View Full Version : Cast Iron seasoning

Jim Bloomfield
01-06-2010, 04:50 AM
I have never had much luck seasoning my cast iron. It either flakes off or streaks or a host of other issues except success. Any ideas on both stripping what I have done and reseasoning.I am ready to donate these if I can't find a solution.

Steve Cutchen
01-06-2010, 04:58 AM
I season with a VERY thin coat of shortening, like Crisco. If it is too thick it will make a mess. You can double season if needed, but cleaning a pan with an overly thick mess is hard.

Try to get complete coverage but as thin as possible. Then into a 350 degF oven for 30 minutes. Kill the oven. Carefully wipe out any pooled shortening with a paper towel held in a pair of tongs. Put the pan back in the oven and let it cool with the pan inside.

As for cleaning, dry scrub with kosher salt and a paper towel. Then wash with very light soap and cold water.

Russell Y
01-06-2010, 10:17 AM
Camp Chef conditioner (http://www.campchef.com/Cast_Iron_Maintenance.html)

Maybe give this a try.

John Solak
01-06-2010, 02:34 PM
My son put my cast iron skillet in the dishwasher and it was in there for a couple days. I was not happy. I scraped and used some steel wool to get what remained of the old seasoning and rust off. I used Crisco, applied a thin coat and stuck the skillet upside down in the oven at 350 for an hour and let it cool. I did this 2 times but the skillet was tacky. I applied another thin coat and put the pan in upside down again at 525 for an hour and then applied another thin coat immediately after I took it out of the oven. My skillet seems to have a nice layer built up now and looks better than when I first bought it.

I didn't do it but have read putting you cast iron in the oven and setting the oven to self cleaning and it is suppose to bake the old seasoning right off.

j biesinger
01-06-2010, 05:58 PM
make bacon. remove bacon. allow grease to cool. scrape grease out (save it!). repeat.

works for me http://tvwbb.infopop.cc/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

Gary McD
01-06-2010, 06:06 PM
I have always used peanut oil, which has worked fine for me.

K Kruger
01-07-2010, 04:44 AM
I'm with Steve on kosher salt to clean but I never use soap on CI unless I am prepping it for seasoning - and only then. (Do not clean CI with soap otherwise.)

The self-clean cycle often works to clean major baked-on problems.

Use a thin coating of a fat that is refined. Refined peanut or canola oil is fine but I often prefer shortening, like Crisco. Melt the Crisco first for best results. Set your oven 350-400. Apply the melted shortening thinly and evenly. Place a piece of foil on the rack below and place the pan - upside down, so the fat does not pool in the pan but drips onto the foil on the rack below - above. Heat the cookware for a couple hours then turn the oven off and let the pan cool in the oven.

That's it. If tacky, smooth briefly with salt and a touch of water, dry with a towel then over a burner, and repeat seasoning once or twice.

Brad W
01-07-2010, 07:17 AM
Originally posted by j biesinger:
make bacon. remove bacon. allow grease to cool. scrape grease out (save it!). repeat.

In scouts we use a lot of cast iron and use bacon and/or sausage to season the frying pans,griddles and dutch ovens. Works great. And if you have to let the cast iron set for long periods of time (we may go 3-4 months between using some items), use bees wax on it to protect it after the last cleaning. Works better than grease/oil and is easily wiped off after warmed.

John Solak
01-07-2010, 08:12 AM
Thanks for the bees wax idea. I have a dutch oven that I hardly use that always seems to need attention when I do try and use it.

Joe Dang
01-12-2010, 10:37 PM
The best instructions I've come across was on Chowhound. It was a thread titled "Seasoning Cast Iron without Crisco."
It's about the most complete and informative post regarding seasoning I have ever read (and I've read quite a few) so I saved it. Not sure if there are copyright issues so I don't want to repost it here so hit the direct link to the post. To summarize you can use just about anything to season, as it'll all carbonize. The lower the burning point the better. So vegetable oils, esp. corn are not as good as they take too long to carbonize. he likes olive oil/crisco/animal fats, in that order.

3 reasons why pots come out sticky, oven temp too low, pan was not turned upside down (as Kevin mentioned), not enough time to allow the complete conversion. The pan must not come out sticky.

Open windows and doors if your oven doesn't vent outside, because it will get smoky. Should clean your oven too or just treat it as a cleaning and seasoning session. 500-550F. Lightly coat with oil. No puddles. Place in oven per instructions (on a rack, above a pan covered in foil below). Bake for a few hours until no more smoke is coming off the pan. This takes a few hours. use olive oil for quickest time. Once that is done, you can repeat it (may take more than one day or one full day). He uses 3-4 coats. The pan should turn carbon black, with a near shiny finish. if you see grey or color, it's not thick enough.

This seasoning cannot be washed off, even with soap and water. he says you would have to use lye to wash it off. Who uses lye? Fight club scared the crap out of me.

Your pan should not be sticky or tacky. If that's the case, it's been rendered to tar, not carbon. Also do not store your pan covered in oil (I used to, from reading about it). The oil evaporates, then gets sticky (true), then when you use the pan it turns into tar (also true). After reading this I promptly took my sticky oil covered pan and put it on the burner for it to smoke. And it smoked and smoked until it wasnt' sticky anymore.

Anyway, that is for the people (like me sometimes) who don't like to click through. Yes I am guilty of that. I suggest giving that post a read, dude's been at it for 40 years apparently. Here is his photo of a finished piece straight off a seasoning. that's a dry sheen. mine looks nothing like that.

After seeing that I copied his post and put it into a document. With the amount of energy used to season, I'm actually going to grab a couple smaller pieces and try to see if they'll all fit for one session. i just grabbed a griswold off ebay (small logo so it was cheap, I don't care I just want the griswold name on it and the smooth finish), will probably do at least two, if not 3 if it'll fit.

EDIT: Oops, dude is actually a her. Annabelle. Didn't catch that.

K Kruger
01-13-2010, 03:14 AM
Great post Joe.

I didn't check the link (interesting point about the burn point) but one thing I'll add is that the fat should be refined/filtered. (That's the reason I don't use olive: none of mine are refined.)

Joe Dang
01-13-2010, 09:03 AM
Thanks Kevin, that post cleared up a lot of stuff for me. And boy does that grate look beautiful! Yes the post did not contemplate unrefined oils, but those are usually more gourmet oils anyway correct? I would not want to use expensive oils on this pan. I'd definitely run to your local grocer and grab some cheap olive oil, crisco, or better (best?) yet. Slowly render some bacon fat off, rub it on, eat the bacon.

I am quite interested in the reason for not using unrefined/unfiltered oils. Is it an issue with some food chemicals being deposited? Im also intereted in what oils you use, but I'll leave that for the other forum

K Kruger
01-13-2010, 10:56 AM
Correct on the oil. The only refined oil I use is peanut, for deep frying.

The reason one uses refined in this situation (I'd filter rendered bacon fat first, btw) is to avoid particulates possibly sticking to the pan and 'burning on'. It's worth noting that refined oils have higher burn points. Pick a low burn oil (like olive) and use the refined/filtered version. Virtually all inexpensive 'regular' olive oils (i.e., not extra virgin) are refined/filtered.

Sidenote: I use evoo for sautéing, alone or with whole or clarified unsalted butter, which I sometimes use alone. I also use evoo for many dressings/vinaigrettes, and sometimes for mayonnaise, though sometimes I make mayo with unrefined canola or will use canola alone. I use avocado, hazlenut, almond, walnut, argan and avocado oils for dressings, cold sauces and drizzles.

I render my own lard as well (storebought is usually horrid) which I use for frying and baking.

Joe Dang
01-13-2010, 05:35 PM
Ok, excellent point. Do not want any food particles, dust etc sticking to the pan (which is also why she said never to store the pan in oil, it gets sticky, stuff gets stuck, then becomes a part of the seasoning).

Been meaning to try some Frantoia olive oil that Eric Ripert chose on his show, some unfiltered stuff (he also uses Sitia). Ready to step my Olive Oil game up a bit http://tvwbb.infopop.cc/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif I don't like the super spicey/bitey stuff that is a mark of good olive oil though heh

K Kruger
01-13-2010, 06:08 PM
There are many that would dispute that, me being one. The bite most often comes from olives picked soon. According to some sources in the biz, the bite was touted as desirable as a marketing ploy. If the bite is accepted olives can be picked sooner so production costs are less. This rings true to me.

My very favorite is Morea. Bryan S, from here on the board, turned me onto it some time back. It is Greek, made from Koroneiko olives. Smooth, buttery, no bite. A bit too spendy for cooking (but not expensive), it is wonderful as a drizzle and in vinaigrettes.

The company that makes it was bought by another a while back and it became near impossible to find. I did find some here and there at various Whole Foods (and snapped them up). In the past few months it seems to be somewhat more available (not positive on this as I'm still working my stash) as I run across it on line here and there.

Try Whole Foods. See what you think.


I use evoo from TJ's for cooking, btw.

j biesinger
01-13-2010, 06:41 PM
My very favorite is Morea.

that bottle looks familiar! I stuck one of those in my wife's xmas stocking a few years back. good stuff as I recall.

Joe Dang
01-14-2010, 01:20 AM
Going to check it out next time I'm in Whole foods. Got some Frantoia on order, so I'll give it a taste test. I'm with you, I can't stand the bite of supposedly better olive oil. I agree, tastes immature. I've never bitten into a spicy olive why should my oil be as such?

Don Irish
01-14-2010, 03:18 PM
I was able to get this on-line for more than I wanted to pay. Now my local high quality grocery store carries this for <STRIKE>$17.99 </STRIKE>for 500 ml IIRC (correction, $15.99, I did not remember correctly http://tvwbb.infopop.cc/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_rolleyes.gif) - Holiday Market, Royal Oak, MI....good store, highly recommended, great service. I like it, it is very smooth and buttery as Kevin says. I keep a bottle of this, Lucine, TJ's and a couple of others - do I have an EVOO problem? - I can quit anytime I swear.

r benash
01-18-2010, 09:00 AM
Hi - I have a "collection" of CI I use all the time. Oval roasters, skillets, DO's, bakeware, gem pans, etc. All old Griswolds. I use them all the time for cooking/baking.

Hot water is usually enough to clean out and wipe dry for most cases. Set into a warm oven just to evaporate everything before you store.

If you get something crusted on, then simply fill with water and bring to a boil and simmer and rinse clean with hot water, use a green or blue pad works fine.

Dry and apply thin coating of oil as folks mention above whatever your preference will work just pick something mentioned above. You need refined oil/fat with a high smoke point.

I use a paper towel and just spray on canola oil (yep - just plain old PAM). If I don't have PAM I use canola. Wipe good with a folded paper towel. Toss in the oven at 350 for 20-30 minutes, remove and wipe a gain to get of any excess oil. Good to go

If you get very heavy crusted on stuff boil water as above, while simmering take a metal whisk and lightly work back and forth across the rough areas until it clears. You don't have to press hard at all. I have a vintage "scrubber" that looks like chain mail that does the same thing. Empty, rinse, clean as above.

For the minor stick that happens the kosher salt with a little oil to create a slurry works great, but most time I just use a little water.

All of this stuff sounds more involved than it is. 95% of the time hot rinse then the spray and wipe with PAM and oven treatment is all it needs, and a lot of time I skip the PAM after use if I'm going to use the piece again real soon. The biggest mistake a lot of people make is using too much oil. Very, very thin film is all that's needed for maintenance. And often there's enough residual oil to leave a light coat after hot water rinse and dry and wipe down good with a paper towel.

Pretty much the best ongoing conversation around restoring and maintaining cast iron you would ever need you can find here:

Cleaning and Restoring Cast Iron (http://www.griswoldandwagner.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl?board=Cleaning)

If you ever end up with a sticky mess or something you just can't deal with you can always take it back to metal by removing the seasoning and starting over. I've never had to go to that extreme once a good seasoning is established. But in a sense that's part of the beauty of CI. You can always bring it back and rebuild the seasoning from scratch and it really isn't all that hard.

I've used peanut oil, Crisco, bacon fat, etc, etc. It all works. PAM is the easiest and provides the blackest seasoning more quickly than others in my experience, but hey it's not a religion, use what you like. Keep the smoke point around 350 to 400 and you should be fine.