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Sep 11, 2012 11:30 AM

Is my wok getting seasoned properly... or is it just dirty?

Hi y'all,

I hope that this is the right place to ask this kind of question. I'm still pretty new to cooking for myself at home, and I'm getting a lot of great information (and recipes!) from around the internet. I've recently started using my wok more, and reading up on proper care and technique, and I've run into this problem:

I can't tell if my wok is getting seasoned, or if it's just plain ol' greasy and dirty!

I've read that woks go through a transitional phase for about a year, and in that time it is likely to look greasy or even be gummy while building up its patina. At the same time, I'm a little afraid of cleaning my wok too much for fear of scrubbing off the seasoning that it's already building up. When I run my finger along the sides of the wok it feels smooth and metallic... but I dunno, it looks so very not right.

I am attaching a photo of where my wok is at now, in case anyone can help me recognize if this is normal or cause for concern. I'd appreciate anyone's thoughts; am I heading in the right direction for a lovely, seasoned, no-stick wok? I'd like to keep using it as much as possible.


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  1. Cleaning your wok should involved little more than heating a small amount of water in it and wiping out the residue then wipe it dry while it's still warm. Followed by wiping a bit of oil on its still warm surface. If you're cleaning more thoroughly than the you are, IMO, overdoing it.

    1. <I've read that woks go through a transitional phase for about a year, and in that time it is likely to look greasy or even be gummy while building up its patina>

      I don't believe that. It may takes a year before the seasoning toughen up and look pitch black, but it should never be gummy.

      < I'm a little afraid of cleaning my wok too much for fear of scrubbing off the seasoning that it's already building up>

      This is a tough one. Some people are too tough for a new wok while it is still building up the seasoning. Others are too gentle that allows burned on food to build up -- which you don't want to do.

      As for you photo, I cannot be sure especially in the center. Does it feel smooth like you said? If so, you are fine. If it feels very rough, then you have burned on food. In that case, I would scrub the build-up off.

      The side of the wok looks a bit thin for seasoning, but it is probably ok. It will come in time. How long have you had this wok?

      There are several wok seasoning posts here. Have you had the chance to read them?

      3 Replies
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        Thank you both for your responses. I know it can be hard to tell from a photograph, but I appreciate the assessments.

        The bottom of the wok feels mostly smooth, but there is a bit of build up that I will try to gently remove without getting into the seasoning. I've had the wok for a while, but I just started from scratch a few weeks ago by really scrubbing it new and fresh and shiny silver-- I wanted to be sure I was doing things right, and a fresh start seemed to be the best way to do that.

        I will look into other threads on this board; I had tried to at first, but for some reason I didn't see that there was an actual Cookware board. The Mods kindly moved my question over here after I posted it in the Home Cooking section. I'm glad to be in the right place now. :)

        1. re: SabuPDX

          <but there is a bit of build up >

          A bit of build up is not abnormal, but you don't want too much. There are many ways to remove these buiild-up. A gentle method is to use a mixture of table salt and cooking oil, and scrub with a papertowel, a 1 teaspoon salt to 1 teaspoon oil is a good ratio, or 2 to 2. The other effective method is to use a hard plastic as a scrubber. A old pastry scrubber or even an old credit card can work.

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            Ha! I was probably doing the salt/oil rubdown just as you were typing your reply. Searching around the forums led me to Grace Young's recommendation to do that. It felt good to do, and I think it will help-- also, it smelled really nice. :)

      2. HA! Not really laughing at you, that's sort of a Zennish discovery sort of HA!

        This is exactly why I STILL don't own a wok - the question of whether it's seasoned, or just dirty.

        I promise you, about half the woks I've seen in other people's homes ARE just dirty!

        I fear the wok and the fine line it seems to require one to walk, between seasoning and filth.


        1. Thank you to everyone here for your thoughts and advice. I've been enjoying my wok these past few weeks-- still getting used to it, but I think it's getting better.

          I had another (related) question I was hoping I could ask without starting a new thread:

          I've found that I really enjoyed the Grace Young method of seasoning by cooking green onions and sliced ginger for 20 minutes or so. Does anyone know if there is any danger of doing this often? I feel like I could do it again and again... but I wouldn't want to "over-season" the wok, or just plain ol' waste my time with it.

          Any thoughts?

          2 Replies
          1. re: SabuPDX

            I don't use her seasoning method, but I don't see any problem of repeatly doing this. Yes, it is possible to overseason a wok, but it has more to do with incomplete seasoning.

            It is not unusual to re-season a wok every once awhile. Usually you will do this more often when the wok is new. Gradually, you will do so less frequent. Reseasong your wok whenever you notice foods start to excessively sticking to the wok.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              Thanks, Chemicalkinetics, that's just the kind of information I was looking for! :)