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Thread: Buying a wok

  1. #41
    Senior Member hmansion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by boomchakabowwow View Post
    at my parents restaurant. they would wear out woks. i dont understand what they saw that made them call it worn..but they would occasionally get tossed.

    knowing what i know now, i should have grabbed a smaller one..hell, it would have been seasoned crazy. oh well.
    Out of curiosity, did they favor one-handle or the two-loop type? I wonder if a wok might eventually warp under the constant barrage of a 100-200K BTU stove...or maybe the handle connections (rivets) come loose after being torqued for so long?


  2. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by hmansion View Post
    Out of curiosity, did they favor one-handle or the two-loop type? I wonder if a wok might eventually warp under the constant barrage of a 100-200K BTU stove...or maybe the handle connections (rivets) come loose after being torqued for so long?
    both.

    i was younger and didnt care enough to ask questions. but to put it simply from observation, the Cantonese guy used the big wok..and the szechan dude used the smaller one with the handle. i know this is a very rudimentary observation..i was trying to survive college.


  3. #43
    Senior Member hmansion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by boomchakabowwow View Post
    both.

    i was younger and didnt care enough to ask questions. but to put it simply from observation, the Cantonese guy used the big wok..and the szechan dude used the smaller one with the handle. i know this is a very rudimentary observation..i was trying to survive college.
    Bet it was interesting having a family restaurant. Lots of stories, no doubt!

  4. #44
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    My understanding is that rest woks can (and do) get burned through from the extreme heat of the burners. What they would see is prob the glowing in the bottom becoming more red as the steel fails. Read this on the internet ya know....
    Older and wider..

  5. #45
    Senior Member TimoNieminen's Avatar
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    I like traditional Chinese cast iron woks, the kind they've been making for 1,500 to 2,000 years. These aren't like Western cast iron woks - much thinner, about the same weight as a typical carbon steel wok of the same diameter. Mine might have been the best $12 I ever spent for my kitchen.

  6. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by TimoNieminen View Post
    I like traditional Chinese cast iron woks, the kind they've been making for 1,500 to 2,000 years. These aren't like Western cast iron woks - much thinner, about the same weight as a typical carbon steel wok of the same diameter. Mine might have been the best $12 I ever spent for my kitchen.
    Cast or wrought iron?

    I'm no expert, but my experience is that cast iron is more brittle and just isn't used in thinner applications. In the west, most traditionally wrought iron items are now made from mild steel. (Due, I'm told, to manufacturing costs / volumes.)

  7. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yet-Another-Dave View Post
    Cast or wrought iron?

    I'm no expert, but my experience is that cast iron is more brittle and just isn't used in thinner applications. In the west, most traditionally wrought iron items are now made from mild steel. (Due, I'm told, to manufacturing costs / volumes.)
    there is something called ductile iron,
    but its a little more expensive.

    would be interested to hear about what they use for woks,
    but this is not something am familiar with...just

    sharing info on the material

  8. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by HRC_64 View Post
    ... would be interested to hear about what they use for woks,
    but this is not something am familiar with...
    Yes, thin and cast (or ductile) iron don't go together in my experience. Wrought iron, I'm told, is very scarce these days and I wouldn't expect it to be used for inexpensive items, so very curious.


    Quote Originally Posted by HRC_64 View Post
    there is something called ductile iron,
    but its a little more expensive.

    ...

    sharing info on the material
    Yup, traditional cast iron is made ductile by doping it with magnesium.

    Classic metal woodworking planes (e.g. Stanley) were made with cast iron bodies. New versions use ductile (cast) iron (e.g. Lee Valley & many Lie-Nielsen) In general the difference is the old ones crack and new ones dent when you drop them. Neither really seems like a characteristic you'd want in a wok. I guess dents beat cracks though.

  9. #49
    Senior Member TimoNieminen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yet-Another-Dave View Post
    Cast or wrought iron?

    I'm no expert, but my experience is that cast iron is more brittle and just isn't used in thinner applications. In the west, most traditionally wrought iron items are now made from mild steel. (Due, I'm told, to manufacturing costs / volumes.)
    Cast iron. Yes, they're more brittle, and can break if dropped on the floor. Thin and cast iron can be done, even if that's never seen in Western cookware - mine is about 1.5mm thick about an inch in from the edge.

    This style of wok might date back to the Han Dynasty - to the mid-1st millenium at the latest. When the Chinese adopted the blast furnace and steel-making by decarburising cast iron (mid-Han), cast iron became the cheaper option compared to steel and wrought iron, and was used for various tools where high impact resistance wasn't needed (i.e., where the brittleness wasn't a major problem). Wrought iron woks were the fancy premium version (ancient Chinese wrought iron was often high enough in carbon to be classified as mild steel - why spend time and fuel to decarburise all the way to really low carbon content when mild steel levels of carbon work OK).

  10. #50
    Senior Member TimoNieminen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HRC_64 View Post
    would be interested to hear about what they use for woks,
    Traditionally, just ordinary cast iron. The better quality cast iron woks were grey cast iron, and the lower quality (but cheaper) ones were white cast iron. The practical difference is that grey cast iron is less brittle than white (but is still brittle). AFAIK, the modern cast iron woks are just ordinary cast iron.

    D. B. Wagner, "Science and Civilisation in China, vol 5, part 11: Ferrous metallurgy", CUP, 2008, has an interesting translation of a 17th century Chinese text comparing grey and white cast iron woks (pg 49).


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