When you cook every day, you want to choose ingredients that provide sustenance and joy. Your cookware also impacts the quality, health and flavor of the dishes you serve, especially if you use it multiple times a day.
Cookware designed for the everyday kitchen will allow you to cook with ease, confident in your cookware's safety and your family's health. This guide breaks down the differences between cast iron versus ceramic cookware to help you provide the most benefits for you and your family.
Ceramic cookware is a blend of clay, water and natural minerals crafted into the desired shape. Manufacturers then fire the cookware at over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit to produce a durable product. This process makes ceramic cookware remarkably heat-resistant and ideal for cooking many dishes.
Ceramics is an ancient art, with the earliest known ceramic pots dating back to China between 18,000 and 17,000 BCE. There are two types of ceramic cookware today — ceramic-coated and solid ceramic:
- Ceramic-coated: Featuring a thin ceramic layer over a metal pan, ceramic-coated cookware is much newer to the kitchen than solid ceramic. Cookware manufacturers developed ceramic coatings as an alternative to non-stick materials like Teflon. Ceramic-coated cookware reduces the risk of exposure to highly toxic polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS), known as forever chemicals. However, it doesn't heat as evenly and is less durable than solid ceramic cookware.
- Solid ceramic: When people look for the safest, most durable cookware with the best heat retention, they often choose 100% ceramic. Since solid ceramic cookware does not have nonstick coatings, it's free of toxins like PFAS and enables reliable, versatile cooking even over high heat.
Cast Iron Cookware
Manufacturers make cast iron cookware by melting an iron alloy in a blast furnace and pouring it into molds. Cast iron can maintain its temperature for long periods and is highly durable, able to last for generations with the proper care.
China developed cast iron as early as the 6th century BCE, and it has been a popular cookware material in the United States since the 1700s. Its popularity grew in the U.S. during the 20th century thanks to its durability and affordability. Cast iron cooking vessels now range from Dutch ovens and skillets to waffle irons and panini presses.
An essential aspect of cooking with cast iron is seasoning your cookware, baking oil into the pan's surface to create a stick-resistant coating. Cast iron provides better heat retention than other cookware materials like aluminum, stainless steel and copper. You can also use cast iron for dishes that start on the stovetop and finish in the oven.
The Differences Between Ceramic and Cast Iron Cookware
There are several factors to consider when comparing ceramic versus cast iron cookware. Learn more about the features of a ceramic pan versus cast iron to find out which is best for you and your family.
Durability is a significant consideration when comparing a ceramic skillet versus cast iron. While both types of cookware will last for generations with proper care, cast iron requires more upkeep for the cookware to consistently perform. Without the proper seasoning cast iron can leach iron into food. This unwanted material can impact the flavor of your dishes. In contrast, 100% ceramic cookware is non-reactive and does not contain extractable lead or any other heavy metals.
Rust is another important consideration between a cast iron versus ceramic skillet. Cast iron has no protective coating beyond its seasoning and is prone to rust if you don't re-season the metal regularly. While you can salvage a rusty cast iron skillet, it may take a lot of time and elbow grease.
2. Ease of Use
When comparing the ease of use of a cast iron versus a ceramic pan, you'll want to consider their weight and heat retention:
- Weight: Cast iron is extremely heavy, which can make it challenging to lift from cupboards or out of the oven. At nearly 40% lighter than cast iron, ceramic cookware is easier to store, clean and maneuver in the kitchen.
- Heat retention: Since cast iron changes temperatures slowly, it can take a long time to cool your pan down if you've accidentally overheated it, leading to overcooked food and higher levels of iron leaching from the pan. Ceramic cookware is easier to cool down when needed. Its natural thermal properties enable fast, even heating without high temperatures — if you remove your ceramic cookware from the heat, the temperature will adjust sooner than with cast iron.
You want to keep your family healthy, so it's essential to weigh the health concerns of ceramic versus cast iron pans when choosing the best cookware for your kitchen. While cast iron doesn't leach harmful PFAS like non-stick cookware, it may still leach iron into your food. The extra iron will be harmless for most people, though it may add a faint metallic taste. However, those with an overabundance of iron in their systems may want to steer clear.
Ceramic cookware is a healthy, non-toxic product. California Prop 65 requires careful testing for lead and cadmium. Without non-stick coatings, ceramic cookware is also free of PFAS like perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and other harmful chemicals. When comparing a cast iron pan versus ceramic cookware, ceramic is the healthier choice.
4. Care and Cleaning
Owners of cast iron cookware must regularly season their pieces to protect them from rusting and minimize the food's interaction with the pan's metal. In addition to reducing a cast iron skillet's durability, rust can be a pain to clean.
With its rust resistance and ease of cleaning, caring for ceramic cookware is effortless. When comparing the ease of cleaning a cast iron skillet versus a ceramic skillet, it's clear that ceramic comes out on top.
The guidelines for caring for ceramic cookware are far simpler. Ceramic doesn't need seasoning — you only need to coat ceramic cookware with cooking oil or fat each time you cook to help prevent sticking. Ceramic cookware is easy to clean with hot, soapy water or baking soda if there are stubborn scraps. You can also soak ceramic for as long as you'd like and set it to dry without fear of rust forming.
Switch to Ceramic With Xtrema Cookware
If healthful, conscious cooking is a priority in your kitchen, finding the cookware that best helps you reach that goal is essential. Ceramic is safe, non-toxic and durable, providing worry-free cooking for generations.
At Xtrema Cookware, we handcraft our ceramic cookware using 100% pure ceramic. Xtrema Cookware is family-started and family-run, dedicated to providing your family with uncomplicated, non-toxic cookware. Our artisanally crafted pieces are free of toxicants and leachable metals, so you can pair healthy cookware with the fresh foods you love. When you fuse nourishing foods with ceramic cookware from Xtrema Cookware, you get wholesome meals worth savoring.
To learn more about our ceramic cookware and find the perfect pieces for your kitchen, browse our selection of ceramic skillets today.