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Aug 21, 2012 12:13 AM

Best way to remove a non-stick from carbon steel?

I picked up a small carbon steel wok the other day that I really like, even though it had a Teflon non-stick coating on the inside. I thought I would just remove the non-stick surface when I figured out the best way to do so.

I used it about three times so far, just for small things...and in the process some of non-stick on the bottom surface is already chipping off by itself...I guess from just from the heat used?

I read that Easy-Off oven cleaner would easily remove the Teflon, so tried that tonight using the Heavy Duty Easy-Off spray. But after an hour of soaking in the spray it did not seem to have any effect on the non-stick surface.

My other options seem to be:

1. Get it really hot on my 12,000BTU wok stove, and see if the heat will cause it to peal off.
2. Use sand paper, and steel wool.
3. Try my electric drill with a steel wire brush wheel.

I was under the impression that it would not take much abuse to cause the non-stick to come off, but it seems to a little more resistant to removal than I anticipated. Any ideas or advice would be much appreciated.


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  1. Well, option 1 and 2 will work, but make sure you are in a good ventilation if you opt for option 1. Sand paper obviously will work, but it will take some time. I am not so sure about the electric drill, but it does not hurt to try.

    1. Make certain that the substratum is actually a metal you'd want to come in contact with could well have an additional coating or metal underneath that is NOT a good surface for cooking, whether it just sticks like mad or could even be bad for you.

      6 Replies
      1. re: sunshine842

        The wok is made by Ken Hom, and boasts that is made of Carbon Steel with a non-stick inner surface. The high heat had no effect on it, except to darken it a little. The steel brush on full speed did even less. I am kind of amazed at how well this wok is holding up, considering my efforts to remove the non-stick.

        The label lists a contact number and email address for questions, so will check with them on the question of the surface under the non-stick (if I am able to remove it). There used to be a guy I knew who did some sand-blasting for me in years past...might check that out as a last resort..

        A lot of fuss for a small wok.

        1. re: Ronbo36

          Hi. According to the Ken Hom website...The Tao carbon steel woks feature a Xylan non-stick coating offering outstanding abrasion and scratch resistance. Xylan is reinforced with unique particles that are virtually as hard as diamonds.

          You might want to look at those abrasive disks meant for polishing granite.

          1. re: Ronbo36

            I am beginning to think it would be easier to just get a new wok. Of course, I can understand your passion for trying to make this into a project.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              Hi Java,

              Thanks for the info on the Xylan coating. It does seem to be highly resistant to scratching and abrasion, but easily peels off during medium heat cooking (haven't figured that one out yet)?

              Hi Chem,
              No I am not looking for a project (the last thing I want or need), I just have never seen such a nice small (20cm) well made carbon steel wok before. But if I can't fix it, I will just toss it.


              1. re: Ronbo36

                easily peels off during medium heat cooking...

                You could try burning it off with a propaine toarch or just light a charcoal fire inside of it . Be mindful of any toxic fumes. To be honest, it might be easier to get a new one.

                1. re: JavaBean

                  They always say the most toxic stuff associated with Teflon/et al is released when it is overheated.

        2. This has probably become a "principle of the thing" to get this accomplished, but I wouldn't recommend it. First, not worth the trouble with cheap enough woks out there, and second, how do you know you get the whole non-stick coating off? What if you get most, but not all, put it in high heat, accidentally inhale the fumes, and find yourself in the hospital?

          I had a side project where I tried to remove the nonstick coating off an old pan that was destined for high heats. I took my random orbital porter cable with a paint-stripping wire brush, followed by various degrees of sand paper to the pan, spent a couple hours polishing away. Looked like it did the job, but then I got this sudden feeling.. how do I know? Wasn't worth the risk to me, tossed the pan.

          If you go with it, good luck. if you don't do the sand blasting route, do it mechanically with an orbital polisher and a small head, using the automotive paint wire brush, and then work down with various sandpapers. Then clean with harsh detergents and finally nuke it in as high heat a grill as you can, outside, away from wildlife. Finally, repeat.