We have set out to create the best skillets ever made by combining a superior casting process with an unparalleled seasoning process.
After becoming cast iron users, then fanatics, we couldn’t comprehend why antique skillets were so much nicer than modern versions. On a quest to find out why, we found that most foundries couldn’t achieve the desired wall thickness or surface finish with typical sand casting. Casting in sand and then milling is one way to reduce weight, but in introduces an imperfect secondary process and can’t correct every surface of the pan. Milling too deep on the finished surface can cause issues with warping when the pan is heated and expose hidden voids within the casting.
We discovered that by using a process of Investment casting (lost wax) that the wall sections could be thinner and the finished product would be much smoother on ALL surfaces just like the vintage pans.
Our Design Process
One of the biggest drawbacks of using vintage cast iron pans is the short stubby handle. It is always too hot, sits very close to the cooking surface and has a look that should have been left in the 1800’s. Our ideal design kept similar dimensions, wall thicknesses and surface finishes on the pan part, but updated the look, feel and function of the handle.
We considered using alternate materials and metals for the handle in hopes of creating a pan that could be largely used without the aid of a handle cover or oven mitt. All of the options were compromises that took away from the timeless durability of a cast iron pan. We needed our pans to conform to the convention that cast iron pans are nearly indestructible. No matter the heat source, recipe or food – Cast iron skillets need to perform. Over the lifetime of a pan, the seasoning will most likely be compromised. Stripping and re-seasoning often subjects the pan to conditions and chemicals that would damage lesser metals or other materials. A multi-material pan also creates a weak point between the pan and the handle which could break at some point in the future. These factors drove our decision to stick with a single solid casting. We did our best to mitigate the heat transfer by creating a crescent shaped gap between the pan and the handle, slowing down the heat transfer.
With Skillets, there is no such thing as once size fits all. We knew we wanted to launch with 3 sizes. We started with the 12” as the largest commonly used size. Once we finalized all the elements we scaled down the design to make an 8 and 10 inch versions. These pans were small and light enough to remove the helper handle. We found that “weight” and “heft” were some of the biggest complaints of cast iron users. Our designs are focused on reducing the weight and improving the feel making the skillets easier to use.
Keeping the pans from rusting after manufacturing is a problem that any cast iron manufacturer needs to address. One coat of vegetable oil will solve that problem, but makes for a very bad “seasoning”. Also, if not done properly, the “Pre-seasoning” oil can lift during use, making for a very poor base for future seasoning. We decided to turn this technical problem into a feature by finishing each pan with 4 coats of baked on flax seed oil.
Our testing and research shows that flax has among the best properties of any seasoning oil option. Since the inside of our skillets are extremely smooth, we found it necessary to use Greg Blonder’s etching recipe to better prepare the surface so that the seasoning oil can stick. After the skillets are cast they are soaked in a recipe of Hydrogen Peroxide and Sulfuric Acid for a short period of time. This etching microscopically erodes the surface grain of the iron, creating a “micro pitting” that provides a much better surface for the oil to adhere. This process results in a pan that is ready to use right out of the box with no further seasoning necessary, it also creates a seasoned base that is more durable and less likely to break down over time.
The skillets are then finished with 4 coats of baked on flax seed oil. The skillets spend about 3 hours in the oven per coat to fully cure the oil. The flax seed oil creates a hard and durable base to build further seasoning upon as your pan ages.
We are plannin on launching our project on Kickstarter on October 4th. The skillets will retail for between $105-$135. We will offer significant discounts for our backers.