This cast iron pan seems like a great option for those looking for an heirloom-quality piece. At $80 to $120 a pop (depending on size and whether or not you get the seasoned vs. unseasoned pan), I also think this is reasonably priced for a pan of this quality — especially considering that other high-quality options out there are usually either more expensive and/or made by companies using toxicants in some or all of their cast iron pans (like Leaded-brass elements or Cadmium-based enamel coatings).
Unlike Finex or Le Creuset, the Stargazer pan has no decorative enamel coatings or other decor elements that might be positive for Lead or other heavy metal toxicants (Finex has Leaded brass end-caps on their handles — brass that is positive for as much as 40,000 ppm Lead!).
In contrast to a less-expensive, more mass-manufactured brand (like Lodge, which has fairly inexpensive cast iron pieces), I can see from the high-quality heavy-gauge materials and solid construction of this Stargazer pan —readily noticeable in touching and handling the piece — that it is unlikely to suffer the fate of many modern-era cast iron items of lesser quality (which often have visible casting flaws that tend to be the causes of premature failures in what has otherwise across centuries proven a truly time-tested, virtually indestructible type of cookware!). Specifically, with some Lodge pieces I have heard accounts from some of my readers that they ordered them new online and the item arrived cracked or broken — although I expect this is the exception, not the rule.
While I do still feel Lodge is a good starter option for those just getting into non-toxic cookware on a budget, the companies that produce Finex and Le Creuset have clearly demonstrated through their actions and product history that keeping you (and their workers) safe from exposure to environmental toxicants in their products is not a top priority for these companies. They have a history of persistently defending the continued production and sales of cookware with either Cadmium-laden or Leaded decorative elements, and as such are simply not companies I can recommend at all (even though they may carry non-toxic products in their current lines).
As a result, I think with Stargazer we finally found a “winner” in the high-quality, toxicant-free* cast iron pan category!
Here’s a link to post with the reasons I don’t like Finex (which makes me sad — because they are a local Portland-based company and I really WANT to like them!).
Here’s a whole category of posts (nine total, as of this moment) with reasons I don’t like Le Creuset: https://tamararubin.com/category/le-creuset/.
Here’s the link to Stargazer’s website: https://www.stargazercastiron.com. (Note: I do not — as of the time of writing this post — have any financial relationship with (nor even an affiliate link for) this company. Although in light of the fact that their product line is toxicant-free, and looks well-made, I am definitely going to send them a note about possibly sponsoring my work in the future!) 🙂 Stargazer also has an excellent website with lots of good information about its products and philosophy; plus, the company gives a discount to families in the military! I would encourage you to take some time to check out their site as well.
A reader from Canada sent this Stargazer pan to me as a gift — so I would have the opportunity both to test it and to try it out. As a result, I will also (eventually) give my feedback on how it performs in the kitchen, with an update post once I have had a chance to evaluate it in action.
Below are the full XRF test results for this piece.
When tested with an XRF instrument (for a full two minutes), this cast iron pan had the following readings:
- Chromium (Cr): 1,766 +/- 93 ppm
- Tin (Sn): 180 +/- 48 ppm
- Copper (Cu): 2,031 +/- 261 ppm
- Nickel (Ni): 702 +/- 294 ppm
- Iron (Fe): 987,900 +/- 1,200 ppm (so about 99% iron!)
- Vanadium (V): 178 +/- 68 ppm
- Titanium (Ti): 322 +/- 98 ppm
- Manganese (Mn): 6,109 +/- 454 ppm
- Metals not detected are not listed. Testing was done multiple times and all test results are replicable.
While I personally love (and use) my great-grandmother’s cast iron pans every day… I think these Stargazer pans might also be something to eventually hand down to the kids (and grandkids and great-grandkids!).
As always, please let me know if you have any questions.
Thank you for reading and for sharing my posts!
*Whenever I state that something is “toxicant-free” I am referring to the absence of the most common neurotoxic heavy metals still found in all-too-many consumer products: Lead, Cadmium, Mercury, Arsenic, and Antimony. I do want to acknowledge, however, that some folks have concerns about cooking in iron pans primarily because it can be very dangerous to add too much iron to the diet (especially for people with a hereditary genetic condition known as Hemochromatosis). There is also some research suggesting — as I understand it — that, while many women are said to be prone to suffer iron deficiencies (ostensibly due primarily to iron lost in menstruation) and can benefit from iron supplementation, men do not have this consideration and therefore normally have no need or use for iron supplementation.
I personally use cast iron nearly every day (for my family of six — including myself, my husband, and four sons) and don’t have any concerns about them getting too much iron. In my opinion, the main way to address this (assuming you do not have Hemochromatosis) if you have concerns about iron levels in the diet is to make sure your cookware is varied each day. In addition to cast iron, we use a variety of clear glass and stainless steel each day and don’t necessarily emphasize one pan type over another. In this way, you limit both the potential toxicity concerns about Iron and the concerns some people have about possible toxicity from (or sensitivities to) the Nickel and Chromium in stainless steel (none of which I personally have concerns about for my family).