Dutch Oven: Iron or Aluminum?

For those who want to buy a Dutch oven, the question that many people have is: Should I get an iron oven, or an aluminum oven? While both will cook food that delicious to the taste, there are some differences in the performance of each type of Dutch oven, and also in the proper care of the oven. So, before you decide what kind of material your Dutch oven should be made from, determine which would suit your needs best.

Many casual Dutch oven users find that aluminum is more “convenient.” It is pounds lighter than an iron Dutch. Additionally, soap and water can be used to clean an aluminum oven. And an aluminum Dutch oven will not rust at nearly the same rate as an iron oven. A Dutch iron made from iron requires “seasoning.” In this process, you take oil or animal fat rub it into the pores of the oven. When the oil or fat hardens in the Dutch oven’s pores, it becomes a barrier against rust. It is very important to season your iron oven prior to using it. But the nature of the Dutch oven seasoning makes it impossible to wash the oven with soap. The soap will dissolve the oil or fat, leaving your oven without its protective barrier.

The more experienced Dutch oven enthusiasts, however, do like iron ovens for their properties when it comes to preparing food. The point at which iron melts is much higher than the point at which aluminum begins melting. If you inadvertently set your oven directly on coals, or if you have too many coals, there is a risk of your aluminum Dutch oven beginning to melt. Additionally, an aluminum oven does not retain heat as well as an iron oven does. You are more likely to maintain a constant temperature for cooking your food when an iron Dutch oven is used.

Plus, the fact that aluminum heats so much faster than iron can result in burnt food. And on a windy day, the aluminum Dutch oven will have a harder time keeping the food at a constant temperature. And you can’t leave the food in there to keep it warm, as aluminum loses heat almost as fast as it warms up. An iron Dutch oven will retain its heat longer, keep your food nice and warm without burning it, even when removed from over the coals.

So, before you buy just any Dutch oven, thinking it doesn’t matter, evaluate your needs, and decide whether aluminum or iron will suit you best.

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