Cookware Guide 103: Material Types


Now that you have an idea of the different kinds of cookware you can choose from, it's time to decide which material is best for you. One fundamental quality to look for in all cookware is weight. A heavy pot or pan will sit firmly on the burner, but make sure it's light enough for you to lift easily.


Aluminum may be the most popular material in cookware. It is an excellent conductor of heat and spreads heat evenly throughout the pot. Aluminum can be anodized to harden the surface. Hard-anodized cookware is harder than steel and extremely durable. Plus, it's dishwasher safe. Compared to other materials, this type of cookware is also very cheap. The downside is that if aluminum is untreated, it is more likely to stain and react with food. For this reason, we recommend aluminum with a non-stick interior, as it is less likely to change color or react with food.

Carbon Steel

Carbon steel is used in very expensive cookware as well as some of the cheapest. It maintains like cast iron, but is much lighter in weight. It's great for cooking that requires quick heat changes because it holds the temperature well. The most common pans made with this material are woks and stir-fry pans.

Cast Iron

Cast iron is thick and heavy. It retains and distributes heat evenly, although it takes longer to heat up. If you like browning, stewing, simmering, slow cooking and roasting, this will be the best choice for you. Cast iron is available with bare iron or enamel coating.

There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to the maintenance that a cast iron skillet requires. First of all, cast iron skillets should not be soaked in water, or dried after washing. This is because cast iron frying pans can rust if exposed to water for a long time.

To clean a cast iron skillet, there are a few things to keep in mind in order to clean it properly. First, pour half a cup of kosher salt over the frying pan and wipe with a paper towel; this removes any dust or impurities. When you're done, wash it with hot soapy water, then dry immediately. After multiple uses, you may need to grease the pan with vegetable or canola oil, and you may even need to heat the pan in a 450° oven for 30 minutes until the surface is darker than it was at first.

Types of Cast Iron

  • Bare Cast Iron

Bare cast iron needs to be seasoned before use. The seasoning process will give your pots and pans a permanent non-stick surface. You should avoid soaking and washing them with soap once they are seasoned. The best way to clean them is to wipe them with a cloth.

  • Enamel Coating Cast Iron

Enamel coating cast iron provides all the benefits of cast iron. The advantage of this cast iron is that less maintenance and cleaning are required. However, some foods cook poorly in cast iron. Acidic foods will react with it and strip away the coating. In this case, you'll just need to season your pan again.

To Be Continued…