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Jan 21, 2012 02:21 PM

Cleaning/seasoning a new wok help

Just got a new iron wok, and I knew that there would be an oil coating to prevent rust. I followed the directions and started boiling water on the stove top. As it got hot, I almost got knocked over by the fumes. The websites say they use "food-grade oil", but it smelled a lot more like an auto garage than a kitchen. And I don't completely trust the manufacturing standards of China...

I'm not sure if I've gotten it all off, and I'm worried that when I start to cook with it, it will give off this smell/fumes. Some parts are looking metal colored, and some are a little darker (I can see the scrub lines from where I cleaned with steel wool).

Anybody ever put one in the oven on self-clean? My cast iron skillets are due for a re-season, and this is how I usually do it, so was thinking it might get rid of the excess "oil" on the wok.

Thanks for all the help! Learned lots reading through these forums!

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  1. Bcemail.

    Do you know for sure it is oil? Some woks are stored with oil to prevent -- a more traditional method. Some wok have lacquer surfaces, and those take more efforts to remove. As for removing the oil, just keep cleaning it with detergent, and may be even with other cooking oil (like an oil exchange).

    I have put one in self cleaning oven... are you trying to strip the pan off? Why do you want to do this now since you have not seasoned it yet. I suppose you can try to bake it all off, but I think a few cleaning is probably better.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      Not sure if it's lacquer or oil. I was hoping that the self cleaning cycle would burn off whatever was on there. The instructions had me boil water with baking soda, but I was worried this wouldn't get everything off (especially what's on the outside). Guess I'll just keep scrubbing and hope the smell wears off...

      1. re: bcemail

        Hmm, someone more educated hopefully will weigh in because I don't know what temperature is required to baked off lacquer. I know it can bake off more oils. I am just not sure about lacquer. Everything will eventually bake off, I am not just sure what temperature is needed for lacquer. Sorry. You can use lacquer remover if you have one.

        By the way, are you selling "metallic smell", if so that is very normal. With iron and steel oxidize, you will smell and taste that. This is different from from oil smell.

        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          Well, I'm hoping that I've got most of it off. I took it to the garage and used some lacquer thinner with steel wool. There was lots of black stuff coming off, so I took it in and scrubbed with hot soapy water. Just popped it in the over @ 500 to dry and then covered with oil. There was some black residue on the paper towel that I used, so I'm hoping that I won't always be getting that on me and/or the food.

          Gonna cooks some onions later to see what happens. I hope I'm just smelling the metallic smell now. The first smell was awful. They had a more expensive wok of the same variety that was made in Japan, kinda wish I got that one, maybe it would have been less toxic smelling. But, I guess this is par for the course with these woks. Just wish I could find one made more locally that wouldn't need the crazy coating to make it here.

          Thanks for the help!

          1. re: bcemail

            Wish you the best. The metallic smell will go away in time. It is normal to have the metallic smell for brand new cast iron or carbon steel cookware. Now, the black stuffs probably is not lacquer by rather the carbon from the seasoning.

    2. hi there, i just bought a wok as well, the 14 inch Iron Pow Wok from amazon, for about 27.00, it had a black coating on it, instructions said simply to heat until black smoke cleared. luckily i scrubbed it with steel wool a great deal because the smell was really shockingly toxic smelling... i even took my baby outside until it cleared. i never cleaned the bottom exterior part of it, so maybe i should have done that...? have you ever resolved this issue or figured out if the coating is super toxic? thanks! definitely afraid to heat it again!

      1 Reply
      1. re: essnbench

        Hi, I think that I got most of it off, but it took forever, and I never completely trusted that it was set. I was worried about using it while my kids were around. The twist was that when I went to cook with it, I realized that the wok ring wouldn't fit on our cook top. I tried using the wok on the grate, but it was too unstable. In the end, I stuck the wok and the wok ring in a drawer, and I've been using my large DuBuyer saute pan as a wok, which works well. I still have been meaning to hack my wok ring to make it work, so that all that scrubbing and lost brain cells cleaning my wok wouldn't be wasted.
        I also considered the Lodge Wok. It's flat bottom but curved inside. Only problem is the weight makes it so you can't toss stuff, so I'd have to get used to only using tongs, etc. But I've become a cast iron devotee of late, and love the durability, natural non-stickness, etc.
        Good luck!