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seasoning carbon steel pan

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I just bought a carbon steel pan and attempted to season it. I greased with grapeseed oil and bake it at 300 degrees for 2 hours. After the 2 hours the pan had a sticky feel to it. What should I do?

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  1. I think I would just use it -- some oils just need time to set up, especially if they have a high smoke point or if laid on heavy. You could put it back in the oven for an hour set at a higher temp (400-450) or on your grill outside, and see if that helps. Expect smoke -- maybe a lot of smoke.

    By the way, I would have guessed that seasoning a carbon steel pan would be closer to seasoning a wok (swirling shortening around over high burner) than seasoning cast iron. I guess I wouldn't stress over it too much.

    Good luck -- let us know how things work out.

    1. Just cook bacon in it. They recommend not using vegetable oil because it leaves a sticky film, as you found out. Try again with lard or even Crisco. Lodge recommends Crisco for their cast iron.
      Give it time. A good seasoning takes time.

      1. It sounds like the oil hasn't fully carbonised yet - I would just put it on a burner at a high heat until it stops smoking.

        It really does take time (and use) to get a well seasoned pan, if you do it in sessions it will take many goes and even then anything you do cook in it might just take the top layer off anyway. Carbon steel seems less porous than cast iron and so the seasoning has less to cling to. In a way it can only 'seasoned' through use - the weak parts of the seasoning get lost through use leaving only the good parts which get built upon with later use.

        Patience really is the best advice, I think that is why well seasoned pans are so highly valued in the first place.

        1. Did you boil potato peels in the pan first? Depends on what the manufacturer instructed you to do, but my deBuyer pans came with that instruction. I can say that the carbon steel pan takes far longer to achieve a patina/seasoning than a cast iron pan does.

          I also agree that patience is the real key to any seasoning just like pass & billieboy mentioned. I find it hilarious and frustrating that some people have posted here that they've coated and baked their pans 5 or 6 times in one afternoon and then they wonder why their "seasoning" peels off like semi-wet paint.

          1. Just to add a bit -- the surface of a carbo steel pan is nowhere near as porous as cast iron. Just from wok experience, the seasoning will always be a little dodgy.

            Hadn't heard the potato peel trick -- it makes a little sense, since carbon steel is usually shipped in oil or wax (to prevent rusting en route) that has to come off before the pan can be used.

            1 Reply
            1. re: MikeB3542

              Yeah - I can agree that carbon steel seasoning is no where near as "bullet proof" as cast iron. If you toss something acidic in the pan it will be far more likely to affect the seasoning, albeit minimally.

              I'm not sure of the exact purpose of the potatoes but I can say that the potatoes turned an unappetizing shade of grey/brown during the boiling process and it was not as a result of exposure to air. ...Almost like the absorbed some of the gunk on the surface of the pan.