Carbon Steel VS Cast Iron

Carbon Steel Pot’s, Pan’s VS Cast Iron: Which Should You Buy? – Bestcastirons

Friends! Looking at the subject line, the questions arising in everybody’s mind could be What is Carbon Steel and What is Cast Iron?

Let us give you a clear understanding!

Carbon Steel is an alloy of steel and carbon, but the carbon content is not more than 2%, whereas; Cast Iron is also an alloy of Steel and Carbon, and carbon content is minimally 2% and could be up to 4%.

Carbon Steel is smooth enough but not like stainless steel; due to more carbon content Cast, Iron is bumpy and dull and is not as shiny as Carbon  Steel.

There is a difference between heating up, cooling down, and retaining heat in both metals. And both the metals cannot be molded into things with sharp edges like knives.

To get the best carbon steel and best cast iron, you need to have a clear understanding of it.

A detailed comparison of Carbon Steel and Cast Iron will be discussed in detail now.

Carbon Steel VS Cast Iron

1. Form Factor:

Carbon Steel:

is an alloy of steel and carbon, but it has a lower ratio of carbon as compared to Cast Iron. Carbon factor cannot exceed more than  2% in Carbon Steel.

Carbon Steel has a matt finishing as compared to stainless steel. It can be easily molded into any shape of cookware. It is harder than stainless steel; hence can be used to make knives that stay sharp for longer.

Cast Iron:

is also an alloy of steel and carbon, but the ratio of carbon factor makes the difference. The proportion of carbon in steel iron is a minimum of 2% and can go up to 3.5%. Due to the high carbon factor Cast Iron has a bumpy and dully surface and needs coating to cook seamlessly. It can be easily molded into any shape of cookware.

2. Cleaning:

Carbon Steel:

Cleaning Carbon Steel is easier as compared to Cast Iron. Carbon Steel utensils can be cleaned easily with soap and water with gentle hands. But you have to be careful to prevent the pan from rusting. Hence need to be dried thoroughly on every wash and oiled.

Cast Iron:

Most Cast Iron Pans come with pre-seasoning and do not need to be seasoned before use. This coating serves as a nonstick to the food cooked. The coting of the pan needs to be preserved to increase the pan’s life. Cast Iron pots are not dishwasher safe and can damage the coating. Also, metal spatulas cannot clean the Cast Iron Pans. The pot needs to be dried upon every soap and water wash.

3. Cooking with the pots:

Carbon Steel:

Carbon Steel can heat & cool quickly, i.e., reaching the required heat point too quickly and cools down also in the same manner. This quality makes it ideal for people who wish to get their food made less time and effort. Carbon steel is ideal for frying and cooking for your loved ones but cannot be used for simmering and slow cooking as Carbon Steel cannot retain the heat well compared to Cast Iron.

Cast Iron:

Cast Iron pots get heated slowly as compared to Carbon Steel. But have more ability to retain the heat for longer and distribute the heat evenly throughout the pan’s surface. This quality makes Cast Iron ideal for simmering and slow cooking, resulting in retaining the aroma and moisture of the food.

4. Durability:

Carbon Steel:

Pans made from Carbon Steel have a thin layer and do not have any additional coating; thus have more exposure to rust. And need to be maintained in a good manner. If not maintained well can result in less life/ durability of the pan. Secondly, its ability to get to higher temperatures quickly decreases the life of the metal.  

Cast Iron:

While dealing with Cast Iron Pots, you will have to remain careful while heating and cleaning the pan due to its coating. If not used with due care, the coating can rust off and decrease the useful life of the pan.

5. Ease of Use:

Carbon Steel:

can be used on all types of stovetops and heating sources. The best carbon steel could be a preference for the people who are eager for the food to be cooked quickly and those who do not like to wait for the food for longer durations. It can be used anywhere, whether indoor or outdoor.

Cast Iron:

pots are for all stove types and various heating sources. Hence can be used indoors and outdoors. Its retention and distribution heat makes it ideal for simmering and slow cooking. People who wish to enjoy cooking food and enjoy the company of guests simultaneously can opt for Cast Iron Pots.

6. Heat Retention:

Carbon Steel:

can be heated quickly on any stovetop but is also cooled down too quickly as this metal cannot retain the heat. Carbon Steel pots cannot be used for slow cooking.

Cast Iron:

pots get heated slowly compared to Carbon Steel but have the higher ability to retain the heat well. The heat retention ability makes Cast Iron ideal for slow cooking, simmering & Deep frying.

7. Heat Source:

Carbon Steel pots can easily be used on all types of stovetops and heat sources, indoor or outdoor.

Cast Iron pots also could be used on all sorts of stovetops and any heating source. These can be used both indoor and outdoor.

cast iron pan

8. Temperature:

Both Carbon Steel and Cast Iron pots can be used seamlessly on higher heat levels. Both the metals can survive up to 500oF heat.

9. Maintenance:

while we talk about maintenance, the word maintenance fits everything we use in our lives. If not maintained well can result in damage and lower life. Both the pots need to be seasoned with oil to prevent rust upon every wash with soap and water. Both the pots can be cleaned easily with gentle hands while using soap and water.

10. Price:

Comparing prices for Carbon Steel vs. Cast Iron cost of having Carbon Steel pots is on a very higher side.


Suppose we refer to detailed discussions above and reviews from users and experts regarding buying a utensil, whether it should be Carbon Steel or a Cast Iron.

In that case, the following should be taken into count while Carbon Steel vs. Cast Iron is concerned.

What type of food do you need to cook? If you intend to eat food by simmering, slow cooking, and like to have food for which the food’s moisture is preserved.


Then Cast Iron is a good option for you. But, if you wish your food to be cooked fast without waiting for it, then Carbon Steel is good for you.


Consider What is your budget? If you have a higher budget, you can go for Carbon Steel. And, if you have a relatively lower budget, then Cast Iron is the right option.  

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