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Reseasoning a Cast Iron Skillet - Can I Just Touch It Up?

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I have a favorite 12" cast iron skillet that's been in use for about fifteen years. Since I always cared for it properly, the skillet has developed a beautiful dark finish that is nonstick.

Unfortunately, I left the clean skillet on my stove to cool and the cleaning lady thought that she was being helpful by scrubbing the skillet squeaky clean. Fortunately, most of the hard-earned patina was undamaged, but there is a half-dollar size ring in the middle of the bottom that is pretty thin. Food is starting to ever-so- slightly stick in that spot when I use it for searing.

My question is, do I need to strip the entire skillet and reseason from scratch, or is there a way to concentrate on just seasoning that section of the skillet?

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  1. IMO, it can't hurt to try fixing the damaged area before stripping off 15 years of hard-won seasoning. I'd suggest heating up the pan on the stovetop and (carefully) rubbing some lard into the damaged area with a folded-up paper towel. Even if that doesn't work, I'd bet the bare area will gradually heal itself as you continue to use the pan. You might want to consider upping your bacon consumption for a couple of weeks!

    PS. If you check out the FAQs at Lodge's website, they appear to suggest that areas of damaged seasoning can be touched up with oil.

    1. "My question is, do I need to strip the entire skillet and reseason from scratch, or is there a way to concentrate on just seasoning that section of the skillet"?

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      No...do not strip it ----- Keep it oiled. Run it through the well documented seasoning process a couple of times if you want. --- Use the skillet in your usual/normal manner -- In time it will all blend together...Be patient and...

      Enjoy!

      1. Well, it depends how different the middle section compares to the rest. If it is actually a patina "hole" in the middle section, then it can be difficult because it will be very difficult for it to catch up the rest. Morever, the patina around that "hole" may start to peel off. By a seasoning hole, I mean you can feel a height difference between the damage area and the rest.

        I would try to do a local touch up and see how it goes. In a few weeks, you will come to your own decision if you want to re-season the hole thing. It is painful, but it is better than dragging it out.

        Tanuki Soup is absolutely correct. I would do the local touch up on a stove top or on an open grill, but not in the oven because this time you really need full control. Heat up the pan and it will start to smoke slightly. This is when the patina is actually being vaporized. You can turn the heat down just a bit here but make sure it is still smoking hot and start to apply lard on the damage area. Concentrate mostly in the damage area, but you can brush the rest of the pan just a little bit. As you are doing this, you are basically thinning the rest of the seasoning and building the damage area. Do this only if you there is a seasoning hole.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          Thank you all for the excellent advice! I will try a local touchup on the stovetop and hope for the best.

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            This is when the patina is actually being vaporized.

            As you are doing this, you are basically thinning the rest of the seasoning

            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

            Would you please expand on these two statements? ~~ TIA

            1. re: Uncle Bob

              What is a "TIA"?

              I am not sure exactly what you mean by expanding on the two statements. There are many ways to expand them. I will try anyway. I can remove the entire seasoned surface by many ways, but one way is to simply heat it up. People (including me) have removed seasoned surface by using the self cleaning oven mode in a oven. I stripped both my Lodge cast iron dutch oven down the first day I bought them and reseasoned them with lard.

              http://whatscookingamerica.net/Inform...
              http://missvickie.com/resources/cookw...

              It is really heat which removes the seasoned surface. You can do exactly the same thing anywhere, including a stove top. You can put your seasoned cast iron cookware on stove top and turn the heat up to high. Soon you will see smoke coming out, and soon your black pan will slowly turn gray and eventually completely bare. I did that 2-3 times on my carbon-steel wok.

              What I told btnfood is to do this carefully. Heat it up just to the point when the old seasoning surface is slowly being removed and meanwhile rub add oil/lard to the spot he wants to build. He can rub on the entire pan just, but need to focus on the spot he really want to build. As such, only that spot is building while the rest is thinning at a slow pace. I admit. It is an art and one can mess it up. However, if there is literally a seasoning hole in btnfood's pan, then this is an alternative solution to re-seasoning from scratch. As long as you are careful, there is nothing to lose.

              I have to admit. This can be dangerous if you are careless. Afterall, you are trying to rub oil directly on a smoking hot pan. One can get burned by the hot oil or the hot pan, or the oil can burst into flame (it has passed the smoke point) when the hand is in the middle of the pan. I used to do this by bare hand and now thinking back, I may have been pushing my luck a bit. It is probably wise to do this with a tong or something.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                Thank you for clarifying your statements....Adding seasoning (carbon) in one spot while reducing (thinning) it in another to blend the two together would truly be an art form...as well as possibly being Hazardous to one's health..

                TIA = Thanks In Advance.........

                1. re: Uncle Bob

                  Maybe I made it sounds more complicated than it is.

                  Whenever people do a local seasoning, this is exactly what happens. Afterall, when you heat the pan up to a smoking temperature and apply oil/lard to a focused area, these things I described are happening. I am pretty sure a lot of people do this intentionally or unintentionally. I mean tanuki soup suggested the same thing.

                  Well, as for hazardous to one's health. We men live and die by honor. Saving a seasoned cast iron pan is one of the many ways to protect our honor.

                  1. re: Uncle Bob

                    You might want to try, instead, heating the skillet IN THE OVEN to a good temperature and then spraying the bare spot with PAM (all the real Cast Iron fans at the Wagner and Griswold Society are switching to Pam for seasoning, it seems) and then rub it down with a few paper towels, wadded, held by tongs. I use my Ove Gloves (I got a two-for-the price of one) super kevlar/silicone pot holders when seasoning cast iron.