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Ask the Pan Handler: Can I Grind Down a Heat Ring?

Griswold No. 12 Cast Iron Skillet

Question: Bill C from Virginia wrote “I have a Griswold #11 or model 717 fry pan. It works good with gas but I want to use it on a flat surface electric stove. Can I grind down the ring on bottom side of pan without affecting function of pan?”

Anna’s Answer:  You can use pans with heat rings on electric stoves, so I’m wondering if the pan already has a significant wobble, or maybe some warpage.

Many vintage pans, particularly the larger ones, do have a small amount of movement.  This doesn’t preclude them from being used on all cooking surfaces, a pan doesn’t need to be pancake flat, but if it has a severe rock or it spins, or you can slide something bigger than a nickel under the side then it’s not going to be a good cooker on a flat cooking surface such as an electric stove or induction cooktop.  Of course, if you have raised burners such as with a gas range, or you want to use it in the oven or camping, you’ll be just fine.  Mary wrote a great blog on pan movement here.

Let’s say Bill’s pan does have a big wobble, and preheating the pan isn’t enough to compensate.  Bill can grind his heat ring down, but how flat the surface would be will depend on a combination of how evenly the heat ring is removed, and how flat the pan is otherwise, so Bill needs to be careful to stop at various times during the grinding process, and check how flat is pan is, and where the wobbles might be.  This way he can adjust until both the heat ring is removed, and the pan sits flat on his stove.

After all, once you’ve ground something off, you can’t put it back on again, so be very conservative in your approach!

It’s important to note that grinding the heat ring off a Griswold such as this will reduce its value, and its desirability as a collector’s item.  Generally, the Griswold #11’s are harder to find than the #10’s or #12’s, so personally I would acquire another pan, or another stove, before doing this.

It’s clear though that you want to use this pan, rather than have it for decoration, so if the value to you lies in its function, rather than its resale, then the change in value doesn’t matter.

Bill C – I hope you can let us know what you decide to do, and if you do grind the heat ring off, tell us how it went, and send a few photos!