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How To: Seasoning Cast Iron
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Jörg



Joined: 31 Dec 2005
Posts: 51

PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 2:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Odd. I've never had that happen.

For the record, I normally check mine for stickiness while still hot, using a paper towel the way you did. If it's sticky, I leave it in for a while longer. I just don't want to encourage people to burn themselves checking to see if it's sticky while still hot, which is why I recommended cooling first.

I wouldn't think that having a smooth surface should stop it from sticking. After all, some of the cast iron you can buy is smooth. Maybe if it was really, really smooth, but I doubt you got it to that level with a wire brush.

How many layers of seasoning did you do? I've heard that doing too many layers can cause problems with flaking. I'm not sure how true this is, though, because I go pretty thick, and mine are fine. My mom's must have an eighth of an inch of seasoning by now, and they're fine, too. Maybe doing too many too soon would cause problems, though.

What else did you cook in it? Acidic foods (tomatoes, fruits, etc) will tend to degrade the seasoning, and if left for long periods of time, can potentially cause the seasoning to flake.

I'd say your best bet is to get a good scrubber and scrub off any parts that are flaking, and then season again. I don't think you need to worry about scrubbing it all the way back down, though.
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david.mihola



Joined: 09 Feb 2006
Posts: 13
Location: Vienna, Austria

PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2006 3:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Jörg,

thank you very much for your answer - and sorry for taking so long to write back!

To answer your questions:
- I am not sure about the number of layers, I think it must be four or five; in any case the skillet was inside the oven for a couple of hours. So I think I could have done too many layers too soon.
- Apart from a few fried eggs and some pancakes I didn't cook anything in the pan. The acidity should not have been the problem.

Anyway I will try as you suggested (scrub off what comes off easily and then start again) and will tell you the results.

One more questions for the scientists here in this forum: Are there acually any chemical reactions between the iron and the burning fat or how does the seasoning stick to the surface of the skillet?

Thanks again, David
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Guest
Guest





PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2006 9:07 pm    Post subject: Cast Iron Cookware - Smooth Cooking Surface Reply with quote

I own a couple of cast iron skillets that I inherited. The inside bottom of these skillets are very smooth. There are some very slight markings that suggest that the skillet was turned on a lathe or honed using a rotary blade or grinder that fit the inside of the pan. I recently purchased a new Lodge Mfg skillet. The bottom was not turned, and it was pre-seasoned using a process described on their web site. Its performance was quite unacceptable compared to the smooth-bottomed skillets that I have used for years. I smoothed the bottom using a rotary sander and quite a bit of emory paper. This was a lot of work and the result was less perfect than the old pans, but much better than its performance before my effort.

Does anyone know if any current manufacturers still turn, grind, or otherwise smooth out the cooking surfaces of their products? It makes a huge difference, both in cooking performance and in ease of maintaining the seasoning.
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Jörg



Joined: 31 Dec 2005
Posts: 51

PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2006 3:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

David, good luck with the reseasoning. I hope you have better luck with it this time.

Guest, Lodge has some polished (meaning the inside has been smoothed) skillets. You can look through their website. I think it's their "Lodge Classic" line. However, I've had no problems with their Logic line. I wouldn't consider their preseasoned skillets to be seasoned well enough, though. I'd reseason it myself.
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DrBiggles



Joined: 12 May 2005
Posts: 352
Location: Richmond, CA

PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2006 8:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jörg wrote:
David, good luck with the reseasoning. I hope you have better luck with it this time.

Guest, Lodge has some polished (meaning the inside has been smoothed) skillets. You can look through their website. I think it's their "Lodge Classic" line. However, I've had no problems with their Logic line. I wouldn't consider their preseasoned skillets to be seasoned well enough, though. I'd reseason it myself.


Yeah, I dunno man. While you could consider me pretty fierce when it comes to seasoning my own pans, I bought a Camp Dutch Oven from Lodge that was preseasoned last year and am amazed at how good the season actually is. I was able to put briquettes on the top and under the bottom and it came out unscathed. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to know that I'd cooked in it at all. That right there is an excellent job in seasoning. I'll have to see what it looks like down the road, but I'm sold.

Biggles
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Jörg



Joined: 31 Dec 2005
Posts: 51

PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2006 8:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I guess I really spoke when I shouldn't have. I seasoned one of my skillets even though it came preseasoned. I shouldn't really make assumptions about how well the original seasoning would have held up. It looks like a thin layer, but what's more important is how durable it is.
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ktexp2



Joined: 03 Nov 2005
Posts: 34

PostPosted: Fri Mar 03, 2006 2:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As cast iron pans age, their non-stick factor will increase with usage. I am able fry eggs in my 20 year old skillet without any oil. This is even after I rescued it from the rust that was threatening to eat it in my mother's basement. A quick seasoning and several bacon-fryings later, the pan is awesome and better than any Teflon coated anything.

I clean mine after each use by letting the pan cool slightly and running hot water over it. Using a bristle brush (never a Brillo or steel wool, otherwise you have to re-season) I gently remove any bits that didn't run out with the water. Finally, I dry it off with a paper towel and let it dry completely on the stove or in the oven. I don't use soap unless I want to reseason the pan, but even soap isn't going to ruin the season on the older pans.
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david.mihola



Joined: 09 Feb 2006
Posts: 13
Location: Vienna, Austria

PostPosted: Mon Mar 06, 2006 7:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello again,

just want to say that everything works fine now: I scrubbed the pan with hot water and steelwool and some more of the seasoning came off, leaving only the silver-gray surface of sanded cast iron.

After that I seasoned the pan again with just two thin layers of lard - after which the surface did not look really that different; maybe a bit duller and with a hint of brown in some places but mostly still silver-gray. However, the pan works great now: I can fry eggs and make omelets with just very little oil and without any sticking.

So, thanks again to Jörg for his clarifying comments!

David
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Jörg



Joined: 31 Dec 2005
Posts: 51

PostPosted: Mon Mar 06, 2006 11:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glad you got it working. I don't understand why it didn't take the first time, but I'm glad the second round did it.

Happy cooking!
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david.mihola



Joined: 09 Feb 2006
Posts: 13
Location: Vienna, Austria

PostPosted: Tue Mar 21, 2006 8:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello,

it's me again.

Yesterday i bought a new iron pan - not cast iron, just a quite thin iron pan.

The manual tells me to season it with a mixture of oil, salt and potato peels - however, only the inside is seasoned this way, the outsite of the pan and the handle are not mentioned at all...

1. Why the potato peels? Has anyone ever heard of this method before? Why would I need to use potato peels with iron pans, when plain fat works so well for cast iron?

2. Has anyone any experiences with seasoning iron pans? How did you do it? Would you suggest just doing the same as with cast iron pans, or would you use potato peels?

Thanks for any replies!

David

P.S.: Strangely, all howtos for seasoning iron pans I could find on the web were in german - don't English-speaking people use iron pans?
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Jörg



Joined: 31 Dec 2005
Posts: 51

PostPosted: Tue Mar 21, 2006 6:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've seasoned a carbon steel wok the same way I season cast iron. I've done the same for steel pizza pans. They work just fine the way they are now.

I'd say you should be fine with a normal seasoning. Potatoes and salt? If anything, I'd expect that the salt would be detrimental (it's abrasive), and the potato peels would do nothing.
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david.mihola



Joined: 09 Feb 2006
Posts: 13
Location: Vienna, Austria

PostPosted: Tue Mar 21, 2006 8:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Jörg,

thank you very much for substantiating my own doubts - I will go ahead and season my carbon steel pan just like I seasoned the cast iron.

David
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david.mihola



Joined: 09 Feb 2006
Posts: 13
Location: Vienna, Austria

PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2006 1:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok, so I tried to season the carbon steel pan... but somehow there are again those flakes, that are coming off...

Could anyone take a look at those two pictures, and tell me if the pan looks like it should, or if I got something seriously wrong:

http://www.unet.univie.ac.at/~a9902433/png/pan_inside.png

as you can see here, there are parts inside the pan (upper right quarter) where the brown seasoning came off.

http://www.unet.univie.ac.at/~a9902433/png/pan_outside.png

and this is how the pan looked all over, when I first took it out the oven.

Thanks again for any advice - and it would also be great if someone else could post pictures of a well seasoned carbon steel pan!

David
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Jörg



Joined: 31 Dec 2005
Posts: 51

PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2006 2:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm. That looks right except, as you pointed out, it's flaking in that spot.

By any chance, are you putting the oil/fat on too thick? Also, for the first coat, are you putting the pan in upside down? I normally go fairly thin for the first coat, and also put the pan in upside down. I don't have proof that either of those is ecessary. I just know it works for me.

Did you wash it well before seasoning to get any dirt/protective oil off?

I don't really understand why you're having bad luck with seasoning. I'd like to figure it out, mostly for you, but also so anyone else who's having the same problem can find the answer here.

I was going post a picture of my wok, but apparently I don't have any way to reduce the size right now (recently reformatted). I'll get something installed and try to get a picture up later.
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DrBiggles



Joined: 12 May 2005
Posts: 352
Location: Richmond, CA

PostPosted: Fri Mar 24, 2006 9:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

david.mihola wrote:
Ok, so I tried to season the carbon steel pan... but somehow there are again those flakes, that are coming off...

Could anyone take a look at those two pictures, and tell me if the pan looks like it should, or if I got something seriously wrong:

http://www.unet.univie.ac.at/~a9902433/png/pan_inside.png

as you can see here, there are parts inside the pan (upper right quarter) where the brown seasoning came off.

http://www.unet.univie.ac.at/~a9902433/png/pan_outside.png

and this is how the pan looked all over, when I first took it out the oven.

Thanks again for any advice - and it would also be great if someone else could post pictures of a well seasoned carbon steel pan!

David


Looks like it was over-heated. And I don't mean that as though you misused the pan. The steel expands & contracts and over time sections of your seasoning will pop off. After each use, rub lightly with oil or fat and store. You may want to start using the pan as a roaster for chickens, pork/beef roasts. This helps immensely with curing the pan. Cook your whole, trussed chickens at 450F for an hour and your pan will love you forever.

Biggles
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