Cast Iron Smooth Vs. Rough – What’s The Difference?

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Skillets are one of the most important utensils in any kitchen. It would help if you had them make various foods like meat, vegetables, and even fish. You can use your cast iron skillet for deep frying, sautéing, searing, braising, or pan-frying, among other cooking methods. If you are above the age of forty and have been using cast iron skillets, you might have noticed that the older iron skillets had a smoother surface than the modern ones.

But what difference does it make if your Cast Iron Skilled has a rough surface or a smooth one? Does it affect the taste, texture, and preparation time of the food? Does it matter at all? This article will discuss these questions and make things easier to understand. So, without further discussion, let’s get into it.

How Much Iron is Leached into Your Food?

From what we understand, much Iron is leached into your food. The Number one thing is what type of food you are cooking, but you also have to remember that there will also be a layer of seasoning on the pan. So that, the amount of Iron that leaches into your food is barely a trace or maybe microscopic. There really isn’t that much of a difference as far as that’s a concern.

But If you are using tomato sauce, you’ll get a lot more Iron. And many people will disagree because many people think that cooking in a cast iron Skillet can help them with their anemic condition. But there isn’t much evidence for this, both Rough and Smooth Cast Iron Skillets. Another factor we should keep in mind is that most of the Iron that is actually leached into the food have very low bioavailability, which means our body can’t absorb it efficiently.

Historical Reasons for Rough Cast Iron Skillets

It all started back in the 60s or so when cast iron makers started to run into financial problems. And at first, as best as we can tell, it was indeed a cost-cutting measure when they stopped grinding and smoothing the insides of the pan and started making them rough.

That was how it started with lodge and also with BSR (both Skillets making companies). For a While, BSR would actually charge more for their smooth polished skillets, and the rough unpolished skillets were sold at a cheaper price. After all, they were a business, and they knew what they were doing.

Most Cast Iron Skillets have a rough surface to give more dippest or wrinkles to the food’s surface. This enabled more seasoning to stick to the food. It also increased the surface area of the food, which makes the transfer of heat much more efficient.

Texture differences

Making Cast Iron Skillets was not always similar to how they are made today. Initially, manufacturers poured the molten Iron into a mold and then removed the cool skillet with hand and ground them. However, this was a slow process and often took days, and the only result was a Skillet with a smooth surface.

But with time, companies decided to bring a change and improve their manufacturing techniques; this process of finding new ways to improve efficiency brought us the Rough Surface Cast Iron Skillets. With modern-day technology, manufacturers can produce the pans in two hours.

The need to smooth out the surface was eliminated, so no time was wasted on that. Another factor that differentiates Smooth and Roughcast iron skillets are that the modern skillets (that are mostly rough) come pre-seasoned, while the older ones do not. But this doesn’t mean that you won’t have to season your pan at all every time you cook something on it.

Smooth Vs. Rough Cast iron

The whole rough vs. smooth cast iron rivalry is kind of a clickbait to get everyone interested (and we are glad that everyone is showing up). But the reality is that, as far as cooking is concerned, Yes, you can cook just fine on a modern-day Cast Iron Pan. But there are certain disadvantages to using each type of skillet.

Modern manufacturers point out that the bumpy texture of the pan helps the oils stick better to the food, making the seasoning process easier. On the other hand, it is not easy to season a Smooth surface on a cast iron skillet because there isn’t enough friction. But If you manage to season a smooth surface cast Iron Skillet well, you can enjoy its non-stick ability as well.

This doesn’t mean that the Rough Cast Iron Skillets do not have a non-stick surface. In fact, most of the Rough Surface Cast Iron Skillets are made to be non-stick. But they both can’t be the same in the degree of non-stickiness; a smoother surface means the food will stick lesser. Another thing to keep in mind is that the better you take care of your pan, the longer and better it will stay non-stick.

Smoothing Out a Rough Pan

There are a lot of reasons to smooth out your rough Iron Skillet. Whether it’s for having better non-stick properties, personal preferences, or for the sake of nostalgia, it doesn’t matter. In certain situations, you don’t even have to try.

For instance, if you are using other iron or steel utensils with the skillet, its surface will become smoother over time. But that’s a really slow process, and if you want quick results like most of us, you have to use some extra tools. Using a hand sander or sanding block is one of the best ways of doing this.

But it is much more convenient if you use a grinder, as using a hand sander will take much longer, and your hands would probably hurt by the end of it. In any case, you can start smoothing the pan without removing its seasoning because the seasoning will be removed anyways while sanding it.