Cast iron cookware has been around for a long time and is widely used for quickly preparing a variety of recipes.
One of the reasons food enthusiasts and professional chefs prefer cast iron is its durability and suitability for all types of stovetops, including induction cooktops.
That being said, there are two types of cast iron cookware: raw cast iron cookware and enameled cast iron cookware.
The safety of enameled cast iron, on the other hand, has been a source of contention. That is why we respond to the question, “Is enameled cast iron cookware safe?” Before we go any further, let’s take a close look at the definition and composition of enameled cast iron.
WHAT IS ENAMELED CAST IRON?
To begin, the term “enamel” is derived from the Latin word “vitreum,” which means “glass.” Enameling is simply glass fused to metal at high temperatures.
Enamel can be applied to ceramics, stone, glass, metal, and any other material that can withstand the fusing temperature.
In other words, Vitreous enamels are made of finely ground glass, similar to sand (or even more finely pulverized and mixed with an oil or adhesive). They can be opaque or transparent, and their colors are caused by the use of various oxides.
In technical terms, fired enamelware is a layered composite of glass and another material that has been integrated (or more glass).
So, why is it necessary to coat or glaze the raw cast iron? Because the fusion of the glaze with the cast iron prevents rusting, allows for a thorough cleaning, and eliminates the need to season your cast iron. (However, many people argue that you should still season your enameled cast iron cookware.)
What else is there to say about enameled cast iron? Enameled cast iron is great for slow cooking because it draws flavor from the food and helps reduce iron in the diet by limiting dietary iron leaching into food.
Furthermore, cadmium pigments used in the enameling process are resistant to temperatures ranging from 1,652-2,336°F (900-1,280°C) and can produce vibrant colors.
I believe this is the same cadmium that was detected outside the enameled cast iron in tamararubin’s test on the yellow LeCreuset Enameled Saucepan.
Finally, an example of enameled cast iron cookware is the Lodge enameled Cast iron that has a smooth, porcelain surface bonded to it. Enamel is resistant to acidic and alkaline foods, and it can be marinated, cooked, and refrigerated.
IS ENAMELED CAST IRON COOKWARE SAFE?
We consider enameled cast iron cookware to be safe because, unlike raw cast iron cookware, it does not react with your food, nor leach iron, particularly acidic foods.
However, consumers are concerned that the coating of enameled cast iron when chipped may pose a risk to their health; therefore, we recommend that a lead and cadmium test be performed by an expert to determine the level of toxicity if any.
Here’s an example of how to conduct a lead test on cast iron cookware to see if it contains lead or cadmium, so you can be confident in the cookware’s safety for your health and that of your family.
ENAMELED CAST IRON COOKWARE PROS AND CONS
The following are the benefits (pros) of enameled cast iron:
- Because enameled cast iron is made of porcelain enamel, which is silicon glass fused iron at 850 degrees Celsius, this glass creates a perfect non-permeable surface, making enameled cast iron aroma and odor neutral.
- Enameled cast iron cookware is extremely durable and can cook acidic foods more effectively than raw cast iron cookware.
- Enameled cast iron cookware is very simple to clean.
- Enameled cast iron cookware can help your ingredients retain their flavor.
- Enameled cast iron cookware requires less energy and cooks at a lower temperature, resulting in a healthier cooking lifestyle.
- Enameled cast iron cookware is appropriate for all types of stove tops, including induction cooktops.
- The glass surface of enameled cast iron cookware is scratch and cut resistant because it is heat resistant up to 450 degrees Celsius.
- Because of its smooth and non-porous surface, enameled cast iron cookware is easy to clean and does not inhibit bacteria growth.
- Nickel allergy sufferers should use enameled cast iron cookware.
- While most enameled cast iron cookware can be washed on a gentle cycle in the dishwasher, we strongly recommend hand washing and consulting the manufacturer’s booklet.
The disadvantages (cons) of enameled cast iron cookware are as follows:
- Enameled cast iron is pricey.
- Enameled cast iron is susceptible to chipping, and consumers are concerned about chipped materials affecting their health.
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ENAMELED CAST IRON SKILLET REVIEWS
We will look for the most popular three(3) enameled cast iron skillets, which are Lodge, Le Creuset, and Staub enameled cast iron;
LODGE 11-INCH ENAMELED CAST IRON SKILLET
To begin, Lodge cast iron cookware is made in the USA while the enameled cast iron skillet is made in China.
The porcelain surface eliminates the need for seasoning, and the rim and cooking surface is black matte enamel.
The smooth glass surface will not react to the ingredients.
The cast iron core provides better heat distribution and retention.
Broil, braise, sauté, simmer, fry, bake, or roast in an oven heated to 500° F.
10.25″ INDIGO LE CREUSET ENAMELED CAST IRON SIGNATURE SQUARE SKILLET GRILL.
Le Creuset enameled cast iron has been the visionary color and quality benchmark – an essential tool for master chefs and home cooks alike.
This Le Creuset enameled skillet has exceptional heat retention that produces superior results from stove to oven to table. The unrivaled vibrant enamel finish on this Le Creuset enameled cast iron is exceptionally easy to use and clean, making it a trusted favorite for generations.
The ribbed cooking surface of this Le Creuset enameled skillet drains excess fat, which is a unique feature.
STAUB 11-INCH TRADITIONAL SKILLET IN CHERRY CAST IRON
Do you want to enjoy excellent browning? Then you need the Staub 11 inch enameled cast iron skillet that has an interior’s textured black matte.
The Staub 11 inch Enameled cast iron is simple to clean and does not need to be seasoned.
The long-lasting cast iron construction provides excellent heat retention and distribution.
The enameled Staub cast-iron skillet has excellent pouring spouts that allow for simple fat removal.
Finally, the raised sides aid in the prevention of splatter and spills.
ENAMEL COATED COOKWARE
The Chantal Enameled Cast Iron Cookware, 5 pc Set, Marigold is an excellent example of enameled coated cookware.
You will adore this premium Enamel Chantel cookware! Nothing sticks and it’s simple to clean. Very heavy and high-quality cookware!
You will like the black enamel on the inside. Will not show stains or discolorations that have occurred over time. Beautiful exterior blue color!
This premium enameled coated cast iron cookware also works well in stews (Moroccan Lamb, short rib, and sauerbraten).
This one also has a metal knob handle and can withstand higher oven temperatures. You will like that it’s black enameled because it hides the dark brown stains that occur when baking bread and roasting meat.
One disadvantage about this Enameled coated cast iron cookware is that you have to avoid using metal utensils on its body.
Furthermore, this enamel-coated cast-iron cookware has exceptional even heat distribution that is ideal for high-temperature searing or low-temperature simmering. The Elegant, heavy lids keep all moisture in, maximizing flavor while cooking.
Finally, this enamel-coated cast iron cookware works on all cooktops, including magnetic induction!
ENAMEL COATED NON STICK STAINLESS STEEL POTS AND PANS SET.
First and foremost, this enamel nonstick stainless steel cookware set includes a quart milk pot, a 2.91-quart soup pot, a frying pan, and a universal handle.
Do you want enamel-coated cookware that can retain the original flavor of your food? Then we recommend that you get this best affordable enameled coated cookware for your kitchen.
And there’s more. Take advantage of the convenience of quick heating and superior heat distribution.
This enameled coated cookware is free of PFOA, PTFA, lead, and cadmium, making it ideal for healthy cooking.
This Cookware Set is smooth and nonstick for easy cleaning thanks to the nonstick function.
The super thick stainless steel is coated with a firm and durable quadruple enamel.
With this enameled coated cookware, you can confidently use various cooking methods such as frying and stewing.
It can also be placed directly in the oven, as well as an induction cooker, a gas furnace, an oven, a radiant cooker, and a dishwasher.
One disadvantage of this cookware is that it cannot be used in a microwave oven.
Finally, nonstick cooking pans make it simple to prepare meals that the entire family will enjoy.
ENAMELED VS RAW OR NATURAL CAST IRON COOKWARE
Enamel cast iron cookware is more adaptable and simple to maintain than raw cast iron cookware, which requires more attention and can rust quickly if not maintained and seasoned occasionally.
Unlike raw cast iron cookware, enameled cast iron cookware has a nonstick surface that does not come into contact with food.
There are health concerns that raw cast iron will leach iron into food, whereas enameled cast iron will help prevent iron from leaching into your food.
It is not recommended to leave your food overnight in raw cast iron cookware, but enameled cast iron can store food without health issues.
IS ENAMEELD CAST IRON NON-STICK?
The surface of enameled cast iron is not nonstick. Although porcelain-enameled glass is much easier to clean than raw cast iron, it does not mean it is nonstick; food can get stuck and will take some time to clean off.
IS CAST IRON SAFE FOR COOKING?
Cast iron cookware is safe for cooking because it can retain heat and be used for searing and cooking at high temperatures, but it can also leach iron into the body when used to prepare acidic foods such as tomato sauce and red wine sauce, so we recommend that your cast iron is well seasoned and should be seasoned whenever you want to cook acidic foods.
Furthermore, to avoid excess iron intake from acidic foods, we recommend limiting cook time, using too much liquid, and mixing the food more frequently.
IS ENAMELED CAST IRON DISHWASHER SAFE?
Yes enameled cast iron is dishwasher safe. However, we recommend you use the gentle care wash option to avoid scratches and peeling of the glass enameled surface and if the outcome of the wash isn’t good, kindly discontinue and stick with hand wash only to preserve your enameled cast iron cookware.
ENAMELED CAST IRON VS NON STICK
The following is the distinction between enameled cast iron and nonstick cookware:
Nonstick cookware does not have the same coating as enameled cast iron. The enameled cast iron is coated with glass, whereas nonstick pots, pans, skillets, and cookware are coated with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), also known as Teflon. Teflon is a chemical compound composed of carbon and fluorine atoms.
Enameled cast iron cookware can easily transition from the stovetop to the oven, whereas nonstick is not designed for this functionality.
Food cooked in enameled cast iron retains more flavor and texture than food cooked in nonstick cookware.
Nonstick cookware is less durable than enameled cast iron cookware.
The enameled cast iron cookware has more crunch and crispiness than nonstick cookware when used to prepare certain recipes.
IS ENAMELED CAST IRON COOKWARE TOXIC?
Enamel cast iron cookware is covered in a type of glass known as enamel coating, which does not react with any food, making it completely non-toxic and safe to use.
DOES ENAMELED CAST IRON LEACH IRON INTO FOOD?
No, enameled cast iron does not leach iron into your food; rather, it protects against iron leaching into your food, particularly acidic foods.
DOES LE CREUSET CAST IRON CONTAIN LEAD AND CADMIUM?
According to Le Creuset, Cadmium and lead are two elements that are strictly regulated in the cookware industry.
Our current position for the entire production process is to comply with California Proposition 65, which is the most stringent standard in the world for these elements (approx. 10 times lower than “acceptable” limits).
Lead is not used in our recipes, and cadmium is handled with a special anti-acid enamel frit that does not release the cadmium pigment during cooking.
Cadmium is used in coloration to achieve vibrant exterior colors such as Flame and Cherry. The interior enamel that comes into contact with food is sand, white, or black which means Le Creuset cast iron is free from toxins and safe for use.
IS IT SAFE TO USE SCRATCHED LE CREUSET?
To begin, there is a distinction to be made between minor blemishes or scratches and chipping. Even if your Le Creuset is scratched, it will still function properly.
Only if it is chipped beyond repair, causing food to cook unevenly, should you consider purchasing a new pot.
Second, even if the chip is outside the pot, it is still safe to use. To keep moisture out, apply oil to the chipped area.
If the chip is on the inside, Le Creuset recommends submitting a warranty claim so the piece can be evaluated.
DOES LODGE ENAMELED CAST IRON CONTAIN LEAD?
Lodge employs the 126.96.36.199a Leachability of Lead and Cadmium for Glazed Ceramic Surfaces test procedure developed by the United States Food and Drug Administration.
ASTM-C738 is the Standard Method of Test for Glazed Ceramic used by the FDA Division of Compliance Programs.
In addition to the information provided by vendors, Lodge Manufacturing Company employs third-party testing to ensure that products bearing the Lodge brand meet the standards established by the US Food and Drug Administration.
All of our cookware, both domestic and imported, meets FDA standards. We also meet California Proposition 65, the world’s most stringent lead and cadmium content standard.
IS STAUB LEAD-FREE?
Staub enamel cookware is free of PTFE, PFOA, lead, and cadmium.
CAN ENAMEL COOKWARE BE REPAIRED?
Though enamel cookware is long-lasting, improper care can cause it to deteriorate.
So, is it possible to repair enamel cookware? It all depends on the degree to which the chip or damage is present. We propose two options;
1) Seek a replacement if the product is still under warranty.
2) Fill in the area where the enamel has chipped away with a food-safe epoxy.
Finally, the issue of enameled cast iron safety stemmed from china-made enameled cookware.
There is a widespread belief that most Chinese products are toxic and that they do not adhere to standard or safety procedures. But, how true is this story? I know we all have different experiences with various products manufactured in different countries.
Only scientific proof and data can determine whether truly enameled cast iron cookware is safe, and if not, we will hopefully be provided with alternatives and standard measures to follow when using enameled cast iron cookware.
Furthermore, for more information on enameled cast iron cookware safety, please see the links below;