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Cast Iron Conundrum... (Smooth vs. Rough surface)

KiterToddKiterTodd Posts: 2,103
edited December 2017 in EggHead Forum
Many of us love our cast iron as it's perfect for egg cooking.  A while back there was a great discussion on this forum noting how nobody makes smooth cast iron anymore due to the higher production costs.  You can buy those in antique stores or stumble upon an old family heirloom if you're lucky.

We also discussed how many of the cheaper cast iron pans (i.e. Harbor Freight) are likely harmful to cook with as they're made from melted down asbestos laden brake discs and other automobile parts. 

So, I've been happily using my Lodge skillets until I came across an advertisement on the facebook this morning for a company called Smithey Ironware that seems to make a helluva cast iron pan.  Hand ground and finished just like the ones grandma used to buy.  I searched for it online and also found another company, Cowboy Cauldren, that seems to make something similar but claims to do so with a smooth mold vs. grinding.

Links below - be curious on opinions and if anyone is using these.  The video in the first link was interesting.  That's the ad that came up this morning...
Interesting Video in this link.



And here are the two company websites if you are curious...

Smithey Ironware  - $200 for a 12"  
Cowboy Cauldren  - $325 for a 12"

Obviously, I have no affiliation.  It just seems like a product Eggheads would like and I'm curious to hear your thoughts.  They're not cheap...

LBGE/Maryland
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Comments

  • calikingcaliking Posts: 11,106
    Not a CI expert, but seems like it would be MUCH cheaper to sand or grind down a Lodge pan to however smooth you want it to be. 

    #1 LBGE December 2012 • #2 SBGE February  2013 • #3 Mini May 2013
    A happy BGE family in Houston, TX.
  • DoubleEggerDoubleEgger Posts: 11,900
    That’s ridiculously priced. Why not buy a Griswold? 
  • Carolina QCarolina Q Posts: 12,988
    That's not a conundrum, it's a no-brainer. $200? $350??? Not a chance! I'll just "settle" for my $20-30 Wagner/Griswold pans. Not only smooth, but pre-seasoned from years of use. Complete with all the cool crusty bits on the outside. =)

    And if I couldn't find one, I'd buy a Lodge and have at it with a sander.

    I hate it when I go to the kitchen for food and all I find are ingredients!

                                                                …Unknown

    Michael 
    Central Connecticut 

  • I recently found a #9 griswald small logo for $30 at an antique mall.  It needed reseasoning, but still only $30 (and I'm sure many have found them cheaper).

    These small logos are not as desirable to collectors, so they can be found at reasonable prices and are still awesome for cooking. 

    I dont think I would spend $200-$300.  Plus the hunt is a lot of fun!!!
    Memphis, TN 
  • I have my FILs 10" CI skillet- smooth as glass, bacon sticks every time I cook on it.
    I have a newer Lodge 10.5 Round griddle for pancakes, grilled cheese, Quesdillas and nothing ever sticks to it.

    I am going to get a 12" Lodge one of these days and have been debating the smooth out like in these videos.

    LBGE, Charbroil Gas Grill, Weber Q2000, Weber Kettle Premium, Yeti 65, RTIC 20, Yeti 20 oz Rambler, Yeti Colster, RTIC Lowball

    Not quite in Austin, TX City Limits
  • HeavyGHeavyG Posts: 4,929
    Aesthetics aside, in real world usage I haven't found much difference performance wise between a vintage piece and a recent Lodge that has gotten some use.
    Camped out in the (757/804)
  • KiterToddKiterTodd Posts: 2,103
    Ahh, the voices of sanity have spoken.

    Thank you.  =)
    LBGE/Maryland
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 22,980
    took about 20 minutes to sand out my 12 inch lodge, side by side the smooth lodge is better.  if bacon is sticking you are not getting the pan hot enough

    side note, when the seasoning on a preseasoned lodge fails, it really needs to be sanded. reseasoning will not keep it from continually flaking
  • KiterToddKiterTodd Posts: 2,103
    took about 20 minutes to sand out my 12 inch lodge, side by side the smooth lodge is better.... 
    What did you use to grind/sand it smooth like it looks in the pan above?

    I may have to try that.
    LBGE/Maryland
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 22,980
    small electric grinder with sanding pad, then finished it up with a dynorbital sander with 180 grit. it was actually fine with the grinder setup but the random orbital makes it shine
  • Photo EggPhoto Egg Posts: 7,895
    If I were to buy a new, higher end pan, there are a few cheaper options.
    https://fieldcompany.com
    Thank you,
    Darian

    Galveston Texas
  • Photo EggPhoto Egg Posts: 7,895
    KiterTodd said:
    took about 20 minutes to sand out my 12 inch lodge, side by side the smooth lodge is better.... 
    What did you use to grind/sand it smooth like it looks in the pan above?

    I may have to try that.
    how to smooth cast iron pan
    Thank you,
    Darian

    Galveston Texas
  • KiterToddKiterTodd Posts: 2,103
    Photo Egg said:
    If I were to buy a new, higher end pan, there are a few cheaper options.
    https://fieldcompany.com
    I did see that but was skeptical of the "light weight" claim.  It seemed like a way to put a positive spin on them cutting costs by making a thinner pan.  The beauty of cast iron is how evenly it distributes heat due to it's mass.   I didn't read the details, though... maybe they kept the bottom thickness the same and took weight out of the sides and handle.
    LBGE/Maryland
  • HeavyGHeavyG Posts: 4,929
    Photo Egg said:
    If I were to buy a new, higher end pan, there are a few cheaper options.
    https://fieldcompany.com
    @DoubleEgger isn't too happy with his:

    http://eggheadforum.com/discussion/comment/2237114#Comment_2237114

    I'm satisfied with mine and don't have the same concerns he does. Mine hasn't flaked at all and it pours fine without any dedicated spouts.

    Camped out in the (757/804)
  • HeavyGHeavyG Posts: 4,929
    KiterTodd said:
    Photo Egg said:
    If I were to buy a new, higher end pan, there are a few cheaper options.
    https://fieldcompany.com
    I did see that but was skeptical of the "light weight" claim.  It seemed like a way to put a positive spin on them cutting costs by making a thinner pan.  The beauty of cast iron is how evenly it distributes heat due to it's mass.   I didn't read the details, though... maybe they kept the bottom thickness the same and took weight out of the sides and handle.

    Cast iron is good at retaining heat (but that is not always a good thing) but cast iron sucks at distributing heat. The best way to get the heat evenly distributed is preheating it in an oven. Matching skillet size to burner size is also pretty important and is one reason many folks run into problems - too big a skillet on too small a burner.

    I have a Field and it is lighter in weight compared to many newer skillets and does not seem to be lacking in any quality.

    Camped out in the (757/804)
  • blastingblasting Posts: 5,482
    edited December 2017
    When I was thinning out my collection, I sold the griswald and wag stuff first.  People pay big money for them, and I'm just as happy with a smoothed lodge.


    Phoenix 
  • Photo EggPhoto Egg Posts: 7,895
    KiterTodd said:
    Photo Egg said:
    If I were to buy a new, higher end pan, there are a few cheaper options.
    https://fieldcompany.com
    I did see that but was skeptical of the "light weight" claim.  It seemed like a way to put a positive spin on them cutting costs by making a thinner pan.  The beauty of cast iron is how evenly it distributes heat due to it's mass.   I didn't read the details, though... maybe they kept the bottom thickness the same and took weight out of the sides and handle.
    All of the older pans, that are so sought after, are lighter in total weight.
    I think @HeavyG explains it very well.
    Even a standard Lodge, if it's used a lot, will build up layers and smooth out more over time. But they are heavier, and heavy adds no real benefits except it MIGHT be less likely to warp due to extreme temp changes.
    Thank you,
    Darian

    Galveston Texas
  • DoubleEggerDoubleEgger Posts: 11,900
    HeavyG said:
    Photo Egg said:
    If I were to buy a new, higher end pan, there are a few cheaper options.
    https://fieldcompany.com
    @DoubleEgger isn't too happy with his:

    http://eggheadforum.com/discussion/comment/2237114#Comment_2237114

    I'm satisfied with mine and don't have the same concerns he does. Mine hasn't flaked at all and it pours fine without any dedicated spouts.

    Yup. It’s a POS compared to a Griswold. 
  • Photo EggPhoto Egg Posts: 7,895
    HeavyG said:
    Photo Egg said:
    If I were to buy a new, higher end pan, there are a few cheaper options.
    https://fieldcompany.com
    @DoubleEgger isn't too happy with his:

    http://eggheadforum.com/discussion/comment/2237114#Comment_2237114

    I'm satisfied with mine and don't have the same concerns he does. Mine hasn't flaked at all and it pours fine without any dedicated spouts.

    Yup. It’s a POS compared to a Griswold. 
    Most will be compared to the best ever.
    Thank you,
    Darian

    Galveston Texas
  • There's also Finex. Priced very high, of course, but extremely smooth-bottomed and can be purchased with an available lid. 

    https://finexusa.com/
  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 26,640
    Cast iron is terrible at evenly distributing heat.  Aluminum, copper and carbon steel are excellent at it.
    ______________________________________________
    This is my signature line just so you're not confused.  Love me or hate me, I am forum Marmite.
    Large and Medium BGE, Kamado Joe Jr, Akorn Jr, smoker with a 5k btu AC, gas grill, fire pit, pack of angry cats, two turntables and a microphone, my friend.  Registered republican.
    New Orleans, LA - we know how to eat 

  • I started with a rough bottom and cooked my way to a smooth. A lot of love in the process.
  • @nolaegghead: Entirely true, but I didn't see any comments that stated even heat distribution was what was being sought.

    If the OP is asking specifically about cast iron, it's likely that they are asking because they are already familiar with CI's great properties of heat retention, which are unparalleled. In comparison with aluminum, CI had twice the heat retention capability - perfect for frying chicken or searing a steak. 

    I love me some good CI.  :)
  • Carolina QCarolina Q Posts: 12,988
    Finex is octagonal! Ain't natural! Everyone knows CI pans MUST be round! =)

    I hate it when I go to the kitchen for food and all I find are ingredients!

                                                                …Unknown

    Michael 
    Central Connecticut 

  • @Carolina Q: My famous "stop sign pancakes" are now a staple of my home. 

    Jokes aside, the bottom is round. You'd only get an octagonal shape in the event you were to bake something like cornbread all the way up the side of the pan. In the event you were to do so, you'd have the advantage of having the points of the octagon provide an indicator as to the size of your servings, ensuring consistency with every plate. 
  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 26,640
    @Great_EGGspectations

    Someone did ask about eveness of heat.  Btw - you have it backwards.  Aluminum has twice the specific heat capacity as cast iron.  0.22 vs 0.11 btu/lb-F

    Of course the aluminum pan, even though it holds twice the heat energy as the CI (given they weigh the same), will cool down faster because it conducts heat faster.  

    I'm not knocking CI, love it.  
    ______________________________________________
    This is my signature line just so you're not confused.  Love me or hate me, I am forum Marmite.
    Large and Medium BGE, Kamado Joe Jr, Akorn Jr, smoker with a 5k btu AC, gas grill, fire pit, pack of angry cats, two turntables and a microphone, my friend.  Registered republican.
    New Orleans, LA - we know how to eat 

  • @nolaegghead: Tagged the wrong Great. 

    My comment was about heat retention when comparing pans, not heat capacity. Your assertion about the difference in heat capacity is correct. 

    Kenji Lopez-Alt: "Cast iron's specific heat capacity is lower than that of aluminum, but because it is so dense, for the same thickness of pan, you get twice the heat retention capability".





  • FockerFocker Posts: 8,255
    edited December 2017
    Pro tip:  "Before you denigrate...."

    Bashing a product, without a fundamental, basic, understanding,  of how to cook pork sausage patties successfully in CI, is a$$inine.

    Look at Sweet Debbie, she has no problems cooking an omelet.  But yet you struggle, with Focking pork sausage. LMAO


    I think TFal Pro NS is a solid option to consider..for special needs cooks.

    Brandon
    Quad Cities
    "If yer gonna denigrate, familiarity with the subject is helpful."

  • FockerFocker Posts: 8,255
    edited December 2017
    $300 is too much, but $100 is reasonable, for a family heirloom.
    For someone who doesn't have antique store hunting options, buying the products to strip, and doesn't want to mess with buying the tools, to grind one down.

    Griswold stuff is getting up there.  Look on fleabay.  A #10 Griswold, regardless of logo size, will set you back.

    Pour spouts were a design flaw and pretty much useless IMO, with the liquid running down the side and bottom of the pan.  On some of these new designs, a pour lip is better with no running.

    The weight issue is two-fold.
    Thinner walls is a factor, but most importantly, better ore was used, due to the geographical locations of these foundries.  Some of those old Piquas, Eries, etc, are crazy light when compared to the CI of today. 
    Brandon
    Quad Cities
    "If yer gonna denigrate, familiarity with the subject is helpful."

  • DoubleEggerDoubleEgger Posts: 11,900
    edited December 2017
    Did you throw rub in the trash and make fun of Meat Church for a few weeks? Go back into hiding in the cornfield 
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