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Jul 12, 2010 01:49 PM

Should the preseasoning layer of cast iron be removed?

I found a post saying it's pretty common advice on most forums that the preseasoning layer should be removed? Is it true?

Here's the link:

"You have a brand new cast iron skillet from the factory. Modern cast iron skillets have a layer of gick on it that the manufacturer has decided to label as "seasoning". I suspect that the stuff on that cast iron skillet has a lot more to do with marketing, shipping and profit margins than what you or I would want to eat. I think you really want to get that gick off. It's pretty common advice on the forums that you should get that gick off."

Personally, I think that's a very difficult process. If I have to remove the preseasoning, I'd rather buy unseasoned cast iron, but it's very difficult to buy nowadays , though.

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  1. I say no. You can remove the surface, but you don't have to. You can remove the preseasoning surface by baking the cookware in the self-cleaning cycle of an oven.

    1. Don't do it.

      Frankly speaking, if you have to ask the question I don't think you should be tinkering with the cast iron to that extent. Assuming you're buying a Lodge, it will work just fine the way it is. Your life will be much easier if you don't - believe me, just read the number of posts here regarding cast iron problems.

      1. I wouldn't bother unless it's bothering YOU. Is it sticky? You can more or less "remove" it by a good scrubbing in hot, soapy water, if you want it gone...then you can season the pan more by LIGHTLY coating it (as a CI expert says, "wipe...then wipe again..." with a paper towel till nearly dry) and heating it for about an hour in a 450 degree oven.

        I don't know why so many people find cast iron mysterious, frankly. I've collected nearly 40 pieces in the past 18 months (got the "bug" ;-) and have stripped and re-seasoned all of it with no problems. Most have excellent surface finishes, now, and I can even cook scrambled eggs in many of the skillets, and fried eggs just slide out as if the surface were glass (these are vintage cast iron pieces, however, and you're automatically working with much better materials with these old castings).

        1 Reply
        1. re: Beckyleach

          By the number of posts lately concerning various negatives (most unfounded) about cast iron I have to wonder if some marketing forces are planting some information on the web to discourage its use. I use at least one piece of cast iron every single day. The older pieces with machined interiors are nice but unless Lodge sees enough demand and a willingness by consumers to pay a higher price I don't foresee its return. I do wish Lodge would return some of the pieces to its catalog that have disappeared over the years.

          The preseasoning is a start, want more, use it or season some more. I love the fact that I can use metal utensils and the only change to the pan will be a smoother surface over time. If it gets worn down just reseason it. Maybe the best part of cast iron and carbon steel is when you start asking yourself "How did I live without this?"

        2. Burning off the pre-seasoning and re-seasoning a skillet is kind of like buying a house with a decent lawn, then tearing it out all the grass and re-seeding. Sure you can do it, but why.

          1 Reply
          1. I'm sure you could remove the seasoning but why? If you think it might be inadequate, then season it yourself. No need to remove the old seasoning.

            Cook's Illustrated suggests seasoning a cast iron pan this way rather than in the oven.

            "Heat pan over medium-high heat until drop of water evaporates on contact. Wipe inside with wad of paper towels dipped in vegetable oil (hold towels with tongs to protect yourself). Wipe out excess oil and repeat as needed until pan is slick."

            1 Reply
            1. re: Hank Hanover

              That will only work if it smokes the oil until the oil stops smoking.