Carbon Steel Pan Vs Stainless Steel Pan-Which One Works Best

cabon steel and stainless steel comparison

If you love to cook high heat delicious foods, then the stainless steel pan and carbon steel pan of this cookware will be the perfect choice for you.

The basic differences between these cookware-

Carbon steel pans are less ductile, seasoning is required like cast iron skillets. Consequently, stainless steel pans are more ductile, have 5 different categories, no seasoning is required.

Non polymerized carbon steel reacts with foods & leaches minerals; non cracked stainless steel doesn’t have minerals leaching issue.

The 300 & 400 series stainless steel is mainly used to manufacture kitchen appliances.

If you correctly did the seasoning on carbon steel pans, both of this cookware will be non-reactive with foods.

Moreover, both of them will not be leaching minerals into the foods.

In spite of these resemblance, these cookware has lots of dissimilarities start from the maintains, cooking uses & lots of other aspects. let’s revealing these secrets-

Related content- fry-pan vs. skillet.

Brief Description On Carbon Steel Pans

brief description on Carbon Steel skillet

As we have already discussed, that how these pans are constructed. The cooking area is very smoother, like the nonstick pans. But, due to the presence of a higher percentage of carbon elements (as compared to cast iron), it quickly got rusted in a humid area.

The citrus foods also erode its nonstick surface; that’s why sauce & vinegar recipes are strictly prohibited.

Positive Aspects:

  • The heat resistance power is very high, as compared to stainless steel.
  • Even if these pans lost their nonstick property due to over-uses, which can be quickly restored through proper seasoning.
  • This cookware easily & evenly gets heated; due to high thermal conductivity. Don’t retain the temperature for a longer time.
  • Due to the smoother surface, a very low amount of oil is required for cooking.
  • It comes within a budget-friendly price range.

Negative Aspects:    

  • Easily catches the rust in an open environment. That’s why you need to season this cookware at least 3 to 4 times within a month.
  • Non-compatible with dishwasher cleaning; if you do so, the polymerize coating will be eroded.
  • These pans are in often lost their cooking surface uniformity.  
  • Every time you use it, you have to take care of it like cast iron pans. First, wash it, then make it completely moisture-free and smear a thin layer of healthy oil on it.
  • Last but not in the list, citrus food recipes are strictly not allowed. If you do so, then you have to apply to polymerize coating on it.  

Proper Way To Use Carbon Steel Cookware For Cooking

Always clean these pans with worm water; before you place it on an oven or stove-top. These pans are heated very quickly; so, never do overheat.

Always cook with good vegetable oils. The bad saturated fats make them sticky if they get burned at high temperatures. 

Never clean the hot carbon steel pans with cold rinsed water. Let it for a few minutes; it quickly drops it heats, come back at room temperature. Finally, clean it with hot soapy water & a nylon scrubber.

Never keep the pans without drying them, then always apply a thin layer of good vegetable oils on it.

Don’t prepare any acidic food recipes on it. These acidic foods don’t ruin the carbon steel directly; but, they will harm the seasoning coating.

Brief Description On Stainless Steel Pans

brief description on Stainless Steel cookware

There is a variety of stainless steel cookware available on the market. Different pots & pans are designed with different technology to perform high end cooking performance.

I hope you have already familiar with the fact; that stainless steel has a poor heat conductivity property. So, to makes it more user-friendly copper, & aluminum layers have been introduced.

Currently, there are 4 different types of good stainless steel cookware present on the market; the impact-bonded copper or aluminum base, try ply, five-ply & seven-ply cookware.

In multiply cookware, the aluminum or copper path is sandwiched between the two stainless steel layers, which help to distribute the heats in uniform ways.

Positive Aspects:

  • More durable than the carbon steel cookware.
  • The chromium minerals make it completely rustproof, which is the most positive aspect.
  • This cookware is fully nonreactive with any foods. Fully non pours the cooking surface, doesn’t seep minerals into the foods.  
  • It has highly corrosion-resistant power; almost no proper maintenance is required.   

Negative Aspects:

  •  It has poor thermal conductivity power.
  • Even though it comes with a beautiful appearance, the price range is very high.
  • If the edges of these multiply cookware, not properly sealed, then put them under the dishwasher. It may ruin your stainless steel cookware.
  • The cooking area is not as smooth as carbon steel. That’s why foods get sticking with the cooking surface.

Proper Way To Use Stainless Steel Cookware For Cooking

  • Avoid the stir-fry recipes on it.
  • Always add oil to it before pre-heating.

The Differences Between carbon steel & stainless Steel Cookware

There are lots of dissimilarities present on this cookware, starting from construction, maintenance to meal preparation. Let’s discuss them briefly-

carbon & stainless steel frypan comparison

Construction Point Of View:

The stainless steel alloy manufacturing cost is a bit higher than carbon steel. The main metal/ materials composition in stainless steel is iron, chromium (10.5% to 26%), nickel (up to 10%); the carbon elements found somewhere around 0.3% to 1%.

On the other hand, the carbon steel is contain 0.3% to 2.1% carbon element, and very negligible amount of other minerals silicon (< 0.6%), copper(< 0.6%), manganese (< 1.65%), etc.

The carbon steel & stainless steel both of these cookware are heavy weighted.

Durability Aspects:

Carbon Steel is less pliable as compared to stainless steel, menace its harder material. The higher percentage of carbon makes the carbon-steel more heat resistant & less ductile. Both types of steels have high thermal resistant power.

But, stainless steel is more durable as compared to carbon steel. The chromium mineral makes the stainless steel rustproof (which is not present in carbon steel) and increases the scratch-resistant potentiality.

Cleaning Prospective:

A well-seasoned carbon steel (CS) pan very easily releases cooking odors; & stales from the cooking surface. Just immerse the pan under hot soapy water for 20 minutes, & scrub with a nylon scrubber; it will be totally cleaned.

The rusted CS skillet cleaning procedure is the same as the cast iron rust cleaning process.

The stainless steel easily burnt foods, because of few reasons like-

They are not nonstick in nature; consequently, due to low thermal conductive, few areas of the pan got heavily heated & it badly burnt foods.

To remove these burnt elements, you need to put extra effort.

The procedure is the same as CS; but, you have to use steel wool or hard scrubber instead of nylon scrubber. 

So, here carbon steel is the winner.

Read-how effectively you can clean burnt pans.

Cooking Performance:

Both types of steels made cookware are good for high heat recipes. But, their uses are totally different. Moreover, carbon steel has more thermal resistant power.

The good polymerized coated carbon steels react as nonstick cookware; the cooking surface becomes very smooth. It specifically uses to cook high heat food preparation on gas top stoves, electric stoves, etc.

The stainless steel cookware is sticky in nature, perform better for high heat deep frying recipes.

Related post: Alternative to non-stick pans.

Maintenance Effort:

The presence of chromium in the stainless steel makes it rustproof and more corrosion resistant. The Carbon steel got rusted, that’s why you have to season it with good drying oils.

Thermal Conductivity:

Stainless steel is poor heat conductive, as I have already told you. To make it more heat conductive, sandwich aluminum or copper ply is required, which is mainly found on tri-ply or five-ply stainless steel cookware.

The carbon steel pans are heated very quickly; hold the temperature for a few minutes; uniformly drop the heat source.

Cost Prospective:

The manufacturing cost of stainless steel (SS) cookware is much higher than carbon steel (CS)cookware.

Good stainless steel constructed with multiply layers; aluminum & copper ply is added as a sandwich layer. The carbon steel pans are formed with a single-ply layer.

Moreover, the nickel & chromium minerals are added to the stainless steel alloy; because of these reasons, the manufacturing cost is higher than the CS.

How Safe Is Stainless Steel & Carbon Steel Cookware?

The food-grade standard stainless steel (SS) & proper seasoned carbon steel pans & pots are totally safe for you.

However, these two plates of steel made cookware have two different problems. The stainless steel contains nickel (which is considered as heavy metal), and carbon steel got rusted due to improper solicitude.

Nickel tends to leach on foods, and rusted irons are the source of tetanus bacteria. 

Now you might be thinking, what is the food-grade standard SS? 

There three different variations of stainless steel cookware available on the market the 200 series, 300 series & 400 series cookware. 

Though the experts & scientists have considered the 200 series under the food grade standard; but, these are really cheap product & not worth too much.

On the other hand, 300 series SS has two subdivisions; in general, they contain 10%-14% nickel; it is non-magnetic in nature. On the other hand, 400 series SS ha 0% nickel & they are magnetic.

If you are using the 400 series pans, then no problem. 

Consequently, if it is 300 series, then don’t make any scratches on the cooking surface. This surface contains a very tiny portion of nickel, which is less harmful.

Now come to the carbon steel. They only leach minerals into the foods & react with citrus foods; if you don’t season this cookware properly.

Does Carbon Steel Pans Become Toxic At High Heat?

carbon steel at high heat

No, it’s not. The carbon steel doesn’t manufacture with any toxin chemicals or hazardous metals.

Only the Teflon pan release toxic fumes at a high temperature. Even if you are using the Teflon fee any nonstick cookware, then no need to worry about this too much.

However, at a high temperature, the carbon steel got heavily heated; so, it might burn the foods. burned foods are not safe for our health.

Is Stainless Steel Pans Release Toxin When Get Heated?

Stainless Steel Pan at high heat

No, stainless steel also doesn’t release any toxin at high temperatures. Moreover, it’s totally non-reactive with all foods.

Which One Of These Cookware Best For What Types Of Cooking?

Carbon steel skillets are mainly used for French & Chinese food preparation.

Moreover, this cookware widely uses for camping food preparation, grilling, egg omelet preparation, these types of recipes.

The stainless steel cookware is Mainly used for deep frying, boiling, steaming foods. These pans & pots are also used to prepare sauce, chicken soups, crispy stir-fry veggies, etc.


Is Carbon Steel Cookware Are Better Than Stainless Steel Cookware?

Both of these pans & pots perform best to prepare different types of recipes. However, stainless steel pans are more durable & ductile. They almost serve for their entire life, with minimum maintenance. The carbon steel skillets & woks also run for a long time, if you properly care & maintain them. 

What Types Of Wok Pans Are Most Suitable For Chinese Food Preparation?

The carbon steel wok & pans are more suitable for Chinese fried food preparation. But, if you are preparing steaming food like “Momo’s” then stainless steel is the best option for you.

Is Carbon Steel Or Cast Iron Pans Are Nearly The Same Types Of Cookware?

cast iron frypan

Carbon steel pans are thin, contain less metallic mass, lighter in weight. The cast-iron skillets are heavy, takes more time for heating. 

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