5 Disadvantages of a Carbon Steel Pan (Problems)

Updated on March 2023

Mecete Wok pan 4th Generation, Traditional best Hand Hammered Carbon Steel Wok Review

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Carbon steel pans are very popular because of their quick cooking response time, affordability, lightweight, and safety. Chefs prefer them for high-heat cooking, and home cooks love them for their versatility. However, in this article we'll talk about how difficult a carbon steel pan can be for a novice cook.

A carbon steel pan never disappoints. But before making a purchase, a beginner should be aware of both the advantages and disadvantages of carbon steel.

I have also listed the best and safest carbon steel pan to use on the market, in case you are looking for a great cooking tool. 

The disadvantages of a carbon steel pan that we are going to highlight in this article are experienced by first-time cooks. However, I must point out that a carbon steel wok is the best pan for high-heat cooking, and the drawbacks are not greater than the advantages.

Read: Benefits of Carbon Steel Pan

Disadvantages of Carbon Steel Pan:

1. Seasoning and maintenance: 

Carbon steel pans require seasoning to create a non-stick surface. The process involves coating the pan with a layer of oil and heating it to a high temperature. This process polymerizes the oil, creating a slick and protective layer on the pan's surface. Seasoning also helps to prevent rusting and corrosion of the pan. A seasoned carbon steel pan looks like this:

Mecete Wok pan 4th Generation, Traditional best Hand Hammered Uncoated Carbon Steel Pow Wok

When seasoning a carbon steel pan, the oil fills the small pores and imperfections on the pan's surface, creating a smooth and non-stick layer. The nonstick surface makes it easy to get food out of the pan and keeps it from sticking and burning. The seasoning also enhances the flavor of food cooked in the pan over time as the oils get infused into the metal surface.

However, you need to keep seasoning your carbon steel pan after 2–3 uses or until the seasoning is lost to maintain the nonstick surface. Over time, the seasoning will build up, creating a durable and long-lasting non-stick surface on the pan. For beginners some brands offer pre-seasoned woks, so that you can use the wok instantly. However after some time you need to start seasoning on your own. 

Best Pre-seasoned Carbon Steel Woks of 2023

Here is a quick step-by-step process for seasoning a carbon steel pan.

  1. Start by washing the pan with soap and hot water to remove any residue or impurities.
  2. Dry the pan completely with a clean towel.
  3. Apply a thin layer of a neutral oil such as vegetable, canola, or grapeseed oil to the entire surface of the pan, including the handle.
  4. Use a paper towel to spread the oil evenly across the pan, making sure there are no excess spots.
  5. Now, preheat your oven to 400°F or 204°C, and you can place the pan upside down on the middle rack.
  6. Let the pan bake in the oven for 1 hour. You may notice some smoke or a smell during this process, which is normal.
  7. After 1 hour, turn off the oven and let the pan cool inside for about 30 minutes.
  8. Once the pan is cool enough to handle, wipe off any excess oil with the help of a paper towel.

Read: Is Carbon Steel Wok Healthy?

Your carbon steel pan is now seasoned and ready to use. You can repeat this process multiple times to create a more durable non-stick surface, which will be great for cooking stir-fries.

Also, carbon steel pans require careful cleaning and drying to prevent rusting. Proper cleaning and drying are crucial for maintaining the non-stick surface of a carbon steel pan.

Here are the proper steps you have to follow to maintain your carbon steel pan.

maintaining a wok pan guide
  1. First, wait for the pan to cool down to room temperature. (So obvious, right?!)
  2. Start by rinsing the pan with hot water to remove any food residue or impurities.
  3. Use a soft sponge or brush to gently scrub the surface of the pan. Avoid using harsh detergents or abrasive materials that can damage the seasoning.
  4. If necessary, use a small amount of mild soap to clean the pan. Rinse the pan thoroughly with hot water to remove any soap residue.
  5. Dry the pan completely with a clean towel. Make sure to dry both the inside and outside of the pan, as well as the handle and rivets.
  6. To be extra safe, you can dry the pan over low heat for a few minutes to evaporate any remaining moisture.
  7. Apply a thin layer of oil to the carbon steel pan's surface to prevent rusting and maintain the seasoning. 
  8. With the help of a paper towel, spread the oil evenly across the pan.

Read: How to clean a carbon steel wok?

Your carbon steel pan is now clean and ready to use again. Remember to always dry the pan thoroughly after cleaning it and avoid leaving it wet or soaking it in water, as this can cause rusting and corrosion. With proper cleaning and maintenance, your carbon steel pan will last for many years and provide you with delicious and well-cooked meals.

2. Reactive to acidic foods: 

Carbon steel is reactive to acidic foods, such as tomatoes, vinegar, and citrus, which means if you cook acidic foods in a carbon steel pan, they can react with the metal and give your food a metallic taste. To avoid this, you should use stainless steel or enamel-coated pans for acidic foods, or you can use acidic items when the cooking time is less than 15 minutes.

The Best Carbon Steel Pan Recommended By Wokware

Mammafong best hand hammered carbon steel wok round bottom

The Mammafong flat bottom 14 inch wok is the best carbon steel wok pan, built with safe and premium carbon steel sheets through hand-hammering technique which is a traditional and secure process of manufacturing woks. The wok has no unsafe coating. It is a pure carbon steel cooking tool that will become a great cooking wok once you season it.

3. Heating time:

Carbon steel pans are thin and heat up quickly, which is a great advantage in most cases. However, this also means that your pan will cool down quickly. This can be a disadvantage if you are cooking foods that require a constant temperature, or if the cooking time of a meal is more than 15 minutes. In that case, you must have a reliable source of a gas range to keep heating your carbon steel constantly with an equal amount of heat.

Read: How to clean a burnt carbon steel wok?

4. Price: 

Although carbon steel pans are affordable compared to other materials, they can still be more expensive than non-stick pans. But they are safer than nonstick pans.

5. Weight: 

Carbon steel pans can be heavy (but not always), especially if you opt for a larger size than some nonstick pans. But if you go for the hand-hammered carbon steel pans then they are more comfortable to handle. Also, while stir-frying, you toss and turn your food to bring out the wok-hei flavour in it, and carbon steel is the best material for it, but for weak wrists, it can be troublesome.

In the end, carbon steel pans have some problems that you should think about before you buy one. They require seasoning and maintenance, are reactive to acidic foods, have a short heating time, can be pricey, and may be heavy. But these problems can be fixed with the right care and use, which makes carbon steel pans a good investment for any home or commercial kitchen.

Best Carbon Steel Pan Mammafong 14 inch Flat Bottom

The Mammafong flat bottom 14 inch wok is the best carbon steel wok pan, built with safe and premium carbon steel sheets through hand-hammering technique which is a traditional and secure process of manufacturing woks. The wok has no unsafe coating. It is a pure carbon steel cooking tool that will become a great cooking wok once you season it.

✔️Overall Safety Rating: 4.5/5

📌Material Safety: 5/5

📌Pure Construction: 4/5

📌Safe Coating: 4.5/5

Mammafong best hand hammered carbon steel wok round bottom
  • Safe construction of carbon steel
  • hand hammered
  • Naturally non-stick with seasoning
  • Requires less oil after proper seasoning
  • Lightweight
  • Non-toxic uncoated surface 
  • not dishwasher safe
  • pre-seasoned coating is hard to remove
  • edges are uneven

The hand-hammered pow wok has an ideal design to cook Asian dishes. Not only the wok material is safe but the craftsmanship this wok comes in is great for expert chefs, commercial kitchens, and beginners to take their wok cooking to the next level.

The uncoated surface is non-toxic and absolutely safe to make healthy and fat-free meals for your children.  These woks will become naturally nonstick after several usages and give you the authentic wok-hei flavor in your food as the thin walls will help in even stir-frying.

The wok features a sturdy, double-riveted wooden handle and an additional helper handle that makes it suitable for stir-frying as well as simmering soups and stews, deep-fry, saute, steam and braise. The wok arrives with foundational seasoning and has no synthetic coatings or chemicals. 

Author: Preeunka

Editor at Wokware

She is an expert in the niche of kitchenware for 10 years now. She has given readers fact based, well researched, to the point answers of their valuable questions. Her goal is to simplify kitchen products and their utilities.