5 Surprising Things I Learned at the Staub Factory in France

updated Mar 13, 2020
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(Image credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani)

I always knew that Staub made some of the best cookware, including our 2020 Kitchn Essentials pick, the 5-Quart Cast-Iron Round Cocotte. And I knew that the brand name meant top-notch quality. I’m just not sure I really appreciated it — until I got a chance to go to France with the company to join in on a private tour of the factory in Merville (a few hours north of Paris).

The tour was pretty inclusive and I got to see every step of the way. If you’re interested, you can read all about how a single pot is made (see: We Went to the Staub Factory in France to Learn How the Cookware Gets Made). If you just want some short tidbits to wow your friends and family, keep reading this post.

(Image credit: Lisa Freedman)

1. Early pot designs were prototyped out of wood.

Staub was founded in 1974 by Francis Staub. Back then, there were no computers to use or CAD (a design software that’s now a pretty critical tool for designers, engineers, architects, and more). So Francis and his employees used wood to figure out the exact shape and dimensions of the pots. This doesn’t really affect you much today, but it’s a fun fact to throw out during your next cocktail party. Pull up this photo when you’re telling the story, too.

(Image credit: Lisa Freedman)

2. The pots are cast in molds made of sand.

See this mold pictured above? As you may have gathered by now, it’s made out of sand (and water and some additives)! The sand comes from a place near Paris and gets pressed together to form a sand-castle-like mold. (You can literally break off clumps or grains of sand by hand, if you want to!)

The melted cast iron goes into the mold, and once the cast iron has hardened, the sand goes through a “shake out” process, during which the mold breaks apart and the sand is recycled to be used again. And the sand is monitored super closely. Factory workers are constantly checking the levels to make sure the sand is just right.

(Image credit: Lisa Freedman)

3. It takes about a week to make each pot.

From start to finish, the process takes about one week — no matter the size of the pot. The process starts with raw materials, of course. Then there’s melting, tooling, casting, blasting, grinding, glazing, firing, etc. Between 10 and 20 people actually touch your pot, and a robot is usually involved (definitely for the more basic pots, but probably not for the fun shapes like the pumpkin or the tomato).

(Image credit: Lisa Freedman)

4. White is the hardest color to produce.

You’d think the richer, deeper colors are the hardest to get right, but white is actually the most difficult. “White is sensitive to pollution,” says a company rep. “It’s easy for the transfer of other colors. White also reacts very quickly to temperature changes and easily changes to an ivory.”

(Image credit: Lisa Freedman)

5. There’s a reason there’s no color on the rim of the pots.

Before I explain this one, let’s settle one thing: A lot of people think that black rim around the top of the pot is raw cast iron, but it’s not. It is enameled just like the inside and outside of the pot. After the pot is enameled, factory workers purposefully run the rim of the pot along a buffer to remove the paint from that spot. (Check out the spy-cam pic I took during the tour above.) This way, when the pot goes through the oven (upside down), the pot doesn’t stick to the rack. It’s not just an aesthetic thing!

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