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I've heard that pouring a cold liquid into a very hot cast-iron pan can destroy it (because it's more brittle than a steel pan for instance). Is that true or do most of you deglace in cast-iron pans as well?

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up vote 13 down vote accepted

A metal pan will not crack simply from cold liquid. If you heat it up to a very high temperature and submerge it in cold water, that's not such a good idea. But deglazing is just a tiny amount of liquid.

Now, aluminum is another story - if it's hot enough and you pour cold water (or cold anything) on it, it can warp, even with a relatively small amount of liquid. And for Teflon and other "coated" cookware, you can ruin the coating that way. But heavier steel or cast iron - no way.

If you're really concerned, just keep the deglazing liquid at room temperature. Deglazing is usually done with vinegar and you keep that at room temperature anyway, right? I deglaze my CI all the time with cider vinegar and have never experienced even the tiniest crack in 10 years. I'm pretty sure it's safe. It's great, actually; CI deglazes very easily, you just need a small splash of vinegar.

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I've never deglazed with vinegar -- but I've had no problems with years of using water, broth or alcohol. Deglazing is actually my preferred way of cleaning my cast iron: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/261/… –  Joe Jul 12 '10 at 4:31
    
+1 Didn't know that about coated materials, do you know if the coating comes off in that situation or is it ruined and just stays on? –  Kryptic Jul 12 '10 at 4:55
    
Interesting @Joe, I think I only use vinegar (I always have cider vinegar around for this purpose). Of course you can deglaze with anything, especially on cast iron where the browned bits aren't even really stuck. All of the things you list can also be kept at room temperature if you happen to be paranoid! –  Aaronut Jul 12 '10 at 16:01
    
@kryptic: It's hard to say for sure because every coating is different and the companies don't really disclose a lot of information about them. Some coatings don't even need the water, they'll leach into the food with just a high enough heat. Others don't readily leach into solids but are easily absorbed by water. It's partly because of all these unknowns that I tend to eschew the chemical non-stick coatings for all but the most basic cooking tasks (mainly frying on low to medium heat). –  Aaronut Jul 12 '10 at 16:05
    
@Aaronut - And for a bonus when you use vinegar you get some extra iron in your diet. :) –  Sobachatina Sep 11 '10 at 1:15
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Cast iron is more brittle, sure, but cast iron is practically indestructible, so that's like saying "diamond is more brittle than jello". You probably could shatter it, if you tried really hard, but there is no way you'd do it just by dumping a little liquid into the pan, while it's at a normal cooking temperature. Even if it was way beyond a normal cooking temp, throwing liquid in the pan would just cause some really energetic steam.

Now, run it up to 1000 degrees or so, then lob it into a bathtub full of icewater, it'd probably shatter.

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