Author Topic: Seasoning cast iron pan  (Read 10936 times)

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Offline MikeKTopic starter

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Seasoning cast iron pan
« on: November 17, 2022, 01:53:41 am »
I have a small CI pan that I'm trying to re-season.  I don't think the first attempt took, or it came undone...I forget since it was a while ago.  I cooked some Canadian bacon in it the other day and had to scrape out the bits that stuck to the pan.  Hence the recent re-seasoning attempt.  So I seasoned it in the oven today and it's splotchy.  I'm wondering if I need to thoroughly clean the pan before seasoning...If there's something on there from the [ahem] ham that's prevented a good seasoning?
 

Offline Halcyon

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Re: Seasoning cast iron pan
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2022, 04:14:02 am »
I literally just watched a video yesterday on this, as I'm in the process of stripping and re-seasoning my pans.



Andy is an experienced chef from Melbourne.
 
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Offline antenna

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Re: Seasoning cast iron pan
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2022, 04:46:28 am »
When I need to re season a pan, I usually soak it in lye to strip it, then vinegar if it is rusty, then I dry it and coat it in avocado oil (grapeseed works good too, just don't use vegetable oil or butter).  Then, open every window and disconnect the smoke detector and slowly (to not warp the pan) raise the temp until the oil starts smoking.  Continue heating until the smoking from the bottom subsides as the shinyness of the oil disappears.  Then, let the pan cool enough to add some more oil and fry potato slices.  When they stick, scrape the pan with wood only.  If the stuff sticks so bad that you cannot scrape it off without damaging the seasoning, get it hot enough to turn to carbon and repeat.  Once or twice with the potato and nothing will stick, not even scrambled eggs. 

Maintaining the pan is worth talking about too.  Don't use soap.  I've heard it a million times that the soap today no longer contains lye and that it can be used on cast iron, just don't.  Use water only when washing the pan, if anything sticks, scrape off with wood, dry immediately with towel and lightly coat with oil and heat to drive off moisture. Wipe off excess oil and thats it.  In my mind, the biggest misconception with cast iron care is that seasoning refers to the non-stick nature of the proper finish.  That may be true, but it is only half the story.  Seasoning is also something that tastes good, like a stovetop coffee pot that has never been washed.  Seasoning = flavor, and soap strips that and leaves you with just enough seasoning to make you think it works that way.

When oil approaches it's smoke temperature, be aware that it will make its way into and onto surfaces around the kitchen you didn't think it could.  If you have a good source of dust, the oil will rapidly become evident on the tops of stuff as a brown goo, even if it's near the ceiling or further from the stove.  It is best to do that outside unless you enjoy cleaning often.  I've seen what years of that built up can do in places people don't care.

Another option for stripping the pans if you don't like lye is using oven cleaner and putting the pan in a garbage bag overnight.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2022, 04:57:58 am by antenna »
 
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Online Zoli

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Re: Seasoning cast iron pan
« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2022, 06:14:59 am »
 
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Offline MikeKTopic starter

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Re: Seasoning cast iron pan
« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2022, 03:19:57 pm »
Thanks guys.  I thought it was strange that I got good results on another pan with canola oil, but this one...there are blotches that didn't season at all.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2022, 03:23:03 pm by MikeK »
 

Offline MikeKTopic starter

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Re: Seasoning cast iron pan
« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2022, 03:57:09 pm »
FWIW, this is an image of the splotchy pan.

And I just checked my other pan (I don't use these often) and what had been nice seasoning done with canola oil is now sticky...so canola is indeed crap.

 

Offline antenna

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Re: Seasoning cast iron pan
« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2022, 05:28:11 pm »
Thats rust. start over.  Strip with degreaser overnight, rinse, then into vinegar until the rust spots come off (don't use an abrasive ever, it burnishes the surface and stops the carbon from entering the pores of the metal).  Once the rust is off, start the seasoning process again. 

If you are using a gas stove, heat the cast iron on the burner right side up before putting it in the oven.  A cold pan upsidedown in an oven will condense water vapor from combustion and rust the pan before it can season.

Vegetable oil, canola, and a few others turn to goo and can eventually go rancid if the pan sits long term with no use.  Use avocado or grapeseed oil only when seasoning (and oiling after a wash) and that won't happen.

The best thing for a cast iron pan (for the finish and the flavor) is to use it frequently!  Also, NEVER use metal utensils in the pan.
 
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Offline Marco

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Re: Seasoning cast iron pan
« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2022, 05:39:57 pm »
Last I saw Avocado oil industry made the EVO industry look honest, it's either fake or rancid from the shelf.

Never tried grapeseed oil, but linseed and normal sunflower oil didn't work well for me. I just settled on EVO, since I always have it and the smoke doesn't smell offensive. The hood doesn't catch everything.
 

Offline antenna

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Re: Seasoning cast iron pan
« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2022, 05:43:12 pm »
It also looks like you used too much oil on the first coat.  After you oil it, wipe off the excess with a dry paper towel then into the oven.  The oil should be thin enough to handle the pan without getting your hands covered in oil.  After the first coat in the oven is done, do the rest on the stove top and wipe it with a paper towel with a little oil (like the towel you wiped the pan with first) as the oil is carbonizing.  You will notice a color change as it turns to carbon. You get that far, then cook potatoes (they will stick and thats good at first, starch is a good carbon source). 

Tips for cast iron potatoes or hash browns: Slice, rinse with cold water until it remains clear (no starch coming off), then thoroughly dry the taters and place them in a hot pan with a couple tablespoon of avocado oil (don't skip the preheating of the pan).  The reason for the avocado oil or grapeseed oil is that it has a very high smoke temp.  Better for curing, better for searing, better flavor too, and it won't turn to goo and rot after hanging on the wall.
 

Offline antenna

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Re: Seasoning cast iron pan
« Reply #9 on: November 17, 2022, 05:47:49 pm »
Last I saw Avocado oil industry made the EVO industry look honest, it's either fake or rancid from the shelf.
I've never had an issue here in the US.  However, they do want $22 for a 1.5L bottle, so it better not be rancid.
The brand I buy is called Tropical Plantation, one of the cheaper walmart brands.
 

Offline MikeKTopic starter

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Re: Seasoning cast iron pan
« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2022, 06:01:02 pm »
Thats rust. start over.  Strip with degreaser overnight, rinse, then into vinegar until the rust spots come off (don't use an abrasive ever, it burnishes the surface and stops the carbon from entering the pores of the metal).  Once the rust is off, start the seasoning process again.

Full disclosure: When I first got this pan I didn't like how rough the casting was and how poor the [now factory] seasoning was done.  So I used an angle grinder with an abrasive wheel to remove the sharp flashing from casting and to somewhat smooth the cooking surface.  I then cleaned with dish soap, dried it, then dried it better in the oven, and started that first seasoning.  I wasn't satisfied with that first seasoning which prompted this recent seasoning.

What degreaser should I use that won't be toxic?  And then wipe it with vinegar?  I'm not going to buy enough vinegar to soak the whole pan.
 

Offline antenna

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Re: Seasoning cast iron pan
« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2022, 06:20:55 pm »
I don't think any degreasers are toxic in the sense that most people think of.  Sure, lye will strip the oil from your skin and cause chemical burns if not rinsed off immediately, but you won't die if you taste a single grain of it either.  None of the degreasers are dangerous with respect to food safety after being rinsed off.  That said, I think every degreaser has the potential to blind you, burn your skin, etc. Treat them all with the same respect.

Which one is the safest to use? Oven cleaner.  Get the kind that sprays as a foam, coat the pan, then put in a garbage bag.  Reapply the oven cleaner every 6 hours for one day. 

Once you have it stripped, it's rusting, so hurry.  You need to get the rust off quickly and then get it oiled (and at least heated to 100°C) as quickly as possible. 

If you do not plan to submerge the entire pan in vinegar, don't use vinegar.  the part above the vinegar will rust very quick.  Electrolysis with vinegar and water would be my next suggestion (which will help undo the damage from the angle grinder too).  But, since you already damaged it, I would just take oiled steel wool to it.  Not something I usually recommend, but the damage is already done.

Remember, be quick, its rusting the second it hits the air.  Get it oiled, drive off the moisture and preheat the pan on the stove top and rub the oil around with a paper towel, remove all excess oil when the pan is hot to the touch, then immediately into the preheated oven with it.
 

Offline themadhippy

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Re: Seasoning cast iron pan
« Reply #12 on: November 17, 2022, 07:06:19 pm »
Degreasers? A  brillo pad and elbow grease is all that's needed,then a bit of coking oil of your choice, in this instance castrol gtx isnt recommended,swill the oil  around the pan,then place it upside down on a baking tray in a hot oven.Go out for at least an hour to avoid the noise of your smoke detector.On returning home ear protection and breathing apparatus maybe required.Turn off the heat,open the oven,reset the smoke alarm and wait until  things have cooled down before removing pan from oven
 
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Offline antenna

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Re: Seasoning cast iron pan
« Reply #13 on: November 17, 2022, 07:13:35 pm »
Here's the real secret...  If a hot cast iron pan doesn't easily wipe clean with warm tap water on a rag, it needs help, just heat the pan until whatever is sticking turns to carbon and smoke and knock off the remaining chunks with a wood spatula. Then oil it and you're done.  It is a smoky process that stinks up the house, but you will not have to do it more than a couple times before absolutely nothing will stick to it.  Just resist the urge to scrape and scrub when cleaning it and that pan will be the best one in the house.  That pan will be a pain in your ass for a good week, but after that, it will probably become your favorite and you'll never need to do this again.  Pretend you have nothing but a camp fire, a rag, a wood stick, oil, and river water when caring for it and you and that pan will get along nicely!
 
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Offline gubezon

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Re: Seasoning cast iron pan
« Reply #14 on: November 19, 2022, 02:07:28 am »
Well now, this is an unexpected gem of a thread.

I got a pan (old timer) I've been needing to re-season (has splotching evident.)

I signed up here today never thinking I'd end up reading a thread about iron pan seasoning.

The post previous to mine (antenna) sounds spot on to everything I've ever been told about using and maintaining iron cookware.

I also have a modern (lodge logic) cast iron pan that has a rough surface (just the imprint of the sand I suppose) and I asked someone else once what to do, and he said use an angle grinder like MikeK above.

I didn't see anyone object here, but is this really OK to do? antenna? I does that hold for your advice of never using an abrasive?

The good (old timer) pan I inherited that just needs a re-season is nice and smooth, almost like black glass. The lodge logic pan is quite rough and I don't believe anything short of grinding that off might create the surface similar to the older inherited pan.

Appreciate the input everyone!

 

Offline MikeKTopic starter

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Re: Seasoning cast iron pan
« Reply #15 on: November 19, 2022, 04:57:25 am »
I'm not convinced that an angle grinder with an abrasive wheel was/is a bad idea.  Lodge *used* to do more finishing of their pans than they currently do.  Find old Lodge stuff...that's not all wear.  And some higher priced CI must be using abrasive given the smoother finish.
 
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Offline Marco

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Re: Seasoning cast iron pan
« Reply #16 on: November 19, 2022, 05:01:47 am »
A conical flap disc should do it, people have done it with orbital sanders too.
 
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Offline gubezon

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Re: Seasoning cast iron pan
« Reply #17 on: November 19, 2022, 01:50:44 pm »
So it's just a thing with all lodge pans now. Thanks for confirming.

Maybe it doesn't matter. It works, just that things like eggs really get "hung up" in the little valleys.... Fish is no problem.

I got it as a gift some years back and of course, it just had a light coating of whatever to keep it from rusting in stock, but the thing that always bothered me was how rough the cooking surface was.

After I got it, went ahead and did what the instructions said for seasoning (and watched a yt video or two) and its "seasoned" but compared to the older large pan I have more recently inherited, the cooking surface is like sandpaper.

I will acquire a conical flap wheel, and maybe after that process, try an orbital to get it down a little finer.

<Tips hat to thread participants/> Thanks again to all!
 

Offline TimNJ

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Re: Seasoning cast iron pan
« Reply #18 on: November 25, 2022, 10:10:43 pm »
I have several new Lodge cast iron pieces. Don’t personally think roughness should matter too much. Key, in my opinion, is to make sure it’s plenty hot, especially for foods like eggs or fish. Usually I put the burner on full blast, and the instant I see the pan start to smoke a little, I know it’s ready, and I turn it down to the normal cooking flame. Too cool and yes the egg will stick every time.
 
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Offline antenna

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Re: Seasoning cast iron pan
« Reply #19 on: November 26, 2022, 05:22:47 pm »
I have Lodge, Griswold, Wagner, and even a few Bobby Flay pans.  They range from really smooth to very rough.  The Bobby Flay pans are the roughest I have and are also the ones I use most.  The roughness helps retain carbon and seasoning.  The main thing cast iron has going for it, in general, is the thermal mass that doesn't immediately cool when setting a thick piece of meat in it.  The smoothness is of little concern.
 
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Offline MikeKTopic starter

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Re: Seasoning cast iron pan
« Reply #20 on: November 26, 2022, 07:15:14 pm »
The smoothness is of little concern.

I thought I was helping things...Oh well.
 
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Offline antenna

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Re: Seasoning cast iron pan
« Reply #21 on: November 27, 2022, 12:35:55 am »
The smoothness is of little concern.

I thought I was helping things...Oh well.
After you get it to your desired smoothness with sandpaper or whatever, give it a quick etch with muriatic acid.  It will really help with carbon/seasoning retention.
 
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Offline helius

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Re: Seasoning cast iron pan
« Reply #22 on: November 27, 2022, 03:19:07 am »
In my opinion stripping/re-seasoning cast iron is an extreme measure for badly mistreated (rusted!) cookware.

If the non-stick coating is broken or you see a little bit of brown, all that's needed is to build up an oil film over that area. This isn't a polyurethane varnish: it can be repaired without removing and starting from scratch.

The main important thing is that the "seasoning" or oil film requires an oil that can polymerize, so it must contain some polyunsaturated fatty acids. For example, olive oil is ok, but walnut or flax oil will work better. Coconut oil or animal fat will not work. Once it reaches its smoke point, the oil quickly reacts and binds with iron.

Better to prevent any problems in the first instance, however. So if you don't want to spend hours repairing cast iron pans, don't use any salt or acid in them. Especially tomatoes. If you cook with olive oil, it builds up the film slightly automatically.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2022, 03:23:26 am by helius »
 
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Offline Marco

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Re: Seasoning cast iron pan
« Reply #23 on: December 03, 2022, 04:14:12 pm »
I have several new Lodge cast iron pieces. Don’t personally think roughness should matter too much. Key, in my opinion, is to make sure it’s plenty hot, especially for foods like eggs or fish. Usually I put the burner on full blast, and the instant I see the pan start to smoke a little, I know it’s ready, and I turn it down to the normal cooking flame. Too cool and yes the egg will stick every time.
This I feel is the main difference with real non stick, teflon/"ceramic" lets you be lazy with temperature.

I just seared some tuna for tuna melt straight from frozen, starting in a cold non stick pan ... I'd not dare to do that with carbon steel. With steak sure, but not with fish.
 
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Offline antenna

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Re: Seasoning cast iron pan
« Reply #24 on: December 03, 2022, 05:44:51 pm »
So if you don't want to spend hours repairing cast iron pans, don't use any salt or acid in them. Especially tomatoes. If you cook with olive oil, it builds up the film slightly automatically.
Agreed on not using acid/tomato, but salt, I use salt heavily in my cast iron with no negative effect at all.  Every steak I marinade gets salt, my potatoes get covered with salt and pepper right in the pan, no issues at all.

I've also have no issue witheggs or fish (mostly northern pike or halibut).  Every time I buy a fancy "non-stick" pan, teflon or ceramic, even using silicone utensils in it, the eggs will stick badly in less than a year.  In my cast iron pans, the eggs dont stick at all.  I would not put fish in carbon steel either, but I do cook fish exclusively with cast iron.  I might put some halibut in the rough bottom Bobby Flay pan tonight.  Those Bobby Flay pans are way thicker than any of the older name brands.  I was skeptical at first, but I really like them now.

One time I bought a ceramic pan from walmart because the packaging showed thoroughly cooked egg and cheese sliding right out.  And sure, for the first week, it was that way.  About the 5th time using it, the eggs stuck so badly that I returned it to walmart (by smuggling it into the store under my coat covered in the egg that stck on and hung it back on the shelf with the new ones that had the false claim  :)).
 
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