Carbon Steel Vs Cast Iron Wok: Which One Is Better For You?

Carbon Steel Vs Cast Iron Wok
Photo by Miquel Parera on

Innovation is significantly growing every day to make our daily living more comfortable. Various types of kitchenware have been created to make working in the kitchen easier. Induction woks are one of the many kitchen appliances that have improved over the years to make cooking effortless. They are crafted using different materials, carbon steel and cast iron being the most famous. A wok made out of the two materials tends to vary in terms of performance, durability, price, and so on. Let’s take a moment and get to know how these two types of woks differ together with their cons and pros. 

Carbon Steel wok 

Learning how a Yosukata carbon steel wok is dissimilar to other pans in the market will help you choose a wok that’s ideal for your kitchen. Carbon steel material is an alloy of two materials: carbon and steel with a content of 0.05% to 3.8% each. Due to its appealing traits, carbon steel is the most commonly used material compared to others. 

Cast iron wok

Cast iron is a material made up of a combination of iron and carbon. The percentage of carbon is higher than 2 percent. The thicker carbonized layer of a cast iron wok makes it more appealing to the user because of its attractive features. Cast iron woks are considered to be more admirable than those of carbon steel. You are probably wondering why. Well, keep reading. 

Heat distribution and retention

For a wok to be termed as one of the best, performance is key. Carbon steel and cast iron woks both have their superiority in this area. 

Carbon steel 

When it comes to heat retention and distribution, carbon steel takes the upper hand on the latter. Carbon steel woks are light in weight and thin, therefore, they heat up quickly and uniformly. You are able to get a good carbon steel wok for cooking meals without having to worry about the uneven distribution of heat. 

Cast iron

Cast iron woks are more advantageous in heat retention. These woks are heavier and thicker, therefore, they retain a lot of heat. This pan is a great choice for cooking meals that require more time to cook such as potatoes and keep your food hot for a long time after removing it from the fire. 


A good wok surface should be non-stick to keep the food from sticking to the surface when cooking. 

Carbon steel

The good thing about carbon steel wok is that food does not stick to the surface. However, this is only achievable through proper seasoning before any cooking commences.

Cast iron 

Cast iron woks are also non-sticky. They have a slick surface that ensures your food does not stick to the surface as long as it is properly seasoned. However, most cast iron woks are textured on the surface and this may cause difficulty in sliding the food over the pan. 


The weight of the material greatly determines the type of meals to cook and the style of cooking. A good wok should not be too light or too heavy. 

Carbon steel

Carbon steel woks are light in weight compared to other types of woks made of stainless steel or cast iron. Because of their lightweight, they are effective for meals that require quick frying with repetitive movements. They also permit more mobility through their long sturdy handles. 

Cast iron 

Cast iron woks are very heavy because they are thicker. They are preferred for various cooking styles such as boiling, braising, and frying and are more qualified in situations where the wok is required to hold more heat. For maximum stability when lifting, the pans usually have two handles.

Carbon steel pros

  • Lightweight
  • Flexible
  • Less expensive than Cast iron pan


  • Should be regularly seasoned for a non-stick and non-corrosive surface

Cast iron pros

  • Keeps the food hot after cooking
  • High durability
  • Non-stick and less corrosive


  • Poor distribution of heat
  • Relatively heavier

Cleaning and Maintenance

Both cast iron and carbon steel woks are easy to clean and maintain. The two are maintained through proper and frequent seasoning of the surface. If you are a chef using carbon steel or a cast iron pan, you need to know how to season it properly in order to maintain its effectiveness. 

The process is simple and all you need is some cooking oil. Burn the oil onto the surface of the wok for a few minutes to create a protective layer. The coat creates a non-stick surface and prevents the pan from becoming rusty. When cleaning woks made of cast iron or carbon steel material, you should not use soap or scrubbing material. All you need is clean running water and a soft sponge to maintain a smooth and flawless surface.