The Field Skillet: Lighter, Smoother Cast Iron


About this project

The Field Skillet is a meticulously designed smoother, lighter cast iron pan reminiscent of the best vintage American skillets—but with a modern twist. This is your new everyday pan and it will get continuously better the more you use it.

From crispy roasted vegetables, to flakey pie crusts, to a perfectly seared steak, cast iron’s heat retention and knack for developing a natural non-stick surface benefits nearly every kind of cooking. A cast iron skillet is capable, durable, and at home in most any context. Braise over hot coals. Simmer on the latest induction cooktop. Serve at the table. Hang it on your wall. Then hand it down to your grandkids.

A Special Update: A Gift for Our Kickstarter Backers

What Makes the Field Skillet Special?

The Perfect Weight

Cast iron is prized for its heat retention, which is proportional to its weight. Heft is a key feature of a great pan, but beyond 5 lb makes it a chore to use. We chose a weight you’d be comfortable reaching for every day, without compromising performance. The Field Skillet is lighter than a 13″ MacBook Pro.

Smooth Finish & Well Seasoned

Like the best vintage pans (and unlike the rough, pebbled finish of most modern pans), Field Skillets are machined and polished. This reduces weight, increases the fineness of the form, and provides a smooth cooking surface. Your pan will arrive fully seasoned ready to pass the fried egg test.

The Right Size (No. 8)

The #8 is a universal fit for most stove tops. Matching the size of the pan to the size of the burner means that you’ll have more even heat distribution—a key to reducing hot spots.

A Flat Bottom for All Cooktops

Our pan works on all stovetops: gas range, induction, glass top, or campfire. If you’re a vintage aficionado, you’ll appreciate our nod to the heat ring. Many vintage pans were designed with a heat ring to set perfectly in a wood burning stove.

No Pour Spouts

Pour spouts don’t fully solve the drip issue and they add costly steps to manufacturing. We give you everything you need, nothing you don’t—especially if it adds extra cost.

A Simple, Functional Handle

Simple is not easy. We eliminated and refined countless ideas to arrive at an ergonomic handle that looks great and feels good in your hand whether you’re cooking on the stovetop, carrying to the table, or cleaning and storing.

Eco-Friendly and ISO Certified

Every iron pour at our foundry is sampled and tested to ensure the highest standards. Our pans are made from 75-90% recycled iron. All scrap iron we create is remelted for future pours and all sand from the castings is continuously cycled back into production with zero waste.

Made in the USA—with a Lifetime Guarantee

We stand by our product for life and hope that it becomes one of your favorite tools and a vessel for some of your favorite memories. Cast iron cookware has a rich history in America—to honor that and achieve the highest quality, we make our pans in the USA.

Why Else Should You Own & Use Cast Iron?

Non-toxic and eco-friendly: a well-seasoned cast iron pan achieves a natural non-stick surface without harmful chemicals or engineered coatings.

The more you use it, the better it gets: with a little care and seasoning, your pan will develop a deep patina, stick less, and impart more flavor with every use.

Revel in ritual: great tools are rare. They encourage us to slow down and to find joy in a simple task done well.

Timeless: after more than 2,000 years of use, cast iron cookware transcends style or fad—it’s equally handsome and unassuming in a sleek urban loft or a rustic farmhouse.

How We Got Here

Our personal story with cast iron began as kids—with our parents and extended family using cast iron pans regularly. When we both shipped out on our own, we were each given a vintage pan that had accumulated many years of love and use.

A little over a year and a half ago, we bought a new cast iron pan—and while it was perfectly functional, it didn’t have the style and romance of the old pans. A question was born: why don’t they make them like they used to?

We loved the lore, but we also wanted real answers. We turned to measurement and science.

Weight, Pouring Iron, and Poland

We started by taking one of our favorite vintage Wagner pans (which is extremely light) and contacting some foundries. We were told, simply, that there was no way these modern foundries could pour iron that thin. We turned to the Internet and stumbled on a white paper calledThermophysical Properties of Thin Walled Compacted Graphite Iron Castings written by a Dr. Marcin Gorny in Krakow, Poland. We emailed him and he agreed to Skype with us. He was excited, energetic, and eager to help. He helped us with microscopic imaging to compare the graphite structure of vintage pans and make sure they weren’t black magic. Eventually, he invited us to Poland to visit him at his lab.

We learned a lot on that trip. But we also confirmed that the techniques used to make thin-walled, smooth cast iron require specific set ups and fairly involved human labor that would be extremely expensive to recreate today. The main factors in making thin-walled, smooth cast iron are: specific metallurgy that allows iron to flow faster and smoother through the sand mold, specific temperature for optimal iron flow, and very fine-grained sand moldings so the iron will not be pebbly (a piece of lore we heard often was how the vintage pans used fine-grained sand from the banks of Lake Erie).

Once we had our science right, we called hundreds of foundries. Many of them wanted to charge us $100 just to make the pan, which would mean insane retail prices. We kept calling foundries until we found one that would allow us to offer a fair price.

Becoming Experts at Restoration

The first step in dialing in our iron game was to restore and refurbish dozens of vintage pans. There are lots of ways to get a pan down to raw iron—old fashioned sanding, self-cleaning oven cycle, throw it in a fire (not recommended), and the ultimate and best solution—an electrolysis tank.

Being Definitive: Seasoning Cast Iron

The next step was to get raw iron seasoned so that it looked beautiful and cooked up some non-stick eggs. The Internet is awash with seasoning techniques and opinions. There’s Sheryl Canter’s flaxseed oil technique, which is highly regarded by many. And then there’s Jeff Rogers, the Culinary Fanatic, who has what’s considered the gold standard in seasoning technique among the hardcore cast iron crowd.

Many cast iron enthusiasts specifically say they don’t like flaxseed oil due to adhesion issues. Way to go Internet—conflicting information. Don’t worry, we’ll be publishing the definitive guide to seasoning soon. Back to the story…

We asked our friend and biological chemist, Doug, what was up with seasoning. He laid it down and we got into polymer layers, carbonization, single and double bonds and we tried a huge variety of oils, temperatures (smoke points), times, and techniques. We’ve cracked the code.

An early Field Skillet Prototype with great seasoning in the center. Vintage Wagners on the flanks.
An early Field Skillet Prototype with great seasoning in the center. Vintage Wagners on the flanks.
Adhesion and the Chemistry of Seasoning
Adhesion and the Chemistry of Seasoning
Sanded vintage pan: does not take seasoning
Sanded vintage pan: does not take seasoning
CNC milled surface: does not take seasoning
CNC milled surface: does not take seasoning

We determined that the most important thing to getting your pan seasoned nicely is not only technique, but the pan itself. If you try to season a pan and it doesn’t turn black, that pan is not likely to ever hold a good seasoning. The Field Skillet is the first smooth-surfaced pan that can hold an excellent seasoning since the early 1900s when they stone ground their pans.

The Egg Test on a Field Skillet prototype.
The Egg Test on a Field Skillet prototype.

Design Process and Criteria

When we started, we read that several cast iron companies had designed a handle that stayed cool and dissipated heat effectively. So we tested them. They all get hot enough to burn our bare hands. This violates two fundamental rules of great tools: the first is that a great tool should expertly perform its intended task if used correctly and the second is that a great tool should provide clear feedback about how it should and should not be used.

We carved foam, researched the thermal capacity of iron, and sketched endlessly. We couldn’t find a way to make a handle dissipate heat safely without creating an excessively long handle or using a separate material—and part of the appeal of cast iron is that it’s one piece, there’s nothing to break and no parts that fail or wear out.

We also had physics to consider. Though our pan is light, cast iron still has some heft. Which means you want to be able to choke up on the handle for leverage. And when you fill it with a giant amount of protein, a helper handle is pretty key.

Who We Are

We’re a team of passionate home cooks, craftsmen, designers, and business people that believe in great tools and doing more with less.

Risks and challenges

Producing a highly crafted object at scale requires tight specifications and detailed systems. We’ve sourced, vetted, and put in the time with many rounds of prototyping with every element of our supply chain to get the project to this point.

During the first production run, we’ll be refining further to ensure the Field Skillet has the character and personality of a hand-finished product and we will be onsite working at our manufacturing facilities coordinating our final tooling.

Manufacturing projects always have risks with timing, we’ve accounted for that with conservative estimates and a promise of full transparency on any unforeseen issues.

Back Field Company‘s project on Kickstarter