9 Common Cast Iron Problems And Their Solutions

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Out of all the cookware available in the market, cast iron seems to be the most misunderstood. From calling the patina a chemical coating to accusing brands to be frauds because their cast iron cookware rusted, newbie users cast a lot of allegations on cast iron cookware.

So, we scoured through 1000+ customer reviews to find out the common problems and misconceptions that customers have about cast iron and clear them out once and for all. 

Dosa gets burnt in the Centre And Uncooked At The Edges

Many users who use cast iron Tawa for the first time find their Dosas burnt in the centre and uncooked around the edges. This usually happens when the cast iron Tawa is placed on a medium-high flame or if it is not sufficiently preheated.

Contrary to popular belief, cast iron does not conduct heat evenly. Whenever you heat a cast-iron Tawa, you find a temperature difference of 50-60 C between the centre and the edges. To help you visualize, here is a picture of the flour test on cast iron Tawa and a nonstick pan. We spread a thin layer of flour on both the Tawas and heated it. Nonstick pans have an aluminium core and they conduct heat evenly. But, cast iron doesn’t conduct heat evenly. So, it gets burnt at the centre and white at the edges.

flour heated on nonstick tawa
Flour heated on a nonstick Tawa
flour heated on cast iron tawa
Flour heated on a Cast Iron Tawa

Solution: To overcome this, spread a thin layer of oil and preheat the Tawa for at least 10-15 minutes on a low flame. This gives sufficient time for the heat to conduct to the edges of the Tawa. You can also consider sprinkling water at the centre before pouring the batter. It reduces the heat at the centre and also helps spread the batter evenly.

Cast Iron Cookware Rusts

One of the inherent properties of iron is that it rusts. We can prevent it by seasoning the cookware and also applying oil to prevent reaction with the moisture present in the atmosphere.

Older cast iron cookware which has been in use for several years develop a thick layer of seasoning. They won’t rust even if kept in a wet sink for hours. But newer ones, even though preseasoned by the manufacturers have a lean layer of seasoning. They may wear off easily.

cast iron rusted
old rusted cast iron Kadai

Solution: You have to preserve the cast iron cookware by cleaning them immediately after use and applying a thin layer of oil before keeping them away in the cabinet. Alternatively, season the new cookware once again by applying a thin layer of oil, wiping off the excess with a towel and then heating on the stove at a moderately high flame till the oil smokes off. The extra layer of seasoning provides better protection. But even then, it is not a foolproof solution.

Dosa Gets Stuck To Cast Iron Tawa

Dosas getting stuck to the Tawa is definitely a huge deal breaker. This again happens due to poor seasoning. A few manufacturers claim their cast iron to have non-stick like finishing and set unrealistic expectations too. Cast iron cookware can develop a thick seasoning and offer good stick resistance. But it will never be nonstick like a Teflon coated pan.

dosa stuck to base

Solution: To prevent Dosa from getting stuck to the Tawa, always apply a thin layer of oil and heat the Tawa for 10-15 minutes before you pour the batter. This helps develop a layer of seasoning so that your Dosas release easily from the Tawa. You can use the same method for cast iron appachatti as well. You can also check out our in-depth article on this topic to know more.

Related reading: Best Dosa Tawas In India

Cast Iron Cookware Cracked

Contrary to popular belief, cast iron is not indestructible. Cast iron is brittle and will break if dropped from a height. So, always store them on a lower shelf in your kitchen cabinet.

Common Cast Iron Problems And Solutions- cracks
Image courtesy: Quora

Unfortunately, you can only take sufficient care to prevent your cast iron cookware from breaking. There is no solution once cast iron breaks. Even welding it doesn’t help!

Black Residue/ Food Turning Black In Colour

Food turns black in colour due to excess leaching of iron from the cast iron cookware to the food. Sometimes, it also happens due to the excess carbon residues from the cookware surface. The good news is that this residue is not harmful.

Common Cast Iron Problems And Solutions- black residue

Solution: To prevent food from turning black, season the cast iron cookware a few times. The thick level of seasoning will regulate the transfer of iron to the food. Also, avoid storing food in new cast iron cookware.

‘Black coating’ peels off

The black coating that flakes off from cast iron cookware is not a chemical coating. It is just the seasoning and the grey layer you find underneath is unseasoned cast iron. The seasoning flakes off with wear and tear or if you scour it with an abrasive scrub. This may also happen due to poor seasoning.

Common Cast Iron Problems And Solutions- flaked seasoning

Solution: Avoid scrubbing cast iron cookware with abrasive scrubs. If the seasoning flakes off, do not panic as this is very common. Just season the cookware once again and you are good to go.

Very Rough Finishing

During the cast iron manufacturing process, once the cast iron cookware is taken out of the mold, it is rotated in a tumbler filled with specially designed metal pieces. They rub against the surface of cast-iron cookware and smoothes the nubs. But, even after this, the surface remains fairly rough. Only stone grinding can give a new cast iron cookware a smooth finish.

Common Cast Iron Problems And Solutions- rough surface

Solution: If the roughness bothers you, we recommend that you opt for smoothened cast iron cookware sold by brands like Indus Valley and Nutrion. Dynamic Cookware and Lodge too sell cast iron cookware with a fairly smooth surface. Unpolished cast iron cookware from Indus Valley and the ones from Rock Tawa, Vinod Legacy and Meyer have fairly rough surfaces.

If you have already bought cast iron cookware with a rough surface, season it a few times to give it a smooth finishing.

Gummy Residue On Surface

Often, you find the edges of Tawa and Kadai to have a sticky surface with a yellowish-brown residue on the surface. This is because the edges of the cast iron cookware don’t get heated sufficiently. So, as a result, the edges have unpolymerized oil which makes the surface sticky.

Solution: After applying a thin layer of oil for seasoning, wipe it off with a paper towel so that the cast-iron surface doesn’t have excess oil that can go unpolymerized. While seasoning Tawa on the stovetop, move it around carefully so that the edges too get heated properly. Also, ensure that you heat the cookware till the oil smokes as this is the true indication of oil polymerizing to create seasoning.

Too Heavy

Cast iron cookware are generally thick and heavy. Some of them come with unergonomic handles that make it a pain to use. Fortunately, there are thinner cast iron cookware available in the market.

Solution: Opt for smaller Tawas that are 9-10 inches in size. Bhagya sells Dosa Tawas that are comparatively lightweight. But they need to be seasoned well before use. Also, use smaller sized Kadai that are 7-9 inch in size. Avoid buying Dutch Ovens and large 10-12 inch Kadai as they are pretty heavy, no matter the brand.

Conclusion

The key solution to common cast iron problems is creating a thick layer of seasoning on them. Preseasoned cast iron cookware available online makes it easier to get started. But, you have to learn to season them correctly if you want to keep using them in the long run. Just like wine, cast iron too gets better with age. So, keep using them at least 2-3 times a week and within no time, you will be a pro at it.

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2 thoughts on “9 Common Cast Iron Problems And Their Solutions”

  1. I want to know about use of cast iron cookware use in Induction. Some brands like 70s kitchen and Indus Valley do not advise to use their castiron utensil in induction without mentioning any reason.

    Reply
    • Cast iron works on an induction stove. But obviously, it should have a flat base. So, most Dosa Tawas work fine as they have a flat base. Even on Indus Valley’s website, you can see that they mention in the FAQs “All flat base iron cookware is induction safe.” But if you use a round bottom Kadai/ Appa Chatti, concave Tawa or a Paniyaram pan, they won’t work on induction stoves.

      Reply

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