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Cast Iron Seasoning Woes

I recently bought several pieces of lodge cast iron. I have eliminated nonstick from the kitchen and am trying to find the best alternative to replace them. From my research, it seems that cast iron skillets should be a good replacement for my frying pans (I also got some le creuset buffet casseroles, dutch ovens and some calphalon tri-ply sauce pans).

Initially I used the seasoning technique of coating the pan with crisco and placing upside down in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour. I did not apply it thinly and had a fairly bump texture (ontop of lodge's already bumpy texture). It was also quite sticky when rubbing my fingers on it. It worked ok but not as slick as nonstick and some things like eggs and boca burgers (both items I cook often) would stick.

Through my research I found this post: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/433869

acmorris' post caught my eye and made sense to me. So I did another seasoning layer and put it in the oven for 550 until the smoking stopped. When I used the pan, all of my seasoning crumbled onto my item I was cooking and upon washing it, all of the seasoning layers washed away!

Well I figured it was because of my half hearted approach so I stripped my pans back down to the iron and started over precisely as acmorris suggested. I applied thin layers of olive oil and cooked each layer through the smoking and then after 5 layers, I cooked for 4 more hours. This took me all weekend! And stunk the house up no doubt.

Well I went to cook with my pan this morning and my burger stuck horribly (yes a boca burger and it stuck way worse than my original sloppy seasoning job did). And again, all of the seasoning is just wiping away.

I am so upset. I really want to love these pans. I'm a stubborn person and am willing to give this a true try, but I don't know where else to go. I've read many seasoning suggestions and it seems like the people who know what they are talking about, say to cook it to past the smoking point and I did it with horrible results.

Any advice?

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  1. Sorry to hear about your problems. We have all been there.

    You may be facing another round of seasoning. I have used Crisco and it works pretty well. That being said, I would not use olive oil to season. I would buy a small package of lard and use that. It will probably be the only time you use it but it is worth the small cost.

    You may be able to get by by frying lots of bacon for a while.

    Also, I season my pans in my grill outdoors. That helps some with the smell.

    I know how disillusioning it can be. Been there. But I now have over thirty pieces of cast iron and its been worth it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Jimmy Buffet

      Hmmm so it could be my choice in fat? I'm feeling like I overcooked it or why else would it wipe away?

      The first time I did the high heat - cook it past smoking - I used crisco and that is when I had major flaking and wipe-away seasoning. So I'm thinking it's definitely at least partly the high heat over-cooking.

    2. I know that I am never going to have seasoned cast iron pieces in my kitchen. Two reasons:

      1) I've tried to season and the nonstick effects are not good enough to avoid use of fat.

      2) My man simply cannot and will not tolerate a greasy/dirty pan. If you run your finger over it and there's any residue at all, he scrubs it again. We cooked breakfast at my mother's and he scrubbed down to the iron on my mom's 40 year-old skillet.

      The new nonstick stuff is non-toxic and works so well that we don't have to use oil or butter (though we often do for taste). I'm happy with that.

      3 Replies
      1. re: mojoeater

        I don't plan on going back to nonstick. I don't believe that it is non-toxic and don't want to take the chance with my kids' longterm health. I'm a paranoid person who tries to stay away from chemicals and even medicines unless absolutely necessary. It seems that some people can get cast iron to work and I desparately want to be one of them!!

        1. re: warneral

          i agree with you about chemicals! and as for cast iron, i'm so so happy with the pre-seasoned Lodge pans, wok and griddle I purchased. I bought a vat of cheaper olive oil at Costco and use this (instead of the very expensive cold pressed extra virgin organic olive oil that i use for salads) when i re-season pans. The key is to simply scrub with a scrub brush and water when the pan cools down - they take a paper towel and swab the pan with oil - heat it a bit and put it away.

          I keep my pans oily - and the surface is absolutely wonderful! It took about five "cooking sessions" to get the seasoning of these pre-seasoned pans just right - plus when the pots were new, I took every opportunity to oil and heat them. Now they are beautiful!!

          Even fried eggs do not stick! Scrambled eggs stick a little but scrub out in a few seconds. Remember the key - oil and heat the pan after cleaning - then keep the pan oily - and don't marry a man who can't tolerate cast iron pots with a bit of a "shine" to them:) enjoy!

          1. re: dsarah3


            If you ever see this: A) do you season the entire surface of the pans or just the cooking surface and B) do you ever find that the coating becomes a little sticky overnight (while not in use), not that it affects the sticking of food, but just that it gains an annoying layer of "stick" when you're handling it?

            I've been using some spray-on Canola Oil after cleaning. I clean the pan with hot water and some scrubbing, then dry it, then heat it on the stove top, then wipe it down with a light coat of the Canola Oil. But on my dutch oven and recently on my skillet, there's been a stickiness to it after it's sat around for a day that is annoying me and I'm wondering what it may be that I'm doing differently.

      2. just wanted to thank you both for your replies - I appreciate the discussion.

        1. First: clean the heck out of whatever you're planning to season. Wire brush, steel wool, lots of soap and water. Follow with a really good rinse.

          As soon as you're done cleaning the pan, put it on your biggest burner, on the highest heat until it gets as hot as it can get, and leave it for 5 or 10 minutes. Chances are it'll smoke, which means the oil that was in the pores (that a scrubbing can't get to) will have carbonized and burned away.

          Then, wash the pan again as before. *Now* you have a good clean base ready for seasoning.

          To season, 550 degrees is way too hot. 400 to 425. Put it this way... you know those hard to scrub off black spots on your cake pans? That's what you want, and I'm sure you got them from cooking things between 325 and 425 degrees.

          Crisco, schmisco. Use butter, bacon fat, or lard. Vegetable oils (like Crisco) don't season well. And make sure you use only the barest amount of oil. For your 'base coat', dip a paper towel in your grease and wipe it on, then use a second paper towel and lightly wipe most of the grease back off. Put it in a 350-400 degree oven *right side up* for 30 minutes, then turn the oven off. Keep it in the oven, with the door closed so it cools down slowly, for an hour. Repeat once or twice more.

          About smoke: If you see a faint wisp of smoke, turn the heat off or down! Technically, you want to hold the temperature just barely above the smoke point until the volatailes in the oil have burned off and the oil carbonizes. You should be using so little grease that the smoking should only last a minute or two at most, and you should barely be able to tell it's smoking.

          It's like this: If you looked at the surface of your cast iron through a microscope, you'd see lots of pits and potholes. Like a badly potholed road. Now imagine that potholed road after a rain. The potholes are full of water, and if it froze it'd be smooth. The difference is, the grease will shrink as the volaitiles are driven off and the hydrocarbons are broken down. So it takes multiple seasonings to fill in the 'potholes'. Also, if you use too much heat, the oil 'stiffens' up quickly, but the gases can't escape from the surface by migrating through the grease layer, so they build up between the grease and metal, keeping the microscopic bits of carbon from adhering well to the metal. That's also why you want to use really thin layers of grease, as the thinner the grease, the easier for the gases to exit.

          I keep reading instructions here and everywhere that tell people to season their pans upside down. That's a crutch because too many people dump too much grease in the pans so they can get a really thick layer of seasoning all at once. If you wipe the grease on with a paper towel, and then wipe the excess off with another paper towel, you should wind up with only grease left in the pits, and none on the high points, so there should be no need to turn it upside down, as there shouldn't be that much grease in the pan for a bare seasoning. Also, keeping the pan right side up encourages the grease to go to the bottom of the pits, instead of the tops of the peaks which is what upside down seasoning does.

          So, in a nutshell:
          3.Clean again
          4.Wipe grease on
          5.Wipe grease off
          6.Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.
          7.Turn oven off and let the pan cool in the closed oven until room temp (about an hour)
          Repeat 4-7 one or two more times.

          Continued normal use will slowly add to the base seasoning layer. The instructions above are only for the *initial* seasoning.

          4 Replies
          1. re: ThreeGigs

            Thank you very much! I will try this. Off to get some lard :)

            1. re: ThreeGigs

              I read all of this..love all the info and comments, however, haven't seen anything that pertains
              to my problem. I Bought a Beautiful Sante red enam. from Tuesday Morning on sale...have finally figured out it is black enamel inside...thought it looked strange. So many of you say it
              won't stick...well first thing I cooked after intial lite wash and rinse was, lite olive oil, and then pork chops..after I washed and dried notice lite white stains, kinda like a glass left on coffee table...I oiled the pan and put the lid on and figured it would be ok..but after 10 uses, and always I'm oiling first, and cooking, then wash, dry and oil again...treating like an unseasoned
              pan..I'm gettin sticking, made hamburgers and had to scrape with plastic spatula...if I dont
              dry right away it trys to rust some...whats going on?? There is a small portion that is kinda "oil burnt" on there...like the cake pan...wonder should I just go ahead and keep going here, trying to get a "season" on my enamel pan...little crazy, dontcha think...have used nylon scrubby to try to get that little bit of 'burnt oil' off but afraid to rub to hard...whats up with this...I love this pan but am wishing I new it was enam. inside cause I don't think I would have tried this...thought you all said it doesnt stick...and Im trying to season an enamel pan>>>thanks for all the advice...great posts everyone...very useful for the pan I'll season that I found at the
              good will for 5 dollars...dutch oven with a lid that has the nipples...

              1. re: ThreeGigs

                Loved the help for the initinial seasoning, but what about after each use, how to season??

                Thank for the clear clear help... now just finish and you have made my year...................

                1. re: sandi2908

                  You should not have to season the pan after each use. if it's seasoned well, you should be able to wipe it clean and put it away.

                  Some people wipe oil on the pan after cleaning it don't think this is necessary if you put it away dry and store it in a dry place and just turns it into a dust magnet.

              2. You said above: "It seems that some people can get cast iron to work and I desparately want to be one of them!!"
                Guess what? All those people have something you may be missing. Patience. Rome wasn't built in a day and I don't care what anybody says, there are NO shortcuts to seasoning cast iron.
                You spent a couple of days trying to accomplish what only use will do for cast iron. You hurried through it and when it didn't work, you stripped it all the way down and started over. Hurried through it again and then couldn't figure out why it wasn't like the teflon you hate.
                I'll bet you even tried to cook that Boca Burger with no fat in the pan, didn't you? I wouldn't try that with my well-seasoned, beloved skillets. Of course it's going to stick. It ain't teflon.
                Now, Oh Stubborn One, go buy some bacon and start cooking. Use your cast iron. Use olive oil or something when you do. It will just take time. In a few weeks, things will start looking up.
                Time. Patience. Bacon.

                12 Replies
                1. re: MakingSense

                  It's true I'm not patient. But I have spent over two weeks doing lots of different techniques including bacon for my family (but only twice). And while I realize it takes people years to get a good seasoning layer I have also read many websites where folks have gotten a good base seasoning layer by doing various initial seasoning techniques. This is what I am trying to achieve.

                  I cook my boca burger with a thin layer of fat but it hasn't worked since my original seasoning layer. I stripped it down because it was all flaking off not because I was in a hurry. It was flaking off because I thought I was doing something to help the seasoing but it didn't.

                  Regarding cooking lots of bacon, that really isn't an option. I am watching my weight and bacon is not part of my diet. I can add oil to cooking but am hoping to get to a point where just a small amount of oil is needed. I have read that actual initial seasoning methods have worked for people - not just cooking to season over time and that they *can* cook with little amounts of oil.

                  There really is no need to patronize me. I may be a little impatient, but I am willing to do what it takes to make these pans work (well besides cooking bacon).

                  1. re: warneral

                    I apologize if you took that as patronizing as it wasn't meant that way at all. I was feeling some sympathy for you as I wrote it.
                    So many posts like your have appeared lately. Cast iron is as easy as falling off a log if you've been using it all your life, but many newbies seem to believe that they can buy it "preseasoned" or season it quickly and the pan will be as non-stick as teflon. It rarely lives up to that expectation. When that doesn't happen, and Grandma isn't around to help, it is confusing. Look at all the conflicting advice you're getting. The only consistent one is patience.
                    Seasoning is an "organic" process. Even an heirloom pan changes constantly. I've got one now that's starting to flake and drive me crazy. Another has a few bumpy spots. Both of those will change and return to their former "perfect" selves before I know it. One of those skillets is at least 60 years old. A lot different than 2 weeks. Bacon has been cooked more than twice.
                    I might not agree with those folks who say that they are getting a "good base seasoning" at internet speed. They might be happy with it but it might not be up to my standards. The last "pre-seasoned" Lodge I bought took me months to get happy with and I still consider it a work in progress.
                    Again, sorry. Just urging patience.

                    1. re: MakingSense

                      This post (and others in this thread) made me curious - while a lot of advice has been given on how to properly "break in" a skillet (even preseasoned), what's a good plan of attack for breaking in a dutch oven?

                      I recently got a lodge preseasoned skillet & dutch oven. I've been following the general "easing in the skillet for a while" plan but don't really know the best way to do the same for the dutch oven.

                      1. re: jgg13

                        I've had a cast iron dutch oven for more than 35 years and they are more of a problem because they're used less frequently. I gave it the usual initial seasoning and just keep using it. Its biggest enemy seems to be when I cook something with tomato so I make sure to get those dishes out of the pot as soon as they cool down. Also storing it too long between uses can cause a bit of a sour smell. The top has tiny spokes on the inside to redirect condensation down onto the food (like those expensive Staubs) and the water vapor plays hell with the seasoning so I sometimes get some rust there if I'm not careful.
                        It does does a fabulous job on braises and stews so I'm willing to baby that pot and lid. The best thing you can do is the same thing as with any other cast iron - use, use, use. Then clean and store properly.
                        I'd suggest things like small pork shoulders and stewing chickens. You can always cook bacon...

                        1. re: MakingSense

                          Drag out your propane tank & burner & set up in the backyard. Buy some good fresh pork fat. Render the pork fat over high heat in your new dutch oven, taking care to spoon the melted fat up onto the sides of the pot. When the fat is all melted, turn off the heat, let it cool, & strain into clean containers...voila, lard all ready for use. Meanwhile, rub some melted fat onto the outside of the pot, put the pan back onto the burner and heat it until the fat smokes away.

                          1. re: Hungry Celeste

                            I'd love to do that but I live in a high rise apt complex ... rendering lard isn't going to be in my future unless I really want to stink up the place :)

                          2. re: MakingSense

                            The lid on the Lodge also has the spikes on the lid, good point you make on watching out for that.

                            I sense some pulled pork in my future ....

                            1. re: MakingSense

                              I agree, the water on the lid definitely seems like it's going to eat up the seasoning on it.

                            2. re: jgg13

                              My advice is simple --don't use a non-enameled cast iron dutch oven for anything acidic until you've used it for several pot roasts , pork roasts, chicken-in-pot and similar meals. Once you've had a few cycles on use in that manner you move on to chili and soups, taking to care to note any break down in the seasoned surface. If it holds up it should be OK until/unless it gets over heated or improperly cleaned (house guest puts it in the dishwasher...).

                              The lower temperatures (compared to skillet use) make it far less likely to get over coated with flaky bumpy stuff.

                        2. re: MakingSense

                          Agree 100%. The Lodge is supposed to come 'pre seasoned', but the more you use it (assuming you treat it with care), the better it gets. I don't happen to clean mine with soap; just hot water and a scrub with coarse salt. Then dry and heat for a few minutes with some oil, rub off excess and am good to go.

                          The surface gets more and more like a non-stick over time (there are stories of cast iron that has been passed down for several generations). That being said, I don't think I would attempt to fry an egg sans oil.

                          1. re: MakingSense

                            Actually, there *is* a shortcut to a heavier seasoning.
                            As per my above post.
                            Oven at 325-350 (bit lower than the cool-down technique)
                            Wipe grease on and off.
                            Bake for an hour.
                            Take the hot pan out of the oven, wipe more grease on with a paper towel (remember, thin, thin, thin coat), put it back in the oven for another hour. Repeat.

                            You can build up a significant amount of seasoning this way, however because the pan isn't cooled between applications the seasoning won't be as durable as it would be were you to cool it back to room temp between seasonings.

                            There was also a radical method using sugar I read about and tried once or twice, but though the results looked good initially, the seasoning didn't hold up. For the curious, it was dissolve 1/4 cup of sugar in 1/4 cup distilled water (distilled was important). Pour into pan, put pan in oven at 450F (disclaimer... that temp may be wrong, going by memory here), use pennies or foil to level the pan... leveling is important otherwise the seasoning won't be even. After the water evaporated, the sugar carmelized then carbonized leaving a nice, smooth even surface in one step. The downside was the lack of durability, so I never bothered experimenting with it more than once or twice.

                            1. re: ThreeGigs

                              Sure, there's a shortcut to anything. But you get out of something what you put into it. See your own words for the results of your own shortcuts:

                              "seasoning won't be as durable...the results looked good initially, the seasoning didn't hold up...the downside was the lack of durability..."

                              I am sure that if someone could devise a method of seasoning cast iron in the microwave, a lot of people would be thrilled. Why do you think that Lodge has been so successful with "quote pre-seasoned unquote" cast iron? Everybody wants everything NOW. It's barely useable when it arrives but new users seem to think that it is the Instant Breakfast of Cast Iron.
                              You can give cast iron an initial seasoning but only TIME and USE do the proper job. Period. Amen.

                          2. I like cast iron. I have several larger non-enamel pieces that are great for searing steaks, frying chickens, and baking cornbread. I have a few enameled pieces that are great for longer slower cooking, braises, soups, and stews, everything from chili to chowder. But I do not try to use cast iron for everything That seems silly. The stuff is heavy, even well seasoned cast iron can discolor sauces, and clean-up can be tricky. If I am going to fry an egg or need to pan fry a veggie burger or do a quick croque-monsieur I will NOT use cast iron. If I want a fond and plan on deglazing the pan I will NOT use cast iron. It is not a good choice for an especially acidic sauce, including those with wine or vinegar. For food with a tendency to quickly over brown it is likewise poor choice

                            There are a multitude of materials of which pans are made, some are more suited to certain uses than others. Some cooking techniques benefit greatly from a pan that responds quickly to changes in flame, while other techniques benefit from the thermal carryover of cast iron. The amount of effort that is saved by matching the cookware to the task can be considerable. No one piece of cookware is best for every task.

                            Finally, teflon has been around for over 50 years and it has been in widespread use as a lining for cookware for over 40 years. I have no doubt that overheating can release some toxins, lots of tiny sensitive pet birds have prove that, further I fully believe that some some nasty conditions can be encountered in the manufacture of teflon -- the same is true for mining/refining MANY materials in widespread use in the modern home. Where I disagree is that USING a non-stick pan is somehow bad. Were that the case ought there not be hordes of doctors railing against its use? Where is the mile long list of ills it causes? I think sometimes one needs to acknowledge that most paranoias are, in fact, baseless...

                            1. I would follow Lodge's directions for seasoning, which you have not done. And don't expect cast iron to be as non-stick as Teflon. I have one non-stick pan, that I use only for yolk-intact eggs

                              1. There's a lot of good advice being offered here, but I'd like to add my 2 cents worth. First off, let me say I've been cooking with cast iron for over 40 years. My experience with Lodge cast iron has not been good. All my cast iron (dutch ovens, various skillets, etc.) have been purchased at thrift sops, flea markets, or yard sales. The good ones are either Wagnerware or Griswold, and some are no-name, but one thing they all have in common is a nice super smooth inner surface. I just don't see how a rough surfaced Lodge pan can ever get as non-stick as a smooth, slick surface. I can fry eggs (they slide around in the skillet) and anything else you can think of. And no, the cast iron doesn't add anything to the taste if the pan is properly seasoned. Nothing touches the cast iron but the seasoning. I often buy more cast iron than I need just so I can re-furbish and season them as gifts fro my friends.
                                Pleas don't give up...they'll be your friends for life......and maybe beyond!

                                20 Replies
                                1. re: 1stmakearoux

                                  I agree 1stmakearoux. A friend has two cast iron skillets. One is super smooth and one is not. I recently learned about the griswold and wagner pans and sure enough when I told her about this, her smooth one (the one that she prefers) is indeed an old 1891 wagner pan. When I told her about my issues today she said to just go get an old griswold or wagner and be done with these lodge pans! When I learned about the smooth ones a few weeks ago I won one on ebay and it was on my doorstep this morning! It is a griswold #6. It is definitely smooth but has some rust so I'm afraid I need to strip it back down and start all over with seasoning it. It is definitely a smoother pan than my lodge rough-surface pans.

                                  Regarding teflon, I'm not here to debate it's potential risk or danger. I am making a choice for me and my family to minimize the use - it's a personal decision/choice. I will say that we each choose to do certain things that have risks associated to them. We can assess the risk and determine for *ourselves* whether the risk is one we are willing to take or willing to brush off as nonsense. There is the possibility that PTFE can cause cancer in humans. So if I can eliminate it's need to be in my kitchen, and I can *potentially* reduce the risk that my children will have cancer 50 years from now, I'm going to act on it.

                                  I have a friend who died a week before Christmas. She was 32 and she left behind twin 5year old and a 14 month old - all boys. She told me to do what I can to minimize the risk of cancer because it is an ugly disease.

                                  As far as the progress with my lodge pans - they were in the self cleaning oven last night and I scoured and washed them today. No smoke from cooking the raw iron pans on the stovetop today so I'm ready to try Threegigs seasoning approach. I even went out and bought the lard. Off to melt it down and give it a try. A t this point, I'll be happy enough with a seasoning layer like I first had before I started over-cooking to try to get a "patina" or whatever it was I was trying to do.

                                  1. re: warneral

                                    by the way, thanks again to all for even responding to this post. I know there have been a lot of cast iron posts in the past and I was leery to even bother posting this b/c I'm sure it can seem like beating a dead horse ;)

                                    1. re: warneral

                                      You're not beating a dead horse, but you're never-ever-ever-ever gonna get a Boca burger to NOT stick to a cast-iron pan without a significant amount of FAT. Yes, I said it. F-A-T. No amount of seasoning in the world will make a cast-iron pan perform like a nonstick one. You're either gonna have to tolerate a minimal amount of nonstick for things like this (and eggs, my sole use of a nonstick skillet), or you're gonna have to put a few glugs of olive oil into that pan.

                                      1. re: Hungry Celeste

                                        you would think, but I wasn't having a problem until I started seasoning with the high heat. I'd use cooking spray and then wait to flip til there was a bit of a crust and it started releasing (like meat would). I'd get a little sticking but not major sticking. Then when I did the high-heat method of seasoning the pan, the whole surface of the boca burger stuck even with oil. And then with the minor amount of water and scrubbing (no soap) - the whole seasoning layer fell off and it was back to the grey iron! So I do think I seasoned it wrong. I was happy with my boca burger cooking before I went with the high-heat approach thinking that I'd get a surface just like nonstick.

                                        1. re: warneral

                                          I just scrubbed down & reseasoned my 10-inch Lodge skillet this weekend. I used the trans-fat-free crisco, and it worked just fine, but I do think that the method employing a thin layer, baked for 2 hrs at 350, cool, then repeat seems to give the best results. Frying bacon in it will do some good, too.

                                          Or just buy an enameled cast iron pan or stainless steel skillet and forget about all this.

                                          1. re: warneral

                                            Honey, just cook the bocas in the microwave! That's how I do mine now that I got rid of the non-stick cookware.

                                            As for eggs, you do have to use a LOT of oil. Just place them on a paper towel and let "drain" for a minute, use the towel to flip the egg over so the other side drains, and then take the towel away. With eggs, I've found the only way it will work is if you start really hot (as always), lots of oil and then turn the heat down to maybe a medium or medium-low. The pan keeps so much heat you don't need that much to do the egg, and if you do the paper towel trick, not that much oil gets into the egg itself.

                                            I also had one of those non-smooth lodge pans once and it was NEVER right. My cast iron now is one that came smooth. I followed the instructions for seasoning and after a few initial mishaps (mostly due to inexperience in cooking with it) it came along just fine. We use it for a lot but you need something else besides cast iron. You can't really do sauces or anything acidic in there, a variety of other things. We go stainless for those.

                                            1. re: warneral

                                              BTW, cooking sprays shouldn't be used on cast iron. They aren't fat, they're lecithin and never become part of the seasoning. They cook on, build up and then flake off. Nasty stuff. That's also what a lot of people misinterpret as the teflon flaking off of their non-stick pans.
                                              Better to use a brush or paper towel to add a light coating of real oil to your pan, but you'll need a lot for something like a boca burger.

                                              1. re: MakingSense

                                                FWIW, we don't cook with spray oil but we buy spray olive oil which is nothing but pure OO and that's what we spray on the pan when it's dried before we put it away.

                                            2. re: Hungry Celeste

                                              wrong-o! cast iron was the original non stick and you still cannot beat it for that!
                                              i use it for frying eggs and would not go back to the shedding -stuff -off teflon kinda materials.
                                              seasoning a cast iron skillet is not so hard, as long as you get an OLD piece. the new ones, made in china, are pretty much junk and you will be ripping your hair out trying.

                                              1. re: jackie57

                                                "wrong-o"? SERIOUSLY?

                                                Get a Scanpan. No shedding. Use metal utensils. Holds up to years of use. Cleans easily. Heats evenly. Weighs half or less of a similarly sized cast iron pan. Requires no seasoning.

                                                Nobody wants the old peeling at the drop of a hat Teflon pans. ScanPans ain't yer gramma's non-stick.

                                                The Gen 2 scanpans are even better than the Gen 1s were, and the Gen 1s were pretty durn good.

                                                I don't know why people think you can't brown stuff in them, I brown stuff in them quite neatly all the time. I use it on high heat.

                                                If cast iron works for you, great. But I grew up using the stuff - good quality cast iron originally manufactured in the 30's - and I hate it. I'll never have a single piece of cast iron in my house ever again. It was never non-stick, and as a poster in another thread pointed out, it's hard to clean, you can't use normal cleaning methods, it weighs a ton, etc etc etc. I'm glad SOMEBODY likes it, or at least I'm glad there are some people who have it and like it. But many of us don't want it, don't have good luck with it, don't want another high maintenance kitchen doodad, and would rather stick with non-stick non-cast iron.

                                                1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                  I certainly agree with you that everybody has their own preferences, and if you don't like cast iron, by all means use what works for you.

                                                  That said, about the only thing I agree with you on in terms of CI's properties is that it weighs a lot.

                                                  "It was never non-stick, and as a poster in another thread pointed out, it's hard to clean, you can't use normal cleaning methods" ... "But many of us don't want it, don't have good luck with it, don't want another high maintenance kitchen doodad"

                                                  If you mean like teflon non-stick, no CI isn't quite like that. But I can fry an egg in my CI skillet with almost no oil/butter. When I make scrambled eggs or an omelet, I can wipe the pan clean with a dry paper towel.

                                                  As for being hard to clean, I suppose if you use a cast iron grill or grillpan over high heat, it could be a pain. But a flat seasoned CI surface? Usually I can just wipe anything off with a paper towel. On the rare occasion that I burn something sticky to it, I throw a bit of kosher salt in, and it's usually clean within a few seconds of scrubbing.

                                                  The only time in the past few years that I encountered a difficult-to-clean situation in my CI was when I cooked caramelized bananas and was tending to other things, so some of the sugar actually burned black carbon on the bottom of the skillet. That would probably be a mess in almost any pan of any material, though.

                                                  As for high maintenance -- I wash my pan with soap and water if I want to, often I just rinse it off, and then dry it with a paper towel. I haven't needed to reseason a pan in years. If I see the seasoning got nicked a bit, I throw in a little oil after washing/drying and heat the pan up, but I find I don't have to do that very often unless I'm cooking lots of sticky stuff or go a while without cooking anything with grease in the pan.

                                                  Again, I'm happy you found something that works for you. But I haven't had the same cast iron experience you have.

                                                  1. re: athanasius

                                                    I swear you guys are fanatics, LOL!

                                                    Honestly I'm saying that with love and compassion.

                                                    What you keep missing is that the seasoning process is too much work for those of us who do not love cast iron. I want a pan I can use every day from the day I buy it - not one that I have to spend weeks, months, or (according to some aficionados) even YEARS before it's in "proper" shape.

                                                    Those of us who hate cast iron - and I have YEARS of enforced cast iron use under my belt and so know whereof I speak - have not had the same "cast iron experience" as you have.

                                                    I don't remember which thread this is anymore, but I think it's one of the ones where the guy finally got his cast iron woes straightened out. I'm glad he did. But (if not in this thread then one of the other old resurrected cast iron threads - how DO these things keep popping up after years????) in the process there was quite a bit of negative commentary aimed at him.

                                                    And he wanted to keep on trying! LOL!

                                                    I just hate for people to think there are no viable alternatives to having to figure out how to season (and not set off your smoke alarms) something that weighs a ton and is as finicky and demanding in its care (you have to admit this is true, at least until you get it seasoned, which many people have NEVER managed) as is cast iron.

                                                    If there were some consensus about how to season it might help. But there is not. I have seen supporters and detractors for every single method. Some people swear by putting it in the oven, others by sanding the surface down and then seasoning slowly stove top, etc etc etc, and each and every person who finally got some seasoning method to work swears it's the only method that worked for them after multiple tries. Looks like Voodoo! C'mon, one of the suggested methods for getting good, seasoned cast iron is to buy antique cookware!

                                                    Even ignoring the fact that this may not be a representative sample of cast iron USERS, I do think it's a representative sample of NEW cast iron users. Anything that is that much trouble to get into shape before it's useful - and I can attest to this in my experience using good cast iron originally manufactured in the 30's - is not worth the time or the effort to those of us who can't get it to work.

                                                    I'll grant that once you get it seasoned it may approximate a nonstick surface. What I object to is the idea that its the ONLY way to get a good, durable nonstick surface.

                                                    1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                      "I swear you guys are fanatics, LOL!"

                                                      If you search this forum a bit, you'll find that I'm the author of two threads in the past few months arguing that cast iron cookware is awful for most normal kitchen uses. While I have spent many years using cast iron, most of mine is currently stored in the basement. But not because of anything you brought up -- I just find it's an awful conductor of heat and that makes it almost useless in the kitchen except for a few tasks.

                                                      So I'd hardly consider myself a cast iron fanatic.

                                                      "If there were some consensus about how to season it might help. But there is not."

                                                      I have roughly a dozen pieces of cast iron, most of which are very well seasoned. A few I inherited that way. The rest -- I just cooked in for years, and they got better over time (though they were never bad). Other than a raw cast iron piece I got once that was not factory pre-seasoned, which I actually had to season in the oven, about the only "seasoning" I've ever done is to rub with oil after cooking, and heat the pan to its smoking point.

                                                      Seriously. Oh, I suppose I got a skillet from my parents that was actually rusty, so I sanded that down and did a few oven seasonings before I started using it for cooking. But I honestly have NEVER had to season/reseason otherwise, other than the stovetop oil thing.

                                                      Admittedly, I do generally avoid soap unless there's actual crud in the pan, but I've never really found cleaning to be a problem.

                                                      Again -- this is only my experience, but I have never found cast iron to be "high maintenance," and since I have more than a few pieces, whatever I do seems to work okay... for me.

                                                      "I'll grant that once you get it seasoned it may approximate a nonstick surface. What I object to is the idea that its the ONLY way to get a good, durable nonstick surface."

                                                      I never claimed that cast iron was the ONLY way to do anything. Personally, I'd tell most people to use aluminum with a non-stick surface, if they don't like cast iron for whatever reason. I only use mine for frying eggs, searing steaks, and cooking an occasional grilled cheese sandwich these days.

                                                      1. re: athanasius

                                                        "The rest -- I just cooked in for years, and they got better over time"

                                                        And that's my point. Years long processes. High maintenance.

                                                        what I said "it's hard to clean, you can't use normal cleaning methods, it weighs a ton, etc etc etc." - what you said "it's an awful conductor of heat and that makes it almost useless in the kitchen"

                                                        I didn't specifically mention that - I had intended to mention the ongoing cooking engineers thread about heat conductivity - but I did intend it to be covered by the "etc etc etc" part, LOL!

                                                        I don't know why, but like 3 years old threads about cast iron got resurrected yesterday and this is one of them. I still don't know how that happens but it's happened to me before, I click on something that looks recent and only AFTER I post do I realize that I've posted a response to a topic that was a done deal like 2 or 3 years ago, LOL!

                                                        The poor OP took a beating from some of the Cast Iron cheerleaders (again if it wasn't this thread it was another of the zombie threads on cast iron) and I didn't really understand why - he actually seems to LIKE his cast iron. If you're not one of that group, (cast iron cheerleaders, not necessarily people who jumped on the OP) mea culpa, forgive me.

                                                        1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                          No prob -- no offense taken. :)

                                                          I only jumped in on this thread because I saw some recent activity.

                                                          The only thing I might say in addition is that I've *heard* of people having better luck with quick seasoning on older pieces of cast iron that are smooth-surface instead of pebbled. I've inherited a few old pieces with that smooth surface, but they're already seasoned, so I can't say from personal experience. I've heard of people sanding down new pieces to get a smooth surface and that working well. If indeed these rumors are true, they might be a faster method toward that ideal cast iron non-stick surface.

                                                          I do agree with you that getting a new pebbled-surface cast iron pan and then spending months or years before getting the smooth, slick non-stick surface can be a pain.

                                                          Honestly, it happened to me gradually -- I first tried a lot of the complicated seasoning advice, which didn't really help. But I kept using cast iron, because everyone kept saying it was so good. I never found it to be as awful as you think (just my view), and at some point I just gave up on the seasoning process and simply oiled the pan after use (sometimes with heating).

                                                          And then, it just happened. Suddenly, a few months later, I noticed the surface of my pan was pretty smooth. After a year or so, it was basically non-stick. All I did was cook in it and put some oil in after use.

                                                          Would I do this again? Probably not, because I don't use cast iron as much these days. If one could make the process shorter by grinding a new pan smooth (as some people recommend), I might try it.

                                                          But I have to say -- for the few uses I still take them out for (fried/scrambled eggs, searing meat, grilled sandwiches), they do really well, and I wouldn't trade them. I find the browning/searing is great, and they can withstand really high heat, which is useful for some things.

                                                          1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                            No offense taken nor is offense meant ,just a "possible" to consider in regards to the "old horse/rehash" issue..There are those that are NEW, new to the forum and new to the CI experience as well and NOT aware of previous conversations/sage advice or dicussion of pro's and cons. As NONE force to step INTO the conversation, no offense should be taken if one finds it boring or rehashed and etc,etc.
                                                            Have fond memories of CI from family table experiences and somewhere in my "stash" do have the inherited treaured pan which would love to unearth and put to use once again.
                                                            In regards to seasoning newer versions, was told long ago to put about a sizable amount of oil(lard is great if available) and also SALT to cover the bottom...(note COVER in regards to salt) then place in HOT oven for several hour(yeah , can get smoky)..let cool, WIPE out and repeat if not quite seasoned enough. Never use soap and when wiped or rinsed clean, wipe down with oil.
                                                            Have done so for years with the CI pieces that ARE within ready reach.
                                                            As for the Teflon coatings...have yet to have met one that did NOT flake, no matter the price range and there have been studies regarding the flaking/health consequences/etc and great debates as well..It needs to be ones OWN choice after given facts and possible consequences...(life is like that and adults do like making their OWN choices anyway,etc,etc,etc and a lol thrown in for good measure. ) One MAJOR with CI, NEVER use 'soap/detergent" unless totally stripping to fullly reseason/etc.Always dry throughly too and finish with a wipe down of oil(these days, strictly olive oil here).

                                                    2. re: ZenSojourner

                                                      Hmmm. I love my cast iron, treasure it. My only complaint is weight. I also scrub it with soap and water and never had a problem, but I DO immediately dry it on the stove and spread a drop of oil with a paper towel when it's till warm. I'm kinda weirded out by non stick too, although I haven't tried the really new ones.

                                                      And wowee, I am pretty much paraphrasing athanasius below. LOL...

                                                      1. re: Whosyerkitty

                                                        Honestly, I don't understand all the angst. ;-) Now, it's true, my FIFTY pieces of cast iron all are older ones--nearly all pre-1950's....maybe the admittedly better finishing job (machined; polished) helps hold a seasoning, but I still am baffled when I hear of he problems people have.

                                                        ALL my cast iron was stripped of all built-up seasoning when I got it (so the "it takes years" theory doesn't fly, in my case) and all I did was season ONCE (475 degrees, Crisco, for an hour) and then simply make sure to lightly oil the inside of each piece after washing and drying (without soap; hot water and, if necessary, some kosher salt for scrubbing power) before putting them away.

                                                        All pieces are a pleasure to cook in...as long as I'm not trying to use overly acidic ingredients. Most are nearly completely "non-stick."

                                                        And most are NOT particularly heavy, because the older brands of cast iron tend to be much, much lighter than modern cast iron, to boot. My oldest skillets (ERIES from around 895) weigh only half of what a comparable modern skillet from, say, Lodge, do.

                                                1. re: renov8r

                                                  great... you do what's right for *you*

                                            3. You could cheat and buy some second hand pans. Instant seasoning! Works like a charm! :)

                                              If you want to keep working on the ones you have, just use them often. I had a pan that was second hand, but the seasoning was ruined. I just stripped it down and then used it daily. It's been a few months now and it's every bit as non-stick as my old teflon ever was.

                                              For use and care: I bring the pan up to the needed heat level, add the oil and let it heat until it's shimmering a bit, and then add the food. Make sure to let it brown adequately so that the food releases well from the pan. After I'm done cooking, I scrape out anything stuck to the pan and add a bit of oil and a liberal sprinkle of salt. Then I scrub with a paper towel. Wipe the salt out, heat the pan up a bit, add a dallop of palm oil, heat it up for less than a minute, and wipe out the excess oil.

                                              It sounds complicated, but clean up takes 2 minutes max and the pan is slick and glossy for the next use.

                                              PS Are you the same warneral from the old AW sewing forums? If so, small internet! I used to post there back in the day :)

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: bunnymcfluff

                                                Hey Cami! Yes that is me :) Thanks for the advice - I saw bunnymcfluff and thought "I know her"

                                              2. If you think you're going to completely season your pan in one weekend, you're not only wrong but you're wasting your time. Seasoning takes time and lots of it. It's unfortunate that so many new cast iron users try this... 4 or 5 or 6 "coatings" in one weekend of seasoning WILL NOT WORK! You'll end up with exactly what you've described - a sticky, flaky mess. Season your pan ONCE with a lipid of your choice and gradually work your way into foods. Cook bacon in it, fry up some Italian sausage, but by no means should you try to use a brand new cast iron as a "main pan". Eventually graduate to steaks or chicken breasts, pork chops are a cast iron's best friend, but only after several months of cooking these meats can you finally start to use you pan for other uses like chili or spaghetti sauce.

                                                1. just a little update. I used lard and did a lower-heat seasoning on my pans as suggested by threegigs. They are back to working well again. No more massive black flaking off into my food. I think that I juste cooked it to high too long and caused it to turn to all carbon vs polymerized oil.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: warneral

                                                    thanks for reporting back. Sorry so many people were so mean to you about this, it just seems unnecessary to me to scold someone and act like they're an idiot when they're asking for help.

                                                    1. re: rockandroller1

                                                      thanks rockandroller! Yes there were a few rude comments in my opinion. If folks would have read the original link I posted, they would see that someone with a LOT of cast iron experience had argued and explained that you can get a great finish on a pan by doing this pre-seasoning approach and that it could work for even eggs. Now, it didn't work for me, but it's not like I was just expecting the impossible, I was basing it off someone who was experienced in the subject.

                                                      By the way I did go back to pre-cooking my bocas in the microwave before giving them a little sear on the skillet and that really helps! (not to mention speeds up the process). I used to work as a packaging engineer for boca when my company (kraft foods) bought them from a small indepent capital venturist group. Back then, I ate a LOT of boca burgers (who wouldn't when they get them for free?) and this is how I cooked them - microwave for 30 seconds and then put on the pan for less than a minute on each side.

                                                      Regarding eggs, I had another successful experience cooking eggs in a non-non-stick pan. I used my le creuset buffet casserole which is the shape of a frying pan but with small handles on each side. I broght the eggs up close to room temperature and worked on the heat to get it just right. I only needed 1 tsp of oil which spreads out nicely. It was one of the best indian omelets I've made in a long time :)

                                                  2. Once you've quickly seasoned your cast iron pan in the oven, the best way to continue seasoning the pan is to cook on it. There are a million different "tips and tricks" on how to season a cast iron skillet quickly and efficiently, and while they kind-of work, the only real way to make it work is to cook in it, using normal quantities of oil, and to only use salt and a napkin to clean it.

                                                    My Blog: http://www.epicureforum.com

                                                    1. I always make some fried chicken or potato pancakes in my castiron when they are new. After that, they are pretty well seasoned!

                                                      1. What an interesting thread! I actually finished cooking boca's with a minimal - teaspoon of olive oil per 4 patties. No sticking.

                                                        There's great advice - and some detailed science around what's actually going on with cast iron skillets, heat & oil. It sounds like you have had some success. My 2 cents is to offer coconut oil as the most responsive and heat stable option for cast iron. I have a few lodge - and some other used ones, including a great wok (HEAVY, btw).

                                                        I burned off the pre-season on any that had it; burned and scrubbed (sometimes wire-brushed) used ones that I acquired.

                                                        I season them by wiping a thin coat of extra virgin, cold pressed coconut (unrefined & raw). It will not make food take like coconut either. It works great. I wipe them down lightly about once a month - and re-season every few years. Over time, they get really slick - w/ fewer pits & potholes.

                                                        I use them for everything - and am vegan (so that's lots of beans, grains - and all kinds of stir fry). All the cast iron behaves well and only tastes like what I am preparing - not the past or coconuts.

                                                        Besides being incredibly stable, coconut oil offers anti-biotic benefits. Good luck to you - and skeptics: have fun making fun! : >

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: rdstone

                                                          I live in Alaska and heat with wood. One of my skillets had too much black residue on it so I put it in the stove, and cooked it until it was glowing. Took it out, let it cool thouroughly and then scrubbed all of the ash off. Seasoned it several times by heating and lightly wiping with crisco. It isn't as good as before as far as non-stick, but sure looks better. Patience is the key. With each use it will get better, as long as after washing (I wash in soap and water), it is heated to around 350 and lightly wiped with oil. A heavy coating that is left on will turn into an undesirable rough crust and increase the sticking, as it will be kind of gummy in itself. I have cooked with cast for years and have'nt ever found the need to use salt, potato peels, bacon grease, etc. for seasoning.

                                                        2. Just a little update since I see this post popping up again! I did follow threegigs procedure adn it worked much better than my high heat methods (ie it isn't wiping away when I wash the pan LOL).

                                                          I've been very happy with my pans in the last few weeks. I followed your suggestions in patience, cooking with oil/bacon. The pans are working very nicely for me. I do cook par-cooked boca burgers on them with rarely a problem. They seem to be getting more and more nonstick with time. I don't cook with oil or bacon often, but I try to every once in a while to build a good seasoning layer. I am really loving my lodge cast iron pans and appreciate all of the feedback I was given.

                                                          1. 1. clean pan.
                                                            2. heat pan.
                                                            3. add vegetable oil to a reasonable level in the pan.
                                                            4. heat to smoking
                                                            5. pour out smoking oil.
                                                            6. wipe to a thin layer allow to cool
                                                            7. heat
                                                            8 repeat steps 3 - 7 as many times as you'd like, four should do for the first time and then do it again whenever you remember. I have had similar issues using the oven :. eliminate the oven from the situation.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: ChefBill

                                                              Too funny that this post has surfaced again (from 4 months ago) because I was just thinking, not 15 minutes ago, about how much I LOVE my cast iron these days. especially the 2 pieces I use most often.

                                                              I cook boca burgers almost every day at lunch time and use spray oil on the skillet. I preheat my pan at medium and then microwave the boca burger for 40 seconds. Then I turn back the heat to just a little less than medium (I was getting some burning at the higher temp) and plop my burger on it.

                                                              I keep my skillet on the stove almost all the time. After I'm done cooking the burger, I poor 1/2 cup water in the pan and scrub away at any resideu either with a spatula or a kitchen sponge, rinse it out and then dry with a towel. Then I put back on the burner and let it dry some more. Often, I will coat the inside with oil and let it cook on the stovetop, wiping away with the papertowel when it starts getting hot.

                                                              The patina on my cast iron is glossy and smooth (not sticky) and I can cook eggs and boca burgers with very minimal oil! Yes-siree I can! LOL I was washing off my skillet (my little 8 incher is what I use for boca burgers) just 15 minutes ago and thinking "and so many people said I couldn't do it! well I CAN!". LOL

                                                              Oh and I do also try to cook with oil for my family (since I'm on weightwatchers and tend not to eat fried foods) whenever I get the chance (like maybe every other week?) and that helps too.

                                                              So the slow patient, use it and season it - really was good advice. But so was threegigs initial seasoning advice. AND, I know I read somewhere that in-between stovetop re-seasoning (like where I spray some oil on and wipe with paper towel and cook on stovetop for a while), was also advice I read. All these things worked and I love my cast iron. I will never go back to nonstick again and I'll probably never need to replace these bad boys either!!

                                                              1. re: warneral

                                                                This has been an interesting forum. I have three old iron frying pans & from time to time have used the method described above by ThreeGigs, except with a 400 degree oven and peanut oil. This method is very dependable. It does take a few weeks or months of use for the seasoning to bake on well. I only wash these pans with hot water and a nylon scrubbie, and do make sure to heat them after washing in order to get them thoroughly dry. I never use them for anything very acidic, and I fry steaks and hamburgers all the time without any extra grease whatsoever, and zero sticking problems. (That beef is all full of grease anyhow.) Just pre-heat the pan about 3 minutes, then put in the meat. I cook eggs with a minimal amount of fat, quite often, and the pan usually has nothing left on it even before washing.

                                                                The most useful-sized pan got ruined recently by someone industrious who was trying to make it clean, so we had to re-hab it. The outside was covered in an unwholesome-looking quarter inch layer of pitted crusty carbon anyhow. I took a chance on some internet advice to put it in the oven during a self-cleaning cycle, which cleaned the iron down to the metal and does not seem to have harmed the pan in any way. And I can't figure any way that it could harm it, either. We started over, re-seasoned it with the peanut oil, & it's looking good. It won't be truly great for a while, but I'm hoping to cook with it for years to come anyway, so it should get there.

                                                            2. This thread was an interesting read, good to hear you are on course with your cast iron. I gave up on mine a it ago, I just never used it enough to make it worth my while, I just stuck with my All Clad. I'd have just tossed the Buca Burgers into my toaster oven and called it a day! LOL, glad to see you stick it out!

                                                              1. i have a cast iron grill pan that looks like it was designed to be two sided, is it ok to apply direct flame on the grilled side so i can use the other smooth side of the griddle? i have seasoned it all around and meats don't stick, fish and soft stuff are another thing altogether though.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: zorkd

                                                                  Do you mean will the seasoning be damaged by turning it directly over the flames when you flip it over?

                                                                  It might be, sounds like you don't have a really hard seasoning on it since you're still getting sticking. Not much of a loss though, just wipe down the clean warm surface with oil when you're finished, and heat it up over the stove till it smokes, than let it cool down.

                                                                2. I have had endless problems over the years but this past weekend I came up with something that worked very well and very quickly. Firstly, I was working on a No. 3 Griswold, small logo skillet. So it was something that was once seasoned well but got chipped and cruddy with build up so I sanded it down by hand in certain areas of the cook surface where it had problems. This left some of the metal exposed and had needed to be seasoned again. SO, I put it on the back burner under the exhaust fan and set the heat at about medium to medium high (gas stove). I got a ramekin with only about 1/8 cup of veg. oil and a folded wad of 2-3 paper towels. I put a THIN coating of veg. oil on the cook surface by wiping it on with a paper towel and then put it on the burner. Once it got hot, it would smoke, then once the smoke died off, I wiped on another THIN coat with the paper towel without ever removing it from the stove (seasoning the bottom portion is another matter). I repeated this maybe 10 times or so and I couldn't believe how smooth the thing got in very little time. It was barely recognizable as the same pan when I finished. I have cooked with it 2-3 times since then and it's back to it's old self. I make sunny side up eggs in it almost daily again. You can’t get that good crispy brown flavorful part of the egg whites in other cookware.

                                                                  1. I have a preseasoned 14 inch Lodge Cast Iron dish. I've yet to use it because I wasn't exactly sure what I needed to do to make the seasoning better. I'm also worried about how much smoke may be created (I'm in an apartment). I have shortening and getting lard may be a bit of a journey. Also, I'm living with someone who's religious faith is to keep kosher. So that being said with a newly purchased pre-season Lodge and having a general stove.

                                                                    Should I have it at 350 or 500?
                                                                    Should I invest in a long oven glove first?
                                                                    How do I go about wiping the fat on the pan sans injury or gettting burned? I'm thinking heavy pan that has been preheated and coating the whole thing may make a mess.
                                                                    How many rounds of seasoning should there be?

                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                    1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                                      In my experience, I find that anywhere from 450 on up will get a good, hard season on your cast iron...regardless of whether you're using Crisco, lard, or olive oil.

                                                                      I use a long pair of locking tongs and a big wad of paper towels (held by the tongs) to do my "wipe" and I wear Ove Gloves on BOTH hands. I put down several layers of brown paper from grocery sacks on top of my range, and then set the burning hot pans on that while wiping, to avoid the oily mess. (yes, the paper scorches--I've read Fahrenheit 451 <g>--but so far, so good).

                                                                      I've primarily been seasoning vintage cast iron that I've stripped down to bare metal, and I find that just ONE thorough seasoning (but that takes hours: I heat the untreated pans for an hour, and then oil and then wipe ever 15 minutes for another hour, then cool down in the oven for a long time) seems to work, as long as I start using the pan frequently and don't try anything "tricky" (scrambled eggs?) until I've fried in it a while.

                                                                      1. re: Beckyleach

                                                                        Thanks! The only issue I can see is that i don't do a lot of frying or cooking that would produce a lot of grease. I've cooked mostly chicken and fish. I'd maybe want to use the pan for biscuits, frittatas and such as right now it is the only pan I've got that is oven safe.

                                                                        1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                                          Some suggest just frying a batch or two of potatoes--they're cheap--and then throwing them away, if you don't want to eat them. Also, making cornbread a few times--if you grease the pan and heat it in the oven to get things nice and hot before pouring in the batter--should help your seasoning along quickly. Enjoy your cast iron! :-)

                                                                          1. re: Beckyleach

                                                                            i stumbled on a good technique for additional seasoning. My cast iron Lodge skillet was working pretty well after seasoning it with crisco and using it about once a week. Then one day I sauteed a batch of chopped onions in olive oil after removing the onions, I accidentally left the stove on with the pan and all the olive oil in it. About 15 minutes later I was alerted to my mistake when my house filled with smoke. I turned off the flame and poured off the excess oil but when the pan cooled it had a perfect dark, hard, mirror shiny finish and it's more non-stick than ever. I just made some fried eggs, for breakfast, turned over sunny down down and they slid right out.

                                                                    2. It's the lousy casting job - the surface on Lodge today is much too rough. Dump the cast iron and get a high carbon steel pan from De Buyer, Bourgeat, et al. Otherwise, you can sand the pan with a succession of grits from 60 grit through 220, scrub it thoroughly with hot soapy water and a brush to remove the grit and then proceed to season the pan.

                                                                      I have my grandmother's cast iron pan and it's a smooth as Teflon. I don't think it was all the cooking she did on it, I think it was that way when brand new. Just better foundry work and pan finishing back then.

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: CharlieTheCook

                                                                        I might have to disagree about the Lodge pans and the current roughness. I do believe the antique cast iron pans are smooth because of the many years of continuous use. These pans were used with metal utinsils and often scrubbed with metal scrubbing pads. Periodically when the buildup of grease got quite thick, the grease was burned off, scrubbed down and reseasoned. These pans were used at least twice a day, every single day. That would be enough to wear any metal smooth.

                                                                        Some of my lodge pots and pans were given to me or I baought new, early in my marriage. I have been married for 30 years now. Some of the pans I have had for that long, some not. But all the ones that I have used the most are now slick on the inside. My pans have never been babied (I never thought I was suppose too) and never have anything but metal utinsils have been used on them. And yes, when needed they have been scoured with metal scouring pads. Also, my pans have never seen the use that my parents and grandparents pans have seen. Yet, they are either already slick on the inside, or gettn' close.

                                                                        So, if you are impatient, by all means try and locate older used cast iron. If not, don't be afraid of the Lodge and its less than smooth finish. Because it can in a short time with a lot of use, be as non stick as an older pan. I have very old and used, somewhat old and fairly new cast iron. They are all very usable. I even have some Lodge loaf pans that are quite bumpy. But they have been seasoned and used for bread and meatloaf and are quite non-stick. Even though they are not as smooth as my skillets. If they began to get a bit sticky (like after several cooking of meatloaf with tomato sauce) I just grease them up bake them in the oven, then cook several loaves of cornbread and they are good to go. Even homemade sour dough or yeast type breads are great in my lodge cast iron loaf pans. Ya just gotta use them. Plain and simple. Enjoy!

                                                                        1. re: dixiegal

                                                                          This is me giving you a round of applause....Finally someone who knows what what. I am a relatively new convert to cast iron, only two years, but my pans are every bit as non-stick as my old Teflon was. I use them almost every day and those "rough" surfaces get smoother every day.

                                                                          1. re: Ambimom

                                                                            Good for you Ambimom. The cast iron cookware is not a mystery. It is very simple. But then I grew up with it and new no different until my mom baught her first non stick skillet when I was in my early teens. LOL, we thought those pans were magical. But those pans were as much of a learning curb to us as those that are adapting to cast iron.

                                                                            After all, we had to learn to cook over very low heat and use "plastic" utensils. My mother in law never grasp the 'plastic' utensil thing, or the lower heat thing, and pretty much would warp and scrape all the coating off her pans. In her mind, the non-stick pans were just meant to be disposable pans. And to this day, it is the same. Use those non-stick pans until they "don't work anymore" then throw them away. LOL
                                                                            She still uses them like her CI pans.

                                                                            So any time you switch the type cooking pans you are used too, it is a learning curb.

                                                                            Now, if I can just figure out the clay pot cooking thing. I am fascinated by the concept, but totally do not understand it.

                                                                      2. hi,
                                                                        i am not familiar with the lodge pre-seasoned cookware, but i am somewhat familiar with the old bare cast iron skillets.
                                                                        the best way to season them is to use them! the baking it in the oven thing is really just preliminary.
                                                                        the real seasoning comes with use. with cooking with some kind of oil.
                                                                        one way to do it, if you do not want to cook with a lot of oil, is to heat the skillet on the stove. on medium heat, for a few minutes, until it is hot. then dip a paper towel in the oil of your choice, and rub the oil around the pan. just a light coat. let it cook for a couple of minutes. turn the heat off. wipe out the oil until the pan just looks shiny.
                                                                        repeat this a few times and you will be on your way to a slick cooking pan.
                                                                        again, i don't know if this works with the new lodge skillets. i have a low opinion of them, since the cooking surface is bumpy...doubt they will ever be slick and smooth, like the older skillets.
                                                                        if you are having this much trouble, you might want to purchase an old skillet. the older the better, like pre world war 2. they are wonderful and you would love them!
                                                                        ebay is a source, but better is if you can find one you can see and hold in your hand, at a yard sale or antique store.
                                                                        if you get a good one, you will not go back!

                                                                        1. 550 is too high. anything over 500 will start to flake off your seasoning. that high of a temp is where you go to strip your pan down.
                                                                          just try 450.
                                                                          scrub your pan with soap and water (a mild, non-lye soap will NOT hurt your pan- look it up).
                                                                          then, apply a thin coat of crisco. wipe it out with paper towels. when that is done, wipe it again, with a cotton material like an old tee shirt or something.
                                                                          just about the time you are asking yourself if you wiped it too much, is there any oil left? it is done.
                                                                          then, put it in your oven,upside down, turn the oven on to 450,
                                                                          let it stay in there for about an hour.
                                                                          repeat these steps as many times as you can bear to.
                                                                          at the end, if you bought an OLD cast iron skillet, it will be done and will be slick like glass.
                                                                          good luck!

                                                                          1. Hopefully the OP (wow, it's weird the way these threads come back to life after years, LOL!) is still having good luck with his cast iron. Apparently he found a solution that was good enough for him (if you read through enough of this thread that's what it looked like).

                                                                            I'll stick with my non-stick non-cast iron, but I"m glad you found a way to make the cast iron work for you if that's what you wanted.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                              ...once again , just saying..the "subject" get repeated as newer folks join in and are NOT aware of PREVIOUS discussions that some find just repetitious. Never can tell when a new or overlooked technique might appear and appreciated .

                                                                            2. goto this site and follow the directions for cleaning and seasoning, you will not be disappointed.


                                                                              Someone forgot one of my Wagner pans on a hot stove the entire center burnt black. I only knew when the smoke alarm went off. I followed the instructions exactly and after two applications of oven cleaner and some scrubbing i got this result.

                                                                              1. Just a note to say I found a great helper to clean "bits" off my great cast iron. The plastic food scrapers, (some shaped like a small rubber spatula without the handle) work very well to clean but not disturb the seasoning. A bit of hot water and scraping or a small soak and then scrape and rinse and that's usually it. The scrapers come in many shapes and sizes.

                                                                                1. SEASONING QUESTION

                                                                                  Ok sometimes it seems like I just LOOK for things to worry about, but this has me curious.
                                                                                  I have been using a cast-iron skillet and griddle for years. The skillet is God-knows-how-old, as I bought it at a thrift store in a tiny town. I keep reading all these posts about smoothness, but mine are not. The griddle was perfectly smooth new, but now is only smooth-ISH in the middle, while the outer areas are sort of textured in a way that is difficult to describe, but looked at closely kind of looks like a map of lots of little islands. The skillet looks like it has layers and layers of these islands when you look closely. But they both work fine. The skillet does eggs with minimal oil and very little sticking problems, even with scrambled eggs if I use that technique where you use the eggs themselves to take up the stuck parts.

                                                                                  And then I read that thread about stripping. Is stripping done to get rid of this build-up? I thought the build-up was what seasoning IS! Since they work fine, I'm not going to mess with them unless there's some health risk. I just wonder if I've been doing something wrong to allow this sort of flake-shaped texturing to accumulate. An oiled paper towel comes away clean and I pretty much only use a spatula, a scrubby, and sometimes salt if I've burned something. Is this stuff supposed to be there?

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: gregsamsa

                                                                                    This is typical, the rest of the griddle would look like this if not for the spatula keeping it worn down. It's basically a build up of oil and fats that have hardened. You can try Kosher salt and oil on it. If that doesn't work a scraper or wire brush can help.

                                                                                    1. re: gregsamsa

                                                                                      With alot of use over time, the seasoning layers can wear unevenly creating an uneven surface. Such as the areas that are used the most wear away while the other areas build up. On old CI pans you often see built up grease on the outside, especially on the bottom of the skillet, where grease dripped down the pan when grease was poured out of it. If it wasn't wiped away very good, the drips then baked on the pan and continued to build up. I know my pans have a tendency to build up where the bottom meets the sides. This happens when I am seasoning the pan and the grease drips and collects on the bottom, because I did not wipe away the excess, like I should. If the pan is turned upside down while baking on the seasoning, you sometime get drips that collect at the top edge or thick little puddles that started to drip off the bottom of the pan, but didn't and just cooked right on the surface. Then there is the thing where when you are frying in the pan, grease spatters on the sides while cooking then continues to bake on the sides. Over time this builds up too. it is like the build up of grease on grills.
                                                                                      Anyway, all this is why our grandmothers would occasionally throw their skillets in the fire or hot coals to burn all the seasoning off and then start over.

                                                                                      I season my pans fairly often, (whenever they get to looking like they need it) but I don't always season them all over. Most of the time I just season the inside bottom of the skillet, because that is what gets the most use and wears away the most. The next most often is the outside bottom that is setting on the burner, where it catches the direct heat and gets slid across the stove,
                                                                                      This seems to help with not getting too much build up so soon, but eventually with the baked on spatters and the occasional sloppy seasoning that I do, I will need to strip it down and start over if I want it all neat and tidy again.

                                                                                    2. Well I'm going to put my two cents in here. Whenever someones asks me about seasoning a pan I normally give them the same answer. To season cookware, regardless of who you're talking to, it ALWAYS comes down to 4 points. Heat...grease...# of times...cool down period...

                                                                                      There are many different methods to season pans, right side up or upside down? 400 or 500 degrees? Crisco, or no Crisco? Use lard? Flaxeed oil? And on and on... But every method uses the same 4 basic principles.

                                                                                      Here's what works for me. I use vegetable shortening. You can use this, or lard, or Flaxseed oil. They're all good. Next is to warm up your pan on top of the stove. There's no need to heat the entire oven. Get the pan warm and spread vegetable shortening all over the inside with a clean cotton cloth. Heat the pan on #6 or #7, or medium-high heat for gas. When the pan starts to smoke a bit, leave it for another 10 seconds or so, take the greasy cloth, wipe the inside of the pan once more, then put the pan in the oven. You're done. do it again once the pan cools down.

                                                                                      That's the heat, grease, # of times, and cool down.

                                                                                      BTW...Lodge is good, but not the best. I has a #9 Wagner and Griswold that weigh 5.2lbs. My Lodge #9 weighs 7.5 lbs. and it's still bumpy. The Wagner and Griswold are smooth as glass. If they were still in business, I know they would bury Lodge. There's no competition with them

                                                                                      Hope this helps.


                                                                                      http://www.purely-cast-iron.com/how-t... To Season Cast Iron Cookware

                                                                                      http://www.purely-cast-iron.com/cast-... Iron Seasoning

                                                                                      10 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: RMS47

                                                                                        >The Wagner and Griswold are smooth as glass. If they were still in business, I know they would bury Lodge. There's no competition with them<

                                                                                        This would appear to be so, in reading CHOWHOUND

                                                                                        This also makes me wonder. Why did Wagnor and Griswold go out of business and why is Lodge still in business and going strong?

                                                                                        And why doesn't another company make CI iron like a Wagnor or Griswold. If they are that popular, seems like some company would duplicate them.

                                                                                        1. re: dixiegal

                                                                                          There are several reasons a business mightt fail despite making a quality product, but a big one is the number of people willing to pay more for a better product. The market for cast iron cookware today is small. Despite what you read here, there are not many people wanting to fry eggs on cast iron, from a manufacturing perspective. People who fry chicken are likely the biggest devotees of cast iron, but I don't suppose frying chicken requires a nicely finished cooking surface.

                                                                                          1. re: dixiegal

                                                                                            I agree with GH1618 here. Cast iron cookware make up a very small fraction of the cookware business. In addition, if smooth as glass is the only thing going, then why not get carbon steel cookware? Carbon steel cookware are as smooth as any stainless steel cookware and they are much tougher (not brittle). I like cast iron cookware, but I seriously doubt Wagner and Griswold can bury Lodge. This is just not how the market works. In truth, Wagner and Griswold was buried.

                                                                                            People say Saab made good cars, but it went bankrupt. Volvo makes excellent cars, but it was the first thing Ford discarded in 2010 (sold Volvo to Geely)

                                                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                              I agree with you also. The point I was trying to make was that although a company may have a quality product, that doesn't exclude them from gong out of business. There could be a variety of problems that we're not aware of, or privy to. One day a business says it's their best quarter in their history, the next month they're filing bankruptcy. This could be from mismanagement, internal strife, missed asset allocations, greed, getting too big too fast, etc...

                                                                                              A quality product doesn't guarantee success in the market place. If you're a football fan, you may have heard of Brian Bosworth, or JJ Stokes, or Heath Shuler. They were quality players, but total busts.

                                                                                              Blockbuster video was the big thing in the 80s and 90s, but missed the boat when it came time to go digital. People had a choice of either going to an established business and rent videos, or order them off their TV (pay-per-view). Blend in Netflix and that was the nail in their coffin. They didn't keep up with the times. Same movies, just different distribution points.

                                                                                              I have nine #9 pans, a mix of Lodge, Griswold, and Wagner. Although I like Lodge, I prefer the Wagner and Griswold. They weigh less and are much smoother than any Lodge I've had. I've been using the same Lodge for about 6 years now and has served me well. I found a comparable Wagner and have since retired my Lodge due to the reasons above.

                                                                                              Mine was just an opinion. If Lodge works for someone, that's great. Thank you for pointing that out to me and allowing me the opportunity to speak. As for the Flaxseed oil by scubadoo97, I've tried that, but my wife said it made the pans and food smell strange, so I went back to using vegetable shortening. I used to do oil painting and it does smell like the paints.

                                                                                              Some people swear by lard or shortening, others might be die-hard Flaxseed people. Whatever works for you is the best thing.

                                                                                              If it works, you have tremendous success with it, and it doesn't interfere with another person, why not do it? Whether the pan is upside down, right-side up, sideways, cookie sheet on the bottom to catch the drippings, no cookie sheet, aluminum foil, 400 or 450 degrees...it doesn't matter. Each person has their opinion and each one is valid in their own way. We're here to say "This works for me and this is why. give is a shot and see what you think". They may stumble on something that we weren't aware of or a better way to do it. They can then tell us about it and we may be able to modify our techniques.

                                                                                              I appreciate your posts and wish you much success.


                                                                                              1. re: RMS47


                                                                                                Agree. A company may go under due to many other things beside product quality. My point is that what we see as bad product may be "good enough" for many people. Kinda of like McDonald. While most people will agree that Gordon Ramsey's food taste better than McDonald, McDonald is running a better business model, balancing food quality, price and availability. We, who gather here at CHOWHOUND, do not represent the larger population. For one, most of us probably do not eat at McDonald/Burger King very often.

                                                                                                "Each person has their opinion and each one is valid in their own way. We're here to say "This works for me and this is why. give is a shot and see what you think"."

                                                                                                I think we should take these procedures much like cooking recipes. They work, and they ALL work. We shouldn't get too emotional if someone's chocolate cookie recipe differ than ours. Neither should we do that for cast iron seasoning procedure.

                                                                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                  Thanks Chemicalkinetics but I think you might be selling yourself short. There could be a much larger population out there, they just choose to not participate in blogs or forums. It is unfortunate that many people have to work so hard and get home so late that they can't enjoy the process of cooking or eating with the family as much as they'd like.

                                                                                                  You're right about McDs. That makes me want to vomit. And I can't believe I used to use Lipton Onion Soup Mix when I made hamburgers bought from a grocery store. Now it's organic grass fed beef from local farmers (there's alot here in Oregon) fresh onions, parsley, salt and pepper, Parmesan cheese, and Worcestershire. It takes a little more time to do but the taste is so much better.

                                                                                                  It's great that I found a forum like this with so many varying opinions, but we all love it, make it ourselves, and wouldn't have it any other way.

                                                                                                  1. re: RMS47

                                                                                                    "It's great that I found a forum like this with so many varying opinions"

                                                                                                    Oh, now that you mentioned it, I found out you are new to CHOWHOUND. Welcome and enjoy. I will sure see you around.

                                                                                            2. re: dixiegal


                                                                                              Check out the growth rate of cast iron from 2001 to 2010. It's pretty impressive.

                                                                                              1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                I'm following Sheryl's method and am on the 4th seasoning. My pans were over seasoned and had an irregular surface. Bumpy yet shinny. They look beautiful now. Lack the glossy sheen at this point but I'm working on achieving that as I apply thin coats and bake it on over and over.

                                                                                            3. Guys, here's the best seasoning advice we've ever seen: http://sherylcanter.com/wordpress/201...

                                                                                              The key is the oil, which must be able to produce a hard lacquer. Must be very thinly applied too. After that, nonstick, nonchemical cooking bliss!

                                                                                              Here's our own advice:

                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: Solidteknics

                                                                                                "nonchemical"? Any oil you use to season your pan is a chemical.

                                                                                                1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                  Agreed. While any food grade oil with a high smoke point can be used to season cast iron. I've had very good results with flaxseed oil

                                                                                              2. This guy answered a LOT of my questions. He also has lots of videos.