Patina/dirt: good for something!

I bought a frying pan - big, too heavy, and an ugly dirty color. Nobody had wanted it in the thrift shop even at the fairly low price that was marked on it, but to me it somehow had a bit of a familiar look - and I figured for $6 there wasn’t much to lose.

So now (after some very minor scrubbing) I have a “Made in France” 30 cm diameter 2.5 mm thick SS-lined copper frying pan with cast-iron handle. It looks like it’s from the slightly older production of Mauviel when the handles were attached with 3 rivets, and was perhaps made for a brand in an English-speaking region, since it has the familiar “Made in France” but no brand stamp. The edge is a pouring-lip design, not the straight sides of the newest Mauviel-branded pans. It’s in extremely good shape to use; it was just dirty and has a few cosmetic scratches on the outside. (The inside is perfect.)

My hand smells like cast iron if I grip the handle for any length of time - is this normal & expected, or should I be treating it with something? That familiar cast-iron smell isn’t a problem to me, as long as I’m safe - and as long as my fancy new frying pan’s handle isn’t going to get serious rust. There’s no noticeable rust now, so I’m leaving the whole thing as-is unless I receive stern instructions to the contrary.

Honestly, I mostly signed up here just in order to have a place to gloat over my good fortune in finding a nice pan. :slightly_smiling_face:


A warm welcome to HO. Gloating fully justified for such a find. Happy frying.

If you don’t find yourself using it much, I’ll give you $7 for it!

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Welcome David, and what a great find!

Do you mind showing us your hunt with a photo?

The copper portion is currently half clean (the easy-to-clean half! :grin:) and half still coated with questionable stuff. Once I get the whole thing reasonably clean, I’ll post a clumsy photo.


Your gloat is fully justified!! Welcome, hope to hear more from you.

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What does cast iron smell like?
I’m confused :neutral_face:
And welcome. I have a frying pan addiction too so you’re among friends.

Is there a genetically-mediated ability to smell iron, where some people have it and some don’t? Or is there something in my skin that reacts with iron, that isn’t in everyone’s skin? If I handle bare iron for a while, I can smell it. If you’ve ever simmered a strong tomato sauce in bare unseasoned cast iron, you’re likely to have noticed that the iron affected the sauce. I think it’s the same thing, or at least chemically related in a simple way.

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Probably. I haven’t any doubt my senses are no longer at the the top of their game.
If they ever were.

I can definitely recognize that iron smell on my cast iron pan. I’m pretty sure that’s what we smell in blood, also.


Maybe you spend so much time around iron that you think that’s just how the world smells. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Nice find! How much was it?

Before & after pics would be fun!

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Price was very good:

Thanks @naf I missed that! That’s a steal not a deal :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

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I actually live amidst the palms and :evergreen_tree: pines. Perhaps my cast iron and I are becoming fused in identity.

I’m very sensitive to the taste, smell and reaction to iron on my skin (in terms of smell).

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You’re right! Unfortunately, I was too excited to remember to take any “before” pictures. And my very odd work schedule means the half-cleaned pan is still sitting there waiting for its turn.

Truly! Whoever was putting the price stickers on the items clearly had no idea what this clumsy-looking dirty pan was about.

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A very good lesson here: look beyond the dirt at garage sales and thrift shops.

I too bought a vintage copper saute pan for pennies, actually $3. It was not readily recognizable as copper, certainly not French hand hammered copper. I asked if $3 was the best price since there was obviously a lot of work to be done on it. "“OK, take it for $2.” Done. Home with it, I spent several long sessions with BarKeep’s Friend and eventually brought it back to life. Under the grime, it was perfect, outside and in. It was marked Dihillerin. :heart_eyes:. was very old and VERY heavy, so heavy that with any kind of content, it was too heavy for me to handle safely. I gave it to a friend who cooks, collects copper and is 6’3’. But I enjoyed giving life to something that was probably destined for recycle.


Great tale, @pilgrim

For those who might take up dumpster diving, er, garage sale gleaning, a good indication of age and probable quality is the above mentioned iron handle and rivets. Very frequently attached to quality copper and otherwise on old, good stuff.


(swiped for photo only; not a live link)