Strata – The World’s First Clad Carbon Steel Pan

Ellyn Eddy
Ellyn Eddy

Ellyn Eddy

Ellyn is a seasoned writer and editor with profound experience in covering culinary topics. She covers cookware guides and hands-on product reviews for The Skillful Cook.

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Strata Clad Carbon Steel Pan

The Strata Pan: Will this innovative fry pan solve the issues that plague carbon steel?

People often call a carbon steel pan the “lightweight cousin of cast iron.” 

But if you’re a carbon steel fan, you know that’s not really true. Sure, carbon steel is thinner and weighs less than a cast iron skillet – but it’s not light. A 10” carbon steel pan usually weighs about between 3 and 4 pounds – about 50% more than an aluminum pan.

Naturally “stick-less” after a good seasoning, carbon steel is truly one of the safest and most powerful materials for cooking – but its weight turns a lot of people off. It also loves to rust if you don’t handle it carefully. 

The team behind the Strata pan wants to make carbon steel accessible for everyone.

What is the Strata Pan?

Supported by a runaway Kickstarter campaign, the Strata pan is the world’s first clad carbon steel cookware. The tri-ply fry pan has a magnetic stainless steel exterior, an aluminum core, and a carbon steel top layer. It has a riveted stainless steel handle and will be initially released in 10” and 12” sizes. 

Strata clad carbon steel structure
stratacookware.com

The Promises

Why would you want a carbon steel pan with an aluminum core? The Strata design team gives several reasons.

First, aluminum is about 60% lighter than carbon steel. The total thickness of the Strata pan (2.8mm) is comparable to most solid carbon steel pans – but the aluminum core cuts the weight significantly, making it easier to handle.

Second, aluminum is a much better heat conductor than carbon steel (which, by the way, is actually 99% iron). Aluminum cookware heats up faster and more evenly than cast iron or carbon steel – and it cools faster, too. So a pan with an aluminum core should, in theory, heat more evenly and be more responsive to temperature changes than solid carbon steel. If the Strata pan delivers on this promise (which the brand assures us it does through rigorous tests), it will be a perfect match for induction and electric cooktops. Solid carbon steel heats fairly evenly on gas, but it really struggles on flat burners. In fact, on induction and electric cooktops, carbon steel heats so notoriously unevenly that it often warps.

The Strata team says they’ve solved the warping problem, too.

Stainless Steel Cladding

What does “clad carbon steel” mean?  It means, in Strata’s case, that the exterior layer of the pan is made of magnetic (i.e. ferritic or nickel-free) stainless steel. 

This makes the pan induction-compatible, since aluminum by itself won’t heat up on induction cooktops. Stainless steel is both stronger and heats much more slowly than aluminum or carbon steel, so it resists warping on induction. Will the stainless steel exterior of Strata give us a warp-resistant carbon steel pan? It appears so, but consumer tests will tell.

The Story

We haven’t had a chance to talk to the team behind the Strata pan (at least, not yet!) but what I’ve seen online makes me confident they can engineer something great. The Strata pan isn’t just a concept; it’s been thoroughly researched, prototyped, and torture-tested by a product design firm called Gizmatic, located outside Washington, D.C.

The Gizmatic team members are self-proclaimed carbon steel enthusiasts who set out to solve the issues that plague carbon steel pans: namely heavy weight and uneven heating. They also suggest that you could view their product like a nonstick pan with a non-toxic, non-polymer coating that gets better – not worse – with use.

No matter how you look at it, there’s enough of a demand for the Strata pan that, as of this writing, over 625 people have pledged a cumulative $82,000+ to fund its production. And there are still more than three weeks left of the campaign!
I’ve been impressed by the Strata team’s interaction with their backers, thoroughly answering questions on both their Kickstarter page and Reddit. According to posts on Reddit, Gizmatic has manufacturing lined up for the Strata pan with a partner in Suzhou, China.

Stats and Specs

  • Kickstarter campaign end: February 13, 2024. 
  • Expected product ship date: By May 2024. 
  • Fully funded in the first 15 minutes of the campaign.
  • Over 600 backers pledged over $82,000 as of January 22, 2024. 

Quick Overview:

  • Sizes available: 10” and 12” fry pans
  • Cooking surface diameter: 8.0” (10” pan) and 9.75” (12” pan)
  • Weight: 2.3 lbs (10”) and 3.1” (12”)
  • Height of sides: 1.8”
  • Total Thickness: 2.8mm 
  • Handle: 8” hollow stainless steel with stainless steel rivets
  • Retail cost: $115 (10”) and $135 (12”)
  • Kickstarter cost: $95 (10”) and $115 (12”)
  • Origin: Designed in US. Manufactured in Suzhou, China
  • High-heat safe: Yes
  • Oven safe: Yes
  • Dishwasher safe: No

Our Take on the Strata Pan

Strata clad carbon steel pan / stratacookware.com

As of this writing, the Kickstarter for the Strata Pan is still running, so we haven’t had a chance yet to try out one of these innovative fry pans. We think it’s a fascinating concept, but we have a few questions. If we get a chance to test the pan, here’s what we’ll be asking:

  • Can the bonds between the layers hold up to long-term use since the three different metals have different rates of thermal expansion? Strata claims that delamination and corrosion between the layers won’t be an issue since they are completely fused.
  • How evenly do the sides heat? The hardest part of a carbon steel pan to season and keep well-seasoned are the sides since they don’t get as hot as the rest of the pan. Having an aluminum core up the sides of the pan may reduce this problem. 
  • How easy will the pan be to season? If they’re going to sell the Strata as a “nonstick pan” with a non-toxic coating, the key will be easy seasoning for users.
  • How will the stainless steel exterior affect the aluminum’s ability to heat evenly and responsively? Stainless steel is a notoriously poor heat conductor. My tests with All Clad pans prove that a thick aluminum core can make up for stainless steel’s inability to heat well. It sounds like the aluminum layer in the Strata pan is by far the thickest of the three, so its even-heating claims are probably legit.

A Word on Weight

Finally, how much lighter is the Strata pan than carbon steel – really? Strata claims that its pan is half the weight of traditional carbon steel. In their marketing video, they place two pans on scales, and you can see that the Strata pan is about half the weight of the other. But the other pan is a cast iron skillet – not a carbon steel pan. According to its website, the 10” Strata pan weighs 2.3 pounds. For comparison, here are the weights of some competitors:

  • 10.25” Matfer Bourgeat – 3.7 pounds
  • 10.25” De Buyer Mineral B – 4.1 pounds
  • 10.25” De Buyer Blue – 3.2 pounds
  • 10” Made In Carbon Steel – 3 pounds
  • 10” Lodge Carbon Steel – 3.5 pounds
  • 10” OXO Obsidian CS – 2.8 pounds
Strata pan on a scale

Conclusion: How to Jump In

We’re excited that the Strata campaign is fully funded and these pans will likely be in the hands of consumers in the next few months! We’ll update here if we get a chance to test one of these pans. In the meantime, if you’d like to get involved, you can head to Kickstarter and back this innovative cookware!

What questions do you have about the Strata pan? Would you like to see us test and review it? Let us know in the comments!

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Ellyn Eddy
About The Author
Ellyn is a professional writer and a short-order cook for her family of four. As a mother, her spare time is filled with investigating all things food and wellness. Equipped with a pantry of exotic ingredients, a shelf full of nutrition books, and a bit of international travel experience, she loves creating healthy and beautiful meals.