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Jul 27, 2010 10:09 PM

Unseasoned (?) spot in middle of Lodge cast iron skillet

Hi, I have several Lodge 5-6" cast iron skillets, and after cooking about a dozen times in them (after they appeared well seasoned), a spot about 3" diameter in the center of each (inside the pan) appears to have lost some of its seasoning -- i.e., it looks grayish and unshiny as compared with the black shininess of the rest of the pan. Also, looking underneath the pan, the bottom (the part touching my gas stove burner) is likewise less seasoned although the pans had started out uniformly seasoned before I started cooking on them.

Does anyone know what might be causing this and what I can do to prevent? These skillets are small and fully fit on my burner, so it doesn't seem as though the 'worn' spots are due to the flame itself - although the flame likely is hotter in the middle (?) so maybe this has something to do with it?

Also, on a possibly related note, should we be applying oil to the exterior bottom of the pan when we apply it to the interior - i.e., after cooking before storage? I haven't been doing that and am realizing that the flame from my gas stove might be wearing down the seasoning on the exterior bottom of the pan.

And when we do stovetop seasoning, should we oil the exterior bottom of the pan to ensure the outside is properly seasoned, or is this a fire hazard?

Thank you so much as always for your help!

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  1. iyc_nyc,

    Seasoning the exterior surface is not important, though some people do it. I think that is entirely up to you.

    As for the interior spot you mentioned, I cannot tell if the seasoning has been thinning out in the center of the pan or you actually have a spot of burned carbonized food on it. If it is a layer of burned carbonized material, then it may feel a bit higher than the rest of the pan. You can scrap that off with a plastic pastry scraper or an old credit card. If it is really thin, then you don't even have to worry. Alternatively, the spot may be caused by the seasoning surface thinning. There are at least two reasons for it. Maybe there was food stuck on it and when you scrapped the food apart, the food took the seasoning surface with it. Maybe the center of the pan is much hotter than the rest of the pan and you started to burn off seasoning surface in the middle.

    In short, if you feel that center area is actually tiny bit higher than the surrounding, then you can scrap it thin. Otherwise, you can do a stovetop seasoning with some oil and a few paper towel. Keep in mind to mostly focus on the center of the pan.


    3 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      Thank you, CK! So does this mean that it's fine for the outside bottom surface of the pan to directly sit, unseasoned (or only slightly seasoned, as it comes from Lodge) on the gas stove flame while cooking?

      Thanks again -- you are always immensely helpful.

      1. re: iyc_nyc


        Yes, pretty much. You don't need to have the exterior bottom surface fully seasoned. Seasoing the pan is mainly for providing a relatively nonstick surface for cooking and for obtaining a relatively nonreactive surface to prevent rusting. You won't use the exterior bottom for cooking and it should be fairly dry.

        The exterior bottom of the pan may unintentionally get seasoned anyway, because small amount of cooking oil wll accidently spill over there from time to time.


      2. re: Chemicalkinetics

        "Seasoning the exterior surface is not important..."

        Actually it's fairly important. You don't always cook on the underside (though you can for things like pizza and Alton Brown showed how you can use it in one of his shows) but seasoning the outside, handle, and the bottom prevents rust. I don't know about you but I don't want rust on my cast iron.

        So to me and others who don't want rust, it IS important.

      3. I got a big spot the other day on my griddle when I put it on the burner to dry and then something distracted me and I didn't turn it off until I smelled something in the house. But to me that is one of the beauties of cast iron. They will take the punishment and recover quickly. Most other pans would have been headed for the trash.

        2 Replies
        1. re: SanityRemoved

          Thanks, all! I will try to reseason. It's odd bc I've cooked nice greasy bacon on these skillets several times since the spot first appeared, and the spot has not disappeared..

          1. re: iyc_nyc

            I find that a medium low setting is pretty good for most things except searing which needs to be a little higher. It just takes a little time to hit the desired temperature and yes you can rush the pan but when you rush it the end temperature is much hotter and the heat doesn't have as much time to spread throughout the pan. It then can be hot enough to remove the seasoning usually starting with the center area which gets the hottest.

            But like I said it's never the end of the world whether due to heat or metal utensils, the pan can always recover unless you somehow crack it., usually through thermal shock. If it gets too hot just let it cool naturally on the stove.

        2. When I heat my cast iron skillet there is a small spot in middle which burns oil or some kind of materiel. It looks like tar. What is it and should I get rid of my skillet?

          1. I also just ran into this same thing. I now have a grayish ring in the center of my skillet after leaving it on the burner at high heat for too long. I re-seasoned it and hope that it evens out to a black color in time.