Thermodynamic Analysis of Skillet Materials Using Infrared Thermography

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  • Title: Thermodynamic Analysis of Skillet Materials Using Infrared Thermography: A Step toward a More Sustainable Food System
  • Author(s): Carla Ramsdell, Jeff Ramsdell
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Common Ground Open
  • Journal Title: Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal
  • Keywords: Skillet, Sustainable Cookware, Infrared, Cast Iron, Carbon Steel, Emissivity, Conductivity, Heat Capacity
  • Volume: 10
  • Issue: 1
  • Year: 2020
  • ISSN: 2160-1933 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2160-1941 (Online)
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/2160-1933/CGP/v10i01/1-17
  • Citation: Ramsdell, Carla, and Jeff Ramsdell. 2020. "Thermodynamic Analysis of Skillet Materials Using Infrared Thermography: A Step toward a More Sustainable Food System." Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal 10 (1): 1-17. doi:10.18848/2160-1933/CGP/v10i01/1-17.
  • Extent: 17 pages

Abstract

The thermodynamics and sustainability of eight different commonly available skillet materials were studied to develop recommendations for optimal material choices for a sustainable kitchen. The material properties, including conductivity, heat capacity, and emissivity make a difference in the energy use, culinary results, and cooking enjoyment while using these basic tools. Using infrared thermography these thermal properties are compared. These results are combined with non-thermal considerations such as cost, longevity, ease of use, and embodied energy to inform optimal skillet material selection. Results of these analyses show that the unique combination of cast iron’s relatively low conductivity, high emissivity, nonstick surface conditions, and longevity make it a superior material for skillet selection. This aligns with the fact that cast iron has stood the test of time over nearly a century as a favorite cooking vessel. These findings can be applied to commercial and residential kitchens to encourage the selection of skillets that will result in optimal final results with minimal environmental impact. These results can encourage resurgence in traditional home cooking and revitalize the cultural importance of cooking and the family, and community resiliency that evolves from re-establishing these critical skills.