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Mar 17, 2010 03:38 AM

Blue Steel Pan Issue


I have a blue steel pan (which I love) but have run into a little problem. Somehow the built up seasoning has started to flake away and the flakes continue to grow.

Does anyone know what causes this? How can I try to fix it? The flaked areas are not taking a new layer of seasoning very easily.

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  1. Probably because it is building too quick to the point that you are just burning a layer of food on it instead of a layer of oil. Thus, you can try to do this slower.

    Alternatively, many people find it can be helpful to use a fine sandpaper to rough up the surface a bit.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      I agree for the most part.

      Hmm- you described the problem correctly. What you have isn not a seasoning, it is a "built up" layer of gunk.

      Seasoning is not a fast process. There are no tricks, I wouldn't even suggest roughing up the surface to help a "seasoning" adhere. That is rushing the process and rushing is the biggest mistake you can make.

      Seasoning, in your case with a carbon steel pan, should simply be cooking in it. Some people try to rush the process with carbon steel (and especially cast iron) and end up with your exact problem. The seasoning will build up over time - a looong, long time. Like a year or even more. Also, make sure you're scrubbing your pan *hard* after each use to remove the grime that builds up when cooking in it. Hot running water and a stiff plastic brush usually do the trick for me. Dry well and set it over medium heat for a minute and all is well.

      Ignore those who tell you water is the enemy of carbon steel/cast iron. Come to my house and I'll show you how a real seasoned pan looks and I rinse under hot water after each use.

      You can't fix what's happening, you can only encourage the flaking and peeling by scrubbing away all the loose layers and starting over.

      1. re: Fuller


        I think Fuller is correct here. You don't want to be ridiculous harsh to your seasoning pan, but you also don't want to be way to gentle. If you are way too gentle, then you will never remove the built-up gunk -- which is not what people considered as seasoning.

        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          Exactly. Let's put it this way: a traditional Chinese wok is a simple carbon steel pan, only it's shaped different and it's bigger. What have the Chinese used to clean their pans for (however many) years? Hot water and a stiff/hard brush made from sticks of bamboo.

          1. re: Fuller

            I rinse my carbon steel under very hot water, scrub any stuck bits with a green Scotch pad, and then place on the burner for a few minutes on med-high.

            I checked the pans after they were seasoned, and there's no stickiness or gunk feeling. It's a smooth dry surface. When I do rinse with water, it beads up and runs off like water off of a newly waxed car.

            I think I'm going in the right direction. I certainly hope so, since I have 5 pcs of carbon steel and love them to death. Time will tell.

        2. re: Fuller

          I was wiping it down w/ lard after every use and putting it in the oven to dry (something like I used to do for my cast iron). I think this was definitely the wrong approach.

          1. re: Hmm

            Yeah, that's overkill. I would say that's overkill even for cast iron. I use my carbon steel almost everyday and it took well over a year to really get it to the point where I wanted it. A seasoning layer should be thought of as a one time thing. After that, just start cooking in it. It won't be perfect for a long, long time, but the pan will eventually be smooth, slick, and black. And the seasoning layer will be absolutely bullet proof. You think grandma built up the seasoning in her pan overnight? ;-)

            My take on all these cast iron/carbon steel mishaps is (and I think I'm right based on all the trouble people have here with "seasoning" peeling or flaking off) that this new food/foodie revolution over the past 10 years or so has encouraged people to cook new things, try new things, and in general, do new things at home that they would have never tried before they found online communities like this. In that regard it is a GREAT thing. The only drawback is that people are still used to instant gratification. Fast food, fast internet, fast everything.

            Cast iron and carbon steel are simply things that cannot be rushed. I've read about people here who spend all weekend building up a "gorgeous" black seasoning: layer upon layer of some form of fat that is baked on in the oven. They invite their friends over to look at it who oooh and ahh and everyone is giggly happy about their new black pan.

            Then they cook in it. Uh oh...

            The "seasoning" which is really just soft layers of way too much fat at this point scrapes right off like thick, half-dried latex paint, and their dish is ruined. These same people get frustrated, come here to ask questions and wonder what in the world has gone wrong, often throwing their hands up and saying "cast iron isn't for me." Of course we're talking about carbon stell, but you get my drift. Well, I can guarantee with my life on the line that you absolutely CANNOT get the same level of seasoning over the course of a few hours in one weekend that I have to slowly build up over the course of, literally, years.

            You'll do fine as long as you don't keep baking on layers of lard. Scrub the bejesus out of that pan, scrape up all the junk and just start cooking.

      2. I echo the Scotch Brite and hot water followed by stove top for drying. After years of this regimen my blue steel pans and my cast iron fry pan and muffin pan are as close as I want to get to non-stick. I have never seen anything other than patient use that worked. Of course, since I do not follow the hallowed advice of never scrubbing the pans, I feel compelled to use butter and peanut oil (or bacon fat in the cast iron muffin pan) generously and force myself to eat the results. The one time I tried to "season" a new pan I quickly despaired, put it in the oven on "clean" cycle, brushed the ash off, and started over