Carbon Steel Cookware Pros and Cons – 2022

Carbon Steel Cookware Pros and Cons

A carbon steel pan can be an affordable alternative to traditional stainless steel cookware, but it comes with its own set of pros and cons that you should consider before buying one. While most pots and pans are made from stainless steel, carbon steel cookware has been used by chefs since the 1700s because of its ability to heat up quickly and evenly, as well as its durability and wear resistance.

If you’re looking to purchase some new cookware, or are wondering if you should upgrade your current set, this article will help you determine whether carbon steel cookware will meet your needs.

Carbon Steel Cookware Pros

de Buyer Mineral B Carbon Steel Frying Pan
de Buyer French Made Mineral B Nonstick Carbon Steel Frying Pan

Carbon steel pans can be used for a variety of cooking techniques. When you want to sear a nice piece of fish or steak, all you need to do is heat up your pan over high heat with a little bit of oil, and voila. You’ve got a nicely browned piece of meat without sticking!

Carbon steel is a popular material for pots and pans, especially in professional kitchens. However, carbon steel does not have quite as good heat conduction as copper or aluminum, it has other advantages that make it worth considering for your kitchen.

Related: Cast Aluminum Cookware Pros and Cons

Heat Retention

Carbon steel cookware retains heat well. This means that you don’t have to worry about burning your food, which can cause a number of health concerns. In addition, it can potentially prolong your cooking time—which is great for those who aren’t known for their short attention spans! One con to remember: carbon steel cookware isn’t very good at conducting heat, which means that you won’t be able to use it for certain recipes or techniques.

Wear Resistance

Carbon steel cookware is a great material for heat retention, allowing your food to cook at a consistent temperature. These pans are also very durable, making them good for stovetop cooking. But when you’re using a carbon steel pan on an electric or induction range, it may not work as well as you expect because there is no heating element in direct contact with your pan. For that reason, consider getting stainless steel pans if you plan to use them with induction stoves (or stick to gas).

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Lodge Carbon steel Skillet
Best Selling Lodge Carbon Steel Skillet

Carbon steel cookware is well-known for being affordable, but it can also be heavy, which may make it inconvenient to use. It is a good idea to consider its weight when you’re deciding whether or not to purchase it. Although carbon steel tends to be inexpensive, some people are leery about sacrificing quality in order to save money. If you decide that carbon steel cookware is worth purchasing, search for a reputable brand that offers high-quality products at an affordable price.


One of carbon steel’s biggest pros is its durability. It lasts much longer than most other types of cookware, so once you buy a set, you don’t have to worry about replacing it for a long time. If you want to save money over time, opt for carbon steel. A $100 set will last five times as long as aluminum.


Carbon steel cookware is known for its ability to heat up quickly, and since it conducts heat evenly, you’ll never have to worry about burning yourself. It also tends to be lighter than other types of cookware – great if you’re looking for a product that won’t weigh down your kitchen cabinets. And while they may not last as long as copper or stainless steel, carbon steel products are easy to re-season.

Related: Brass Cookware

Carbon Steel Cookware Cons

Carbon Steel Frying Pan In Different Shapes
Carbon Steel Frying Pan In Different Shapes photo:

Though it has many pros, carbon steel cookware is not without its cons. Like cast iron, it can react with acidic foods if they aren’t prepared properly. It also tends to be heavier than other types of cookware because it absorbs heat slowly. And even though it’s affordable, food cooked in carbon steel tends to stick more than food cooked in other materials.

Let’s take a look at some major cons of carbon steel cookware.

Difficult to clean

Carbon steel cookware is known for its durability, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to clean. Some cooks report that carbon steel can be hard to clean, especially if you don’t have access to a dishwasher.

Health Problems

The biggest disadvantage of using carbon steel cookware is its potential to cause metal-related health problems. When cooking in steel pots and pans, you’re likely to get small pieces of carbon that can break off into your food. While these don’t immediately pose a serious threat, long-term exposure can lead to something called hexavalent chromium poisoning.

Reactive Metal

Carbon steel is a reactive metal, which means it will interact with acidic foods like tomatoes. When those acidic foods come into contact with carbon steel, they can eat away at its metal and leave harmful deposits in your food. If you’re using carbon steel pots to cook highly acidic foods, you should only use them with non-metal utensils.

Related: Marble Cookware Pros and Cons

Rusts Overtime

Although carbon steel is sturdy and durable, you may find that it rusts easily. If you don’t dry your cookware immediately after washing, water spots can develop over time, which can make cleaning difficult.

Gets Scratched Easily

Another con of carbon steel cookware is that it will scratch more easily than other materials such as stainless steel or cast iron. This means that pans may start to look dull or scratched in a short amount of time if they are not cared for properly.

Cooking with Carbon Steel Cookware

Carbon steel is a great material for making cookware because it heats up quickly, and retains heat well. It has a tendency to pick up stains though, so be sure to season your pan with oil or fat before use if you want your carbon steel pots to last a long time. If you’re looking for an alternative that won’t react with acidic foods (like tomatoes), cast iron is another good option. However, unlike carbon steel, cast iron must be seasoned regularly in order to prevent rusting.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Carbon Steel Cookware?

Carbon steel cookware is a broad category that includes many types of pots, pans, skillets, and woks. The main distinction between these different pieces is their coating. Carbon steel is prized for its durability, but it’s not without downsides. What’s best for you will depend on your needs as a cook. Above are some pros and cons to keep in mind when considering whether carbon steel cookware is right for you.

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