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Feb 16, 2012 12:17 PM

Cast iron question - reddish/yellow tint after seasoning?

So I got myself a set of Lodge cast iron, managed to scruff off most of the preseasoning and began to reseason with a conglomeration of pork fat and various vegetable oils (basically whatever's around). I've coated each skillet with a thin layer of oil, making sure I wipe off excess, and I've put them in the oven at 350F for an hour. I was told to do this a few times (4-5 repetitions) so as to set the seasoning better. I've just finished my third seasoning, and all has gone well, except for this kind of disconcerting coppery tint to both the inside and outside of the skillets. I've got a picture here to show what's happening, and I'm wondering if someone could tell me whether this is the beginnings of rust, something else equally bad, or just a weird anomaly and I should ignore it.

Thank you!

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  1. Is it sticky feeling? It is hard to tell but it looks like it hasn't been cooked hot enough and/or long enough. My oven is old and I don't know if 350 on my oven is really 350, but I need to put mine in on about 400 for an hour or maybe longer. I could do it at 350, but I would need to leave the pot in for more like 2 hours. It could depend on the oil or grease you use too. Different oils need different temps to harden. I use lard or bacon grease. I have not had any successe with veg oils except for peanut oil.

    Anyway, my pans will look more brown when I don't bake them long enough or hot enough. I once put a pan in at 400 for about an hour then turned it down to about 325 with the intent to leave it another 30 min or an hour. I forgot and left the house for, I don't know, maybe 3 hours? I came back in and realized I had left the oven on an the pans inside and panicked. First I thought about all the electricity I had used, fire hazard while I was gone, and figured I had probably just burned off all my seasoning, by leaving it in so long.
    Low and behold, I had the pretties, blackest skillets that came out. (blacker than usual)

    So you might want to put it back in, (no more added oil) and fire it up a little hotter and for another hour. I think this just isn't baked on enough and I wouldn't add anymore oil until this was all blackened. This may take a while because you have several layers that have not completely hardened and blackened. But it will. :o)

    5 Replies
    1. re: dixiegal

      Yes, it is a little sticky, and it does almost look like the coloration follows the same pattern as the stickiness. I'm going to try putting it in for longer/higher (especially since I know my oven can't tell temperature reliably) and we'll see what comes of it. Thank you so much for the advice, dixiegal! :)

      1. re: krysting

        Your welcome krysting.
        When I was first married and received my first brand new lodge CI, I decided to follow lodges directions for seasoning, instead of my mothers and mother-in-law. That was to use veg oil and bake at 350 for an hour. Yep, I had a brown sticky mess that I couldn't even wash off very well. So, I put it back in the oven, and turned up the heat to try and burn off what was on it. Well, I didn't do that right either. Which was a blessing, becuause instead of burning of the brown gunk, it baked on and turned dark. So, that was how I learned to bake on seasoning.(as well as listen to my mom and MIL)
        But for me, it didn't really get hard and black to my satisfaction until I gave up the veg oil and just used bacon grease, lard, or Crisco Shortening. I don't know why the shortening works better for me than the oil, but it does.
        I prefer the pork fat, because of the suttle flavor that it adds to my food. I seldom eat pork or pork fat anymore and I miss it. This is a way to still capture some flavor fo me.

        I saw a you tube thing where someone popped pop corn in their cast iron dutch oven and he said he liked the flavor it gave the pop corn. I am going to try that.

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            +1. Your oven just wasn't hot enough. Preheat your oven to 400-425 (only cause 350 in your oven clearly isn't hot enough - honestly I use 400 for seasoning mine and it works great). Before seasoning it again, I'd first scrub it hard with kosher salt and steel wool. Then a nice light coating of canola oil or lard and 400-425 for 30 min. Then turn off the oven and leave the door closed. Let it slowly cool. Give it another light coat and repeat.

            I truly would recommend that you give the pan 3-4+ treatments before you plan to use it - to give it a very nice layered seasoning. A mere 1 treatment isn't enough. IMO, even 2 isn't enough. I LOVE my lodge 10" and use it every day. I'm also a big fan of the 5-6 quart spiral handle dutch oven and own a 12" also but it just doesn't get used as often.

            Plan to give it more treatments over time - like every 2-3 months. If you really season it well, it will be very nearly bulletproof and can be truly abused without fear.

            1. re: jkling17

              Like you, I also prefer seasoning at a higher temperature.

      2. Looks like rust to me.

        1. "I think this just isn't baked on enough ..."

          No, no, no! If it feels sticky, you need to wash it off, not bake it on. Seasoning is not "baked on," it is a very thin layer which adheres to the surface. You are trying to speed up the process and overdoing it, I think, and may be reluctant to wash it properly because of the advice some people give warning against this.

          Proper seasoning takes time. There should never be such an accumulation of grease that it feels sticky. My well-seasoned pan feels like what it is, hard metal, not baked on grease. It has a semi- gloss appearance with no stickiness, and it is not damaged by washing, including a little detergent now and then.

          1 Reply
          1. re: GH1618

            >Seasoning is not "baked on," it is a very thin layer which adheres to the surface. <

            If you do not "bake on" your seasoning, then how do you get the "very thin layer to adhere to the surface"?

            Like I said, I have done the exact same thing that krysting did, (more than once) and I just popped it back in the oven and cooked, baked, grilled or whatever you want to call it, until the seasoning/coating, "adhered" to the surface of the pan and proceeded to become "hard as the metel".

            Many times I start seasoning a pan and either want to go to bed or need to go to work, so I turn off the oven and leave. Sometimes when I get back, I see that my pan coating is not hard enough. Sometimes it is even still tacky or sticky. I put it back in the oven, turn up the heat and cook it, or bake it longer. This has never failed to work for me. Like Chem said: "it is incomplete seasoning"

            Now if the grease was built up oil from where it was oiled and then stored away(without ever baking it on) to become sticky, gooey and rancid. Then I agree. Try to scrub it off. But if it is oil or grease that has not completed the seasoning cycle in the oven. You can just put it back in and conitinue heating it until the oil or grease becomes black and hard.

            I have used cast iron for over 30 years and watched my mother, grandmother and aunt use it for much longer. I do have experiance with this. The first pan I ever cooked in as a young girl was cast iron.

          2. Warm the pan, add a couple tablespoons of Kosher salt and add a little oil to the salt. Fold up a paper towel and scrub the mixture on the bottom. You may have to repeat the process a couple times.

            The next time you season it try less oil and higher heat. Then let the pan cool so that you can touch it. Check with your fingertip for any sticky spots. If you find them then you can do various things after scrubbing off the sticky spots. Less oil, longer time in the oven with the heat on and finally higher heat.

            Don't drive yourself crazy shooting for the perfect seasoning. Lots of use is the best for the pan and your state of mind.

            1. Not to disconcert you, but my cast-iron skillet had a distinctly brown color up until about a year ago. I was always very careful to avoid soap when washing it (and never had any problems with food sticking), and always wash it with a brush and hot water, dry it on the gas stove and reseason it with a little vegetable or canola oil on a paper towel, but a pan used only every month or two can take a long time to get that lovely black color mine finally enjoys. My advice: keep using yours!