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The ultimate way to season cast iron, per Cook's Illustrated

NOT to get any controversy started, but there is in the February Cook's Illustrated an article detailing a 'better' way to season cast iron. It involves using flaxseed oil and repeated oven times. Anyone see this? I am going to try it as soon as I can put my hand on some flaxseed oil. The article credits blogger Sheryl Canter for this method.

Anyone see the CI article? Anyone use it?

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  1. Flaxseed oil, aka Linseed oil, is a "drying" oil, meaning it polymerizes at room temperature *much* faster than other oils.

    And yet it all boils down to turning that coat of oil into pyrolytic carbon, and NOT getting it too thick.

    If the article says to turn the piece upside down in order to let any excess oil drip out, I'll call it full of.... err... horse puckey.

    6 Replies
    1. re: ThreeGigs

      It may be a "drying" oil but it won't really dry. That's why woodworkers won't use linseed oil on wood. It's always sticky. Woodworker use boiled linseed oil because it has chemical dryers added which include some heavy metals. Boiled linseed oil will actually dry.

      1. re: pgmrdan

        When I did martial arts, we were specifically told to treat our (ash) staffs periodically with raw linseed oil. It was never sticky. We were forbidden to use boiled because it resulted in a finish that was considered inappropriate.

        1. re: pgmrdan

          >> It may be a "drying" oil but it won't really dry. That's why woodworkers won't use linseed oil on wood.

          Well, to be fair, (and more to the point of this article and this board), are woodworkers really drying their oiled wood in 550 degree ovens for an hour?

          After all, this is Chowhound, not Carpenterhound. Or Karatehound.

          Mr Taster

          1. re: Mr Taster

            And I guess you've just become Mr Monitorhound.

            1. re: MacGuffin

              Reporting for duty, MacTangent!

              Mr Taster

              1. re: Mr Taster

                I merely responded to someone else's comment (and no need to report for duty when one is self-appointed).

      2. It calls for 5 coats of flaxseed oil, baked onto the pan one at a time. The process would take a minimum of 15 hours the way they describe it.

        To test it, they used 2 new, unseasoned skillets. One they seasoned with vegetable oil, the other with flaxseed oil.

        They note that, even after a run through a commerical dishwasher with a squirt of degreaser, the pan seasoned with flaxseed oil came out unscathed, with all of the seasoning still intact.

        The original blog post that inspired the CI article is here:

        http://sherylcanter.com/wordpress/201...

        16 Replies
        1. re: NotJuliaChild

          Yep, I read that article some time ago. It is an interesting article, but I have not tried it.

          1. re: NotJuliaChild

            I read that article, and the author hasn't really done her research.
            She says seasoning is the polymerization of fats... wrong, seasoning BEGINS with polymerization, then proceeds to carbonization. She says "The process is initiated with the release of free radicals, which then become crosslinked, creating a hard surface." - err, wrong. The glyceride chains link (not crosslink), and the free radicals produced are driven off and combine with nitrogen or oxygen in the air to form smog.

            She says: "The more drying the oil, the harder the polymer" - also wrong... all oils share the same essential structure, and it's the glycerides in the oil that polymerize and then carbonize. It's just that a drying oil will form a hard surface FASTER, and in today's impatient society where people want their skillet to look like grandma's that's been slowly carbonizing for 20 years and think they can do it overnight... well, some things just ain't gonna happen. Yeah, a drying oil might yield a fairly decent surface sooner and I'm sure that makes up for some of the impatience.

            One thing she does have right is something I've always said: THIN COAT of oil.. wipe it on and wipe as much off as you can. Too many people use too much oil, and a drying oil might also help to mitigate that mistake.

            1. re: ThreeGigs

              If her understanding of the science behind it is wrong, does it make the results of the process any less effective? Okay, maybe she'll have a hard time synthesizing the results in other applications... but we're talking about a frying pan - I care more about whether it works, not whether her explanation of why it works is inaccurate.

              As justanotherpenguin asked, "has anyone tried it?"

              1. re: wpodonnell

                Here is a quote from the article. "Flaxseed oil is the food-grade equivalent of linseed oil, used by artists to give their paintings a hard, polished finish, and it boasts six times the amount of omega-3 fatty acids as vegetable oil. Over prolonged exposure to high heat, these fatty acids combine to form a strong, solid matrix that polymerizes to the pan's surface. . . .We highly recommend the treatment."

                In terms of older cast iron that might have the slick surface of many years of use, I have to say that my old skillets came to me without that. The only skillet I purchased with any "carbonization" was so heavily encrusted it took me a week to clean it up. Skillets I used previously, and gave away, and skillets I know from my childhood never had that slick surface either. Now that I know more of what I need to do to attain that surface, I have kept seasoning my skillets after each use. If I could attain that perfect slick finish on them, that apparently lasts, I would be very happy.

                Thanks NotJuliaChild for the blog link to the original article about this.

                1. re: sueatmo

                  "... and it boasts six times the amount of omega-3 fatty acids as vegetable oil"

                  in that article she also references omega-3's as the driving force behind what makes a better oil for seasoning. It's the iodine value that she should be referring to. A higher iodine value will make the oil more reactive, but is also more likely to become rancid. If you're going with this approach make sure you carbonize the oil so no polymerized goo is left behind to stink up your pan.

                  as wpodonnell points out, this might seem kind of like a nit-pick...but I think it's more important to convey correct information for anyone wanting to try to experiment with oils for seasoning on their own, i just see it as good practice in the name of science ;)

                  1. re: cannibal

                    Its nice to know the science behind this. Does the iodine value promote the bonding of the oil to the iron? Are you talking iodine value of the flaxseed oil? Does iodine value mean iodine content?

                    1. re: sueatmo

                      iodine value is how much iodine a 100g sample of oil can "soak up"
                      the iodine value is reference for all oils, though flax has a high value which makes it a fast drying oil.

                      I found a link to explain it, since i'm terrible at putting things into word :P
                      http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/t...

                      1. re: cannibal

                        Oh, so using olive oil is probably not the best for seasoning cast iron because it is not fast-drying? But so many people use that, or meat fat which would also not be a fast drying oil. I have been using canola oil myself. But the fast drying is a major component of this method, I think. I am neither chemist not scientist. Is the fast drying aspect important, or is it a side issue?

                        1. re: sueatmo

                          a side-issue i would think, both paths will get you to the same destination...one will just take longer. Some people swear by bacon fat, others corn oil, and others still go by olive oil. The important thing is to try a few methods out and go with what works best for you ;)

                          as noted above, it's very important to do a thin coat of oil on the pan...as in try to wipe it all off with a paper towel, and then leave the pan right-side up when baking it. if you get a gooey substance in your pan it's either due to the oil being too thick, the temp for seasoning not being high enough, or the time in the oven is too short. or all three :D

                          your best bet is to just play around with seasonings, it's a tedious process to do repeatedly but unless you experiment you'll never know

                          1. re: cannibal

                            one thing i forgot to mention, look up the smoke point for whatever oil you are using, and heat above that to ensure you're getting your oil to the carbon state and not just polymerizing.

                            1. re: cannibal

                              what if you accidentally used olive oil (as my debuyer crepe pan just said 'oil' unfortunately), and then I did it a second time, also not doing it in the oven for an hour [which sounds great] but rather on stove top with the oil -not- covering the entire inside per the attached directions which said I only need a mm of oil.

                              After the two attempts, back to back, one olive oil with [I read somewhere else] potato skins, the next using only canola oil spread across the entire surface with a paper towel, there is a slight rough patch along about 1/3 of the wall.

                              Should I ignore this and just keep seasoning it using better methods? Or is there a way to get rid of the rough patch before attempting crepes in this, or using it for anything else?

                              Thanks for any help anyone can give me with this new mysterious [but very exciting] pan. Thank you so much for your expertise here; I'm just learning about seasoning a decent pan....

                              1. re: jojojovich

                                Ignore it and just keep using the pan. Believe me, you're making 'way too much out of this. My mother bought unseasoned CI pans when she married in 1952 and did nothing but fry in them. I bought unseasoned CI when I married in 1975 and did nothing but fry in them. The pans all seasoned just fine over time and are still in use, despite the absence of Internet boards and Cook's Illustrated. I did follow de Buyer's instructions to the letter with my crêpe and blini pans and have had no problems. And incidentally, it's pretty safe to assume that no "better method" for seasoning a particular make of pan exists than that suggested by the manufacturer, especially one that has been in business as long as de Buyer.

                2. re: NotJuliaChild

                  uummmm....why?
                  If your CI is so trashed, get different CI. Notice different, not "new". I automatically look for it at garage sales, flea markets, etc. The older the better, as long as it's not damaged. This so called method is silly. I have several pieces of my grandmothers, it is 100 years old and I--nor she or my mom ever went thru that, or ever would. Mine is jet black and smooth as ice. It is one of my most treasured possessions. I would certainly not ever put it in a dishwasher and that test seems ridiculous. Who would do that? Scrub it, yes with water and even soap, for messy stuff, DRY IT OVER HEAT, and give it a coat of any oil once in awhile. USE IT.

                  The better CI manufacturers make it preseasoned now and while I would coat that, I would certainly not turn it into a marathon. I have even used butter and cooking spray and it was fine.

                  1. re: Whosyerkitty

                    I'm with you. My take is that Cook's Illustrated is selling a magazine, and order to do that they need articles with some new angle. So they cooked up this method which nobody needs to appeal to those who like to think of seasoning iron pans as some sort of black art.

                  1. re: justanotherpenguin

                    Yes! I've tried this on my Staub teapot which I scalded to a crisp~it worked perfectly! I have a gas oven, so the timing involved didn't phase me. I've since re-seasoned it again (after another few scaldings) and it worked.
                    I didn't have any drips into the pan I put underneath~I think I remember the article stating to put the edge of the "pan" (teapot in my case) to the corner, I think this helps with the air circulation.

                    1. re: justanotherpenguin

                      If you read to the bottom of the thread you can see the answer. A few of us did this.

                    2. I don't think this argument is ever going to be settled. I've been a cast iron convert for a couple of years now. I've got some Lodge and I've got some real cheap 3 pans for $10 stuff. I use them just about every single day. All I care is that nothing sticks....and guess what? Nothing sticks to these pans. They are a pleasure. I use olive oil and canola oil for the most part. I cook with them; they're non-stick; that's all I care about.

                      A couple of years ago, Kimball demonstrated how to season a Lodge skillet in the Cook's Corner segment and guess what he used? Plain old vegetable oil.

                      Trust me, the more you actually cook, the better the seasoning.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Ambimom

                        I am sure that is true, especially if you saute or fry frequently. I don't, actually. I do use my pans though. I bake in them, or grill in them. I do like browning meat in them too. On the occasions that I fry, I use a cast iron skillet. I don't find that the cooking I do maintains the slick coating. The article referenced calls it the ulitmate way to season cast iron. Since the coating is supposed to be permanent, I'm interested. The first think to do is to strip the pan. The article recommends using oven cleaner, but I put a skillet in the dishwasher to get rid of everything. Then you put it in the oven to warm it (open the pores!) (I expect someone will now post that iron does not have pores!) and then proceed with the flaxseed oil.

                        As I have explained before, I really work at maintaining good pan seasoning, and I don't feel that I have ever achieved perfection, at least as described by posters on Chowhounds!

                        And yes, CK, I am aware of the lengthy discussions on this board about the subject. But I am interested in whether this procedure works for me.

                        1. re: Ambimom

                          "Trust me, the more you actually cook, the better the seasoning."

                          Bingo. The absolutely best non-stick coating you will ever get is from repeated use and proper care. Cooking with bacon and/or a variety of oils will give you a non-stick sheen as good as anything Calphalon could ever produce.

                          1. re: BigE

                            I agree. I'm of the 'if it ain't broke" school. I even rinse it out with hot water and scrub out any stuck on stuff. It's still shiny. Wipe it mostly dry with a paper towel. Put of the stovetop on high. Heat it up. Put in a little oo. (I use that simply for the convenience that it's always sitting right by the stove). Turn off the heat. Take the wadded up towel and run it all around the inside of the pan. It's easy, it works and no hocus pocus. But what do I know? I put knives in the DW and don't oil my cutting boards :)

                        2. Seasoning of cast iron these days has become the theater of the absurd. Let's do a little time travel and think about the realities of the times. Very few people would have had the time or additional cooking implements to season cast iron as these recent articles prescribe. I'm certain the "What's for dinner?", "Nothing, the cast iron isn't done seasoning" would not have gone over well in many households. Nor would the wasting of 15 hours worth of cooking fuel. The typical process would have involved removing any protective coating, applying a thin film of grease or fat, heating the cast iron, a wipe down and proceeding to cook with whatever was used in the household. Over time the patina developed. I have a lot of cast iron and am being convinced that it doesn't require any more seasoning requirements than carbon steel. Very thin layers of oil or fat and let cooking do the rest.

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: SanityRemoved

                            "What's for dinner?", "Nothing, the cast iron isn't done seasoning"

                            That is funny. Now, you do bring up a good point. Are we making seasoning more time consuming than it really should be? Traditionally, cast iron cookware are seasoned as they are cooked/used, so the seasoning process is more or less a beneficial side-effect from actual cooking. The cooks do not invest additional time for it. It just happens with cooking.

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              That is my method....USE! I buy old cast iron at junk shops, clean them up and "season" them- and give them as gifts to interested friends. Seasoning at my house means using animal oil (only) in them for several weeks (pork, beef, chicken) and rinsing with hot water, wiping really dry, and maybe spraying with Pam if they look dull after washing. I keep this up until they are slicker than an ice cube. I can swirl my fried egg around the pan and slip it onto my plate.
                              It is really not that hard.

                              1. re: sedimental

                                I am sure you all have a solid point. But, as I pointed out in an earlier post, using my cast iron has NOT produced the permanent slick coating others swear by. I don't cook with animal fat, I don't do a lot of frying, I do spend time recoating my pans very carefully, wiping them thoroughly before putting away. I am in the middle of doing the flaxseed oil procedure on one skillet. I will see how it goes.

                                I am in a agreement with the viewpoint that seasoning skillets is seen as a huge problem to be overcome. I'm just doing it. I'll find out for myself if it is worth my time.

                                And to restate something else: I have used and known of use of cast iron skillet for much of my life. I NEVER remember encountering this legendary slick coating on a skillet. I do remember my mom burning off the crud in a backyard incinerator, though.

                                1. re: sueatmo

                                  I think the only way to get the "legendary slick coating" is to use the cast iron frequently by cooking animal fat. As it has been done for decades. I have never heard of anyone getting it any other way. I will be interested if you can get it by using flax oil. Please report back and let us know. It would be nice to know -as many folks are vegetarian and would probably appreciate another way of seasoning. In my experience, olive oil doesn't work as well for seasoning.

                            2. re: SanityRemoved

                              This is very true. I have witnessed my mom, grandmothers, aunts, etc. do just that. But I also would say that their cast iron skillets were used at least twice a day, every single day. Unlike me that might use them once a week, if that. I also believe that the heavy use of of my grandmothers skillets is what made them so slick and smooth. Twice to three times a day scraping with metal spatulas, will smooth the metal out. Not to mention the scrubbing they got perodically. And every so often when the build up on the pan grew, they were thrown out into the fire to cook off the coating and would start again. All this would provide a very smooth coating on the pans.
                              I also actually witnessed my grandmother in law actually wear out one of her skillets.
                              She was frying chicken when she exclaimed "goodness what is this mess" One of her daughter went to look and there was grease all over the stove. They got to looking in the pan, and sure enough, a hole had worn through the bottom of her cast iron skillet. They took the chicken out, threw the pan in the trash and got another one.
                              I could kick myself for not rescuing that pan with the whole, just to keep as a conversation piece. But at the time I was young (19) and new to the family and I thought they would all think I was nuts for wanting that old pan.
                              But yes. Those old antique pans saw an incredible amount of use. And that is why I think they were so smooth and well seasoned.

                              1. re: SanityRemoved

                                One of too infrequently perfect posts. I'll call you SanityRestored if you don't mind.

                                1. re: SanityRemoved

                                  Well, maybe, maybe not. It really depends. In many households in the 19th and early 20th Centuries, the kitchen stove also heated the house. The stove fire, literally, never went out. Even if it did, the stove retained a lot of heat. Therefor, the oven was almost always hot, or at least warm. The housewife would likely keep at least some of her cast iron cookware in the oven if for no other reason than to keep it dry. This would have the side effect of seasoning it, or at least helping to.

                                  I have several cast iron pans that were given to me by a friend. They belonged to her now ex-husband. They _do_ have that legendary slick finish. Unfortunately, my brother "helped" me clean up in the kitchen and scrubbed the patina off of one of them, and I'm trying to figure out how to get it back.

                                2. If anybody knows where to get flax oil please let me know. I've only seen it in 8 ounce bottles for about 8 bucks.

                                  30 Replies
                                  1. re: John E.

                                    John E.: Most "health food" stores carry it.

                                    I picked up the Feb. CI issue at the drugstore today, and this is a TINY little sidebar piece. If the idea is to have a low smoke point oil, the unrefined (cold pressed) versions of safflower, canola and sunflower oils all have the same smoke point as flax--225F. Might save folks a buck or two.

                                    Also, all unrefined flax oil I've tasted tastes terrible. Don't know if it's better or worse carbonized onto a pan.

                                    1. re: kaleokahu

                                      A while back I thought it would ne a good idea to use flax oil for salad dressing and light sautes because of the high omega 3s. I wasn't aware there is a problem with the flavor. That would explain why there aren't big bottles of it in the store and it is sold encapsulated as a supplement.

                                      1. re: John E.

                                        John E.: This may get me flamed, but oh yeah, I consider the flavor vile. And I would be very suspicious of any flax oil that doesn't smell this way--it's likely highly refined.

                                        1. re: John E.

                                          John - flax's O3s are all in the form of ALA - very little of this (less than 20% in most cases) can be used by us. Salmon and grass-fed meat are far better sources of usable O3s (DHA and EPA).

                                          1. re: timoftheshire

                                            I knew that. That's why we take the fish oil supplements and skip the flax.

                                        2. re: kaleokahu

                                          I don't think the idea is to use an oil with a high smoke point. It has something to do with the way it bonds and the Omegas. At any rate, the point is made that artists finish their canvasses with linseed oil which dries to a hard finish. Of course having a high smoke point helps with this process. I have 2 coats on so far. They look pretty spotty.

                                          1. re: sueatmo

                                            sueatmo: I think you misread me. I wrote that if the whole idea is to have a LOW smokepoint, then these other oils would work just as well. Who knows what they intended or what they actually did to test this? I just happened to recognize that flax oil, like the UNREFINED oils I listed, have an extraordinarily low smoke point of 225F. And that it tastes like hole.

                                            If it were Omega 3s that were at work, these geniuses would be having us buy salmon or krill oil.

                                            I can't say you're right or wrong because I put the Feb. CI issue right back in the magazine rack. While they have some good ideas about recipes, I find their "Gear Corner" (or whatever it's called) almost completely useless. Given unerring talent for making incredibly lame choices of what to evaluate, my suspicion is that Dear Leader is lying when says they don't receive any compensation from the major manufacturers. [But I was impressed that they ridiculed the $279 All-Clad chicken roaster fraud]

                                            1. re: kaleokahu

                                              I'm not a big fan of CI, either oddly enough. I happened to pick it up in a strange grocer in a town I was visiting, and became intrigued with the chili recipe (which I made) and the thing about iron skillets. Usually I think of the CI recipes as how to turn a 3 step recipe into a 14 step ordeal! When I finish this project I'll share the results. Putting a skillet into the oven for hours at a time should be easier than I'm finding it!

                                            2. re: sueatmo

                                              Yes, but they're bonding to paint and canvas that aren't intended to ever deviate much from room temperature, not a metal cooking medium. And just FYI, raw linseed oil is used as a wood finish that won't dry slick and hard (or as much of anything at all, for that matter). I know because when I was required to have a staff made for martial arts purposes (from ash), we were specifically instructed to finish and periodically condition using raw.

                                              Like my buddy Tareo, I'm not looking to be flamed but it seems to me that a finish that flakes can't by any stretch of the imagination be termed "ultimate." More likely, someone put two and two together ("...hmm...dries to slick finish, slick finish and seasoning needed on pan...FIVE!") and arrived at "foodie cutesy" rather than "practicable," which not unpredictably endeared it to Cook's Illustrated. In well over 50 years of messing around in the kitchen and being familiar with lots of recipes and styles of cooking, I have yet to find a method or recipe that calls for frying in flax seed oil. And of the half-dozen or so pans that are owned between me and my folks--non-flax seed oil fryers all--I have yet to experience any sort of flaking of seasoning.

                                          2. re: John E.

                                            You will find it in health food type stores. And yes, it is expensive. No way to I believe it to be any better than any other oil or grease for seasoning cast iron. I guarentee our ancestoers did not use flaxeed oil for seasoning pans. Heck, my ancesestors would not even have known what flaxseed was. :o)
                                            I am staying with what has worked for centuries. For the south, that would be hog fat.
                                            Though I did blacken some salmon in peanut oil in my skillet and was quite pleased with what the peanut oil did to the inside of my skillet. Turned out very nice.

                                            1. re: dixiegal

                                              Both of my parents worked at a linseed mill at the same time about eight years before they were introduced. As far as I know they never even met there. My mom worked in the office and my dad was a laborer out in the mill somewhere.

                                              1. re: dixiegal

                                                For those of us who do not fry in animal fat, the flaxseed oil might work. DH and I try to minimize sat fats in our diet for health reasons. Ten years ago he had quadruple bypass surgery. He is doing well at present. My grands from way back used iron; I am sure of it. The men died of heart disease, though. On DH's side the men have not lived reliably long. His grandfather died at 58 of a heart attack. I am sure all of them ate fried fatback, bacon and eggs, fried ham, etc. What works for previous generations might not be preferable for present. I want DH and me to have more years together in good health. So far we have been pretty lucky.

                                                The philosophy of using pork fat is all fine and good; I won't argue about that. But I know what I should do for us. I like using iron skillets. I'd like to use nicely slick one.

                                                1. re: sueatmo

                                                  Pork fat for seasoning a cookware will not be the same as cooking and eating it. Seasoned oils are all eventually turn into the similar stuffs. Even if you think pork fat seasoning is bad, you are really coating the cookware for a very thin layer and you only do it once or twice.

                                                  On the other hand, I am very glad that you are trying to seasoning the cast iron cookware with the flaxseed. I am interested to know if it is easier than other methods you have tried. It is one thing that Sheryl Canter and Cook's Illustrated tried it, but it is much better when one of us tries this. Please report back.

                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                    Ok I will do. But CK, if I don't cook with bacon, where would I get any bacon fat? And I'm not buying any lard!

                                                    1. re: sueatmo

                                                      Well, that is true, isn't it? It will be wasteful just to cook bacon for seasoning and then toss them away. :)

                                                      What about cooking bacon for your neighbors? :)

                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                        I'm sure it would be well received! lol!

                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                          I don't look at tossing out bacon in order to have the bacon grease as wasteful. After all, how many times have we tossed out the grease in order to keep the meat of whatever we were cooking? LOL
                                                          Anyway. I generally just give unwanted meat to the dogs (or someother hungry animal). Look for sales on cheap bacon. It doesn't take a lot of bacon grease to keep your pans seasoned. I usually just use lard anyway for pan seasoning. That is easy to find in the store. The bacon grease is for the occasional flavoring of food.

                                                          Oh and for those looking for flaxseed oil. I saw an 8 oz bottle at Kroger for about $8.00. It was in the health food area in the refridgerated part. With the goats milk, soy milk organic eggs, etc.

                                                        2. re: sueatmo

                                                          I don't know where to buy bacon fat. I do season a few things that we eat only occasionaly with bacon fat, so always have it on hand. I eat bacon only rarely,(though I do love it) so the grease goes in my grease container, we eat a few bites of bacon, then I either use the bacon as dog treats, or I take the time to seaperate lean from fat, keep the lean meat, freeze it and use it for toppings in other dishes. In other words, my own bacon bits.

                                                          1. re: dixiegal

                                                            Chicken wings are great! I cook mine in the pan without a single drop of oil, and they seep out enough oil to cook and crisp up themselves.

                                                            1. re: cutipie721

                                                              sounds great, I love chicken. I almost never bread and fry chicken anymore, so I am always looking for other ways to fix it. I never thought of just throwing it in the pan to fry without breading it or preparing it in some other fancy way.

                                                              1. re: dixiegal

                                                                I do marinate them overnight though.

                                                          2. re: sueatmo

                                                            I have had excellent results using Crisco to season cast iron. it's cheap enough that even if you have no other use for it than to season your CI, you can justify it.

                                                            My technique: Preheat oven to 475. Put a very, very thin coat all over pan inside and out. It helps if you warm the pan slightly. You can use a small piece of paper towel to apply the Crisco Cook pan upside down for about an hour on the middle oven rack with a piece of foil on the rack below to catch drippings. After an hour, turn the oven off and allow the pan to cool completely still in the oven. If it's sticky, turn the oven on again to 475 and cook for another hour and cool down completely. Repeat again until it's not sticky. The outside parts should be shiny and black. If they're not do the whole thing again, starting with application of Crisco.

                                                            Once the outside of the pan is shiny black, the inside may still need extra seasoning. You can tell if this is the case if the inside is dull and black or gray. You can rememdy this by repeating the seasoning process but just applying Crisco to the inside of the pan and cooking it face up in the oven.

                                                            Crisco is far more unhealthy for you than bacon fat. However, I don't think either is harmful when it's carbonized onto cast iron.

                                                    2. re: John E.

                                                      Thats what I found at my grocer. I doubt it is less expensive at Whole Foods, although if found at TJ's maybe. . .

                                                      I tasted it and it tastes like linseed oil smells! I have no idea what culinary use you would have for it! But I imagine someone at Chowhounds knows!

                                                      1. re: sueatmo

                                                        Salad oil for unwelcome dinner guests? ;)

                                                        My wife used to take it when she was pregnant as a supplement to get her omega3's

                                                        1. re: sueatmo

                                                          As far as I know, people take flaxseed oil for health benifits. LIke any other omega 3 oil. Salmon oil, codliver oil, etc. I don't know of any culinary purporse for it. You also will find it in more expensive pet food. We have horses and it is quite common for flax oil to be used to feed horses. Again, it is for health benifits. And I guess now, for seasoning skillets. Wow, who new?
                                                          I still say, I would use something else. If I had an issue with animal fat, I would just use some other vegetable oil. Crisco shortneing works fine. And as I recently discovered. Peanut oil seems to work great too. I don't have a long history with the peanut oil though. So don't know about long term. But I don't see why it would be any different, since it worked from the start.

                                                          1. re: dixiegal

                                                            It works good on barns and decks, it may be safe but it's not high on my list of things I care to ingest.

                                                            1. re: SanityRemoved

                                                              For me, I just don't want to taste it. Whatever I season my cast iron with, I want it to be something that I would eat and cook with anyway. In other words, I want to be able to enjoy the taste.
                                                              I would know more think of seasoning my skillets with flaxseed oil than I would cod liver oil. I do take cod liver oil, but it sure "ain't" because I like the taste of it. LOL
                                                              And I sure "ain't" smearin' my pan's with it. blech.

                                                              Should I ever become a vegetarian or decide pork and animal fat just isn't for me. I am going with one of the vegetable oils.

                                                            2. re: dixiegal

                                                              It would make me pretty angry if I paid that much for flaxseed oil to season a skillet and my skillet ended up smelling like rancid turpentine ever after. I use Crisco and lard. That's the only thing I use them for besides greasing casseroles, etc., , but I keep it in the fridge and eventually go through it and have to buy more.

                                                          2. re: John E.

                                                            My local supermarket has it, but look for it in under refrigeration. I found it with the pomegranate juice!

                                                          3. once more: has anyone used this method?

                                                            i have a number of cast iron pots and pans. a couple of the pans were my mother's, so they have been in use for 50+ years. others i have had from 10 to 30 years. have managed to survive, though sometimes need to use an electric metal wheel to clean them.

                                                            but seriously: is anyone going to answer the poster's question?

                                                            6 Replies
                                                            1. re: justanotherpenguin

                                                              Apparently not! lol But the conversation has been interesting. Honestly, how many times do I get to hear that this will not work. I'll let everyone know next week if it did.

                                                              1. re: sueatmo

                                                                No, none of us have tried it. We are waiting for your report, especially after you said you will do it. :)

                                                                1. re: sueatmo

                                                                  I think I must have missed the post or posts that said that the flaxseed oil would not work. Just post that said that they either had no interest in trying it or thoughts that the flaxeed would not be any better than any other oil.

                                                                  Can't wait to see how yours works. I for one expect it to work the same as all the other types of oils. No better no worse.
                                                                  I remember reading one post where someone had great results with olive oil. The only results I have ever had with olive oil or any other vegetable oil, was a sticky gummy mess.
                                                                  I guess I don't know how to properly season a pan with olive oil.:o(

                                                                  So I don't want to risk screwing up my pans again by trying something that I have no experiance with. Especially when the oil is so costly.

                                                                  Good luck!:o)

                                                                  1. re: dixiegal

                                                                    So far with 4 coats on, my skillet has a glassy impermeable looking coating. I have one coat to go, and plan on finishing today. Then I'll have to cook with it to see if flaxseed flavor seeps through to say, a fried egg.

                                                                    I am a bit troubled by the look of the pan. The interior feels smooth and gleams, but is not evenly colored. It fills in more as I have continued the process, but I don't think it will be evenly colored after this last time.

                                                                    However it feels amazing. More later.

                                                                    What should I try first? Fried egg? Cheese sandwich? Sauteed onions? I could sear something. Hmmm. . .

                                                                    1. re: sueatmo

                                                                      sounds good! how about posting a photo.

                                                              2. Not to steal the thunder from sueatmo, but I went through the process.

                                                                I had a seasoned cast iron skillet from Lodge. I've used it a good bit over time and everything was fine. Two weeks ago, I inadvertently turned on the wrong burner when preparing to cook. To make a long story short, I burned off all the seasoning from my cast iron skillet.

                                                                Then I came across this thread on Chowhound. Since I had reason to reseason my pan, I figured why not try it.

                                                                WOW.

                                                                Talk about seasoning. I put six very thin coats of flaxseed oil on the pan, baking on each coat at 500 degrees for one hour. This took a few days.

                                                                My pan is super smooth. It's not like glass. If you shine the light on it, it looks a little splotchy. But if you run your hand over it, it's a smooth surface. It's not sticky the way it was with vegetable oil.

                                                                When cooking, eggs slide right out of it. In fact, I don't think I could get something to stick even if I wanted to. And nothing tastes like Flaxseed, in case you're wondering.

                                                                And cleanup...so easy. It's much less work than it was before. It's alomst like Teflon. It just slides away.

                                                                I highly recommend this approach. If you have a pan you're happy with, stick with it. But if you need to reseason or you're in possession of a new pan, this is what you should do.

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: NotJuliaChild

                                                                  NJC: Thank you for the firsthand, empirical test. Gold star.

                                                                  1. re: NotJuliaChild

                                                                    Thanks for posting! I have the fifth coat to go. So you did six? I would love to know why six. I appreciate knowing your results.

                                                                    1. re: sueatmo

                                                                      I just followed the directions of the blogger who came up with the idea. She said a minimum of six.

                                                                  2. For what it's worth, I recently did this with a new DeBuyer Carbone Plus skillet and it's OK. It's very smooth (not that the skillet wasn't to begin with) but rather thin. I made my first egg today and it was Ok, a little sticky, but when I rinsed the pan with water and gave it a gentle scrub to get the egg off the seasoning came off too.

                                                                    I'm going to try some more coats, and most likely do it on the stove rather than the oven to see how well that works.

                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                    1. re: mateo21

                                                                      Just curious if you did the 5 coats? How hot your oven? Like NJC, I used 500 deg.

                                                                      1. re: sueatmo

                                                                        Yar! 5 coats at 550.

                                                                        I just used the stove to finish it up and it worked very well (in terms of appearance -- much darker). Maybe my oven doesn't get hot enough... my thermometer is pretty old. I haven't tried out the seasoning yet, so we'll see how it performs.

                                                                      2. re: mateo21

                                                                        I have seasoned a TON of CI and carbon steel in the last 3 years, including my beloved DeBuyer skillets, and by far the DeBuyer's were the hardest to season—I used peanut oil, mainly, and they flaked like crazy when first used (though no food ever stuck), even with the thinnest, thinnest layers of seasoning. Back outside over the wok burner they would go to get darkened back up with layers and more layers of burnt peanut oil...

                                                                        The seasoning was hit and miss for more than 9 months, and even today (I have had them for 2 years now), sometimes a small patch will go pale after washing with a sponge and hot water...!

                                                                        But they cook excellently (wonderful taste!), never stick, and I do adore them. But man, the steel DeBuyer uses is SO touchy about seasoning! I've seasoned many other CS pieces and none have been this fussy!

                                                                        1. re: toddster63

                                                                          My dB's seasoned like champs. Did you boil potato peels? I used rice bran oil for the "base seasoning" but I've never let anything actually burn. At least yours aren't sticking! I use my crêpe pan for neer dosas and they stuck like crazy initially (a first for this pan) but the pan eventually started behaving itself. Nothing flaked off, though.

                                                                          1. re: MacGuffin

                                                                            Yeah, I did the potato peels.... I think to clarify we need to define seasoning—seasoning to me is getting your CI or CS to what the pans in the this thread look like—deep dark mahogany (most likely for CS) or even jet black for CI... I'm talking DARK...

                                                                            1. re: toddster63

                                                                              I know what it means. My guess is that most people here know what it means but for those who don't own or aren't familiar with dB pans, "potato peels" refers to the step the manufacturer suggests using to remove factory protective coating (carbon steel is notorious for rusting) prior to the first seasoning. I asked if it had been done because I suspect it also primes the surface to form the basis for a well-seasoned surface for these pans. And again, I never let anything burn although with continued heating, the seasoning that's already there will eventually become very dark.

                                                                      3. Not to trump Sueatmo, but I thought I would post my results via the stove top. I have been wanting to try this on a carbon steel pan and I've literally had the oil I picked up specifically for this reason just sitting in the fridge for a month. This is a different method so hopefully I'm not stepping on any toes :) If anything Sueatmo motivated me to finally give this a go! So thanks for the motivation!
                                                                        I have only done 2 coats so far but the results are looking ok. You can see the streak marks of where the oil was put on and then wiped off with a paper towel. This is on a carbon steel pan, but the end results should be the same had it been on cast iron.
                                                                        I wanted to try this method because of how traditional woks are seasoned. I don't have a wok burner but I'll hit it tomorrow with an oxy-acetylene torch with a wide dispersion nozzle so I don't burn a hole through my pan :P
                                                                        sorry for the cruddy pictures, didn't think to grab the camera before I started and this is on my phone.
                                                                        I cleaned off the pan (de buyer carbone plus 12.5") with some barkeeper's friend and it got it looking almost like new, i was really impressed! I did one coat with the pan cool and then heated on medium-high heat until the oil started to brown and smoke. the second coat was very fast, i put a little bit of oil on a towel and then wiped it on quick and then wiped off as much as i could. lots of smoke! :) the coating isn't quite black, but a deep brown. again sorry for the poor pictures.
                                                                        I think with the higher heat I will apply tomorrow that the oil will go straight to black.

                                                                         
                                                                         
                                                                        1. I completed the 5th coat yesterday. The pan looks amazing and the finish seems hard and smooth. This morning I made myself a cheese sandwich for breakfast. (I treated myself to some really nice Tillamook cheddar) I used a little butter with the low carb bread I have to use. I was impressed with how the bread came up onto the metal spatula when I turned it. No dragging. I got a very nice toasted cheese. Afterwards, I can't see any change in the finish of the inside of the pan. Next up will be sauteed veggies. I want to see how that goes, and if an off taste is detected.

                                                                          My toasted cheese sandwich was lovely--no taste probs. I simply wiped out the skillet thoroughly before putting it away.

                                                                          Glad to know others are doing this. I would never have thought to do this to a carbon steel pan.

                                                                          19 Replies
                                                                          1. re: sueatmo

                                                                            The CI article says:
                                                                            4. Repeat the process five more times, or until the pan develops a dark, semi-matte surface.

                                                                            I have a 10" cast iron skillet with messed up seasoning from too thick a coat of vegetable oil. After reading the CI article, I decided to try stripping it and re-seasoning it following the CI article. I used oven cleaner. scrubbing and fine emery cloth to remove the old seasoning.

                                                                            I did the six coats of flaxseed oil. I found some flaxseed oil at Whole Foods, about $8 for 8 ounces. The seasoning initially had many small blotches (1/16 to 1/8 inch) but gradually filled in with more coats.

                                                                            The first thing I cooked in the newly seasoned skillet was English muffins, using the recipe on Sheryl Canter's web site. After cooking at about 310 F for about 15 minutes with no oil, the muffins popped right up when lifted with a spatula. Next, I tried a couple omelettes, using about 1/2 teaspoon of butter. They folded very nicely and slid right out of the pan. I cleaned the skillet with water and a plastic scrubbing pad.

                                                                            The third thing was corn tortillas, with a dry skillet. The tortillas did not stick, even when I had just put one in the skillet. A little shake of the skillet (using a hot pad of course) would sent the tortilla sliding around.

                                                                            Next we cooked 6 eggs scrambled, using about a teaspoon of butter. But the eggs stuck. I used hot water and the plastic scrubbing pad to clean the skillet. But when I dried the skillet, the seasoning was mostly gone.

                                                                            So I'm repeating the seasoning process and have 4 more coats to go.

                                                                            1. re: alko

                                                                              I appreciate hearing about your experience. Before seasoning more of my skillets, I have been using my seasoned skillet. I have also found that the seasoning wears thin with use. I suspect that you have to reseason after x number of uses, or possibly add a coat or two after a certain sort of use. I want to do this to a large skillet I have but haven't dedicated the time yet.

                                                                              Also, when you heat your skillet do you get a whiff of linseed oil right at first? I do, but no taste in the prepared food.

                                                                              1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                Yes, I notice a slight hint of flaxseed oil smell when heating the pan. But I don't detect any in the food.

                                                                                I have also cleaned up a Wagner Ware 1058 skillet and have 4 coats on it so far.

                                                                                1. re: alko

                                                                                  So far, I have made 4 attempts with 2 different skillets and 2 different brands of flaxseed oil. I have reread the instructions many times now. But I am not getting the results reported in CI.

                                                                                  After seasoning, I cook something in the skillet. It sticks. I clean it with oil and Kosher salt. But elbow grease won't clean it up. I add some water to the pan and warm it up. The seasoning comes off with gentle scrubbing with a paper towel.

                                                                                  So, I don't know what to try next.

                                                                                  1. re: alko

                                                                                    How did you strip your pan before using the flaxseed oil?

                                                                                    1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                      Lye Wash Cleaning Method:

                                                                                      Soak steel or cast iron pieces in lye water. Mix 1 can of lye (Rooto) with 4-5 gallons of water in a plastic container. (5 GAL paint bucket or Rubbermaid storage container) Usually several days to a week for really dirty pieces will be enough. I have left pieces in the tub for weeks and they do not rust and are not damaged by this method.

                                                                                      NEVER, NEVER add water onto lye. ALWAYS add lye to water. The reaction of lye with water is exothermic (in other words, very violent and hot). It can get so hot that it will boil. So remember, respect the lye and add lye to water. The solution will feel "soapy" when you have a good "working" solution, BUT, if the solution comes in contact with the eyes or skin, it must be washed off immediately. This stuff will "eat" your skin. Always wear eye protection and wear rubber gloves. As a safety precaution, the container should be covered. This will prevent evaporation, minimize the chances of spills, and protect against foreign objects from falling into the vat. The lye wash can be used for more than one "batch" of cleaning. In fact, the water will turn REALLY black and still work.

                                                                                      Remove pieces after soaking and rinse with hose. If grease does not wash away, try wiping with stainless steel souring pad or brush. Repeat the lye bath as required. Dry the pan immediately.

                                                                                      1. re: terlin

                                                                                        You know I don't want to mess with lye or oven cleaner. I simply stripped my skillet by running it through the dishwasher. The skillet I treated is working well. I have decided this method is worth pursuing for my other iron pans.

                                                                                        If you don't get the pan down to the bare iron, I suppose this seasoning method would not work well.

                                                                                        If I can't get the pan down to bare iron with one dishwashing, then I would run it through again.

                                                                                        Several years ago I bought an old skillet that had lots of encrustations on it. I used oven cleaner that did not have lye. It did nothing to the pan. My solution was scouring it daily for several days. I got the inside nice and smooth, but I could never get the outer sides completely smooth. The bottom of the pan came out OK. I use the pan with no problem. But for stripping the pan of all seasoning, I'd just use the dishwasher. I know others use the self clean cycle of their electric ovens, but I don't want to risk ruining my oven!

                                                                                      2. re: sueatmo

                                                                                        I started with Carbona oven cleaner ( < 5% anionic surfactants) but, after using up a 12 oz bottle, switched to Easy Off. Easy Off contains lye (sodium hydroxide).After applying Easy Off and waiting, I wiped out all I could with paper towels, After several Easy Off treatments most of the build-up was gone and I washed it in warm water. After drying it, I went over the inside with fine emery cloth.Then washed it with soapy water, rinsed it thoroughly and dried.

                                                                                        1. re: alko

                                                                                          I assume you dried the skillet in a preheated 200 deg oven, and then wiped flaxseed oil all over it, wiped it off throughly, and then placed it in a cold oven, upside down and baked it at 500 deg for one hour and let it cool in the oven? And that you repeated this 4 more times?

                                                                                          I ran mine through the dishwasher, and did the above steps. I don't know why it did now work for you. I can imagine that you are frustrated.

                                                                                          1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                            Yes, I followed the CI instructions - 200 F for 15 minutes, apply the flaxseed oil, wipe it dry with a paper towel, 1 hour upside down at maximum heat followed by 2 more hours in an unopened oven.

                                                                                            I saw a few other postings reporting a similar problem and it certainly helps to know that it does work for most.

                                                                                            I think the problem may be too much heat. I tried heating some flaxseed oil in the skillet on the stove top and it smokes at about 400 F according to the handy infrared thermometer. The maximum setting on the Jenn Air oven is 550 F and it runs about 30 F hot, so it's probably 570-580 F. Sheryl Canter's instructions say "Turn the oven to a baking temperature of 500°F (or as high as your oven goes – mine only goes to 450°F)"

                                                                                            I put a thicker coat on last night and baked it at 375 F for an hour, followed by a 2 hour cool down. I was able to cook an omelet without any sticking this morning. I'll work with the skillet for a few days to see how it goes. It that goes okay, I will strip it and re-season at a lower temperature.

                                                                                            1. re: alko

                                                                                              I baked mine at 500 deg in a convection oven. Its good to know that you might find the answer by experimenting.

                                                                                              By the way, is your skillet a new one, or an old skillet like a Griswold? Just curious about what the difference might be.

                                                                                              1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                I'm working on 2 used skillets. First one is a generic cast iron skillet (Made in USA) from around 1974. Second one is a Wagner Ware 1058X. So I can't do a new-old compare.

                                                                                                Can you tell about what you've done with your skillet since seasoning it?

                                                                                                My goals are scrambled eggs, cornbread and corn tortillas. I'm willing to work through bacon if necessary. ;)

                                                                                                1. re: alko

                                                                                                  I don't do eggs in iron. I use non stick. I don't bake cornbread much anymore because I am now eating lowcarb. In this skillet I make toasted cheese sandwiches, and saute small amounts of veggies. I also use it to bake faux sausage in. Hmmm, I think I'll make scrambled eggs tomorrow to see how it works. I realize I haven't given it very hard use.

                                                                                                  Actually I need to do several more skillets.

                                                                                                  1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                    This morning I fried eggs in my seasoned skillet. They did pretty well, but I need to use a lower setting I think, than I do when I use the non stick. At medium heat they browned a bit more than I usually want. At any rate the skillet performed well and looks fine after. I am now seasoning my biggest skillet. This is good weather for running my oven at 500 deg!

                                                                                                    1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                      Keep working with the eggs in you CI skillet. The taste is wonderful. The secret to cooking eggs in CI is first a good coat of seasoning and then preheating the pan to the correct temp. For me, it is usually medium or so. Then adding the grease, oil or butter ( I use real butter) , let that heat up and then drop the eggs in. The eggs will start cooking immediately as the float on a thin layer of oil. Frying eggs takes a little practice. If the pan is to hot, the yokes will sometimes break. If the skilled and oil is not hot enough, the eggs will sit on the bottom, stick and burn.

                                                                                                      Scrambling eggs is a little easier. Usually once I put my eggs in, I turn off the heat and just let the hot skillet do the cooking.

                                                                                                      1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                        I worked with the skillet a bit, fried a scrambled egg in a little butter, then a half pound of bacon, followed by an omelet, then sauteed some bell pepper and made a couple more omelets. I've been able to clean the skillet with a paper towel without losing any seasoning. Also cleaned it in cold water with a plastic scrubby.

                                                                                                        I think the technique works but at at a lower temperature than the maximum on my oven. I have decided to strip the two skillets and start over with 420 F oven temperature.

                                                                                    2. re: sueatmo

                                                                                      All cast iron seasoning will wear thin with use. Unless you are cooking meat and/or using fats and oils a lot. Glad your having good luck with your flaxseed coating.
                                                                                      But I have to say, thay my lard/bacon grease pans couldn't be any smoother. I cook eggs in my cast iron skillets almost every day. They don't stick at all.

                                                                                      I will say on newly seasoned pans, I do get some sticking issues. I fix this by baking cornbread in them. The cornbread will stick at first, but after a couple of batches of cornbread, they are perfect. I seldom eat cornbread anymore, and my husband eats a little, so I through the rest out for the birds and squirrels. They love it.:o) It is worth it, to get my pans seasoned to perfection.

                                                                                      I will say though, that when I make cornbread, it is with bacon grease. Bacon grease in the bread and lots of it on the inside of tha pan.

                                                                                      Also, I have never seasoned a pan with my oven above 400. Anything much above that is how I bake OFF my seasoning. But maybe with the flaxseed oil it is different?

                                                                                      The oven just needs to be hot enough to cause the grease or oil to smoke. No more, or you risk baking it off. Also don't leave it in the oven at the high temps too long. That too, is how I bake off a coating that needs to come off.

                                                                                      So for anyone that wants to use flaxseed, go for it. But the same exact thing can be accomplished with just lard or bacon grease. Or I have found peanut oil puts a nice coating on too. You just have to use a higher temp. Again around 400 to 425.

                                                                                      I read the article on using the flaxseed oil, and her pan looks no different than mine with the lard/bacon grease baked on.

                                                                                      1. re: dixiegal

                                                                                        Well I had been keeping my pans nicely seasoned, I think. But since I don't use animal fats, I thought the flaxseed oil might work for me. I am now working on my big size 8 skillet. I do want to practice a bit more with the eggs. I don't usually cook with butter, though. I thought that med heat might have been too high, but perhaps I didn't let the fat heat long enough, because the eggs did stick until they got done enough to turn. Just a matter of doing it a few times to get the hang of it.

                                                                                        1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                          I don't use butter much either. If not careful it can scorch a bit in cast iron. I have been using coconut oil and it works great. I suspect it would make a good seasoned coating for the skillet, though I have not tried. I have tried peanut oil, and it worked fine for a nice coating. And then of course Crisco works well. I have never had any luck at all with just veg oil, canola oil or olive oil.
                                                                                          IF the flaxseed is working for you. Just continue on. Since I don't fry a lot in grease any more, I compensate by just periodicaly grease my pan up and pop it in the oven to put another coating back on. That way I can cook in it however I need too. If I need to boil something or make gravy or whatever, it isn't a big deal. Whenever the surface seems to be a little worn looking or sticky while cooking, I just re season. I don't cook like my mom and grandmother did. I don't fry everything in my skillets and I sure don't use them 2 or 3 times a day, every day. LOL. So I just have to compensate the care of my cast iron.

                                                                                          You know you mentioned how your eggs would stick until done enough to turn. I find that true about anything fried in cast iron. If I put a piece of steak in my hot CI skillet, it will stick like glue until the skillet turns the meat lose. Then I know it's time to flip it over.:o) Works great though, because I get a nice sear on the meat.

                                                                                2. Does CI technique only apply to older pans? I have a new deBuyer pan I have used 2-3 times, bought mainly for omelets. Seasoned as per deBuyers instructions, but eggs still stick. Can I start CI method with just oil coats, or do I need to start from scratch on preseasoning by stripping?

                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: lulou23

                                                                                    I don't know why not. You do have the instructions, right? You have to strip the pan first. CI recommended using oven cleaner to do this, but I am sticking the pans in the dishwasher. That strips them right down, except for the outside, which doesn't get stripped as much. But since it is the cooking surface I am interested in, I just proceed. I have to tell you, the eggs stuck in my treated pan. It isn't like cooking on non-stick. You might try lowering the heat firstin the pan you are using now, to see if the eggs stick as badly. But I don't know why you can't season any cast iron this way.

                                                                                    1. re: lulou23

                                                                                      Your pan needs more use. Teflon poisoned the minds in a way that the microwave did, we came to expect instant results. Carbon steel and cast iron have been used for a long time with great success both in the home and in commercial environments. By the end of the day a pan could be very nice to use in a commercial environment, in a home setting it's going to take longer. Seasoning by using is going to be your best bet over the long run. If you end up spending more time seasoning than cooking it becomes more of an obsession. You will need to use more butter or oil initially. If that is an issue then a rack or paper towel can be used to reduce the amount of oil remaining on the food. It may take a little experimentation to find the sweet spot in which you get an omelette at the desired texture in the time you want.

                                                                                      Carbon steel has a natural finish that is closer to older machined cast iron than the current cast iron offerings. This method should require less steps using carbon steel than for cast iron because the surface is much smoother.

                                                                                      Sueatmo and Alko have each documented their experiences with this method very well. Personally I'm not willing to dedicate this amount of time to seasoning as I tend not to worry about what utensils I use in cast iron or carbon steel. I like the fact that I can cook on both materials while concentrating on the food without the babying that nonstick requires.

                                                                                      1. re: SanityRemoved

                                                                                        "without the babying..."

                                                                                        Why don't you like babies?

                                                                                        1. re: SanityRemoved

                                                                                          OK. I think the idea here is that we are NOT cooking on non-stick. We are seasoning cast iron pans to use instead of non-stick pans--at least that is how it is working out for me.

                                                                                          I do want to respectfully suggest that non-stick is probably not poison, and microwave cooking is a legitimate method of food prep. We can't do everything in cast iron and carbon steel. I mean we are using computers here, not quill pens and parchment, to share ideas about cooking. Same goes for cooking.

                                                                                          Actually it doesn't take that much time to season the pan, it just takes time to have them in the oven six times!

                                                                                          And I don't think I'm obsessed.

                                                                                          1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                            First off I want to say thanks for trying this method of seasoning and reporting back with your experiences.

                                                                                            I don't believe you are obsessed. You have explained not only what your uses are but also your reasons for wanting to try this method of seasoning. But there has been a trend of late in which some across the internet are putting an inordinate amount of emphasis on the state of seasoning. This is where I have a problem. Many people are looking for alternatives to teflon but when they try cast iron and they encounter sticking in the early phases of usage they then head online in search of answers. Unfortunately some of the answers they are finding regarding seasoning border on a search for the holy grail. When they are unable to achieve that level of seasoning in a short period of time they give up on cast iron.

                                                                                            The advent of teflon and of the microwave both caused big changes. One was a very slick surface that eliminated the need for seasoning and the other cut cooking times dramatically. Each has it's merits and demerits but it affected the psyche of home cooks. In our quest to want more we found teflon not being slick enough over time and the microwave not fast enough. It also took away from methods of cooking and techniques that have thankfully survived these two inventions. The mindset is slowly changing back to time tested cooking methods and techniques, but for many households, dinner still comes in a package.

                                                                                            1. re: SanityRemoved

                                                                                              You are probably right about different expectations of cooks used to the slipperiness of non-stick coatings on cookware. For me, using the cast iron is a return to the use of time-tested material and I absolutely love using old pans. As I have posted elsewhere here, I am going to have to relearn how to fry an egg in an iron skillet. (I actually taught myself to make omelets in an old iron skillet decades ago.) So for me I think this is a rediscovery of a different way of cooking, and chance to perfect my skills along this line.

                                                                                              It also helps that I am reitred, and have time to devote to these sorts of endeavors. I think we need to cut the tired cook some slack who at the end of a workday just wants to make something fast for her/his family.

                                                                                      2. I have tried it, my ancient frying pans are beautiful and slick. Make sure those coats of oil are THIN!

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: POPPAGUAR

                                                                                          Great to hear that it worked for you. I agree--thin coats.

                                                                                        2. OK, here is the best method I have put together from research and 20 years of practice:

                                                                                          Materials needed for “seasoning” your pan: Crisco or palm oil, clean cotton rag, paper towels (don’t use vegetable oils as they tend to be sticky.)

                                                                                          1. Preheat the oven to 250F. for 15 minutes (it is imperative to preheat gas ovens to remove all moisture.) Place clean, uncoated item in the oven, set at 250F, and bring the item up to temp for 20 min. The pre-heat before applying Crisco or oil is essential to this process. Using an oven mitt, remove pre-heated item and set on a large baking sheet or newspapers (place hot pads under sheet to protect counter.)

                                                                                          2. Wipe on Crisco or palm oil with a clean rag, inside and out, and then wipe off all the excess with paper towels. Be careful not to leave particles from paper towel. Wipe it down until it looks like you've wiped it all off. Even if it looks dry, it's not. Very little coating is needed. If you TRY to leave a little bit on, then that’s too much. This prevents forming “splotches.” Now it won’t drip off so just put it right on your oven rack.

                                                                                          3. Return it to the oven, still at 250F, right side up on the oven rack, for 10 min.
                                                                                          Then, using an oven mitt, take pan out, wipe once more with folded up paper towel to remove excess oil. Return pan to the oven, and raise the temp to 300F. After another 10 min., take pan out, wipe inside once more with paper towel to remove excess oil. Return to oven, raise temp to 450F, and bake for one hour. Open a window as this produces some fumes.

                                                                                          4. After one hour at 450F just turn off the oven and leave it in, without opening the oven, to let it cool slowly for at least an hour.

                                                                                          5. Repeat steps 2 through 4 above four more times, but only apply Crisco or oil on the cooking surface. For the last time bake at 450F for 1 ½ hours (90 minutes) to set the finish. Let cool as in #4 above. Your cookware should be nearly black and not sticky. Your pan won't be sticky if the carbonization is complete.

                                                                                          The pan will gradually turn jet black and glossy after using it to cook foods. Be gentle with utensils until it develops a hard, slick black coating. Clean with hot water only - no soap or detergent. Avoid cooking bacon, ham, or anything with sugar until it develops a hard, slick black coating. The sugar in bacon and ham tends to stick to the pan until it has been used for awhile cooking other foods. (Frying potatoes is excellent for this.)

                                                                                          1. FS oil will certainly work, but what's most important with new cast iron is to sand the interior of the pan completely smooth starting at 80 grit and going through AT LEAST 220 grit. Wash thoroughly afterward of course to remove all sanding grit and iron. It does NO GOOD to season a pan that has a rough, craggy surface to begin with and there is no new cast iron being manufactured that does not need to be thoroughly sanded to a perfectly smooth state before use. Please trust me on this. The difference is unquantifiable. Once sanded, run it through two cycles in the dishwasher and start your seasoning protocol immediately to prevent rust. This is a full day project - the sanding and first seasonings, with subsequent seasoning work taking up the next day or two though mostly it's unattended work.

                                                                                            Or, the path of least resistance is simply to buy carbon steel pans (as smooth as a baby's bottom right out of the box) from deBuyer, Matfer-Bourgeat, Paderno, etc. unless you have to have, for some reason, the mass offered by cast iron.

                                                                                            14 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: CharlieTheCook

                                                                                              OK, I'll take your word for it that the new cast iron has to be sanded as you say. I'm using old cast iron and I don't think I have to sand.

                                                                                              I have almost no experience with carbon steel . But in this thread we are discussing seasoning cast iron pans in a specific way. It would be great if you would link to a thread that discusses seasoning or care of carbon steel pans. I think I might find it interesting.

                                                                                              1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                According to J. Kenji Lopes-Alt over at Serious Eats' 'The Food Lab', you do not need to sand new pre-seasoned cast iron pans to get them to season just as well as old pans that were polished. He claims that, "The smoothness of a pan at the visual level is not what dictates its nonstick characteristics—it's the inconsistencies at the microscopic level that matters. "

                                                                                                Here is an excerpt from his article and his reply to someone who said the new pans would never give an nice a finish as an old pan:

                                                                                                When you first get your cast iron pan, it will have either a bullet-gray dull finish (for an unseasoned pan), or a black, slick-looking surface (for a preseasoned pan). Unless you are buying a 75-year-old pan from a garage sale, your pan will also have a pebbly-looking surface like this one (edit: no need to add photo as you all know what they look like). Modern cast iron is bumpy like this because it has not been polished the way old cast iron has and retains some texture from its mold. Some people claim and that it's not possible to season these bumpy pans properly. I don't buy it. I have compared my shiny, totally smooth 1930s Griswold (acquired at a flea market) to my 10-year-old Lodge skillet (which I bought new and seasoned myself) and have found no significant advantages with the old pan, other than the fact that I didn't have to season it to begin with.

                                                                                                So the key is all in seasoning it properly. How does it work?

                                                                                                Well, if you look at a cast iron pan under a microscope, you'll see all kinds of tiny little pores, cracks, and irregularities in the surface.* When food cooks, it can seep into these cracks, causing it to stick. Not only that, but proteins can actually form chemical bonds with the metal as it comes into contact with it. Ever have a piece of fish tear in half as you cook it because it seems like it's actually bonded with the pan? That's because it has.

                                                                                                To prevent both of these things from happening, you need to fill in the little pores, as well as creating a protective layer above the bottom of the pan to prevent protein from coming into contact with it.

                                                                                                (In reply to someone who claimed the new pre-seasoned pans would never give one a surface as 'equally lustrous' as an old pan, Kenji replied:)

                                                                                                Vintage Wagner/Griswold's have smooth surfaces because they were polished after casting, which is no longer done because a) it costs a lot, and b) it's unecessary. The smoothness of a pan at the visual level is not what dictates its nonstick characteristics—it's the inconsistencies at the microscopic level that matters. An unpolished pan will become just as nonstick as a polished one given enough time to season it properly. If you really like that totally smooth finish, you can always buy a cheaper modern pan and polish it with sandpaper before you start seasoning it. You'll get a nearly identical pan in performance and appearance for a fraction of the cost.
                                                                                                http://www.seriouseats.com/2010/06/ho...

                                                                                                PS...I'll let you know in a day or so as I just purchased a Lodge pre-seasoned skillet. I did not want to go through the hassle of stripping it for a couple of reasons: 1) Didn't want to spray it with oven cleaner, who knows what gets left behind; 2) Didn't want to set up an electrolysis tank b/c it's a pain; 3) Didn't want the hassle of getting a potters brick to use the clean cycle on the oven.

                                                                                                I washed the pan in hot, soapy water and gently used a heavy-duty sponge w/ the green pad. From there, I'm using Sheryl Canter's method of seasoning. I've done 4 coats using Flax seed oil and the pan is black and shiny. I'll do two more and then I'll try it out.

                                                                                                Regarding the smoothness of the surface of the pan, supposedly, if you cook alot and use a steel spatula, the peaks of the bumps will be removed the valleys will fill in with seasoning. Near the bottom of the page on this site there is some information on this:
                                                                                                http://www.richsoil.com/cast-iron.jsp

                                                                                                PS..I'm not saying that Charlie the Cook is wrong, just that there are some people who disagree with his assessment. I have not sanded a new pan, but from what I've read, it's a real chore and not anything that I'd be willing to do.

                                                                                                1. re: sawdin

                                                                                                  Hey great! Be sure to report back and let us know how you like the final product! I stripped my pans in the dishwasher. I have been given a Lodge stovetop grill pan. It is working for my purpose very well. MrSueatmo cleans it up with a little water and Dawn, and it doesn't seem to need any extra seasoning. I haven't done any heavy duty grilling on it yet, though.

                                                                                                  1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                    Will do. Not sure how much I'll use the pan, it's the 12 inch model, as I prefer to grill outside. But I'll make some eggs in it and maybe sear a steak or two and report back. It looks nice and black and shiny, but I don't know if it will ever get smooth as I doubt I'll use it that much.

                                                                                                    1. re: sawdin

                                                                                                      I do toasted cheese sandwiches in mine. If you make cornbread, you can use it for that too. (I am eating low carb these days so I am not making cornbread.) You can also saute veggies and meat in a 12" very nicely. If you use a slow cooker, you can sear the meat first, before it goes into the slow cooker. There are ways to use your cast iron beyond frying a pound of bacon! I made French toast this morning in two skillets, the treated one and an as yet untreated one. I hope you enjoy your pan.

                                                                                                      1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                        I try to do a low-fat, low-carb (well, 'good' carb) diet, but I do love cornbread. I'll just have to exercise a bit more and watch the other meals because I can't completely give up cornbread...or rib-eyes...or potatoes...or.... lol

                                                                                                        I've got to have some vices ;)

                                                                                                        1. re: sawdin

                                                                                                          I've been toying with changing my cornbread recipe up as an experiment. I've been thinking of using almond meal instead of flour, and keeping the stone ground cornmeal and everything else. I couldn't have more than 2 pieces of this, but it might make cornbread OK for me every so often. I also cook for Mr. Sueatmo, and he would like cornbread every so often too. I would always bake it in iron though.

                                                                                                          1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                            You use flour in cornbread? That's a new one on me.

                                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                              Some recipes call for it. According to CI, it's a northern thing. Here's a link to a recipe by CI, which they call a Southern Cornbread for Northern Tastes:
                                                                                                              http://knives.cooksillustrated.com/re...

                                                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                I grew up eating plain cornbread, but the cornbread I make from an old Joy of Cooking is better than any I had as a kid. I used to use stone ground cornmeal and flour. This isn't unusual, by the way.

                                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                    I mean it isn't unusual to put flour in cornbread. It is probably unusual to use stone ground meal in anything, but I've been doing it for decades.

                                                                                                              2. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                I was looking at some cornbread recipes and that got me to thinking about flour, which led me too the King Arthur site. I don't make bread b/c the fiber content is usually pretty low, and I'll just wolf down a whole loaf w/ butter, so better not to tempt myself ;) I thought about trying to get some inulin, the ingredient that many companies put into their products to add fiber, but I never got around to tracking it down for home use. Anyway, take a look at this product: Hi-maize High Fiber Flour
                                                                                                                http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/i...

                                                                                                                I think I'll try it out. Yes, it's expensive, but if you don't bake much, it would last someone like me quite awhile. They also have organic cornmeal and a White Whole Wheat flower that looks interesting to me as I don't like the taste of regular whole wheat flour. They have lots of other special flours and mixes too.

                                                                                                                King Arthur's HQ and retail store is located about 5 miles from where I was raised and I've stopped in a time or two when I've been back in the area.

                                                                                                                1. re: sawdin

                                                                                                                  Ver r r ry interesting. 1/4 c has only 18 g of net carb. I might have to buy some of that stuff.

                                                                                                2. I have been seasoning my pan using the method described on the Canter website now for a week or two. I stipped my Lodge CI pan in the oven using the oven cleaner option. I did not sand the pan in any way. Then removed the rust as described in the article using vinegar and water bath for approx 12 hours (maybe this created more microscopic holes and cracks that I wanted?) I preheated the oven to 200 and heated the pan as described to remove any excess moisture, then used flaxseed oil (more specifically: Highest Lignan Flax Oil by Barlean's Organic Oil) bought from Amazon and have now put 10 seasonings on the pan, very thin each time. I still get stick when I pan fry steaks or burgers and the seasoning comes off is some areas that were scraped with my metal spatula....maybe I will retry with sanding 1st

                                                                                                  38 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: padres013

                                                                                                    I honestly don't know if it is as critical with CI, as it is w/ SS, but I think it still makes a difference in how you preheat your pan and when you put the oil in. Take a look at this really neat video that shows you how you can tell your pan is ready for the oil. Put the oil in when it is ready and then immediately put your food in. Click on the video for 'Pan Frying'. There are 8 short segments.
                                                                                                    http://rouxbe.com/cooking-school/less...

                                                                                                    PS...I got the link from some site, maybe even Chowhound. Doing some research, I discovered that not too long ago, you could get a lifetime membership for $99! Now, it's $299 per year :(

                                                                                                    1. re: sawdin

                                                                                                      thats a great video, I watched it all the way through, thanks

                                                                                                      1. re: padres013

                                                                                                        No problem. It will be interesting to see if it helps with the sticking issue. I think Charlie the Cook (a few posts back) sanded his, but most of the people who have posted about sanding (at least the posts I've seen) have said it was a real pain. For example:
                                                                                                        Time passed and I thought "Why not take the Lodge cast iron skillet with the rough surface and grind it down myself?" I bought a bunch of sandpaper designed for use with metal and figured 20 minutes with my different power sanders and some elbow grease should make it right as rain! Three hours later I had burned through way too much sandpaper and the results were so-so. It was a messy, icky experience that left me numb and wobbly with a ringing in my ears for a few days. The skillet worked okay for a few weeks and then cracked.
                                                                                                        http://www.richsoil.com/cast-iron.jsp

                                                                                                        Heck, before I went to all the trouble to do that, I think I'd just spring for an old cast iron skillet off ebay! Griswold's get top dollar, but Wagner and some of the other brands are supposed to be pretty close in quality.

                                                                                                        1. re: sawdin

                                                                                                          Yes. My big old #8 is a no name and it works just fine. If I have to sand a skillet, I don't want it! I want to cook with my skillet, not redesign it.

                                                                                                        2. re: padres013

                                                                                                          Just found another site that mentions pre-heating your CI skillet to the proper temperature (though they get it a bit wrong as they don't have you wait for the 'silicone-like ball"). He, or she, notes about not putting cold oil into a hot CI pan. Room temperature oil is okay, and you shouldn't need much. It might be different for frying chicken though, because you would be using a lot of oil and maybe you would need for the pan to heat back up. With a little bit of oil and the way CI retains heat, it's not a problem:

                                                                                                          Always preheat your cast iron frying pans before frying in them.
                                                                                                          Water droplets should sizzle, then roll and hop around the pan, when dropped onto the heated surface. If the water disappears immediately after being dropped, the pan is too hot. If water only rests and bubbles in the pan, it is not quite hot enough. NOTE: Do not pour large amounts of cold liquid into your hot cast iron frying pan. This can cause the cast iron to break. Never forget your potholders! Cast iron pan handles get HOT when cooking!
                                                                                                          http://whatscookingamerica.net/Inform...

                                                                                                          1. re: sawdin

                                                                                                            Earlier in this thread a poster mentioned obsession. Are we heading in that direction?

                                                                                                            I have had my big skillet in the oven at 500 deg tonight for the 3rd time. Everything is progressing nicely. I am thinking I might give the first skillet I did another coat sometime soon, just to freshen it up. Any others in the process of using flaxseed oil to season their CI pans?

                                                                                                        3. re: sawdin

                                                                                                          Thanks for posting the video link. I watched and then went to try out the 1/8 teaspoon of water in a stainless steel pan. It was very surprising what happens when the pan temperature gets above 212 F. I also shut off the heat with a big drop of water in the pan to watch what happens when the pan temperature drops below 212 F.

                                                                                                          1. re: sawdin

                                                                                                            Oh my!! I am an awful cook who always uses non stick pans. So when I saw this link, I watched it through and brought out my old rarely used SS frying pan. I kept waiting for it to get hot enough to get the water to the single mercury blob (not the shatter to pieces that I had achieved) well I waited and waited and raised the heat and waited... decided my pan wasnt going to get any hotter and poured in the oil.
                                                                                                            It smoked up and hardened on the bottom of my pan in moments. I guess it was too hot.
                                                                                                            OH I just re-watched it .... sigh ... I did it wrong....

                                                                                                            Any way to get the film off the bottom easily?

                                                                                                            1. re: JudithC

                                                                                                              I am not an authority on this, but I have a lot of faith in Dawn dishwashing soap. It cuts oil and grease. You might have to scrub. If that method doesn't work, then I might boil the pan with water and dishwashing detergent. Often that cuts through crud on pans. You will still have scrub, I think. You will have to reseason after either treatment. There are other threads with detailed instructions on how to season cast iron. The simplest method is to wipe the pan with oil, and place it in an oven at 200 deg for a couple of hours.

                                                                                                              There are other who have other methods. I have concluded there are as many ways to season cast iron as there are to boil eggs.

                                                                                                              Good luck with your cast iron pan.

                                                                                                              1. re: JudithC

                                                                                                                Judith: You realize that this is an omen, right? It's higher culinary powers signaling to you to repent and rid yourself of SS. JK.

                                                                                                                With SS, I would *start* with an aerosol oven cleaner like Easy Off. Unless you know the pan's handle can take it, use the cold method. Might still take some scrubbing, and even if it works, you may have a gray-er, matte-er result.

                                                                                                                If THAT doesn't work (or is like the Labors of Hercules), I'd attack it with Dawn and steel wool. Start with a relatively fine grade, like 00, and work your way coarser until you find what works. Then, if you value your pan (tempting the gods' wrath), work your way back down to 00 or 000.

                                                                                                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                                                  For an ounce of prevention, an infrared thermometer can be used to check the pan temperature quickly and easily.

                                                                                                                  1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                                                    Well I started off with a razor blade and scraped off quite a bit of the hard film. Worked on it for a while and then gave up - I will tackle it again when I have time.
                                                                                                                    OTOH i did find another SS frying pan in the basement and successfully cooked without burning OR sticking. This was my main goal, as I would like to stop using my teflon coated frying pans.

                                                                                                                    1. re: JudithC

                                                                                                                      Once you go through a few things like this, you learn what not to do. Scouring is hard. I have a used cast iron pan that I bought in terrible condition and that I scoured for several weeks off and on. I got the inside very nice, but could never budge some of the crud on the outside. I refuse to use oven cleaners that contain lye. I also am afraid of running a pan through the self clean cycle in my oven. I'd rather lose the pan than take a chance on ruining my oven.

                                                                                                                      Please be careful with that razor blade. Stitches, or worse, in your hand are no fun.

                                                                                                                      Is this an old Griswold cast iron pan?

                                                                                                                      1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                        Its stainless steel, not CI. I am not ready to make the jump to CI anytime soon.
                                                                                                                        I am taking baby steps, and not close to ready to take on a pot or pan that I cant throw into the dishwasher.

                                                                                                                        So you bring up something else that I dont understand... How would putting your cast iron pan through the self-clean cycle ruin your oven? I can see worrying about ruining a pan, by how can it hurt the oven?

                                                                                                                        1. re: JudithC

                                                                                                                          Lots of people strip cast iron that way. You can find instructions on this board, and on the internet about doing this. I might not hurt my oven, but I don't want to find out the hard way.

                                                                                                                          If I need to strip my pan, I'll use the dishwasher, unless it is baked on hard.

                                                                                                                          So, you were trying to season a stainless steel pan?

                                                                                                                          1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                            No I was not trying to season the pan (though it turned out I basically did LOL)
                                                                                                                            I had watched the video that was posted on this thread about how to tell if the pan was hot enough to add oil. The video used a stainless pan so I thought I would give it a try since I always use teflon. I did figure out how to do a better job on the stainless pan. Though the first one I burned is still burnt.

                                                                                                                            1. re: JudithC

                                                                                                                              Oh. Now it makes more sense. I had forgotten about the video. I admit I add the oil and wait for it to have that wavey look before beginning to cook. There are all sorts of ideas about to do this: preheat dry skillet, preheat oil in skillet, add oil as skillet is preheating!

                                                                                                              2. re: padres013

                                                                                                                Yesterday I finished reapplying the flaxseed oil seasoning to the two skillets mentioned in my earlier post. This time I used an oven temperature of 450 F as measured by the infrared thermometer, since the temperature setting on the Jenn Air oven is off by about 30 degrees.

                                                                                                                When stripping the skillet, the seasoning applied earlier using the maximum oven temperature (550 F) came off easily with 1 application of Easy Off. The center section of the one skillet where I applied the flaxseed oil on the stove top at about 410 F took 3 applications of Easy Off to remove.

                                                                                                                This morning, I used the re-seasoned Wagner to brown 3 pounds of beef stew meat for a green chile stew. I heated the skillet to about 270 F, added a couple teaspoons of canola oil and browned the pieces about 6 or 8 at a time. When I first put them in the skillet, they would stick. So I waited long enough for them to get brown. Some of them would then break loose if I shook the skillet. The others would come loose with the spatula. Quite a bit of fond built up in the skillet but the stew meat would still break loose. I made use of the infrared thermometer to keep the skillet in the 250 to 350 F temperature range.

                                                                                                                After finishing the meat, I let the skillet cool down to about 200 F and added about a half cup of water to deglaze. Heating the skillet helped loosen the fond. After deglazing, I added a couple tablespoons of canola oil and Kosher salt and scrubbed it lightly with a paper towel. Then finished cleaning it by just wiping with a paper towel. The seasoning stayed on this time and the skillet looks pretty much like it did before I started cooking with it.

                                                                                                                1. re: alko

                                                                                                                  Okay, here are the results from taking a new pre-seasoned Lodge Logic 12" cast iron skillet and seasoning it w/out first stripping it down:

                                                                                                                  1) I used Sheryl Canter's method of applying a light coat of Flax Seed oil (Whole Foods house brand 365 Organic, unfiltered, high lignan flax seed oil) and then 'baking' it for approximately 1 hour in a 500 degree oven. I did six coats.
                                                                                                                  Looks shiny and black!

                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                  1. re: sawdin

                                                                                                                    (Not sure how to insert pictures after each segment of text)

                                                                                                                    2) So, it looks shiny and black, big deal. But can it cook w/out having foods stick!
                                                                                                                    I cooked some bacon in it using the cold pan, cold bacon on low heat while turning frequently.
                                                                                                                    http://www.chow.com/food-news/54482/h...

                                                                                                                    Hmm, fond or stuck bacon?? Both?? In hindsight, I think I should have added a little bit of bacon fat (didn't have any) or oil to coat the pan first. Next time, I'll try the 'pre-heat pan and put in oil and then food' method to see what happens.
                                                                                                                    http://rouxbe.com/cooking-school/less...

                                                                                                                    1. re: sawdin

                                                                                                                      Okay, here's a pic of the pan after cooking the bacon.

                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                      1. re: sawdin

                                                                                                                        What a mess! I tried the Alton Brown "Clean w/ Kosher salt method". Here's the results.

                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                        1. re: sawdin

                                                                                                                          Not bad, but I wanted 'Teflon-like results', so I went to the sink and used hot water and a soft scrub sponge. I did not use any soap. In the future, I'll use a stiff nylon brush, but I didn't have one one hand. I rinsed out a lot of brown liquid, but the pan looked worse after doing this. (Sorry, hit wrong button, pic on next post).

                                                                                                                          1. re: sawdin

                                                                                                                            Okay, first pic below shows the results after going to the sink....bad move! Freaking out now...hmmm, non-stick properties are supposed to occur at the microscopic level, not at the surface....and to get rid of the ridges of the new non-polished CI pans you are supposed to use your metal spatula...okay, what do I have to lose...so I scraped like heck w/ a metal spatula and then re-did the salt scour. Whew...looks much better now!

                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                        2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                          Next, I re-heated the pan and tried to get the temp. where the water would dance like silicone. I got impatient and I don't think I exactly hit at the perfect spot. However, supposedly it's not as critical w/ CI (probably well-seasoned CI) as w/ SS. As a side note, I'd drop some water in the middle of the pan (sizzle and disappear) and some near the outer edge (puddle). As shown on another thread, there are huge temp. differences across the surface of CI pans.

                                                                                                                          Okay, I put some bacon grease (which I had just saved) in when I thought the temp was about right and put in eggs to make scrambled eggs. I think the temp was a bit too high as the eggs quickly started to set-up. I pushed them to the middle so that the runny part could hit the hot surface. I did this a few times before mixing them up a bit. They basically slid out of the pan and here is what was left (starting salt scour). I probably could have poked the pieces that were on the side off, but I left them on (you can see a piece of egg near the pour lip). After doing the salt scour, I heated the skillet a little bit and wiped w/ bacon grease. See last two photos. You can still see some brown coloring, but as noted, the scrambled eggs came out of the pan without any sticking and what little residue was left came out easily when doing the salt scour. I'm new to cooking in cast iron, so I don't know what a well-seasoned, polished Griswold would look like. Probably better, I'd guess. But my results don't see too bad. However, feel free to disagree and tell me I'm crazy. Again, I think it would have helped immensely if I had warmed the pan some and put some grease in before putting the bacon in as the bacon fat did not heat up in time to coat the pan before the meat of the bacon (the protein) had a chance to stick just a teeny, little bit. However, that adhesion was minimal and you could just wiggle the bacon free. Most people probably would not even call that 'sticking' as the meat did not tear.

                                                                                                                          Finally, I apologize for not doing this in one post with all of the pics at the bottom. First time doing this (photos on chowhound forum), lesson learned.

                                                                                                                          1. re: sawdin

                                                                                                                            Darn, did it again! Here are the photos. First shows pan after scrambled eggs came right out w/out any problems ('starting salt scour). Next two show skillet after salt scour and light coat of bacon fat.

                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                          2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                            re: Chemicalkinetics and temp. used.

                                                                                                                            Most people talk about 'polyermizing' the fat. I have read what is really need is to get to the stage where you are 'carbonizing', and this takes higher temperatures. I don't know for sure, but I think the higher temperature help to create a better bond due to the carbonization. I'm not a chemist, so I could be totally wrong, but that's what I've read. Yes, I know, there is a ton of wrong information on the web and just b/c someone posts something does not mean it is correct. I don't have time to look for the source right now, but I believe it was a 'reputable' one (which still doesn't mean it's correct, lol). So, I guess I'd opt for the higher temperature method as this 'supposedly' is the catalyst for carbonization to occur.

                                                                                                                            1. re: sawdin

                                                                                                                              I have asked the moderator to remove my original question to you because I didn't know you were in the middle of updating your progress and I didn't want my post get in the middle of your update.

                                                                                                                              Yeah, I think there are two schools of thought on this. Due to my limited experience, I opt for the higher temperature seasoning as well, which also mean I am not shooting for glossy and shiny surface as many do. Some people worry when they notice their seasoning surfaces change their looks. I just want to say that your seasoning surface may change its look, but as long as it is nonstick, don't worry about it.

                                                                                                                              Thanks for your update

                                                                                                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                ChemK,

                                                                                                                                Thanks for the tip. And I definitely agree that it's how it cooks, not how it looks! (Function over Form)

                                                                                                                        3. re: sawdin

                                                                                                                          I am amazed at how careful you are and how you are proceeding. I hope your pan ends up the way you want it. In my experience with the first pan I did, I did not achieve non stick, but I didn't expect to. I did achieve a smooth slick finish, which did not require more seasoning. I used my pan this morning, and decided it was time after several weeks of use, to redo the flaxseed oil at least once. I don't think doing this procedure yields a permanently seasoned pan, unless redoing it enough finally gets it there. I find that oil sticks to the pan during use, and I have to take a nylon scrubby to it later to get the surface smooth again. Do that enough times, and you will have to reapply the flaxseed oil. At least that is my thinking now. I intend to do the current pan in process (4th coat) and the original pan together. I don't want to strip the original pan again. We'll see what the results are.

                                                                                                                          1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                            Thanks. It doesn't seem too bad right now, but I'll have to see how it holds up. I think everyone agrees that the best thing is to just use them quite often, especially things like bacon, fried chicken, etc. I just am not going to be able to do that, well I could, but I don't want to be eating fried food all the time. Honestly, I don't know how much I'll use it, but I wanted to have a pan ready in case I need it. I'm starting to switch over from my old non-stick cookware, though I recently purchased a Circulon Infinite 6-qt. chef's pan which I use for a low carb/lean meat bean + tomatoes concoction.

                                                                                                                            1. re: sawdin

                                                                                                                              I gave some tortillas a try in the Wagner skillet, after the cleanup from browning stew meat.

                                                                                                                              I heated the skillet to about 380 F and gave it a lot of time to distribute the heat out to the edges. I tried the first one with the edge reading about 220 F. It sticks and I give about 30 seconds and loosen it with a metal spatula. It gets a bit dried out and won't puff any. I add a few drops of canola and spread it around with a paper towel and wipe it as dry as I can. After adding a little more heat (gas stove), the skillet is up to about 405 F. I lay down the second tortilla and after about 10 seconds, give the skillet a shake and it comes loose and swirls. A flip after about 30 s, and again after another 30 s, then press with a paper towel and it puffs up a bit. The remaining 6 tortillas cook up like the second one.

                                                                                                                              After cooking the tortillas the skillet looks a bit dry. When it cools to about 150 F, I add oil and Kosher salt and rub it with a paper towel. Before and after photos below.

                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                              1. re: alko

                                                                                                                                Great, sounds like success. I cooked cornbread last night using a CI recipe (Southern Cornbread for Northeners). The recipe did not say anything about greasing the skillet, so I didn't do that. My understanding is that there is enough oil in the batter so that it is not necessary to oil the pan. Took it out of the oven and it about jumped out of the skillet when I turned it over. I was expecting to have to wrap the bottom of the skillet to loosen it up, but it just fell right out.

                                                                                                                                FYI, I thought the cornbread could have been a little sweeter. I used Domino 'Brownulated' brown sugar (it's granulated, looks like little balls).

                                                                                                                                1. re: sawdin

                                                                                                                                  Yes, I use brown sugar now in my cornbread too. The old fashioned method of greasing the skillet is to melt the shortening or butter in the skillet as the oven preheats. Then, you pull the pan out, and add the hot fat to the batter in the final quick mix. It is hard to generalize here, but I don't favor over mixing. If you are using degerminated meal, you might really want the extra sweetness. I like stone ground meal, and I find that 1 T of sugar is enough. I like the taste of the whole meal. One thing I've learned on CH, is that there must be a million ways to make and bake cornbread. We might nominate if for the all-American food.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                                    I made some scrambled eggs in the Wagner this morning. I heated the skillet to about 300 F, spread a couple teaspoons of canola oil, and added a couple beaten eggs. I let one side get a bit too cool and it stuck a bit. But oil and Kosher salt cleaned it up. (Pictures below) This evening, I baked some cornbread in the skillet. I put about 1 tablespoon of canola oil in the skillet during a 425 F oven preheat. The cornbread slipped right out. (Picture below)

                                                                                                                                    Success at last. With the flaxseed oil seasoning, the maximum oven temperature may be too high. Use something like 450 F or 500 F. With the higher temperature, the seasoning worked okay initially but would fail, especially when cleaning the skillet with water. I also noticed seasoning had flaked off after taking cornbread out.

                                                                                                                                    Does bacon fat or lard work as well or better? The Cook's Illustrated article only compared flaxseed and vegetable oil. They found that the flaxseed oil survived a trip through the dishwasher but the vegetable oil did not. I don't think I'm up to repeat the comparison for flaxseed and pork fat.

                                                                                                                                    I would like to say thanks for the encouragement and helpful information from the folks on this forum.

                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                    1. re: alko

                                                                                                                                      I am happy you have found the way that works for you. I use the 500 temp myself. You know some people put their skillets in their ovens, and run them on the self clean cycle to strip them! So perhaps higher than 500 deg has a different effect? There are some earlier posts in this thread that explain why flaxseed oil might work. Honestly I don't understand it, but it seems to work.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: alko

                                                                                                                                        For seasoning, I'd stick with the Flaxseed oil. For maintenance (e.g., post cleaning whether w/ salt or water, though I'd stick w/ salt if it's working), I'd recommend a highly saturated fat. Why highly saturated? Those fats tend to have a lower oxidation index, which means that they are much less likely to go rancid. I don't know what the saturated content is of bacon fat, but my guess is that it's pretty darn high! I'm using coconut oil as it has a the highest saturated fat content and the lowest oxidation index value of the most common oils. See this chart:
                                                                                                                                        http://www.clovegarden.com/ingred/oil...

                                                                                                                                        The oil that I'm going to use when frying at high heat is rice bran oil as it is a very balanced oil with one of the highest smoke points (490degrees). I've ordered some, and as long as the taste is agreeable (it is supposed to be mild) I'll use that. It's probably too late to save me from all those free radicals I've ingested over the years from overheating olive oil, but better late than never.

                                                                                                                                        PS..Don't use Flax seed oil to coat your pans after cleaning as Flax seed oil goes rancid very, very quickly. In fact, it's not even supposed to be used for cooking as its oxidation value is so high! Better to use coconut, bacon fat, beef tallow, etc.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                                        That's how I made mine, I put the butter and oil in the pan while pre-heating. Yesterday I had lunch at a 'Famous Dave's' BBQ and I thought the cornbread was a little too crumbly (hard to butter) and was lacking the 'corn taste' of what I made.

                                                                                                                                        Yes, there are tons of recipes, but if I go through them all, I'll weight a ton ;)

                                                                                                                        4. Update: I have finished seasoning my big iron skillet, and I've had a fail. The seasoning I so carefully applied and finished in a 500 deg oven began flaking off with my first use. I was gently sauteeing onion. I don't know if the deglazing with a little wine was the cause, or if the treatment was faulty.

                                                                                                                          The skillet looked amazing before I used it! After I used it and saw that the finish was flaking off, I carefully and gently scrubbed it down with a nylon scrubbie, reapplied flaxseed oil, and sent it into the oven yet again. This did not help.

                                                                                                                          The original skillet has not worn its seasoning especially well either.

                                                                                                                          Reluctantly I conclude that for me, this procedure isn't worth my time or the energy expenditure of electricity. I can still use my skillets with a minimum of fuss, and since I don't fry with lard, or fry chicken or bacon, I don't think the standard ways of seasoning make good sense for me either.

                                                                                                                          I will simply keep them oiled and smooth. It will have to do. I hope others have had better luck with this. Doing it is time consuming!

                                                                                                                          Please no lectures about the correct way to season cast iron, OK? I've been explicit about what I wanted to do, and what my needs are. Thanks all.

                                                                                                                          10 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                            sueatmo: Gee, what a Trooper! You led us through 143 sets of opinions, and ended up answering your own question. Good job! I'm back to my usual cynicism about CI and some of its methods.

                                                                                                                            1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                              Mine did the same when I seasoned it at maximum oven temperature. I stripped the seasoning with Easy Off and reapplied. But used a lower temperature of 450 F, based on "or as high as your oven goes – mine only goes to 450°F" from Sheryl Canter's blog. I also used a lower oven setting of 420 F since my oven is actually a bit hotter than the temperature setting. I've been using the Wagner Ware skillet since Feb 6 and the seasoning is holding up fine so far. Yesterday, I cooked an omelette with about a teaspoon of canola oil coating the skillet and it did not stick.

                                                                                                                              1. re: alko

                                                                                                                                I am glad to know yours worked! When they come out the 6th time they look great, don't they?

                                                                                                                                Sometimes you just have to try stuff.

                                                                                                                                1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                                  I will trade you my newly beloved Wagner Ware skillet for yours that failed. :)

                                                                                                                              2. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                                I for one want to thank you for your time, effort and expense. One thing that alarmed me was Cook's Illustrated saying that they had put cast iron in the dishwasher which Lodge for one tells people not to do. Being an early adopter of something new can be a painful and expensive process and many times the end result is not positive.

                                                                                                                                Do what you've always done before and enjoy your cast iron, it holds no grudges.

                                                                                                                                1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                                  I did the same thing, except with a double burner, two-sided grill-griddle pan. I stripped it using a tripod of three coffee cups that I hate anyway in the oven clean cycle and kept my fingers crossed. I put the cups on the floor of the oven and removed the racks. It worked great! I really like that it removed the grunge in the nooks and crannies completely. Did 5 coats of flax oil at 500 deg, I think the last one was at 450 per a link I found someplace. Must have read for about 4 hours on this and a couple of other threads before I began!

                                                                                                                                  My seasoning also came off almost immediately on the grill side, not sure if it's because I used a wire brush to clean the "valleys" on the pan. It was the black "varnish" that came off, but I do think the pan is maintaining its performance. I heat it up and brush some oil on either it or the food before using. One of the first items I tried to grill was a teriyaki chicken--mistake, should have avoided sugary marinade/glaze. It's definitely not non-stick, but if you heat them properly, add a little oil and WAIT until the food releases, they do everything I need.

                                                                                                                                  We're all tired of throwing out non-stick pans that are ruined from nicks, scratches and just plain old age, and after having a houseguest use my last 10" one on high heat, it's ready for scrap as well. I really don't want another one, so I'm going to do a little experimenting with my CI and fish to see if I can develop a method that will be healthy and teflon free.

                                                                                                                                  I had intended to re-season my mom's 8" skillet, but the inside is gorgeously glossy, it's the grungy outside that offends me, and I'm gradually scouring that down so I'll pass on this project. It was worth the adventure, a little scary using the oven cleaning cycle and china cups, and time consuming, but every so often ya gotta just tackle something different. Next project: a dacquoise!

                                                                                                                                  1. re: blaireso

                                                                                                                                    Old age does not cause a nonstick pan to deteriorate, only abuse does. My T-fal pans that I use only for eggs are twenty years old and in excellent shape.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                      And I'm going to see if I can lay my hands on one. It's my other "helpers" who crank up the heat, use forks, metal tongs, etc. I like the friends and family, so I try to just swallow and not sweat the pans. I've also got an "egg pan" that is a 6" aluminum, makes great omelets. Am hoping to switch the helpers onto a CI for their creations.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: blaireso

                                                                                                                                      Uh, yeah... Do keep your wire brush away from your seasoned cookware—particularly new and therefore lightly seasoned pans. If you need to get your cookware this clean, seasoned surfaces are not for you. Perhaps enameled cookware might work better for you...?

                                                                                                                                      Ideally I don't like for water to even touch my seasoned cookware. But then I am a heavily seasoned (taste!) fan. My French carbon steel skillets often only get a paper towel wipe between uses (for things like hashbrowns or sautéed carrots or perhaps chops).

                                                                                                                                      1. re: toddster63

                                                                                                                                        I'm using the wire brush only to get into the nooks and crannies of my CI grill pan, and then mostly use the little metal points on the scraper to loosen the stuck on bits in the valleys. Actually, the cooking surface (i.e. ridges) are perfect and just get a little spatula scrape or green scrubbie and hot water. I have a stiff plastic brush that is my go to method, but for things like sweet glazes or yogurt marinades, sometimes ya gotta get out the big guns. All the rest of my CI, woks and carbon steel skillets are cleaned with salt and oil and a paper towel. Sorry, didn't mean to alarm you! This CI double burner grill pan lives on top of my stove and is used a couple of times a week, so I like it to be in top condition. But I agree with sueatmo, this seasoning method is time consuming and may not be for everyone. I'm glad I did it, may not do another.

                                                                                                                                  2. I don't think Flaxseed oil is the best way to go for 2 reasons. First, linseed oil grows mold when used to seal wood outdoors (use Tung Oil instead - but that is NOT edible). Second, because it is a drying oil, it is forming a film, rather than being absorbed into the microscopic pores of the cast iron, which is what seasoning really is. BTW: Walnut oil is also a drying oil. Both are extremely expensive though.

                                                                                                                                    Olive oil works for me (hasn't gone rancid yet, and I never wash my pan). But lard and butter is what they used back in the day, so my guess is that using natural saturated fats are best for the initial seasoning.

                                                                                                                                    10 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: natschultz

                                                                                                                                      If you put flaxseed oil on a skillet and bake it in a 500 deg oven for 1 hour, I don't see how it is going to grow mold. For me the prob is the expense of running my oven at 500 deg for 6 times per cast iron vessel (although you can process 2 vessels at a time in my kitchen) and still not necessarily getting a good finish. It worked once, but the second time with the second vessel it didn't. And the finish did not prove to be particularly permanent. I am not an expert on this. I have no idea what oil is best, but if olive oil works for you, then I am happy to know that. I think you should know that canola oil seems to work for me.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                                        Sueatmo:

                                                                                                                                        Curious, do you have any carbon steel pans? I recently purchased 2 and so far, so good. Very, very easy to season and use. You've probably seen all the threads on here.

                                                                                                                                        Best wishes~

                                                                                                                                        1. re: sawdin

                                                                                                                                          I recently bought a small flat-bottomed carbon steel wok. I only rubbed it down with oil and heated it a bit. Then I put it away, and finally used it. It heated on the highest heat, and did fine. Years ago I had a carbon steel wok which I used on a gas stove. It got that black margin all around that woks are supposed to get. I suppose that if I had continued to use it, it might have turned completely black. Alas, I moved to a house with no gas, so I could no longer use it because it was round bottomed and sat on a ring.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                                          It does go rancid, though, eventually, unless you use it every day and rinse well. I can't stand the smell of rancid oil, and Crisco doesn't go rancid. I've never noticed it from lard, either, but I don't know why.

                                                                                                                                        3. re: natschultz

                                                                                                                                          "....Flaxseed oil is the best way to go for 2 reasons. First, linseed oil grows mold when used to seal wood outdoors (use Tung Oil instead - but that is NOT edible). Second, because it is a drying oil, it is forming a film"

                                                                                                                                          These are incorrect.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                            Chem: "These are incorrect."

                                                                                                                                            Yes, as is the idea that the CI absorbs the oil. Sticks to the iron better, maybe.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                                                                              OK, this last bit about the iron not absorbing the oil, is interesting. According the procedure described above, we are to put a stripped iron skillet in a 200 deg oven to open its pores, before wiping it down with flaxseed oil. So, you guys are saying that cast iron, as in cast iron skillets, does not open its pores? I am laughing at the notion that iron has pores. But that is what the directions stated.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                                                Hi, sueatmo:

                                                                                                                                                As a general matter, a theory can work quite well in practice, even if parts of it are completely wrong. Personally, I'm one of those who cares less about *why* something works or doesn't, and more *that* it does. But the *that* is powerful medicine, and so incorrect *whys* tend to be hard to give up. Even some famous food writers and scientists occasionally hold onto some very doubtful *whys*.

                                                                                                                                                If you search, you will find another CI thread in which the porosity of cast iron is discussed. As with many discussions here, my recollection is that that one was inconclusive. In that one, I urged that *some* porosity is theoretically possible, but the scientists in the crowd made a convincing case that the "pores", if any are smaller than the polymers that supposedly are absorbed. If you also check, over the range from 32F to 212F, cast iron's thermal expansion ratio is only 0.0000058 (5.8 MILLIONTHS of an) inch per inch per degree F rise. Chem would know the size of the polymers at issue here.

                                                                                                                                                I for one believe that pre-heating the pan before seasoning may indeed open some surface texture, or in some other physical way make it a better surface to hold the seasoning.

                                                                                                                                                It would be interesting to test the porosity theory by totally submerging one pan in the seasoning oil, and maintaining it in a 200F oven for a day--or longer. Then run it and another identical pan through the whole seasoning process. Then run side-by-side cooking tests. Or, on a slow day, putting the submerged pan in a powerful vacuum chamber (a la resin-impregnated woods), and then running tests.

                                                                                                                                                IF the submerged pan demonstrated better non-stick qualities (or for longer, etc.), then I'd be prepared to credit that some level of real porosity is partially responsible.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                                                  I agree with Kaleo, especially on the topic of "a theory can work quite well, even in practice, if parts of it are completely wrong".

                                                                                                                                                  Statements like "the sun rises from the east" actually work very well for 99% of us for 99% of the time, yet fundamentally, the Sun does not rise, the Earth rotates.

                                                                                                                                                  The idea that linseed oil seasoning grows mold on a cast iron cookware is wrong. Once an oil is heat up to the point of seasoning temperature, it has been transfromed and should not grow mold. This is why it is fine to season your cast iron with any cooking oils, even through cooking oil can go rancid -- the seasoning does not.

                                                                                                                                                  I do not know the actual size of the oil polymer, but the concept of cast iron significantly opens pores to make a real impact for seasoning is questionable. ThreeGigs actually had challenged people to show him a real electromicroscope photos of such. I think the most common claims are that cast iron is porous so seasoning can be done and stainless steel is nonporous so seasoning cannot be done. I am not sure if that is the main reason. I think it is because cast iron is reactive and can form stronger bonds with the oil, while stainless steel is nonreactive and cannot form strong bonds so seasoning is easily wash off. I think heating a cast iron pan does help the seasoning process. It definitely help bind the oil to the cast iron, but I don't think it has much to do with porous.

                                                                                                                                                  If others have evidences that the "expansion of cast iron porous" is the real mechanism for cast iron seasoning, then I will be happy to know.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                    You guys (kaleokahu and CK) are doggoned interesting. I will leave to others to experiment with submerging an iron pan in oil and leaving it in the oven for a day! But I think I get it. Maybe the iron is porous, or maybe seasoning works because iron is chemically reactive.

                                                                                                                                                    The important fact is that using various methods, cast iron tends to become seasoned when exposed to heat and oil (or grease).

                                                                                                                                          2. I just finished this method and I noticed one thing in comparison to my other cast iron skillet which was seasoned with lard. The smoke point of the pan becomes astronomical. Before it would take about ten minutes until the seasoned pan began to start smoking. The one I seasoned with flax gives off little to no smoke, and I let the pan run empty on high flame for almost 15-20 minutes.

                                                                                                                                            1. For anyone searching this process out:

                                                                                                                                              I tried this process and found the resultant surface inadequately non-stick to justify the time and effort. YMMV.

                                                                                                                                              But, I have had what appears to be much better results applying some seasoning as CI instructs and then applying the rest on the stove top. I got the pan up to a moderately high searing temperature and repeatedly applied flaxseed oil in very thin layers with a paper towel, letting each layer mostly smoke off before applying the next. The resultant seasoning seems to be far more effective, and also MUCH quicker to apply. Long term results/durability still pending.

                                                                                                                                              There is a full write up near the end of this thread, along with some of the problems I experienced.
                                                                                                                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/785489

                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                OK, what I want to know is how many times your smoke alarm went off as you did this on the top of stove?

                                                                                                                                                Seriously, thanks for the update on your CI seasoning. A nicely seasoned CI pan is a joy, isn't it?

                                                                                                                                                Here is an update from me (after rereading this thread): I now routinely fry eggs in my CI; I use all my CI far more frequently than before; my original seasoned skillet outperforms my other CI skillets; I still get a whiff of Flaxseed oil from time to time when I heat that skillet up. I am actually contemplating trying to reseason a pan or two in the fall, using the flaxseed method. I am intrigued with using a slightly lower temp.

                                                                                                                                                I hope you share the long term results with your pan.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                                                  Thanks for updating. Refresh me please - your 'original' pan was treated how exactly? Is that the one where the seasoning flaked off to some extent? If not, how is that pan doing?

                                                                                                                                                  Smoke is definitely a downside of this quicker method. Lacking a good range hood, I set up a fan blowing across the top of the stove and toward a big open window. No alarms. Still, I would not advise trying it without ventilation of some form.

                                                                                                                                                  I'm thinking my method might by modifiable to get a fully smooth seasoned surface across the entire pan surface, sides and all, using a broiler or very hot oven and good oven mitts. I might try this out if the ring of lesser seasoned metal at the outside of the pan bothers me much in use.

                                                                                                                                                  I will update with long term results.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                    I treated one pan 5 or 6 times with flaxseed oil and had great results. I treated a second and had a fail. With both pans, I followed directions as I found them in the CI article with one exception. I ran my CI through the dishwasher to take off the original coating before treating them with the flaxseed oil. I use my big old "failed" CI pan. I'd like to get a really good coating on it. But I won't do this until I have to run the furnace!

                                                                                                                                              2. Hello Everyone,

                                                                                                                                                Let me just say that this is my first post on CH. And I want to start by thanking all of you crazy CI geeks for all the awesome information and testing and science and general awesomeness that you all provide.

                                                                                                                                                I Recently got the itch to start getting rid of my WAY too old non-stick pans that were really beat up and nasty and burnt and just plain awful. I haven't done any research into whether or not they are poisonous... and don't really care to. Either way I just don't want to use them anymore. I like the idea of pans that I can use for life and pass down and such so needless to say my journey into the depths of CI is in it's infancy.

                                                                                                                                                I like many others, I'm guessing, stumbled upon this very article and was immediately drawn in by the geeky nature of it. I took it as the gospel truth and rushed to start the seasoning of my first CI pan. I had looked around on the internet for a while before finding it and was excited to find what I thought was the "right" way of doing it. I mean it was in a Cooks Illustrated magazine for goodness sake. But as I was pulling an all nighter, due to the long process this techniques involved I just kept digging and reading comments and started to find quite a bit of people that were not actually having the success the article claimed.

                                                                                                                                                This is when I started to panic. Was all this work going to be for nothing? I write this still in the process of seasoning, after two days and way too much reading about CI.

                                                                                                                                                Yesterday night I finally finished with about 8 coats of the flaxseed oil when my travels through the interwebs brought me to this thread.

                                                                                                                                                There were a couple of things on this thread that have interested me. First was @Alko and his second attempt keeping the heat to 450. I had been curious that it might be that the people it was not working for were the people that had ovens that went higher than Sheryl's oven. Hers went only to 450 and mine went to 550. When I read what Alko had said after having the same problems as most of the other people that the process did not work for, my thoughts at least seem like they might be on the right track. THANKS ALKO!

                                                                                                                                                The second thing that interested me was @CowboyAdree and his variation of the method. Starting with Sheryl's method and then switching to stove top. His results were exactly what I was hoping to achieve, a base seasoning that worked great and was durable.

                                                                                                                                                This morning I tested my 8 coats of flaxseed oil via baking, by frying an egg. Also let me just say that Sheryl's method does indeed yield a beautiful looking season! But that matters little, so I heated the pan to med-low and added butter. Once the butter seemed hot enough I dropped the two eggs in for my egg and cheese sandwich.

                                                                                                                                                At first the egg stuck, but I was not stressed because of reading here that things do in fact stick to CI most of the time, but the CI will release it. So I waited patiently and sure enough after a bit the egg yielded to my prodding. It was delicious.

                                                                                                                                                I was now left to clean the pan, this is the part that had me nervous. Had all this hard work paid off. I let the pan cool a little then while it was still quite warm I used hot water and a plasticy scrubby thingy. Almost all if it started to come off which was great, but I started to notice a few little spots on the cooking surface that seemed grayish. This lined up with what most people said, that the seasoning just washed off. Mine did not wash off but it seemed wear slightly.

                                                                                                                                                I had anticipated this, so I then prepared to further my experiment by adding CowboyArdee's method. I am in the middle of said method and it is looking great so far. Dark Black surface and getting smoother all the time.

                                                                                                                                                haha sorry for the cliff hanger, but I will let you all know how it turns out from here later.

                                                                                                                                                Just wanted to say thanks!!! And I am already loving CI. Also.. I have ADD quite badly which is why I get so obsessed with things like this. Hopefully this works so that I can let it go and bet back to work on things that actually matter :)

                                                                                                                                                all the best,
                                                                                                                                                daniel.

                                                                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: danielaaronsprague

                                                                                                                                                    Another convert to cast iron cooking! Treat it well, and it will last your lifetime. When it comes to cooking with cast iron, obsession seems to be the rule, so think of CH as your culinary home!

                                                                                                                                                    I might go through the reseasoning process again this winter. The original pan which I started with works well on the stove. But all my skillets work well. Someone--on this thread or another--educated me on the benefit of letting the skillet heat until a drop of water became a ball when dropped on its surface, and then adding a little oil and then whatever I was cooking. Those instructions really improved everything for me, and it sounds as if you have made the same discovery.

                                                                                                                                                    But I've gone back to non-stick for eggs. Its just easier to get the final result I want.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: danielaaronsprague

                                                                                                                                                      @Chemical and @sueatmo thanks for the greetings! I will definitely be lurking this board often. Probably too often :)

                                                                                                                                                      @Sueatmo Thanks for starting this post, I am glad that your pan is still working well!

                                                                                                                                                      Ok, so I am done with the stove top seasoning now. I noticed something interesting when I held the pan up to sunlight and got my first really good look at the pan and its colors. The entire pan was not black at all. It was a very deep amber. I think this is a good thing but still not the 'oil slick' that I consider to be the Unicorn of the CI universe.

                                                                                                                                                      But! I, like CowboyAdree, noticed that the cooking surface of my pan was now very dark black!!! I also noticed that the area close to the sides of the pan were dark amber still. It was darker than the rest of the pan but there was definitely a noticeable difference between the edges and the rest of the cooking surface.

                                                                                                                                                      So... based completely on nothing and probably due to my utterly compulsive nature I decided to take one final step. I let the pan cool and then covered the whole pan except for the cooking surface in one final thin coat of flaxseed oil, and this time I did not wipe it off. I then put it in the cold oven and preheated it to 470 and am now cooking it for 2 hours.

                                                                                                                                                      so we shall see... :)

                                                                                                                                                      best,
                                                                                                                                                      daniel.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: danielaaronsprague

                                                                                                                                                        Wow, my email inbox sure lit up. @danielaaronsprague, I'm glad you found the information useful.

                                                                                                                                                        Well, 7 months later, I have a stack of 4 10" skillets, 1 Dutch oven, 2 griddles, all well seasoned. We use the two burner griddle to cook English muffins. And I use the 10.5" griddle for tortillas. I cook eggs in the skillets now and then.

                                                                                                                                                        I'm using stainless steel more often now. Watching the video of the water dancing on the hot surface clued me in. Thanks, @sawdin. And I can afford better, thicker stainless steel cookware.

                                                                                                                                                        I've learned that preheating is important. I often put the skillet on a very low flame for 10-15 minutes. And I use the infrared thermometer all the time. The center of the skillet will reach cooking temperature but it takes a while for the heat to spread out to the sides. And its the sides that stick, because they're too cool. I have learned to preheat the griddle to about 420 F and corn tortillas will skitter around it on a layer of steam.

                                                                                                                                                        I don't think I'll do the flaxseed treatment again, but would try something like the CowboyAdree treatment.

                                                                                                                                                        I still use the nonstick skillet for crepes. I don't cook them often enough to make them work on the griddle.

                                                                                                                                                    2. I was wondering, can you use flaxseed oil that has gone bad for this method?

                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: shezmu

                                                                                                                                                        I don't think I would want to risk having the food I cooked in the pan tasting rancid. It would be much cheaper (oil and time) to get fresh oil than stripping and re-seasoning or getting a new pan. In other words, doesn't seem worth the risk to me.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ahack

                                                                                                                                                          When I was in the throes of seasoning pans using the flaxseed method, I noted that there was no taste effect to the food. I would occasionally get a whiff of flaxseed oil as I heated the pan up. I don't think taste is a factor in this case.

                                                                                                                                                          I can't imagine how one would could come to obtain rancid flaxseed oil. I mean you buy it in bottles in the food market! If it is flaxseed oil meant for oil painting, then no! You have to use food grade flaxseed oil for this process. The only way I can think of to have rancid flaxseed oil is if it is unprocessed, and so old that it is spoiled. I'd pitch it out in that case.

                                                                                                                                                      2. All the fussing over seasoning cast iron is strange. It's
                                                                                                                                                        very, very simple:

                                                                                                                                                        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74pHH_...

                                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: mpalmer6c

                                                                                                                                                          You sound like someone who has either never tried the method you espouse or else has never seen a well seasoned cast iron pan.

                                                                                                                                                          A single coat of canola oil will not make for a shiny, even, smooth, fully non-stick coating. Not by a long shot.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                            Some random comments.
                                                                                                                                                            CI is porous - to varying degrees. It depends upon the impurities and the processing of the molten metal. High quality CI has minimal impurities and will have a well structured internal matrix. Poorer CI will have pores to the extent that you can see them under a magnifying glass. Some low grade industrial castings will not hold water and will require "Impregnation". A process that forces plastic into the surface, under pressure, to literally plug up the leaking pores. From this you should not buy cheap CI cook ware.

                                                                                                                                                            With respect to pre heating prior to applying the oil. I do not think this will "open up the pores"! Consider the thermal expansion of CI over a few hundred degrees. What benefit I see it providing is to burn off any surface impurities, such as silicones or other polymer residues and provide a 'clean' surface for your seasoning oil to bond with the CI surface during high heating.!

                                                                                                                                                            I use mainly AllClad for cooking, a CI skillet for searing and a non-stick skillet for fried eggs. All on an induction top.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: subal

                                                                                                                                                              In the method this thread discusses, a CI vessel is heated at 200 deg for a short period of time as a first step. I don't think this would burn off impurities. It does allow the oil to spread well though after you take it out of the oven, before placing it in a cold oven and firing it up.

                                                                                                                                                              It has been almost a year since I first found that article in Cook's Illustrated in a strange town at a strange grocer. The first pan has by far the best seasoning on it. The other pans remain useful. I'd love to try this procedure again. Maybe I will.

                                                                                                                                                        2. As a cook, a scientist, an artist, and especially as someone who used to be a buyer for an artists supply firm who knows a thing or two about artists materials, because it was my job to source the highest quality materials for my customers, I just have to jump in here.

                                                                                                                                                          First of all, if you are seasoning cookware, DO NOT use anything but FOOD GRADE fats. The linseed oil you buy at the hardware store is almost certain to contain highly poisonous drying agents like lead and cobalt in order to get the oil to polymerize faster.

                                                                                                                                                          Now that that's out of the way, Sheryl's article is pretty good, in my opinion. The key is a combination of polymerization and carbonization. This is why you have to drive the oil beyond the smoke point. We're not painting the Mona Lisa, here...if it were paint we wanted, then polymerization is where we would want to stop, and we could just let the stuff air dry at room temp for a couple of months.

                                                                                                                                                          It is possible that using flaxseed (aka food grade linseed) oil is the best way to season a pan. That doesn't mean that other fats won't work, of course. Linseed oil is used for paints primarily because it is a fast-drying oil which forms a highly flexible film, due to the high proportion of alpha-linolenic acid, the highest of all known vegetable oils. So, given that what we really want for a non-stick surface is a combination of polymerization (for stability and flexibility) *and* carbonation (the actual non-stick part), flaxseed oil might be the way to go.

                                                                                                                                                          Once again, DO NOT use hardware store linseed oil. There are some brands of artists grade linseed oil that I might trust, because I have personally met the owners of the company and understand that they realize that the highest quality paint film is formed by unrefined, first cold-pressed oil. I am NOT going to tell you which companies these are. The risks are just too high. Stick to food grade oils. Even if you have to get it from Whole Foods and pay an outrageous price for refrigerated flaxseed oil sold as "health food", better safe than sorry! You only need a small amount, anyway.

                                                                                                                                                          The most important thing, IMO, is to make sure the seasoning is fully baked in. That is to say, I see a lot of direction saying "bake at 350 for an hour or so". That's not enough. I do mine at 450F minimum, and I bake it until every last vestige of smoke is gone from the oven, then I bake it some more (another hour), then shut off the oven and let the pieces cool overnight in the oven. The next morning, I guarantee you will have non-sticky, glossy black pots and pans.

                                                                                                                                                          Another oil I might consider is tung oil, BUT...I would only use this if I was absolutely certain that what I had was food grade, unrefined, first cold-pressed 100% pure tung oil. Most of the stuff you find in the woodworking shops and catalogs isn't 100% tung oil, and is corrupted with toxic chemical driers just as badly as the stuff that you find in the cheapo linseed oil. I would say that if the product isn't labelled as 100% pure tung oil and clearly and unequivocally labelled as a safe finish for food contact items, I wouldn't touch it with a 20 meter pole.

                                                                                                                                                          Tung oil is about 80% alpha-eleostearic acid, which is a conjugated linolenic acid, so it's properties are similar to that of linseed oil.

                                                                                                                                                          The idea of many thin layers is never a bad idea. That allows for each layer to get fully polymerized/carbonized. Thicker layers may not allow the oil to fully "cook".

                                                                                                                                                          Oh, and the taste of flaxseed oil? I've never had a problem with it. I used to mix it into smoothies. I don't do that anymore, though, because I decided that the phytoestrogenic content of flax (the highest, far higher than any soy product) wasn't good for my personal health. I'm not trying to say flax is generally unhealthy for all people, but I personally need to avoid phytoestrogens.

                                                                                                                                                          One more addition. Based on the above, I would think that the unrefined first cold-pressed canola oils coming out of Canada might work reasonably well for seasoning, as it has a decent amount of alpha-linolenic acid in it. I'd be inclined to try mustard oil, too, it being in the same family as canola oil.

                                                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: yinhaan

                                                                                                                                                            "The most important thing, IMO, is to make sure the seasoning is fully baked in. That is to say, I see a lot of direction saying "bake at 350 for an hour or so". That's not enough. I do mine at 450F minimum, and I bake it until every last vestige of smoke is gone from the oven, then I bake it some more (another hour), then shut off the oven and let the pieces cool overnight in the oven. The next morning, I guarantee you will have non-sticky, glossy black pots and pans."
                                                                                                                                                            _________
                                                                                                                                                            Are you using a thick layer of oil? Because my experience (and apparently that of others, including Sheryl Canter) has been that a single thin layer of oil is not enough to leave a glossy, non stick surface.

                                                                                                                                                            Also, my findings would seem to indicate that one of the greatest advantages of flax seed oil is that it polymerizes especially quickly, so that a thin layer can be polymerized not in hours, or even a single hour, but in minutes at the right temperature. The upside of this (IMO) is many thin layers can be applied rapidly to form a fully slick but durable coating much more similar to that of a CI pan that's been in use for years.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                              I do tend to use a fairly thick layer of oil. While a thinner layer applied more often is admittedly superior, when I say "thick", I'm talking about what sticks to the pan when I wipe the pans with my oily fingers, not so much oil that it's dripping off!

                                                                                                                                                              The last time I re-seasoned a pot (last week, because my sister "cleaned" it for me), all I had around was EVOO. It works fine. Again, just make sure it's totally baked, and not just gummy. You want to see smoke coming out of that oven, and you want to bake until the smoke stops, and then bake some more just to be sure.

                                                                                                                                                              Now that I've read Sheryl's article and thought about it, though, I'll use flaxseed oil from now on. I just never really thought about it until tonight, but it makes sense, based on what I know about chemistry and paint films, that flaxseed would work best.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: yinhaan

                                                                                                                                                                Thanks for your insight and information. For so many of us who don't use animal fats to fry with on a daily basis, seasoning a CI pan can be a hit or miss thing. We probably need to do this as a special process because of the way most of us cook now. We want seasoned and functional CI, but we don't cook at high heat using a an inch or two of fat in the pan. I do want to mention that upthread it was mentioned that only food grade flaxseed oil should be used, but its a long thread and it is a good think you made that clear in your post.

                                                                                                                                                                Depending on where life leads, I might be reseasoning the pan that failed, and my others as well this winter. High heat! Yes!

                                                                                                                                                          2. Short answer: it works
                                                                                                                                                            Is there a difference to other oils: Oh yes, it's like using nail varnish
                                                                                                                                                            So should I believe the hype: I'm afraid so
                                                                                                                                                            Concerns: Like glass, looks brittle (but probably isn't)
                                                                                                                                                            Tips: wipe off as much as humanly possible
                                                                                                                                                            Temp: Going over 350-400 is (probably) overkill. Has a very low smoke point.
                                                                                                                                                            No. of coats: As many as you like. But I wouldn't recommend more than one a day. I'd say do one coat a day (or week even), while using your pan, and take as many weeks/coats/tries as you like. If something sticks to it you can scrape it off with a metal spatula. Just like a girdle. In fact it is a girdle... just pan shaped. Remember, most foods unstick themselves if you are patient.

                                                                                                                                                            But will I be buying another bottle of flaxseed: probably not. It was a fun experiment and the results exceeded my expectations (so I'm glad I did it). But I'm getting really tired of babysitting my pans...

                                                                                                                                                            Conclusion: If you feel like it, go for it! But you'll probably end up using plain ol' Crisco/lard again in the long run:)

                                                                                                                                                            PS When people say "thin coat" what they really mean is "wipe it OFF". All of it.

                                                                                                                                                            1. MANY good suggestions here, few of them--not unsurprisingly--confirming CI's suggestion.
                                                                                                                                                              I have two 100+ year-old Griswold pans, two more Wagner pans that I bought many years ago as a young bride, and I had occasion over the last week to use my mom's old Wagner pans that were bought when she was a young bride in 1952. The key to seasoning cast iron is to use it, OFTEN, although pre-seasoning advice can help to hasten the process somewhat (neither Mom nor I had the benefit of this but the pans seasoned well anyway). I would (and personally do) take any pronouncement from "those in the know" at CI with a healthy dose of skepticism. Their advice has a tendency to leave me incredulous (sometimes in hindsight), especially the product endorsements.

                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: MacGuffin

                                                                                                                                                                I was interested in this issue because I don't use my cast iron to fry in lard or grease. In fact, I hardly fry at all, ever. I had owned 4 skillets and I wasn't happy with the seasoning. A year later, the first skillet I tried has the best non stick surface of the 4 and the second skillet I tried, has the worst.

                                                                                                                                                                However, as I have used my skillets to do grilled cheese, French toast, sauteing, and a small amount of frying, the surfaces have improved greatly. I really have learned a lot about the care of CI from entries posted here. I realize that my list of how I use CI sounds skimpy. I use the CI multiple times every week. I find them very useful.

                                                                                                                                                              2. There is a article online here (hopefully it's okay to link):
                                                                                                                                                                http://www.richsoil.com/cast-iron.jsp

                                                                                                                                                                I purchased the recommended pancake turner by Dexter and think it makes a huge difference in the seasoning process. I have several pieces of CI and have been using them for years, but since getting the Dexter spatula I think the CI surfaces are better than ever.

                                                                                                                                                                1. I've been using my pan for about year now using this seasoning method. I don't know if this has to do with my stovetop or the pan I have, but the seasoning always flakes off, especially on the bottom. And god forbid cooking with anything starchy or with eggs, I have to redo the seasoning all over again.

                                                                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: takadi

                                                                                                                                                                    I had a fail too, after having a success. I'd suggest doing this again, removing all the seasoning carefully. You can run the pan through your self clean oven cycle or run it through the dishwasher a couple of times. Either way, all the seasoning will be removed.

                                                                                                                                                                    You need to treat the pan at least six times using flaxseed oil.

                                                                                                                                                                    Others get a good seasoning using frying stuff in lard or other shortening.

                                                                                                                                                                    Your coating will not remain perfect, especially if you deglaze it with an acid. I think if it is flaking off, the flaxseed oil did not adhere when you seasoned the pan. Its only a guess, but I think it might be that you didn't get all the old seasoning off before you started with the flaxseed oil.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                                                                      I seasoned the pan several times with flaxseed. There are only a few things I can think of. First, I could have seasoned the pan improperly (although I did follow the instructions posted here). Two, I could be using bad cooking methods (I do use acidic stuff sometimes like wine and tomatoes). Or three this method simply does not work. Mind you, I can shallow and deep fry things decently, but when it comes to things like eggs, or starchy gravies or anything starchy like rice or noodles, it adheres to the pan like glue.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: takadi

                                                                                                                                                                      Takadi, I have no experiance with the flaxseed. I use lard or bacon grease. Bit I can say that if I do not get the preseason layer off of a new pan, it will flake off. I have experianced this with several new CI pans.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: dixiegal

                                                                                                                                                                        My pan didn't come with seasoning and if it did,I made sure I scalded everything off with an oven cleaning cycle.

                                                                                                                                                                    3. Ookay, I'm an official flaxseed convert….! I am a "seasoning pro", having seasoned over 18 woks and pans over the last few years—carbons steel and CI, cheap Taiwanese woks to Lodge Woks and skillets to thin walled Chinese cast iron woks, to Griswold skillets, to pricey DeBuyer carbon steel skillets. I've seasoned them all.

                                                                                                                                                                      I season many ways—in the oven at high temps, over the electric coil stove top for some flat bottom woks and over my 75K propane wok burner outdoors. I have used mainly peanut oil and occasionally bacon grease. Most seasonings (particularly carbon steel) are followed up with a long stir-fry of scallions and ginger; or for cast iron, and further seasoning for carbon steel (which can be harder to make the nice and dark initial seasoning last), a onion is sauteed in lots of peanut oil at medium temps, occasionally raising the temp to HIGH (till smoking) and then lowering back to medium. I can get any wok or skillet at least mahogany brown (and cast iron is usually shiny black) in a couple of hours. But remember even in spite of this powerful initial seasoning, true real seasoning taste and flavor and non-stick performance takes time and patience…!

                                                                                                                                                                      In the past I have done oven seasoning using the methods espoused by Sheryl Cantor on her blog—long bakes at high temps and then letting the cookware cool down in the oven for several hours; I found no advantage to this method, and it takes so much more time! I have instead found the best and fastest results in removing cookware from the oven once the smoking stops (20-45 minutes). I also have seen limited benefits from heating cookware slightly (220F) before applying coats of oil, though I still often do this. My favorite oven temp for this seasoning with peanut oil is 500F.

                                                                                                                                                                      So this week I seasoned my latest wok—a thin walled Chinese cast iron, flat bottom with an epoxy outer shell—using flaxseed oil. Because this wok has plastic covered handles, that the seller recommended not putting in a hot oven over 350F, I did all of the oven seasoning for this CI wok at 375F—I figured 25F wouldn't make that big of a difference. I did 5 coats of flaxseed oil (unrefined and unfiltered, NO added lignans, $10.99 at Whole Foods) over 7 hours in the oven at 375F. Once removed between coats, I let the wok cool to 200F (I use an infrared laser thermometer gun) before applying the next thin, thin, thinnest coat of flaxseed oil . After the 6 coats of flaxseed oil (which darkened the CI much less than peanut oil would have; and the flaxseed oil didn't smoke hardly at all!), I did two coats of bacon grease, which darkened the CI considerably and made it shiny and smell pork-luscious. Then to the electrical stovetop, I heated the wok until it was smoking, and added small amounts of flaxseed oil, while rubbing it in with paper towels—and finally the flaxseed smoked! I did about 5 coats this way, over the stovetop, and let it smoke but good. After cooling I stir-fried two batches of green onions and ginger. The seasoning ended being nice and shiny and looked good.

                                                                                                                                                                      Now mind you, I have previously seasoned and used three of these thin walled Chinese cast iron flat bottomed woks, which now belong to various family members, so I know this wok and it's performance quite well. And this particular wok seasoned with the flaxseed oil, did indeed perform noticeably better than the others that had been seasoned with peanut oil and bacon grease. Even on the final step of the seasoning—the scallions and ginger—I could see a difference; usually the scallions stick just a tiny bit toward the end of the fry as they break down and fall apart, leaving tiny little slimy fragments that usually have to be rubbed into the surface as I never wash after this pungent veggie fry, only wipe with paper towels (I consider it part of "advanced" seasoning techniques). On some CS woks, the scallions have stuck to the point of needing to use light amounts of salt to rub the scallion fragments off. But nothing at all stuck with the flax-seasoned wok. And the first stir fry I made in the wok the day after seasoning—Moo goo gai pan, cooked mainly around 480F—did stick a little, as most new woks do with oyster (sugar) sauce, but it cleaned easily and unlike other newly seasoned cookware I have worked with, almost all of the stuck areas completely washed away with hot water and a sponge. All the other woks and pans I have used have had to have a little bit more effort involved to get EVERYTHING off the pan—usually just a soft scrubby pad beyond the sponge, but sometimes oil and kosher salt are needed (and carbon steel cookware is notorious for losing large amounts of the seasoning in the first cleaning processes). Again, the flaxseed seasoned pan needed no cleaning beyond the sponge.

                                                                                                                                                                      There were no matte colored areas left behind in the wok, something I am accustomed to, that mostly disappear when you oil the cookware. And the surface looked harder, more "crystalline" in nature (the wok's surface is very irregular and bumpy). I really could see the difference, and notice the performance difference as well. Plus for a new wok, the first stir fry tasted great—more filled with hints of wok hei than any other newly seasoned wok I have worked with.

                                                                                                                                                                      Thumbs up!

                                                                                                                                                                      Photos of the wok, 20 hours after seasoning and 2 hours after the first stir fry, are pictured below...

                                                                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: toddster63

                                                                                                                                                                        Awesome post! Thanx for sharing:)

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: toddster63

                                                                                                                                                                          Your hard work paid off. You think that flax seed oil is worth the expense, then?

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                                                                                                            YES! I have used the flaxseed oil on a few carbon steel and cast iron items now—mainly the technique of heating the cookware up to high smoklng temps over a burner, then pouring the flaxseed oil in, and then rubbing and smearing with a paper towel as it burns in...

                                                                                                                                                                            It really does create a deep dark lustrous finish that holds on to the seasoning longer—in terms of initial seasoning anyway....

                                                                                                                                                                        2. "Josh" responded to Sheryl's article on her blog (http://sherylcanter.com/wordpress/201...) and he explained a very important aspect of the polymerization...He also left some noteworthy links below... "A more direct measurement of an oil’s ability to polymerize is its iodine value. In a nutshell, this measures how much iodine an oil can absorb, which in turn is an indication of how many bonding sites are available for polymerization.

                                                                                                                                                                          Now, you’re certainly heading down the right path with linseed oil, with an iodine value of around 185. Fish oils like sardine are up there too. (I’m sure you’ve heard that oily fish like salmon and sardines are rich in omega-3s.) The best oil available for cheap at any grocery store is soybean oil, with an iodine value around 130."

                                                                                                                                                                          A couple links:

                                                                                                                                                                          http://www.journeytoforever.org/biodi...

                                                                                                                                                                          http://vegburner.co.uk/oils.htm

                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: CulinaryMalcontent

                                                                                                                                                                            "Iodine value." I've never bothered to refinish my ancient smooth-as-glass Wagners, my old bought-new CI (by which I don't mean "Cooks Illustrated") is the poster child for "beautifully seasoned," as is my parents' stuff, but I guess it was just the luck of the draw that whatever fats were used when we never bothered to undertake any seasoning process except repeated use seems to have had a fortuitous "iodine value." Or maybe the seasoning just isn't "ultimate?" Because if it isn't, I don't think I can ever look at my pans the same way again. :(

                                                                                                                                                                          2. Though I’ve been reading CH for a number of years, this is my first post. I know it’s an old thread, but the information here is timelessly invaluable, and has provided me – a total CI newbie – with a solid foundation for taking care of my recently acquired ironware. So first off, mad props to everyone that’s recorded their CI seasoning love, experiments, successes, and disappointments!

                                                                                                                                                                            Weary of the cost involved in replacing my Telfon pans annually over the past ten years (and of potentially imbibing a whole lotta polytetrafluoroethylene), this year I decided to give cast iron a go instead. Admittedly I had some pretty weird associations to overcome before the purchase, none of them related to seasoning or maintenance; rather, the idea that CI was for old people. You know, like driving a 4 door sedan and, say, playing cribbage in Florida. I know, right? In my defence, my parents were exclusive users of stainless steel, so the only CI people in my life were grandparents and fusty old aunties.

                                                                                                                                                                            On the plus side, this also means that I knew nothing of the “daunting” CI seasoning and maintenance requirements, which I only read about after three inexpensive (relative to stainless steel) Lodge cast iron pans in varying sizes were unwrapped and sitting forlornly atop my stove. I eyed them warily, unconvinced that the dull, dimpled surface would yield the coveted quick-release of Telfon or sleek, reflective, properly heated stainless steel. Over the next few days, before even using the pans, I scoured the internet for CI information before finally settling on an approach to seasoning and care.

                                                                                                                                                                            This thread, along with the Canter article, were the first two commentaries I stumbled upon. It took a while to carefully read through everything and towards the end, I was admittedly contemplating the possibility of a life-long, albeit dysfunctional, relationship with Teflon. Disheartening tales of flaky, spotty, unreliable outcomes after innumerable hours spent meticulously following seasoning rituals and running up the electricity bill almost put me off CI entirely. What fresh kitchen hell had I unwittingly waded into? Life is short and rigorous cookware maintenance is so irrelevant in the overall scheme of things that it doesn’t appear anywhere on my to-do list. Still, I was intrigued with both the science and the obsession behind the quest for the Seasoning Holy Grail.

                                                                                                                                                                            My main goal was to strike something of a balance in the non-stick vs time invested ratio. I ran the pans through the dishwasher to remove the Lodge pre-seasoning, wiped them down, and dried them in a 200F degree oven for about half an hour. Conveniently, I had organic flax oil on hand since I consume it almost daily in smoothies, porridge, and salads. I applied a thin coating to the entire surface of each pan and wiped them down before placing upside down in the 200F oven and turning up the heat to 450F degrees. After 1 ½ hours, I turned the oven off and left the pans inside to cool overnight.

                                                                                                                                                                            The next day, I warmed each of them in turn upon gas burners until the handles were hot (no infrared or other thermometers used). I applied flax oil to the interior surfaces, lightly wiped them down, and toasted them over a med-high flame until they quit smoking entirely. 5 more coats were applied to each pan in succession, alternating between flax, peanut, and coconut oil, letting the smoke burn off before each new oil application. I let them cool enough to add another coat of oil, and stored them in the unwarmed oven that night.

                                                                                                                                                                            The next evening, I applied another coat of flax oil and placed the pans on the lower rack while I roasted veggies on a baking sheet on the upper rack at 400F degrees. After the veggies were done, I applied a thin coat of flax oil to the hot pans, wiped them down, turned off the oven, and again left them to cool overnight.

                                                                                                                                                                            Finally, the next morning I figured that it was time to give the pans a spin. I’d spent a total of about 60 minutes seasoning the pans with oil, not counting oven time since I did other things while they were in there. Considerably less time than I’d spent researching how to season cast iron. But through this short process, they’d already been transformed from dull, ashen grey to glossy amber-black in colour, and the cooking surfaces felt ever so slightly glassy when I ran my fingers over them.

                                                                                                                                                                            While preheating the mid-sized pan over a medium flame, I prepped omelette ingredients. A minute before pouring in the whipped egg whites, I swirled 1 tsp of Earth Balance around to evenly coat the bottom of the pan. Toppings were added. Then, like a rapt intern observing a veteran surgeon at work, I assessed every nuance of the transformation from liquid to semi-solid as the previously drifty egg protein formed a spongy network of interconnected proteins. Words I do not typically associate with the act of cooking, for example “polymerization” and “iodination”, hatched like neon ovoids in my mind as I contemplated the complex interaction between iron element and albumen element.

                                                                                                                                                                            Naturally, the edges of the eggs began to turn golden just as the middle firmed up. However, I confess that was practically – unnaturally – giddy at this point. In a few minutes’ time, the moment of truth would arrive, the culmination of hours of exacting research and mere minutes of languid preparation: flipping the omelette!

                                                                                                                                                                            With the edge of a wide silicone spatula hovering near the rim of the pan, I paused, non-pregnantly. Tossing aside fear like Martha tosses the perfect salad, I slid the spatula under the egg et…. voila! The entire thing lifted, majestically intact. A quick flip of the wrist and I was witness to the most perfectly semi-browned omelette in the history of perfectly semi-browned omelettes. When the other side was done, it released effortlessly from the pan. At the same time, the potatoes and onions that were sautéing in the largest pan were ready to go and were liberated just as easily as the eggs.

                                                                                                                                                                            There was nary a crumb left in either pan, but the jubilation and self-preening were distressingly short-lived. Half way through breakfast, I began to worry about cleaning the pans. I mean, how many stories had I read right here about a seemingly perfectly seasoned CI pan going horribly pear shaped after only one wash? I had a roughed out vision of not using water or soap and simply wiping out the pans, camping style. In theory, this seems reasonable but in practice I'm not tremendously keen on eating off of anything that’s only been washed once. Plus, I hate camping.

                                                                                                                                                                            With the pans still quite warm, I doused them under hot tap water and ran a Redecker natural bristle brush around the insides. After drying with a soft cloth, they went onto a gas burner over medium heat for a few minutes to thoroughly dry, followed by a very light application of oil (fridge-stored peanut, flax, and coconut are the usual culprits around here).

                                                                                                                                                                            This cleaning routine is the one I’ve followed with every subsequent use, and it’s working well. So far, after three months of regular use, nothing has stuck to any of the three pans, but if it ever does, a salt scrub would be the first order of business. While it’s unlikely that the uneven, pitted Lodge surface will level out in the slightest during my lifetime, food doesn’t stick to it, a key quality in a frying pan. Considering that all of my copper-bottomed stainless steel pots and pans require the occasional polishing, it probably just about evens out with cast iron in terms of overall maintenance time/effort per vessel.

                                                                                                                                                                            I also have to say that it’s been kind of fun using cast iron. I’m still reminded of old people every time I use them, but am so pleased with the material and cooking properties that I'm considering going for a Griswold. Perhaps CI obsession is not so unfathomable after all. Mega thanks to everyone doing these madawesomefun experiments with cast iron (and absolutely everything else) here on CH. Brilliant resource here! Cheers to every one of you!

                                                                                                                                                                            13 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: daeffincrazy

                                                                                                                                                                              Really makes you wonder how people managed to successfully use cast iron back in the day, much less pass it along to descendants.

                                                                                                                                                                              Count me among the CI "unfathomable."

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: daeffincrazy

                                                                                                                                                                                Wow, I can't believe you removed the veggie pre-seasoning that Lodges does on their cooware--I consider it a great start, a basis for all future seasonings. I implore new Ci users buying Lodge to NOT remove it--it's a very smooth and evenly applied veggie oil that has been burned on. Just season on top of Lodge's pre-seasoning and be that much closer to your goal of glassy CI (which is TRUE seasoning and only comes with years of regular use--no such thing as oven flaxed shortcuts--just good beginnings!)

                                                                                                                                                                                After a few years of regular usage, your rough Lodge's will smooth out considerably. Maybe not Griswold machined smooth, but much smoother!

                                                                                                                                                                                The first thing, and biggest difference with Griswold you will notice if you do so purchase one, is how much lighter they are than the much more crudely made Lodge ware. They all get the job done, but with the older cast iron, you can really see the much higher level of craftsmanship with the construction. My 12" Griswold skillet only weighs 60% of what my friends 12" Lodge does...!

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: toddster63

                                                                                                                                                                                  +1 although I hasten to add that my CI collection doesn't include any Lodge. Lodge hasn't been around quite as long as de Buyer but they've been manufacturing CI for well over 100 years and presumably know what they're doing, including how to best pre-season pans. Also +1 on the older/oldest Griswolds. I'm happy to have picked up mine before demand fueled by online chatter drove the prices up to astronomical levels.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: toddster63

                                                                                                                                                                                    Thanks toddster63! I look forward to the Griswold experience :) After handling different Lodge skillets in the store, I went for the Pro-Logic line, which seemed less heavy than the regular Lodge pans. I was also drawn to the sloped sides and loop handles. But definitely looking forward to using a lighter CI pan.

                                                                                                                                                                                    There are 100's of user posts on the internet (including here on CH) about the inconsistent quality of Lodge pre-seasoning – too many stories about cooking for months over it to build up a beautiful seasoning only to have it start flaking off at the factory level. So in part, it was a pre-emptive measure. Additionally, I am exceptionally allergic to soy, and Lodge uses soy oil to season their pans.

                                                                                                                                                                                    But the main reason I did it is because I enjoy learning, and for the pleasure of owning home-seasoned pans with years' worth of cooking behind them. Now I have the benefit of successfully seasoning three pans myself, so when I do buy that Griswold, I can apply the knowledge gained through actual experience to it (and to any future CI acquisitions).

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: daeffincrazy

                                                                                                                                                                                      Yes, if you are allergic to sou, that is BIG problem with the pre-seasoning. Although I have also heard people more expert than I comment that by the time the oil is burnt off, and starting to turn black and carbonize, any and and all allergens are long since gone, so who knows...?

                                                                                                                                                                                      Flakey seasoning comes from too thick of coats of oil--that is why Canter stresses in her article to wipe all the oil off the pan--to the point where you don't think the faintest coating is enough at all (you can tell when it is too thick as it will pool up and burn on in little round shapes). Again I have had only 3 pieces of Lodge (including a wok) and they all seasoned easily and durably over the factory coating, particularly my "steak" pan that I make blackened steaks in (this little 9" pan routinely gets red hot to 700F, where the seasoning is starting to burn off before the steak is added.But you add the steak and it smokes like hell and in the end not only makes a tasty carnivore meal, but does the most incredible seasoning too!)

                                                                                                                                                                                      Really though, I don't use the cast iron too much anymore--I much prefer carbon steel now. A little more work than cast iron, but my DeBuyer skillets deliver better flavor and better non-stick properties than the CI, I am convinced. And my wok is my best buddy stir frying machine!

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: toddster63

                                                                                                                                                                                        Hi toddster,

                                                                                                                                                                                        Your wok isn't deBuyer, is it?

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                                                                                          No, it isn't, but I have thought about trying their wok--I have bought, seasoned and used 15 woks in the last 6 years, and have finally settled on a classic Taylor & Ng blue steel (aka "pre-seasoned") round bottom that has turned black over my high power outside propane wok burner.

                                                                                                                                                                                          The Debuyer wok has an interesting shape for a round bottom, and their skillets--while hard to initially start a good seasoning on--have preformed superlatively; they are thick as heck for CS though, and like CI you need to lower the heat down.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: toddster63

                                                                                                                                                                                            Hi toddster,

                                                                                                                                                                                            Thanks. I was wondering if anyone had used one. I do love my deBuyer pans, they are so slippery and easy to clean.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: daeffincrazy

                                                                                                                                                                                    Thanks for writing up your experiences.

                                                                                                                                                                                    If you check out the post I linked above, you'll see that I also attempted to season a pan to mimic an older, fully nonstick surface. Using a method somewhat similar to yours, I found that flax seed oil was very capable of creating a glassy, slick surface reminiscent of a much older pan. But I eventually had durability problems, that I suspect were related to the flax oil, but also could have been related to the technique. I later tried jojoba oil via the same technique (more or less), and found that I didn't get the slickness I was hoping for right off the bat, but that it did form a durable base coat, which had the pan performing relatively well inside a couple months while still standing up to high heat.

                                                                                                                                                                                    I gave up on trying to quickly make a fully nonstick surface after that, but it seems you've had good results so far using a few different oils for the initial seasoning. As such, I'd appreciate it if you updated us after a while with how your surface is holding up.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm sorry to hear that, cowboyardee. It's my fear, exactly - after putting such care into the pan, to not have it work out in the long run.

                                                                                                                                                                                      How much time passed before you experienced issues with the seasoning? Did they start flaking, or...? Did you give up on CI, or did you strip and then re-season your pans, and if so, how? How did you come upon using jojoba? It's an extremely stable oil; significantly less reactive to oxidation than most other oils.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Being vegetarian (and therefore appreciating any Fe supplementation from CI pans), initially I was doubtful about ever having decently seasoned pans since meat featured prominently in everything I'd read while researching the subject. But have been using them for nearly four months now and so far so good. I was so surprised to see and feel that slight glassiness after the initial seasoning, and it has deepened somewhat since then, too. Though mainly, am just happy that eggs don't stick :)

                                                                                                                                                                                      During this time, I've occasionally wiped down the pans with grapeseed and walnut oil (in addition to the flax, coconut, and peanut oils) and left them on the lower rack of the oven (at 400F-450F) while other stuff cooked up top. Afterwards they cool overnight in there, too. I only use coconut and olive oil for cooking. Except for the coconut oil, all of the others are polyunsaturated and oxidize rapidly: exactly the kind of free radical breakdown thingy that I don't want to happen when cooking, but is required for carbonization.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Maybe the combination of these oils is what's making it work? I don't know. But for sure, will post an update if there are changes at any point.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: daeffincrazy

                                                                                                                                                                                        "How much time passed before you experienced issues with the seasoning? Did they start flaking, or...?"
                                                                                                                                                                                        ______
                                                                                                                                                                                        To be honest, I don't really remember anymore. I believe I had minor flaking within a few months and big time flaking at about a years time, but those timeframes could well be off. I didn't document that part, and my memory could be off. I did use the pan at relatively high heat, which I feel may have contributed (my current seasoning holds up to high heat usage, OTOH).

                                                                                                                                                                                        I came to use jojoba oil after a recommendation on the thread wherein I wrote up my experiments.
                                                                                                                                                                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/785489
                                                                                                                                                                                        As I said, I didn't find the resulting surface as slick as it had been after using flax oil, but it was easy to use (it polymerized fairly quickly and without gumminess) and seemed to make for a durable base coat.

                                                                                                                                                                                        "Maybe the combination of these oils is what's making it work?"
                                                                                                                                                                                        ______
                                                                                                                                                                                        Hope so. But please update down the line.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                          "I did use the pan at relatively high heat, which I feel may have contributed (my current seasoning holds up to high heat usage, OTOH)."

                                                                                                                                                                                          IME high heat really reinforces seasoning, and has never caused flaking. At VERY high temps, like over 750F, you might loose some seasoning to it's smoke point, but I've really found that at home stove high temps--600F and under, seasoning is really strongly reinforced. I think it accelerates the carbonization bond.

                                                                                                                                                                                          And this is only if you are using oil too; lotsa people think that seasoned metal is truly a non-stick substitute and that they will be able to use it with less, or even NO oil, which I think evaporates seasoning REAL fast. CI or CS is not a great substitute for low fat non-stick cooking...! If you want to cook with no fat, ceramic or the classic non-stick are really your only options. Once you get a good established seasoning going, you can use less fat, but always need a little with seasoned metals.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: toddster63

                                                                                                                                                                                            As you said, with well seasoned cast iron, high heat isn't a problem until you get to the point of actually burning off the seasoning (hence people stripping their pans using the self cleaning feature on an oven).

                                                                                                                                                                                            I was talking specifically about how high heat interacted with a newer pan seasoned with many coats of flax seed oil. My theory is that flax seed oil forms an especially hard polymer (which is one of the reasons it was initially touted) - so hard that it might actually be too brittle to be durable. And then possibly that the tiny thermal expansions and contractions of the pan when exposed to high heat may have caused flaking because the flax seed oil seasoning was too brittle to stay bonded to the pan through those expansions. Again, I emphasize that this is just my theory. But enough people (myself included) have reported flaking after seasoning with flax seed oil that there may be something to it.

                                                                                                                                                                                            I don't know exactly how hot my pan was while cooking, but I'm confident it was north of 500 degrees at times.

                                                                                                                                                                                  3. I used my smaller cast iron skillet for about a year as a deep fryer for small batches of donuts or small batches of fries for my husband and I. Then one day recently I realized when I pulled that pan out to fry an egg - that it was by far the best seasoned cast iron pan I now owned.....all that high heat frying had just totally seasoned the pan to perfection and everything just slid around on it no problem........Now every time I get a new addition to my cast iron pan family - I use it for frying for awhile and I am good to go.

                                                                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: nancndon

                                                                                                                                                                                      This is a great approach... AND you get good food while seasoning your pan. When I get my dutch oven I'm going to do that, and deep fry with lard (lard's great for seasoning, great for deep frying, it's fun to render lard, and rendering leaves all these yummy pork crunchies as a reward).

                                                                                                                                                                                      Should in principle work for woks, too. For griddle pans, not so much...

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: zeusbheld

                                                                                                                                                                                        Using them works, period. It has worked since people started cooking in iron and will continue to do so. No need to rush the process, use over time = seasoning. Just try not to burn what you're frying.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: MacGuffin

                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm with MacGuffin--it's just regular use that does it. I've had magical seasoning occur with deep frying, regular use and my favorite--my Cajun blackening 9" lodge that I would heat up outside on a butane burner until almost glowing white (HOT!), and then toss fatty Rib Eye steaks into it. I though that high of heat/flame would burn seasoning off (hence the dedicated skillet), but that is one of my favorite most seasoned pans now, and I did used it only for high temp steak burns for its first 3 years...! Nowadys it's a great omlette pan too!

                                                                                                                                                                                          The secret is give up on trying to "season it", forget about it, and just use the heck out of it with some or a lot of fat. Then notice how magical the non-stick and the flavor is a year or two or three down the line...!