Episode-787- Paul Wheaton on Cast Iron Cooking, CFLs and Rocket Mass Heating — 69 Comments

    • LOL!!! 😀
      Very nice tips you have. Thanks!
      Paul, just a note, the page about cutting 87% on the heat bill, the first 8 images (the graphs) linked at permies, are not appearing. Maybe it’s a temp thing, just thought I’d let you know.
      This winter I’m in a cold enough place that has no standard heat so I’ll definitely be trying your tips! Last year wasn’t so easy moving about the place with a heavy blanket over me.
      About the bed heater (electric blanket), aren’t those hazardous because they produce EMFs that can affect health?
      You’re right about the CFLs. I can totally notice this seemingly ultra-high vibration that emits from the CFLs and it’s headache causing. Really puts you on edge being around them. Like being jolted. Can’t be good for health.
      We thank you for your contributions and your good balance of light-hearted fun and serious nature on the shows.

      • I just re-read the section on the heated mattress pad. It appears that you are not on it while it’s activated (which is only 30 mins before you go to bed). Is that so? If that’s the case, then I suppose it would be ok from a health standpoint. Wouldn’t imagine EMFs would still emit after the unit is turned off, maybe so. But does this sustain over the night? Is it just your body heat then keeping you warm through the night or are you needing to turn on the mattress throughout the night?

    • Nicely put Paul about teaching calculus to someone who is struggling with fractions…I love your candor in the response and keep doing these obscure experiments a lot will come of it including lots of questions….. I have many I will compile them and we will go from there

  1. I really don’t get CFL. A few yrs back they were ready to ban florescent tubes and ballast because they were bad for us? The CFL don’t really give me the light I require so I have to use more plus I don’t really get heat off of them which helps me several ways. Don’t CFL have mercury in them? The biggest thing I don’t get is are we really suppose to “save” the planet & cut back on electric use by using CFL and then we are suppose to drive electric cars? I just don’t get it.

  2. What was the permaculture cd course you alluded to today? I am trying to learn as much as I can. I have known of permaculture for bout 9 – 10 months now and although I know through that permaculture is a growing practice that can revolutionize agriculture, but I am more concerned with the thought process. I feel as though it really doesn’t need to be food, but life in general can prosper through this thought process. Paul’s a nut and I thank you for supporting his evil empire, you two remind me of a couple of twin boys I used to herd around. I didn’t sit at any time while I was their “sitter”, those two were imaginative and very investigative. I love to sit and listen to you two. Thanks again for having Paul on again, I look forward to the next time he’s on.


  3. Awesome show, Paul rocks. Very entertaining but more importantly very informative. Great stuff jack..keep it up!!!!!

  4. Jack and Paul,

    Great podcast today. Thanks for (mostly) staying on topic today; well, at least, more than in your previous interviews. But we still got our usual Paul Wheaton entertainment!

    I wonder if it is possible for those of us with milling machines to re-surface Lodge cast-iron pans, taking just a few thousandths of an inch off the top. I know I could get all the iron chips out using soap and a Brillo pad, then re-season the pan. I think by keeping the speed high and the feed rate low, I could avoid stressing the pan, which probably led to the cracking Paul mentioned.

    Another thing: I’ve talked to Amish people, and I never heard any of them say “we don’t use electricity because it destroys the Earf” like Paul was implying. Don’t think so.

    Even so, a good podcast.

  5. Great episode Jack and Paul.Just wanted to mention that I work a second job at my local Home Depot, and I have noticed this time of year that many people that buy the LED christmas lights end up returning them because they say it makes them feel naucious and dizzy.

  6. Hey Jack and Paul,

    Excellent podcast today, but you guys got me a little fired up on the bashing of electric heat. I work for a power company in Minnesota and work with people on “off-peak” programs. These programs are very economical and with the increasing prominence of wind energy are becoming perfect sources of “batteries” for this energy.

    I would be interested in possibly coming on and talking with you about heating systems, rural electric co-ops rates, and the viability and “greeness” of these systems. While most of them are not self-reliance geared, when they are coupled with a wood stove to defer some of the usage, they become much, much cheaper to operate than propane and fuel oil….other than that, excellent show guys!!

  7. a great way to clean cast iron is by electrolacis. All it takes is a plastic container a battery charger and a couple pieces of stainless steel. Hook the positive and negative leads from the charger to each piece of stainless steel and place them in the plastic container full of water and your cast iron pan. It will clean it like it is new. Just a little buffing off of the rust that will show up and re-season to perfection. This will clean off years of nasty build-up.

  8. So why can’t the epileptics file a suite that they can’t use CLF’s in public places. If Paul Wheaton is correct .. the Americans with Disabilities Act could force this to happen. please explore.

  9. Paul mentioned not using “chemicals” to strip crusty cast iron cookware for re-seasoning. I’m assuming by “chemicals” he meant lye (sodium hydroxide) which is a popular technique used by cast iron aficionados who strongly encourage not to use the high temperature techniques mentioned by Paul. Does anyone know if the lye could pose potential health risks after being thoroughly cleaned off and re-seasoned?

    Some useful cast iron cookware websites

  10. Jack-please get back to shows on the economy. You were on a good roll a while back. The shows the last week or 2 have been terrible and boring. Low carb eating WTF?? Who cares!

    • I doubt Jack would spend so much time on a subject that only a few people were interested in. Not everyone likes listening to the economy shows everday.

    • @Gary2, I only hear from you when you have something to bitch about. If you want all economy all the time go listen to an economics show. TSP is about everything that effects our lives from a self reliance, self sufficiency and individual liberty stand point.

      To be blunt if you can’t feed yourself and keep yourself healthy you money is f-all useless.

  11. Great episode. Parts of it were so funny I nearly had an accidental sewage works in my pants.

    • Damn. I much prefer milk-out-the-nose.

      When I said the thing about the folks in africa with the shiny jewelry, I thought I would get a laugh out of jack, but …. oh well.

  12. Hi, New listenerer here. That was great! Looking forward to listening to more podcasts. Eating well and staying healthy is definitley being self-reliant.

  13. When using CFL in my chicken coop sure I save power but there is a noticeable difference in egg laying when I replace the CFLs and go back to using incandescent. Anyone else notice this difference?

  14. I am a new listener and enjoyed the show, I do like Paul but just a little confused on some of his theories. I understand he came up with a bunch of numbers on the amount of subsidies on cfls, but on his website the only cited one is california providing 80 mil which is $2 per person, based on 2009 census stats. I also believe most of these are subsidized by utilities which I pay anyways for my electricity. Even if this comes from my taxes, why is it wrong to accept something back from the government after all the money we pay in to begin with. If the government said we are going to give you 10 pounds of prime beef for all the taxes you have paid to date, would you turn it down on moral grounds? Secondly, he mentions the Amish not using electricity based on environmental concerns. This is simply not true, the Amish do not use electricity for religious reasons, either to be separate from society or as an objection to power companies providing electricity on Sundays which they see as a sabbath day violation. As to his cfl durability tests he says he is planning, it seems this has been planned for many months, so before assuming anything I think the results are in order first. Also, he says he believes based on usage patterns that the average american home keeps 50 bulbs on at all times? Unless I heard wrong, are we keeping 10 lights on in a room at a time, because I don’t see much more than 5 rooms being lighted at a time in the average American home. That doesn’t seem right. Like I said earlier, good show, very entertaining, but I think Paul has a tendency to just throw numbers around which he theorizes but aren’t based on demonstrable statistics.

      • @Lee, this fricken article

        It must have been all but impossible to find as it was linked to in the show notes directly ABOVE with the term…

        Paul’s Article on Compact Florescent Light Bulbs

        I mean come on if you want to say a man is lying just say it and stand up and be willing to take the response don’t feign ignorance.

        • Yikes! Jack, seems like your irritated about the comments. I don’t think Lee came off as nearly as negative as Gary2…..I mean there has to be some room to disagree or to allow healthy skepticism………to be quite honest it seems that only cheerleaders and yes men get the most praise….I am in no way shape or form condoning insincere, whinny, blind negativity

        • @BakersfieldBrian

          People are free to disagree, disagreement wasn’t the issue here. Lee, basically said Paul is lying, then feigned ignorance at not being able to find the source article which contains all the subsidies he is doubting.

          I mean there is a lot of things in Lee’s statement I also disagree with but have nothing to say in response, he is entitled to his view on them. But this statement,

          “I think Paul has a tendency to just throw numbers around which he theorizes but aren’t based on demonstrable statistics.”

          To me he may have just as well said, Paul Wheaton is a liar.

        • Jack, I think the problem is solved. He said “Which article? I see quite a few at richsoil, none labeled cfl’s.” And yet a simple page search would have brought it up. More importantly, he is arguing against something he hasn’t even read.

          This makes me think of trying to teach calculus to somebody still struggling with fractions. I’m happy to convey information to thousands/millions, and, sometimes I really like to have a good exchange with one person. But in this case, I think think time can be better spent on other projects.

    • Hey all, first off, Jack, I am a new listener to the show, and have been enjoying the podcasts. Secondly, I live in New York, have a 3.74 kw solar array on my home I installed myself, and have an electric bill, in a household of 5 of between $0 and $60 a month. I have all cfl’s in my house and have been happy with them for years. We heat our home with a pellet stove I installed and use very little heating oil, only for hot water. We buy local, organic foods and we are doing more cooking from bulk. I commute daily to my job in NYC as a Sergeant in a 52 mpg car. I don’t know why you are so upset, I certainly agree with Paul on many subjects, and feel he can amply defend himself and no I didn’t see the show notes, I simply scrolled down to ask the cfl question, so shoot me. I did read the linked article, my main thrust, as I said, was simply the numbers he mentioned of $11 to $20 per bulb as the cost offset by subsidies seemed awful high and was unsubstantiated. And after reading the article, he links to a blog and a table with a “speculative” price of $11 per bulb, down from $20. It’s too complicated to actually substantiate. The statement about the Amish I made is true, you can research it yourself. The last thing I mentioned was the longevity testing he was planning and the results should be in order before drawing conclusions. Paul mentions he has a frugal friend with whom he bickers frequently. I am sure they have some debates about the same points I have mentioned. So Jack, it’s ok to disagree, you needn’t be so upset. I think when you see a first posting from a person who says “I am a new listener” you need to take a step back and say maybe they won’t agree 100% with everything on the show, but who does. I love the idea of permaculture and I think I would have a great time hanging out with Paul, but if you were standing behind me holding a baseball bat in case I disagreed I don’t think it would be as fun.

    • One last thing, Paul stated I was arguing against an article, I took issue with a couple claims in the podcast not the article, which I made clear in my post, yes? I read the article afterwards, thanks to you and Jack’s assistance. And it was only a couple select points, not the entire article.

  15. I loved this episode.
    Although, admittedly; It’s really easy to love something you whole heartedly agree with!
    I have Lodge pans and have always been disappointed. I go to my uncles house and use his flea market trash grab pans he found and they are so very superior. No makers marks, but they are so damn smooth. One is marked Taiwan, but that’s all we know.
    I’m hitting the swap meets, flea markets, garage sales and getting me some old cast iron. Lodge pans will then be used for emergency low tech home defense 🙂

  16. Jack, I love the varity in your shows.I have found they all offer something to me, and Im a grumpy old lady ! I was alive and well in the 70’s when everyone wanted to go to the wilds,lock and load, and wait for the bombs to come.Not much fun there.Not much of a well rounded life either. Its nice to hear the voice of sanity.Your advice to gary2 was well stated,if a little polite.I love your shows with Paul,you two have a real ying / yang thing going there. I’ve cooked with cast iron for 40
    years and never could figure out why a skillet by Lodge never seasoned right. Now I do,see learn something new if ya open your ears and mind. Thanks Paul. Now ,like Brian ,I have a low tech defence tool!

  17. Hey everybody,
    Here’s my experiences & thoughts on CFL’s.
    We replaced most of the hallway lights with CFL’s. Our area had been plagued with a bad transformer so we had power outages all the time. Being on a 3 phase system that’s cobbled together gave us partial power in some areas so our lights would be on but dim. About a week after replacing our bulbs we had an outage like never before where the power kept going on & off for a few hours. About a week after it was fixed most of our CFL bulbs died but the incandescent’s were fine. I have since replaced most every bulb we put in within a year. You see, these CFL’s have little mini ballasts inside of them, like a big fluorescent fixture does, so when the power fluctuates or goes on & off repeatedly & quickly it burns them out.
    I have replaced so many CFL bulbs since they started using them that it has cost us at least 10 times what we would have paid using incandescent bulbs.
    They also replaced all the bulbs in our chandeliers last year with CFL’s thinking they would only need to do it once every 8 years or so. I can already see that several have burned out & there is no way to replace them without renting equipment to get up to them.
    CFL’s also can’t be used with dimmer switches or they will burn out(I tried telling them this but who wants to listen to the guy that knows things).
    I am willing to bet that if you follow the trail it will lead to members of Congress having stock in these CFL companies. What better way to make a fortune than to subsidize it & then mandate it’s usage to guarantee a profit!!!

  18. Oh, I forgot to mention that they are also mandating that the larger fluorescent bulbs be replaced with these skinny ones which requires that you also change the ballasts for them in your fixtures. Making it just about as expensive as replacing the entire fixture with a new one. They also don’t last any longer than the others but do light up faster.
    I guess that’s their way of “creating jobs”. It also increases their profits in these companies!
    Dig deep & you’ll find our government officials profiting off of this.

  19. I am planning to build a small (~1400 sq. ft) “conventional” home. I love the idea of the rocket mass heater, but unless you are building a cob house or some other non-conventional home, it seems the RMH just isn’t going to work. Am I missing something? Has anyone ever put a RMH the sort of house that 99.999% of us live in?

    Here is a link to a system that I am really intrigued by:

    Cheers, all!

  20. all the baffoonery inspired me. I cleaned up my 4$ yard sale skillet, and started cooking eggs. First egg slid around just fine, no sticking. Oh and its just a lowly Lodge.

  21. Finally got around to listening to this podcast. At little bit obnoxious from time to time, but still enjoyed it. I would like to ask the obvious question what about the enameled cast iron stuff from companies like Stuab and Le Creuset?

  22. Great show. Paul Wheaton is a very entertaining guest. Lots of great information and I love Paul’s energy. Keep it up both of you. Thanks for your hard work.

  23. GREAT, entertaining and informative podcast. You don’t have to agree with everything said to enjoy the banter, and to learn a little bit.

    Looked through the cast iron I’ve been holding onto, and none of it was branded except for on 8″ Griswold. Now I have a mission next time I’m at the thrift store or yard sales.

    Really intrigued by the rocket mass heater. I’ve got an insulated 34’x40′ pole barn that would be great to heat, and preferably efficiently. I’ll be sorting out a design over the next few weeks. Any recommendations for the “mass” to try out for a trial run?

  24. In the last 1 year LEDS finally got good light quality and outlast CFL’s by factors. They also don’t have mercury like CFL’s. Go get em!

  25. Pingback:CFL light bulbs Just say no! | Learn How to be Prepared

  26. When I see or hear something that I know is wrong that makes me wonder about just how correct everything else that person says or writes is. I am referring to the reference to the Amish and that they do not use electricity because it is dirty technology. That is totally wrong. The Amish do not use electricity in their homes because the electricity comes from the outside world. Use of electricity may be a temptation to use other labor saving devices and that is against their core beliefs. Statements like that, from someone some people respect, helps spread false ideas which then become “truth” to many who don’t know any better.

    I personally also found the attempt at humor regarding Paul’s comment about how the mystery CFL people at the door, must have been Mormons. That smacks of being a religious slur. Shame.

    • @Trond you may or may not be right about the Amish view of electricity. On the bitching about Mormons come on grow the hell up. Paul mentioned that because Mormons come to your home for no expectation of profit because they believe in what they are doing. The CFL guys came for the expressed purpose of making a profit (paid for with our money by the way). If you can’t hear and analogy that mentions a religion or race and not make it into something anti religious or racist the problem is YOU, not the one making the analogy.

  27. Okay, maybe I am overly sensitive to racial and/or religious remarks; perhaps that on top of the Amish remark was too much. I apologize. However, the Amish remark in an error. scroll to technology


    Rocket mass heaters BTW, do make a lot of sense when used in a building that is more or less continuously occupied. They don’t work well in occasional use buildings like weekend cabins.

  28. I love listening to Paul and Jack both. They are the only two podcasts that I listen to. Both of them are large and in charge. I appreciate what they have done to help me to expand my mind into pioneer thinking.

    I would like to say that Paul has been down on Lodge Logic cast iron for a while now. I have ONLY Lodge iron and I never knew it was bad. It works great for me.

    I think it’s important that we support a product made in the USA and then call that company and insist that they do what it is we want them to do en mass. If it’s milling the surface, then let’s get on the horn.

    Also, we can’t spread the word of cast iron to millions of people if we tell people that they only iron they should use is the old stuff on ebay or at flea markets. There has to be a source where everybody interested can get one. What a better place than made in USA iron?

    I sooo wish I could go to see You both and the mighty and glorious Sepp Holser. Please share your experiences for those of us who cannot attend.

    • I wish I had the funds to go to MT next sping as well since ‘m just over here in ID. But, the cost of the conference itself + 11 days off of work + lodging/food… 🙁
      Hopefully someone can video this for DVD so that some of us not so fortunate can learn from it as well.

  29. I love CFL’s but where I live, they can’t be used outside due to cold weather. How do I light all my out building if all I can get is CFL? LED’s will work but they don’t put out enough light.

    Another thing they say about CFL’s is they create more light and less heat. That helps in the summer, but not in the winter. In the winter, the furnace must work harder because the bulbs are not contributing to the heat, so it is an energy wash.

  30. With regards to the cast iron pans of modern manufacture, here may be a solution.

    I’ve had a large Wagner skillet that I purchased new for about 15 years and it is milled on the interior surfaces.

    Both Wagner and Griswold names are now owned by American Culinary, and by all indications I can find, are still made in the USA. (gawd I hope this is true)

  31. @SmartLikeTruck:
    Awesome. Looks legit. I’ve gotten my cast iron from antique/thrifts shops but now I can just direct people to Wagner.

  32. Imo, this wasn’t “an interview”, just a recorded conversation between friends and it was refreshing. Paul sounds a lot like a good friend of mine, the type of guy that if you have him over for a couple adult beverages, you end up talking until 2 AM & who knows where the conversation would go?!?

    After listening, when I got home from work I found out that my mother’s old cast iron skillet, that I inherited, is a Wagner and I think she got it from her mother as well. So it would have to be at least around 60-75 years old. It’s the only thing that I like pineapple upside down cake cooked in a well as meatloaf. There is just something about it that makes it taste better. I think I feel “the love from above” coming through the metal but I definitely intend to take even better care of it now so that hopefully, future grandkids will experience the same things. Thanks guys! .

    • It’s a pitiful state we’re in in this country. They have us railroaded into a corner. If we buy something, the money goes to the wrong cause and if we don’t buy something, our tax dollars are used to bail out the wrong cause. We all need to be working on our permaculture/self-reliant/self-sustaining lifestyles and then take the reigns back for ourselves.

      Food is our freedom!

  33. Well, I have not yet listened to the Podcast (I know, huh!). But I have analyzed all the comments and decided that the best thing to do is become Amish. Then, the CFL, LED argument is mute and the cast iron will be your best and only choice. Glad I was the one grandma had in mind when it was time to pass hers down…
    But I digress, I started buying CFLs when they were $50 each. Most of those still work. Newer ones are crap. I just started buying LED bulbs and they have their issues, but seem to be working better in the right places for them.
    Anyway, always fun to have Paul over for a spell, cant wait to listen…

  34. Pingback:Cabin Fever: Restarting A Cast Iron Pan |

  35. I am a bit late listening to that show, but would like to throw my vote for another one with Paul. This was an awesome podcast. He got me curious about Sepp’s food preservation methods at the end. It must be somewhat unorthodox…