Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Improving a Classic

While the world can’t seem to get enough gadgets–smartwatches, fitness trackers, posture regulators–there’s a lot to be said for basic stuff done right. And few items are as basic as cast iron skillets. They distribute heat perfectly. A well seasoned one gives near stick free performance without you daily dose of vitamin T (Teflon). But cast iron skillets are heavy and some have rough cooking surfaces that make them less stick resistant and harder to clean. A Kickstarter project called the Field Skillet setting about addressing some of these issues in pursuit of crafting the ultimate cast iron skillet.  

The Field Skillet is a svelte (for cast iron) 4.5 lbs–lighter than a 13” Macbook Pro. The makers say it’s the minimum weight they could make it while retaining the heat distribution properties that make cast iron so loved as a cooking tool. Part of the weight savings is attributable to the fact that it’s been polished and machined to have a smooth surface, which improves cooking performance and makes cleaning a breeze. They say the pans will come pre-seasoned and pass the fried egg test.

The 10.5” outer diameter and 9” cook surface is designed to be big enough for most purposes, but not so big as to crowd out other burners. The skillet is made in the US out of 75-90% recycled iron and carries a lifetime warranty (not sure what could go wrong with a cast iron skillet, but can’t hurt we suppose).

We could go on about its features, but at its heart, the Field Skillet is a simple tool designed and made as well as it possibly can be. It’s a formula that seems to work very well on Kickstarter. Field Company, they firm behind the project, set out with a $30K goal to start up production. As of this writing, they’ve raised $1.4M. You can still order one of their skillets for a $90 pledge. Delivery is projected for next January. Visit their campaign page for more info.

  • Stephen Paskey

    I’m glad to see folks doing this, but I have to smile at the headline. To say they’re “improving a classic” isn’t accurate. What they’re really doing is going backwards, to the days when cast iron skillets were better made. Don’t believe me? Go to an antique shop and pick up a Griswold skillet from the first half of the 20th century. They’re much lighter than the typical new skillet, and the cooking surface is polished smooth. (They’re also a lot less than 90 bucks, and you’ll have the satisfaction of cooking with a pan that’s older than you are.)

    • In the early 20th century people didn’t consider the lead content of their cast iron skillets.

      • Stephen Paskey

        As far as I know, a cast iron skillet contains no lead. In fact, it’s a physical impossibility. Why? Lead melts at roughly 621 degrees fahrenheit, and it begins to vaporize at 1100 degrees. But cast iron melts at temperatures over 2000 degrees. If there was any lead in the mix, it would boil away long before the iron was melted, cast, and cooled.

        • I’ve searched on this topic before and never found such an obvious answer. Thanks!

    • Susan S.

      If you read their full Kickstarter page, that was the whole impetus for them to get this going. They owned and loved vintage pans and couldn’t understand why no one was still making them that way. Many people are “onto” the older pan’s superiority, so they’re becoming quite rare and difficult to find. And while you may “score” and manage to find one for cheap, especially if you can go hunting in rural areas, most antique store owners are wise now to their collectability and their prices reflect that.

    • Susan S.

      Case in point:
      http://tinyurl.com/hatsk9c
      I apologize if this is a repeat. Was having trouble posting.

  • Cast iron skillets are the best! I just made an omelette with my grandmother’s old skillet. It’s probably nearly 100 years old and still works great! 🙂

    • David Friedlander

      this is mine, which is actually very high quality and smooth, but man is it heavy and a bit too big for my 24″ cooktop. it basically crowds out other burners, which is why the field skillet looks so great.