Is there an enamel cast iron health risk when cooking? There have been many debates both on and offline about this serious topic. It can be confusing when hearing both sides of the argument, not knowing which is correct.
The issue, however, is that many people get the two cookware types mixed up. They believe enameled cast iron and regular cast iron have the same health issues. This simply is not the case. They may even greatly exaggerate the health risks of plain old cast iron cookware as well.
The fact of the matter is that enameled cast iron has no known health risks because the ceramic enamel coating is inert and non-reactive to highly acidic foods. In non-coated cast iron, however, cooking with overly acidic, moist ingredients will result in small amounts of iron to be transferred to ones’ body.
In small amounts, this is not a problem. Your body, of course, needs dietary iron and non-coated cast iron can supply this. The problem arises when you cook moist, acidic foods several times per day in non-coated cast iron. Iron toxicity or iron sensitivity are real issues that each person needs to address for themselves.
You also do not want to rely solely on iron from your cookware. Everyone needs dietary iron from the food itself. Foods like beans, spinach, and red meats. For centuries, non-coated cast iron was used throughout history. It has been the go-to cookware material for so long for a reason. So long as you only cook once or twice a day with non-acidic foods, then the amount of dietary iron will usually be negligible.
Enamel Cast Iron Health Risk – Non-Coated Cast Iron:
In order to get a better feel for the differences between coated vs non-coated cast iron, let’s discuss some pros and cons of each. We will also find out if there, in fact, is an Enamel Cast Iron Health Risk. But first, the pros of non-coated cast iron.
Non-Coated Cast Iron Pros:
- Made from a durable cast material that has been used for generations
- When used properly, small amounts of healthy dietary iron can be acquired
- Can withstand high temperatures on stovetops and in ovens
- If well maintained can last for years and even decades
- Possess excellent heat retention and stays hot longer than other material types
- Induction cooktop safe
Non-Coated Cast Iron Cons:
- Needs to be re-seasoned before each meal to ensure a quality cooking surface
- Can NOT be used inside of dishwashers
- Contrary to popular belief, cast iron is not particularly good at heat dispersion and can have hot or cool spots
- If used too often and with acidic, moist ingredients, iron toxicity may occur
Non-Coated Cast-Iron Benefits:
Non-coated cast iron cookware is well made and durable. It’s been used for generations all across the world. For many, the dietary fiber gained from cooking with non-coated cast iron saved many from getting sick or even dying. In times when food containing iron was hard to come by, cast iron was a lifesaver.
Factor in its ability to handle high temperatures and you’ve got a great piece of cookware. Whether it’s a stove, campfire, or oven, the sheer versatility of this cookware material is really unmatched. Non-Coated cast iron also holds superior heat retention properties. Meaning your meals stay hotter longer. Finally, non-coated cast iron will last for years if cared for properly.
Non-Coated Cast-Iron Issues:
On the other hand, there are some issues with non-coated cast iron. For one thing, it has to be pre-seasoned with cooking oil before its first use. On top of that, it also must be re-seasoned before every use for the life of the pan. This can be an inconvenience at times. However, you will get accustomed to it over time.
One other main issue with plain cast iron is that it must always be hand washed. Plain cast iron does not play well with automatic dishwashers. One surprising fact is that non-coated cast iron does not heat as evenly as everyone believes. It’s not terrible, however, you should be aware that most other cooking materials have better heat dispersion qualities.
Now to the main issue. Plain old non-coated cast iron can be harmful if used too often or with acidic foods. While we certainly don’t want to demonize non-coated cast iron, this problem should be addressed when compared to other cookware materials. So should you stop using your plain old cast iron cookware? Absolutely not. Cast iron is a classic, durable and versatile material. Just be sure to keep track of how much it’s used and with what ingredients.
Enamel Cast Iron Health Risk – Enameled Cast Iron:
Now that we’ve covered non-coated cast iron, let’s move on to enameled cast iron cookware. We will now discuss the main pros and cons of this material type and share why we believe enameled cast iron offers the best of both worlds.
Enameled Cast Iron Pros:
- Like regular cast iron, this hybrid cookware type is durable, though not as durable as plain cast iron if dropped due to its fragile ceramic coating
- Most models can be machine washed
- Like plain cast iron, enameled cast iron is usually induction cooktop safe
- This cookware type does not need to be seasoned or re-seasoned with cooking oil
- The coating will Not react with acidic foods
- This cookware type will not result in iron toxicity as the cast iron is protected with a ceramic layer
Enameled Cast Iron Cons:
- Can easily crack or chip if dropped
- Will NOT add any dietary iron to your diet
- The coating will probably NOT last as long as non-coated cast iron’s cooking surface will
Enameled Cast-Iron Benefits:
As you can see, enameled cast iron offers greater benefits over the non-coated type. It really offers the best of both types of cookware with fewer issues. It is durable, versatile and can be made in many vibrant colors. The one caveat is that if dropped, enameled cast iron will most likely chip or crack.
Another plus is that most models can be washed in a dishwasher. This makes clean up extra simple and quick. One of cast iron’s greatest benefits is the fact that it can be used on induction cooktops. Likewise, enameled cast iron cookware is also usually compatible with these heat sources as well.
Yet another positive is not having to season your cookware. The inherent nonstick properties of ceramic make maintenance a breeze. Best of all your piece of cookware will not react with acidic foods nor do you have to worry how much you use it.
Enameled Cast-Iron Issues:
Of course, there are downsides to enameled cast iron. One of the most annoying issues is that the ceramic coating is very fragile. Drop your cookware from even a small height and you’ll be searching for a replacement very soon. Just be extra careful when transporting your cookware especially if loaded with a scalding meal.
The more obvious issue is that you will not be receiving any dietary iron in your meals. This should go without saying, as there is no bare iron exposed to ingredients, but you already knew that. Finally, because of the fragile nature of the coating, non-coated cast iron will generally not last as long as a well-maintained piece of plain cast iron cookware.
Enamel Cast Iron Health Risk Conclusion:
So what is the final verdict? Is there an Enamel Cast Iron Health Risk? Will non-coated cast iron cookware poison your whole family? Does enameled cast iron offer a perfect solution? The answer to both is no. Plain old cast iron has lasted hundreds of years because it works and it works really well. It offers reliability, versatility and most importantly high-quality meals.
Enameled cast iron is far from perfect. That being said, enameled cast iron offers the best of both materials without the chance of getting too much iron in your diet. It is dishwasher safe as well as very easy to maintain. At the moment, it truly is the safest cooking material around. On the other hand, most people will never experience iron toxicity from their cookware. On top of that, plain non-coated cast iron is much safer than Teflon or similar synthetic coatings.
So do we have a favorite enameled cast iron piece of cookware? Why yes we do. One of our favorites is a Dutch oven by the Lodge Company. The Lodge 6-Quart EC6D43 Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven is simply one of the best enameled Dutch ovens on the market. It offers all of the benefits that we listed above for a top-notch piece of cooking technology. If you are interested you may go to our full review of the Lodge 6-Quart EC6D43 Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven for more information.
Enamel Cast Iron Health Risk Conclusion:
Well, there you have it. Thank you for viewing our article on Enamel Cast Iron Health Risk. Classic non-coated cast iron should NOT be demonized. It has been responsible for the sustainment of human life for centuries. As time progresses, new and innovative cooking materials and technology drive its way to the forefront of our everyday lives. So, enameled cast iron is just a new take on a classic and beloved cooking material.
Enamel coated cast iron cookware offers a superior and a more safe cooking experience. Moreover, the question if there is an Enamel Cast Iron Health Risk is nonexistent. However, this would not be possible without a plain cast iron foundation. We hope this article helped shed some light on this important topic. Whichever material you use to cook with, just make sure it’s with the ones you love. Take care and have a great day.