Goodness – I see two chief complaints posted here: First, some people say it’s heavy. Well, yes, it is. It’s over 200 square inches of iron, folks. The weight is clearly advertised, so I’m having a hard time understanding this complaint. The second complaint some have is uneven heating. Lodge could fix that – all they have to do is make it thicker – and much heavier, and even more people would be unhappy about the weight.
Since the number of comments about the weight and the uneven heating seem about equal, I’d say Lodge did a great job of hitting a happy middle ground. Personally, I count on a little uneven heating, I’ll sear breakfast chops on one end over a high burner and flip eggs on the other over a lower burner – I’ve even been known to run mine on just one burner, cooking on one end and warming on the other. When I was a grill cook, that’s how I ran my grill, hotter at one end. You also have to allow for some “settle time” for cast iron – compared to aluminum, it’s a fairly slow heat conductor, which gives cast iron it’s wonderful thermal stability. But it takes time for the heat to distribute, so give it a few minutes.
I can’t comment on the factory coating – I strip and season the cooking surfaces on all my iron, new or used. I made one modification to mine, which Andrew pointed out – I took a dremel and ground a shallow notch in the outer lip of one end of the grease gutter to help pouring the grease out – if you do this, be sure to smooth the edges of the notch to avoid heat stress cracks – they love to start at sharp corners – and don’t make it too deep – just a small notch makes a big difference when dumping grease.
While I’m at it – I’m a heretic – a blasphemer – an apostate. My confession? I sometimes clean mine with soap – to be more precise, detergent, which most modern dish soaps actually are. I think the “no soap” thing is a bit of mythology that’s come down to us from Great-Grandma, whose dish soap was basically lye and some type of animal fat (my grandma used bacon grease for her soap). So yeah, maybe lye soap was a bad idea, but it had a very different chemistry from today’s dish detergents, and as far as I can tell, modern detergent won’t touch the baked-on grundge on the bottom of my aluminum and enamel cookware, and they don’t touch my properly seasoned iron either. I do always make sure to rinse very thoroughly, and re-oil after cleaning, however, as that thin film of oil is life to cast iron.
I love this grill on the cooktop, but if you want to see this beauty at it’s best, and you have at least a 20″ charcoal grill, set it on your charcoal grate and have some fun. I don’t think mine ever cooled off during the week or so after hurricane Charley, while we had no electricity. I had stocked up on hardwood charcoal before the storm, and as my neighbor’s fridges warmed, and their freezers thawed, they kept bringing me food to cook before it spoiled – and of course, they shared with the cook. The neighbors saved some of their food, the Lodge grill got quite a workout, and my family ate very well!
It’s a well-made product. It’s American. And it’s a great value. What’s not to love? Just don’t drop it on your foot – did I mention it’s heavy?amazon.com