If you’ve ever burned yourself by picking up your cast iron pan without protection, you know firsthand how hot the handle can get.
As a result, has it led you to wonder, “Why do cast iron handles get hot? And why don’t they come out with a different type of handle that will stay cooler?”
Let’s explore the answers to those questions and more.
Why Do Cast Iron Handles Get Hot?
Cast iron handles get hot because they are iron, and heat travels through metal. The iron will not heat as quickly as other metal pans since iron isn’t a good heat conductor. However, once it gets hot, it stays hot for a long time. Another reason that cast iron handles get hot is they are made as a one-piece construction. The entire pan is poured into a single mold. So when the heat travels from the pan into the handle, there is nothing to slow it down.
Why We Use Cast Iron Pans With Hot Handles
If you use other metal pans, you may have noticed that the handles don’t get near as hot as cast iron does.
I have a couple of copper bottom stainless steel pots with handles that have seldom become hot.
The handle may be plastic, wood, another material, or even metal.
So why would we continue to use cast iron with its hot handles if other pans have handles that stay cool?
Here are just a few reasons:
- Cast Iron can go from stovetop to oven. You can put it over a fire or on the grill. In short, cast iron is more versatile.
- People like the way cast iron cooks their food better than other materials.
- Nostalgia. There is something that draws us to the past. We know cast iron has stood the test of time.
- Cast iron has been around for a long time and has lasted. Many pieces are passed down, and traditions are carried on.
- People accept that because cast iron is heavy, that it needs a strong handle. The handle of a pan made in one piece is stronger than a handle that is bolted or welded to the skillet.
- The classic design of cast iron is preferred.
Most cast iron users have gotten used to keeping oven mitts or silicone handle covers nearby. Some even throw a towel over the handle when cooking to remind themselves not to touch it while it’s hot.
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Could We Make Cast Iron Handles That Don’t Get Hot?
Finex makes a beautiful pan with a unique handle that can be removed. It’s called a “speed-cool” handle, and its design is inspired by antique wood stoves.
Stargazer has a fantastic skillet that is cast in one piece. They claim a safer handle that won’t heat up near as fast.
However, the cost is out of many people’s reach, and they won’t even consider it.
Still, many think the benefits of using cast iron far outweigh the negatives.
Using a handle cover or oven mitt is simply part of cooking with cast iron. Sure, some may have burned themselves once or twice, but it doesn’t dampen their love for cast iron.
It’s more important that their handle is strong and can go in the oven than that it’s cool to the touch.
I don’t personally know of any good quality metal pans with metal stay-cool handles that are inexpensive. Not stainless steel, copper, carbon steel, or cast iron.
So, the cost is likely the number one reason more people don’t buy modern-day cast iron pans with stay-cool handles.
And manufacturers such as Lodge will continue casting single-piece pans that have hot handles. Furthermore, people will continue buying them because they are affordable and do indeed offer many benefits.
The video below will show you some of the different handles you can get with cast iron.
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Cast Iron Handles
Why Some Are Against Stay-Cool Handles
I was reading about the downside of stay-cool handles and came across an egullet forum.
Here are some of the reasons you might dislike stay-cool handles:
- They eventually get hot when cooking for an extended time.
- You might get confused after taking the pan out of the oven. Since you’re used to the handle being cool, you grab it and get burned.
- Many of the designs are awkward or uncomfortable to hold with heavier pans.
- The handles typically aren’t strong enough and will eventually fail.
- Unless every pan handle you own is stay-cool, you will sooner or later burn yourself.
- Only plastic or wood is truly stay-cool, and you can’t put them in the oven.
Stay-cool handles are a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.
Do you agree or disagree?
I can’t really afford to buy an expensive pan at this point. I chose Lodge because of its affordability and classic design.
However, if money weren’t an issue, I wouldn’t mind owning a Finex or Stargazer pan.
I think I would enjoy the cooler handle even if it eventually got hot.
But I also agree that you continue to be at risk of burning yourself unless you only cook with stay-cool handles.
Overall, I’m not overly bothered by the handle being hot. I mainly use my oven mitt, but I also have little silicone or cloth covers.
I haven’t burned myself, though. I might change my mind if I ever do.
As far as why I continue to use cast iron with its hot handles, I would put myself in the camp of those who think the benefits far outweigh any negatives.
So, what do you think?
Why do cast iron handles get hot?
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding. Since heat travels across metal and cast iron is made in one piece, the handle will inevitably get hot.
However, some manufacturers make stay-cool handles on their cast iron pans.
They cost more money, and not everyone wants to pay that much.
Additionally, not all agree that stay-cool handles are even a benefit.
For those who use cast iron with handles that get hot, many say it’s not a problem. They just keep some kind of handle cover close by.