Cast Iron vs. Cast Aluminum: Which Should You Buy?

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When it comes to cast iron vs cast aluminum, it can be a hard choice to decide which to buy, both cast iron and cast aluminum have their similarities and differences.

Keep reading to discover exactly what the simularities and differences are, so that you can decide whether to choose a cast iron pan, or a cast aluminum pan.

Cast iron & cast aluminum similarities

Below we will look at the similarities between cast iron and cast aluminum pots before moving onto the differences. This will give you a good overview of which cookware you will need.

Cast Iron & Cast aluminum require seasoning

Cast iron and cast aluminum cookware both require seasoning to maintain their non-stick quality. This seasoning process is the same for both materials, but it may take a little longer with cast aluminum. Cast aluminum is more porous than cast iron cookware, which means that it needs more seasoning.

Seasoning them both will form a protective barrier over the metals, protecting them from the acidness of food and protecting them from moisture in the air which can cause rust. 

To season the materials, all you need to do is wipe a thin layer of cooking oil onto the pan and bake it in the oven for around 1 hour. Baking the seasoning will cause the oils to polymerize and bond to the imperfections in the metal, creating a non-stick surface. We wrote an in-depth guide on how to season a cast iron skillet which you can also use for cast aluminum as it’s the same principle.

Cast Iron & Cast aluminum are slow to heat

If you’ve ever tried to cook with either a cast iron cookware or cast aluminum, the first thing you noticed was that they took time to warm up. And while they both take a while to heat up, it takes longer to heat cast iron cookware

In reality, though, the differences are not that big. So this isn’t a significant factor to take into consideration when looking at which material to purchase.

Both will take a while to heat up. But if you are looking to shave a bit of the time, then go for the cast aluminum cookware. 

Cast Iron & cast aluminum have even heat distribution

If there’s one thing that both cast iron cookware and cast aluminum succeed in, it’s even heat distribution. Due to the nature of their metals, they are brilliant at distributing heat evenly.

However some brands have managed to increase the performance of their pans when it comes to even heat distribution, so it’s not uncommon for some to be better than other even thought they are the same material.

But even with the differences, the heat distribution is good on both and it will not effect the cooking process regardless of which one you choose.

Cast iron & cast aluminum cannot handle acidic foods

It’s common knowledge that cast iron cannot handle acidic foods, but cast aluminum can’t handle them either.

When acidic foods come into contact with cast iron or cast aluminum, they will react with the metal which results in your food having a metallic taste.

So if you were going to choose aluminum because of the reactiveness of cast iron, then think again.

Cast iron & cast aluminum differences

Now we’ve looked at the simularities between cast iron and cast aluminum, it’s time to take a look at the differences.

The differences below should decipher which cookware you need.

Cast aluminum cookware is lighter

Cast aluminum is naturally a lightweight material where as cast iron is not, this makes cast aluminum light weight and easy to handle.

If you are cooking foods which require a lot of mobility, such as sautéed foods, then cast aluminum may be your preferred choice. It really depends how strong your muscles are.

Depending on the size, a cast iron skillet can be really heavy.

Cast aluminum cookware is cheaper

If you decide to buy cast aluminum pans, you can expect to pay less money than if you purchased cast iron pans. Cast aluminum is also faster in its production, which means it costs less to make and is more readily available.

However, don’t let the price convince you of which one to buy. Although cast aluminum may be cheaper, it certainly does not last as long as cast iron, which takes me onto the next difference—the lifespan.

Cast iron cookware can withstand high heat

Although cast iron cookware takes the longest to heat up, it can withstand high heat, cast aluminum can too, but it cannot withstand extremely high temperatures like cast iron can.

So if you are looking to max out your oven settings, or sear foods, then you may want to choose cast iron cookware as your preferred cookware.

Cast iron cookware has a longer lifespan

Cast iron cookware don’t rust or chip as quickly as cast aluminum. Even premium quality cast aluminum can chip or rust. If you don’t treat cast aluminum right, it can be ruined by a simple scrape from a utensil.

This means that cast iron has by far a much longer life span than cast aluminum. r

Cast iron has such a long lifespan that people have passed their cast iron pans down from generation to generation. There are even vintage cast iron pans around that have lived for over 100 years! 

So if longevity is something you require, then it’s best to opt for the cast iron option.

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