Originally published: July 8, 2018
Updated: December 26, 2021
Q: What is carbon steel?
A: The following XRF readings are all of the metals detected when testing the Morakniv “Made In Sweden” knife (pictured here), which is marked “Carbon Steel”. While I have not tested a lot of carbon steel items, these readings are likely typical for carbon steel.
- Chromium (Cr): 2,094 +/- 301 ppm
- Iron (Fe): 991,300 +/- 1,800 ppm
- Manganese (Mn): 4,103 +/- 585 ppm
- Mercury (Hg): non-detect
- Lead (Pb): non-detect
- Cadmium (Cd): non-detect
- Arsenic (As): non-detect
- No other metals found when testing in consumer goods mode.
- The only metals detected with the XRF were the three noted above
The primary ways in which this (carbon steel) differs from stainless steel in that in the carbon steel there is no nickel and the chromium level is significantly lower than what might find in stainless steel.
I bought this knife for my children to have a carving knife. They were selling them at a Trackers event, with their recommendation that they were the best first knife for a kid to use for carving and wilderness survival (supervised of course!)
Here’s an affiliate* link to this knife on Amazon.
As always, please let me know if you have any question, I will do my best to answer them personally as soon as I have a moment, however please understand that I might not get to questions right away as I have children underfoot most of the time.
Owner – Lead Safe Mama, LLC
*If you purchase something after clicking on a Lead Safe Mama, LLC affiliate link – Lead Safe Mama, LLC may receive a small percentage of what you spend at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting my advocacy work in this way!
Tamara what are your thoughts on carbon steel cookware over cast iron like the lodge carbon steel?
I have tested some carbon steel items and not found any toxicant concerns. I don’t have an opinion from a functional standpoint (as I have not used them), but I will ask my husband what he thinks – because he is a metals guy.
I Tamara ! Sometimes your replies are VERY un-specific- like wat type of carbon pans ave you tested? many brands out tere- one could ave lots of lead, and oters none. so it really doesnt elp unless you say wat kinds and wat results !
Have you tested any carbon steel pan/wok made in France for brands like De buyer, Mauviel? Since this is lighter than cast iron and i would like to seek your advice on what carbon steel brand and items have you tested? Thanks!!
Wee are looking for toxicant free wok for Asian cooking. What do you think of either pre seasoned or not pre seasoned carbon steel woks, with wooden handles.
Your educated guess would be very helpful!
Julie Craig says
Did you get a reply to this? I am looking at exactly the same things at the moment and prefer the look of Carbon Steel pans to cast iron which are so heavy. did you end up finding out ? many thanks Julie
I did not get any confirmation from anywhere. I guess it’s hard to get a confirmation unless Tamara tests it. However, I went ahead and bought a wok that seems to be made of only carbon steel and natural wood. I looked for something that would not have any paint or plastic and my guess was that this item fits the bill (link below).
I must add the cooking experience of using a carbon steel (in my case wok) is quite different from that of cast iron pan. My wok requires high heat. It heats up and cools done very quickly. It suits my needs but just thought that you might want to research that.
Hope this helps!
Julie Craig says
Yes I came across this they look amazing although I’m a bit scared of all the pre-seasoning ongoing stuff and not being able to use washing up liquid to clean it – bit off putting to me but I do like the idea and they are very traditional . Thanks so much for getting back to me Julie
Hi Tamara. Have you ever tested a Carbon Steel deBuyer pan for lead and other toxic metals? Here in Spain they are highly recommended, but I don’t know if I can trust them in case they have any toxic metal. I would like to know your opinion about these pans or Carbon Steel pans in general.
Hi Tamara. What about Carbon Steel pans, do they contain lead or any toxic metal??? Have you ever tried a DeBuyer Carbon Steel pan???
Carbon Steel pans should test similarly to this – as long as they don’t have any coatings. I am not familiar with De Buyer (although I have a few pans here in the queue for testing… not sure what brands they all are.)
Thanks so much for the work that you do! I am very interested in the results of your carbon steel pan testing! Please post an update on this soon…
Thanks so much!
Anthea Balogh says
Since I have been following you I have replaced many dishes, mugs, pans, etc in my home. I wish I had your information regarding toxic metals when raising my own family. At least I can share it with them so they can protect my grandchildren. I recently went to your link and bought two Nono ferritic stainless steel pans. I’m thinking I should give away my Mafter Bourgeat carbon steel pan and/or my Stargazer cast iron pan. Don’t want to pass them on unless they are safe.
I very much appreciate your dedication to making our world a safer place! I’m looking forward to the results of your upcoming testing on carbon steel pans.
Thank you for all you do!
Stargazer is a safe choice – Carbon steel is generally fine as long as it does not have components made of other things. Here’s an example of test results for carbon steel: https://tamararubin.com/2018/07/what-is-carbon-steel-morakniv-made-in-sweden-carving-knife/
hi! I saw this is the only test for carbon steel on the site, would be great to test a lodge carbon steel skillet, as it’s a very common and addordable brand in the US. if you’re in nyc and want to test i have a 10” skillet. i also have a la chamba colombian unglazed clay pot. lodge are also on display at many kitchen supply stores. it would also be cool to test titanium camping cookware, like the ones sold at REI, it would be easy to buy and return items to test. i could join you on a visit to rei if you are in nyc, thanks!