Carbon steel and stainless steel woks are prevalent in our kitchens. They both come with tons of benefits. They are nonporous, lightweight, and long-lasting, making them the ideal type of cookware for heavy usage.
Though carbon steel and stainless steel have the same carbon and iron composition, they tend to have different percentage levels of carbon content.
Carbon steel has a higher carbon content, which makes it extremely strong and highly malleable. That explains why it is the most preferred construction material in most domestic and industrial applications. On the other hand, stainless steel has a high chromium content and small carbon content. It is the chromium content that gives the steel its stain-resisting properties.
In this article, we will look at the difference between carbon steel and stainless steel wok. This should familiarize you with the main elements involved in evaluating the right material for a wok.
Carbon steel wok
It is a wok made from a combination of carbon and iron. Other elements, such as silicon, copper, or manganese may also be present in small quantities. Generally, carbon steel contains 99% iron and 1% carbon. Apart from adding strength and hardness, iron makes the wok less bendable and fragile.
Carbon steel woks are ideal for restaurants, but you can still use them in your home. With that said, let’s now look at the pros and cons of carbon steel woks.
Pros of carbon steel wok
Here are several things that make carbon steel cooking pots a popular choice for many households.
Carbon steel woks are less expensive than stainless steel woks. This is due to the fact that a lot of materials are added to stainless steel, such as aluminum, nickel, and chromium. These extra components all add up to the overall cost of stainless steel products.
Great heat conductor
Carbon steel is a better heat conductor than stainless steel. They can retain heat for a few minutes after removing it from the fire.
Carbon steel can also tolerate or withstand higher temperatures than stainless steel. It can endure high temperatures of more than 500 degrees without emitting toxic fumes. Some cooking methods like broiling require high temperatures, which a carbon steel grill does superbly.
When properly seasoned, carbon steel woks will become nonstick and rust-resistant. Moreover, it requires less oil for cooking your favorite recipe.
Cons of carbon steel wok
A carbon steel wok may not be the ideal choice for you. The following are the downsides of carbon steel woks.
Carbon steel cookware requires frequent seasoning to maintain its nonstick properties. You cannot use it for acidic foods. The acid will react with the coating and add that metallic taste to your food.
Prone to corrosion
Carbon steel does not contain enough chromium metal. It’s, therefore, affected by rust. This requires frequent seasoning of the wok. Compared to stainless steel, this might not be convenient to maintain for some folks.
Not dishwasher safe
Another thing is that you cannot throw a carbon steel wok into the dishwasher machine. The soap and water in the dishwasher interfere with the nonstick coating created by seasoning. The safest way to clean it is to use a soft sponge and water. After cleaning, be sure to dry the wok by heating. Heat the cookware until the surface is dry.
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Stainless steel wok
Pros and cons of stainless steel
These are the pros and cons of stainless steel wok you should know before buying.
Stainless steel is nonporous. That means you won’t have to worry about spatters, leaks, or cracks. You may also find stainless steel cookware with fingerprint-resistant coats.
There is no doubt a stainless steel pot and utensils are extremely durable. High-quality stainless steel can last for decades. You can even pass it to the next generation.
Easy to clean
With a hard, nonporous, and smooth surface, stainless steel wok is easy to clean. You can even throw it in the dishwasher if you are too lazy to handwash. Unlike carbon steel, stainless can withstand the chemically harsh detergents used in dishwasher machines. It will not react to acidic or alkaline elements.
Stainless steel does not need a lot of maintenance. Unlike carbon steel, you do not need to season it frequently. You do not need to handle it with a lot of care to protect the fragile coat from peeling. Also, it does not have any special cleaning methods.
Does not react with food
The material does not react with acidic foods. You can safely cook your favorite acidic recipes such as lime fish and tomatoes without worrying about adding that metallic taste to your food.
Cons of stainless steel wok
While stainless steel has tons of advantages, it has some shortcomings, as well. Here are the drawbacks of stainless steel woks you need to learn before deciding on purchasing one.
Uneven heat distribution
Stainless steel is a poor conductor of heat. If speedy and uniform cooking is a big deal to you, you should go for carbon steel woks.
The biggest disadvantage of buying stainless steel wok is its lack of nonstick properties. It is perfect for boiling, deep-frying, browning, and sautéing but not for cooking recipes like fish and eggs. You may need to use a lot of oil or margarine to create a temporarily nonstick surface.
Stainless steel tends to discolor when exposed to extremely high heat. As well, it can pit when exposed to saltwater. However, this can be reversed.
High-grade stainless steel wok is very expensive. Price is always a big factor to consider when shopping for anything.
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Read more: How to Use Wok on Glass Top Stove?
If corrosion or rust-resistant ability is the main factor, then the stainless steel wok is your best bet. A carbon steel wok is a good conductor of heat. It can retain heat for a long time and tolerate extremely high temperatures. In terms of looks, both have a shiny and glossy look. Even so, carbon woks require lots of regular polishing to maintain their shiny look.