[Sca-cooks] Dutch ovens vs Cast Iron was Cast Iron Cookwar/ Bronze Cookware

H Westerlund-Davis yaini0625 at yahoo.com
Sat Aug 28 17:53:27 PDT 2010

A few months back this topic came up. I wrote a response to it then and it 
should be in the archives. Besides cooking, fiberholics, and Saami culture my 
husband and I are blacksmiths and white-smiths. We have both period and modern 
equipment we "play with" in our yard.
Briefly, the words cast iron and Dutch Oven are often interchanged and used for 
the same item which leads to some confusions. During the smelting process of 
iron, the iron alloy was "cast" into "pigs" (pig shaped ingots) for transport. 
Thus "pig iron." A pig could be melted and poured into a mold to cast an object. 
Thus "cast iron." A pig could be heated to white hot (not melted) and hammered 
or bent (thus wrought) into a shape. The Blacksmith would pour and hammer sheets 
of iron and rivet them together to form a wrought iron pot. Examples have been 
found from the Middle Ages.  Bronze bowls were cast, mostly sand cast. Google 
Umha Aois to watch a demo. Amazing!  

The Dutch Ovens, those cast iron pots with the legs that can be placed in the 
oven or over coals, are historically from the 16th Century and later (may want 
to check on the actually dates). 

In the U.S. bronze, pewter and iron should be lead free. But, it is only a 
recent development and any "item" should be tested if made before 1990. Europe 
laws vary and differ on lead and tin contents and I would be cautious about any 
item purchased if not stated otherwise. 

Bless Bless



Duct Tape is like the Force: It has a light side & a dark side
and it holds the universe together.

From: Saint Phlip <phlip at 99main.com>
To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>
Sent: Sat, August 28, 2010 4:17:00 PM
Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Cast Iron Cookware was Bronze Cookware

The problem with cast iron as a material is that for many years, it
was considered junk left over from smelting iron. Cast iron has a
great deal of carbon in it (1% and up), compared to iron or even high
carbon steel (which Medieval folks DID know about, although they were
unable to produce it in any quantity through most of the MA because of
their smelting methods- and HC steel still has less than 1% carbon),
and isn't ductile like iron, but instead is very breakable in
comparison. Since in period, iron was considered very valuable for
weapons and armor, it took a while for a use for cast iron to be
found. Once they did, it took a while for this "junk" stuff to spread
out, particularly keeping in mind that iron in the MA was nowhere near
as common a product as it is today.


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