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Help! My Paella pan keeps rusting!

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I picked up a nice steel paella pan whillst in Barcelona this past year...I noticed that before I even used it, it's sides were developing some rusting which I took off with some steel wool...I finally used it, then, when i was finished, coated it with oil, as I would a cast iron pan, but I'm still getting rust...anybody have this happen to them? Fixes?

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  1. I just saw an episode of Mark Bittman's Best Recipes of the World where they highlighted paella. The guy in Spain coated his pans with wood ash to keep them from burning. He placed his pans over a burning wood stove.

    1. That's the worst part of rust. Once it starts, it's really, really hard to keep at bay because pitting - from microscopic to visible - exposes so much more surface area to the air (at least that's what I've read, I've certainly witnessed the phenomenon often, whatever it's cause). If it seriously bugs you, try coarse steel wool and/or naval jelly, then finer steel wool to "polish" the surface. Basically you have to smooth down the metal around the existing pitting, and then leave the surface as smooth as possible. Then keep it scrupulously dry and/or oil it lightly. (Mineral oil deteriotes less less quickly than veg oils.). Or just forget it. I assume you mean the outside that isn't seasoned, or being seasoned gradually? I don't have a paella pan but I don't worry about rust on the outside of my cast iron, I just scrub what I can off when I wash them, and the inside doesn't get rusted because of the patina...

      1. Six, use the pan as much as possible. Then, when you clean it, just scrub with coarse salt and a little oil. Heat the pan a bit afterwards, to polymerize the oil. Cool and store. Cook more. Repeat, repeat, and repeat!

        I've been through the same with carbon steel woks (see above recs). In America we cook so many cuisines that we are not using the same pans day after day and our cookware suffers a bit for that fact (lack of built-up seasoning). Using a pan a lot keeps it "happy."

        If you're not up for a paella a week, use the pan for other things to keep its seasoning. Various hashes come to mind (I make a lot of Spanish hashes.)

        Your pan sounds great! Keep using it. (Often!)

        4 Replies
        1. re: cayjohan

          That's the way I season my cast iron pan and wok, but this carbon steel thing really confuses me..Ii've done the oil, then heat on it, but to no avail...I'll try both your methods, first with the different levels of steel wool,,then use it more often, as I'm afraid that may be where i've gone wrong...

          1. re: sixelagogo

            Most inexpensive woks are made of carbon steel and season very nicely. You might go to the Wok Shop web site (the store is in Chinatown in SF) and they give good instructions on how to season. I see no reason your paella pan shouldn't react in the same way.

            1. re: rtmonty

              Hey, I got my cast iron wok from there...i think it's a dream come true in cast iron: lightweight, completely nonstick and one of the best kitchen things I've ever bought for myself...i checkout the wokshop's online store to see how the say to season carbon steel

              1. re: sixelagogo

                I think the main difference is that carbon steel seasons quicker but loses the seasoning more easily. You need to reseason it more.

                My recollection is that you're supposed to store the carbon steel paella pans with a thin coating of oil on it... this does get kind of sticky and gross, though. I haven't looked at my paella pans for a while, but they probably have a little bit of rust buildup on them by now too.

                I looked on The Spanish Table's site but they don't have their directions online. http://www.paellapans.com/pans.html has some basic directions, and says that you should be able to remove rust with steel wool.

        2. Follow this instructions, and you will never have rust on your pan.
          1)Use coarse steel wool to remove all the rust.
          2)Apply oil inside out .
          3) Heat the pan until it starts smoking.
          4) Cool it completely .
          5) Wrap in thick paper bag OR newspaper .

          After every use wash with hot soapy water. Dry completely with dishcloth and repeat from 2-5

          1. Hi, sixel:

            What are you cooking on?

            This is one application where, IMO, you'd have fewer problems with rust if you cooked on gas or an open fire. The idea is to let the exterior flame-blacken with each use, and only remove the soot. With regular cooking and oiling (actually, you can just wipe with an oily rag every time), the exterior should polymerize nicely. Once it does, refrain from scouring the exterior.

            If you're cooking on anything else, you might want to do this on someone else's gas hob or BBQ until it starts to blacken up.

            Aloha,
            Kaleo