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Oct 31, 2010 06:30 AM

New bumpy cast iron pan

I am re-evaluating my question and will repost it after trying again, since I looked at the pan again after writing a pretty long post, and it's not really all that bumpy.

In short, we bought a new Emerilware "preseasoned" 12" cast iron pan (no particular attraction to the brand or the preseasoning, it was just a good deal). I have some familiarity with cast iron, but I'm overall an experienced novice. I did more additional research on seasoning this pan, but when I tried to rub cooking oil on the warm pan with a paper towel, bits of the paper towel stuck all over, I mean all over the pan, tiny little pieces that couldn't be brushed off. Baking the pan didn't burn them away.

After reading around on the net, I started to imagine that my pan was way bumpier than it was, after reading a bunch of people saying to never get such a "sand mold" pan because it will take years to become smooth.

However, after looking at the pan again, I wonder if it's just the wax that I read is used to pre-season that was causing the sticking. After reading that stuff, I started to imagine it was as bumpy as could be, but it is not really at all. It actually looks much more like a normal cast iron pan than I started to imagine. The hazards of internet research. I don't know if this could possibly be the level of bumpiness that people are complaining of.

What should I do? I read some people advising to sand a pan (80 grade to be exact) before seasoning, and I was starting to think that it might not hurt in this case. I really don't care about the preseasoning. But now, again, it doesn't look so bad.

I also wonder why many say to season the pan both inside and out, the handle, everything? Why not just the inside?

What I am tentatively planning to do after thinking the pan isn't so bad after all:

1) I had already washed it twice with a Dobie scrubber and soap, since it seemed the only way to get the paper towel off. I didn't think that would matter since the pan is new and not really seasoned anyway, and it even seems advised to remove the pre-seasoning.

2) Heat some Crisco in the pan in the oven and spread the Crisco around, maybe with a butter brush rather than a paper towl. Let it sit in a 400 degree oven face down for an hour. It will smoke a lot and I live in an apt., so I should keep the window open.

3) Let the pan cool in the oven and use it to cook a couple of steaks sometime in the next day or two, realizing it will take some time before the pan is fully seasoned and it's really not completely ready yet. I could season it again beforehand if I have time.


1) Is there really anything wrong with this plan? Or this pan?

2) Is there some kind of solid shortening that is better than Crisco for this purpose, say from the health food store. I though someone mentioned palm. Should I really avoid Crisco, I just wouldn't think the amount that could soak into a pan could be all that bad.

3) Is it really necessary to season the outside as well as the inside?

4) Should I use sandpaper after all?

Thanks. I wasn't gonna write this again but hate to leave a blank thread, and I do still have questions despite thinking I know what I want to try.

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  1. Hate to just give you this link but there's SO much info on CH about this subject:

    I also read about using a CI skillet for cooking bacon only for a while. That's seasoning the pan great.

    6 Replies
    1. re: c oliver

      Thanks, I remembered to mention I'd rather not use bacon in my original thread but must have left it out. I've been all over the net, all well as this site already. I know there's a lot of information and apologize for starting a new thread, but it is just too much to wade through, you see, and I orginally thought my situatino was a bit specific, but maybe it's not.

      My original problem, you see, is that applying oil to the pan (I'll probably now use Crisco) resulted in paper towel stuck all over the pan, and I wondered if there was something wrong about that. or what I should do. I've read about this nowhere, though I must confess to not reading every single Chowhound thread about it.. I just can'[t go through 15 threads with 50 replies apiece and try to find what's relevant to this situation. I hope you understand, thanks.

      1. re: Ianto2000

        So sand it smooth. You've got a cheaply made Chinese cast iron piece. Price was the driving factor in the decisions of the people who cast it. Coarse casting sand (easier and faster to work with) means rough cast surfaces, and little or no post casting machining. A rough interior means things will stick. It's not going to get smother through magic; the high spots need to wear down. A power sander is by far the fastest way to do it.

        1. re: Ianto2000

          "I just can'[t go through 15 threads with 50 replies apiece and try to find what's relevant to this situation. I hope you understand, thanks."

          Actually, no. The way to learn is to study. I've waited three hours to reply in anticipation that my reply would mellow. But no. You're talking about a piece of equipment that will last several lifetimes. I think spending some time reading is what you should do. Sorry. Just my opinion.
          PS: why would you use Crisco but not bacon?

          1. re: c oliver

            I already had spent quite a bit of reading, hours actually, but had not yet found an answer to my specific question. You assume too much.

            1. re: Ianto2000

              Sorry. I based my reply on what you wrote: "I just can't go through...."

              1. re: c oliver

                Yes, I think my original post (before I modified it) stated that I had already done a lot of research. My revised post contained only the line "The hazards of internet research". Sorry for the misunderstanding.

      2. Ask 10 people these questions, you'll get 1,000 different answers. In my experience, "pre-seasoning" is a misnomer. Scrubbing a new CI pan with soap and water (yes soap!) is advisable. Your plan is eminently sensible. The secret to non-stick is USE THE PAN. The reason you oil the whole pan rather than just the inside is to prevent unnecessary rust forming, but after a few months, this is no longer necessary.


        1) plan is good!

        2) Use the oil you cook with .... I have seasoned mine with olive oil since day one because that's what I cook with. My pans are as non-stick as you'd ever want. Eggs slide right off.

        3) Yes, season outside, if only to prevent rust from forming.

        4) Sandpaper unnecessary. The more you use the pan, the smoother the interior becomes. Eventually the inside will become matte, black, and smooth. All those "bumps" will disappear.

        5) Use the pan often.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Ambimom

          I'd never really used CI until this year when I got induction cooktop and had to "flesh out" my useable cookware. The big skillet now looks almost like a beautiful, black mirror. I used it Friday night to do a ribroast and it just wipes clean. Used again this morning to brown some beef cheeks before transfering to the slow cooker. I've gotten a small piece of pork belly that I'm going to experiment with frying (ala chicharrones) in lard later. Yes, keep using it; it only gets better.

          1. re: Ambimom

            Thanks, this is great. Do you use extra virgin olive oiol or the sauteeing kind? I think I'd avoid using the unfiltered organic kind I have since the smoke point is too low. I didn't think it's even possible to really cook with regular olive oil though due to the smoke point. That's a whole 'nother topic that I've also read about but interested in your experience since you've taken the time to reply, thanks again.

            1. re: Ianto2000

              Ianto2000: "Do you use extra virgin olive oiol or the sauteeing kind? I think I'd avoid using the unfiltered organic kind I have since the smoke point is too low. I didn't think it's even possible to really cook with regular olive oil though due to the smoke point."

              Personal opinion (mine): discussions of cast iron seasoning and of extra virgin olive oil must be strictly segregated. This in no way should be regarded as a criticism of your inquiry.

              We are very serious connoisseurs of (specifically Colli Assisi-Spoleto Umbria DOP) extra virgin olive oil, and also big fans of naked (non-enameled) cast iron. Cast iron is neat; good extra virgin olive oil is wonderful, one of the greatest pleasures to which taste buds can be exposed.

              Cast iron must be seasoned at relatively high temperatures; relatively high temperatures destroy the exquisite subtlety of good extra virgin olive oil. For cast iron seasoning, lard is good, and bacon grease is good. I have no desire to eat lard, or to drink bacon grease, however.

              Extra virgin olive oil can make a leaf of lettuce come alive. Do not try to drizzle lard or bacon grease on a leaf of lettuce and expect it to delight the senses. (Post-grease crumbled bacon with extra virgin olive oil on a leaf of lettuce: may be good.)

              My opinion (just one of at least a thousand authoritative ones, among which some may contradict me completely): stick with animal fats or sesame oil for cast iron seasoning, and enjoy your extra virgin olive oil at room temperature.

              1. re: Politeness

                lol that's what I thought too and nothing else.

          2. On Food TV they had a segment how Lodge cast iron pans were made. They use sand molds and pre-season with soy bean oil and bake at over 500 degrees for several hours. I believe factory pre-seasoning serves to prevent rust during shipping and sitting on a store shelf and provide a base for continued home seasoning. Over time with use and proper cleaning you will end up with a smooth cooking surface. Its not something that will happen overnight or in a week no matter what you think.

            1. Yes! Sand that rascal, but you're going to need at least 60 grit and a sander. You will remove any factory seasoning, but once smooth, you can always season it yourself...and season it immediately after sanding

              1. OK, and the answer is!: I think I had already said I found the pan was not so bumpy after all; I had simply started to hallucinate that it was after all the time I had spent trying to research my issue of the paper towel sticking to the pan when I tried to apply oil. Also, I'm not so sure the pan is cheaply made or particularly made in China lol, but maybe it is. It is clear that it is an excellent pan and my USDA prime steaks seared and baked in it wonderfully.

                I decided I wanted to get Spectrum brand organic vegetable shortening, which in addition to being organic has no trans fats nor cholesterol. However, I didn't have the patience required to get to the organic store before my first use, since researching the pan was making me awfully hungry.

                I solved the problem of the paper towel sticking to the pan by washing the preseasoned pan with soap and water several times to remove the preseasoning. I was then easily able to apply canola oil with waxed paper and clean up the excess with paper towel and had no problems with the towel bits sticking, which was my main initial question, though it seems to have been unclear from my post.

                I have now managed to purchase the organic shortening and will season the pan with it once again and periodically. I am making some wonderful wild caught salmon tonight with cous cous and Moroccan spices (I cook mostly with whole spices that I toast and grind myself as in the recipe, and will use the cast iron pan again for this:


                The lentiils will be prepared with homemade vegetable broth that I periodically prepare from frozen scraps.
                That recipe has some problems but I understand how to fix them.

                Thus endeth my quest, and it seems I had my own question answered before I posted but the confirmation from Ambimom was very helpful.

                Sorry my original question was unclear. Looking forward to the next quest!

                Oh, for those who may still find their confusion persists as to why I might want to use Crisco rather than bacon grease (which in my experience gets rancid), despite my finding the organic transfat and cholesterol free kind, since I do seem to be cooking things such as steak, the answer is that although I might eat something such as steak which has all those fats, I have no desire to needlessly add to them with the oils I use. If I want bacon, I'll cook it, but I have to desire to cook other things in bacon fat. Also, it is my understanding that shortening is highly purified and should have a much higher smoke point than bacon fat. Abientot!

                2 Replies
                1. re: Ianto2000

                  Although my wife and I learn very much in the vegan direction, after reading many of the excellent posts here, decided to use melted Lard at 500 degrees for the high smoke point. The good news, is that we are not cooking in Lard, but in a carbonized, baked finish that was the Lard.

                  At the end of the process we had a glossy, hard-shelled seasoning.

                  The other good news is that the several Lodge pans that we have do smooth over with time and use. It's an amazing thing to see.

                  1. re: redrako

                    With proper seasoning and maintenance that carbonized oil layer will build up and create a smooth surface.