Making Cast Iron

July 27, 2021 • #

I’m a sucker for a How It’s Made episode, and this tour of the Lodge factory combines that with my Food YouTube-watching obsession.

What’s amazing here is to see the reuse at work, and how few inputs are required to go from raw materials to kitchen cookware. Scrap metal, pig iron, sand, and heat come together to make products that can last generations if cared for properly. Some of the most useful tools out there are some of the simplest. In an age when we have infinite gadgets to do every specialized thing, it’s cool to see Lodge’s business booming for the most basic and versatile of cooking tools.

One side observation on systems:

When I watch episodes of How It’s Made, I try and visualize the system diagram of inputs, outputs, and operations (like what you’d find in Donella Meadows’s excellent Thinking in Systems — I know, I must be fun to watch TV with). The most interesting production lines are those that reduce and reuse throughout the process, and maximize what can be done per unit of area. Lodge’s facility is about as reductionist as you can get while maintaining the throughput they do.