repeat if desired. Some times I use my Misto to hit it with more OO while its still hot, and stick it back in for another round. 3 coats of OO is a great start, and the patina will improve with regular use and proper care. Eventually you will be able to do eggs, pancakes, whatever, with little or no oil whatsoever.

        Eventually you should have a glossy black coating that repels water and food. Acids are your enemy now! You should re-season prior to/after cooking acidic foods, such as tomato based sauces etc. NEVER WASH YOUR PANS WITH SOAP I know we’ve all been brainwashed by DOW Chemical to do otherwise but it is not necessary, as you will see.

        Want to re-season? Run them through a cleaning cycle in the oven and they will come out looking like the day they were cast… oil them quickly or they will begin to rust just from the moisture in the air. Dishwashers work for removing the patina too, but they will come out rusty, and this is not recommended.

        Whoever wrote this article is assuming that iron pans=iron in the blood. I can assure you from experience, both in my own life, the lives of my family, and studies I’ve read myself, that cast iron is the healthiest of cookware that you can use. Once seasoned, they require less cooking oils/fats than any other cookware (aside from “non-stick” chemical coatings, which I hope none of you use) and if properly maintained will last your lifetime. They are durable, inexpensive, though a little heavy, and come in all shapes and sizes.

        For what it’s worth, seasoned carbon steel is very similar to cast iron, while saving some weight. Steel does not heat as evenly as cast, so it’s a trade for the reduced weight, but they both have the same effect when given a nice patina. If the weight of cast iron is an issue, give seasoned carbon steel a try, just use less heat.

        March 2nd, 2013 2:00 am Reply
        • JHS

          I am a fan of cast iron (remembering my mom killed our Canary when she burned something in a Teflon pan). Unfortunately made in USA cast iron seems to have disappeared. Loge is made in China now, I think. I don’t mind that too much except that they don’t machine the cooking surface any more so it’s not a machined, smooth cooking surface. I can’t imagine that it can ever be good for cooking. Kind of a disappointment for new CI users I’m sure. My tip: buy used; plenty available on eBay.

          November 24th, 2013 1:08 pm Reply
          • KB

            Lodge’s non-enameled cast iron cookware is still made in the USA — check their website. Their enabled cast iron cookware is made in China, but according to them under very strict supervision.

            December 26th, 2013 11:33 am
      • Clark Sanders

        I’m with Mike. It is asinine to publish ANY literature with no scientific research to back such claims. Individuals have been using CASTED IRON for centuries as cookware; and many other applications. I haven’t time to discuss the scholarly articles of well made cast derived from organic iron vs. inorganic iron–but I can assure you that a quick study on Google Scholar will provoke alternate ways of thinking on the subject. And as Mike said: Stainless is the ONLY way to cook and insure a low-lower level of toxicity. However, stainless cookware is not made as thickly due to it’s sheer strength compared to CI thus, causing a lower level of thermal retention (it does not hold heat as well as cast). Therefore, I will stick to the fine art which has endured time– and cook on it as well!

        March 11th, 2013 11:19 pm Reply
      • JHS

        And doesn’t using a well seasoned pan eliminate much of the interaction between the pan and the food?

        November 24th, 2013 12:54 pm Reply
      • Eric Kauschen

        While I’m all with you on this one. I just bought a cast iron pan today [it came from Walgreen’s so I’m not expecting the quality of my Great-Grandmother’s 103 year old pan] and it was made in China. Just so everyone knows that not all cast iron cook wear is made in the USA.

        December 22nd, 2013 6:29 pm Reply
        • Gudrun B

          so after well over a year now, how is your made in China pan doing??? just curious – i bought one at Aldi and it is probably made in China as well and i have an old one i found at a thrift shop – way big difference (then again, if i use my Aldi one more and get it to be old it may do just as well)

          January 31st, 2015 11:12 am Reply
    • Clay Black

      You have lost your marbles. The amount of iron absorb by the body thru cooking with cast iron isn’t really measurable. You need to provide scientific research from a recognized source to substantiate your claims before you publish this garbage as fact

      January 4th, 2014 1:07 pm Reply

Leave a Comment