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How long for carbon steel pan seasoning to "settle in"?

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I'm having trouble retaining seasoning on my 2-month-old Debuyer mineral fry pan. My procedure is to coat with a thin layer of pork fat, bake upside down at 550 degrees for 20 minutes, then repeat 3-4 times until I have a hard, glossy black coating. The problem is that this seasoning wears very quickly after that, even with low-impact cooking like frying eggs or simmering water – nothing acidic. After 2-3 uses it is flaking off in patches and I need to reseason again. I always clean with salt and a paper towel, never soap or scouring pad. Am I seasoning incorrectly or do I just have to gradually break it in over time?

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  1. <bake upside down at 550 degrees for 20 minutes>

    I have read this a few times recently, and I don't know where this "20 minutes" comes from. Evidently, there must be a new movement of short time seasoning which I am not aware of. Here is my take. 20 minute is way too short for ovening seasoning. It is plenty for stoveotp seasoning because stovetop heats up a pan very quickly, but it is too short for oven seasoning.

    < The problem is that this seasoning wears very quickly after that>

    I don't think the seasoning was really formed in the short duration.

    <After 2-3 uses it is flaking off in patches and I need to reseason again>

    The flaking suggest two things. First, the very bottom layer of the seasoning was never settled. Twice, the total layer thickness of the seasoning is too thick.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      You did note OP siad he/she heats for a total of 1.5 to 2 hours?

      1. re: FrankJBN

        < he/she heats for a total of 1.5 to 2 hours>

        It does not matter if each layer was not properly seasoned. It isn't so much about the absolutely time, but the seasoning temperature and time and being properly done. You can do a proper stovetop seasoning for 20 minutes, and it will better than a incomplete seasoning in oven for 2 hours.

        Do you have any suggestion for the orignal poster?

      2. re: Chemicalkinetics

        So, the solution is to season for a longer time during each stage. How about 40 minutes per layer, with 4 layers total?

        I don't like using the stove top because I have a lousy stove with an uneven grate, so the oil flows and gets all patchy.

        1. re: RealMenJulienne

          <So, the solution is to season for a longer time during each stage. How about 40 minutes per layer, with 4 layers total?>

          Based on what you described, it seems the pan wasn't heated up long enough. When you stick a room temperature pan in a 550 degree oven, the pan and the oil does not instantly become 550, it takes awhile. It is very possible that 20 minute just wasn't enough to heat up the pan.

          40 minutes sound good to me.

          Now, how do you plan to remove the current seasoning layer before you start to reseason again?

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            Working on it now. Simmering vinegar on low heat seems to be taking it off pretty quickly.

            1. re: RealMenJulienne

              :) I guess that works too. (I have the experience of using vinegar to remove my seasoning (unintentionally).

      3. Quick update to this thread:

        I've finally managed to build up a tough, glossy black seasoning on my pan. Over high heat on the stovetop, I used tongs and a wadded paper towel to smear a thin layer of pork fat into the hot pan. Cooked until it stops smoking completely - about 20 minutes - and then repeat 3 or 4 more times. After then deep-frying some onions the seasoning really settled in to the even black, glass-smooth finish. Thanks all for the tips.

        1 Reply
        1. re: RealMenJulienne

          <Over high heat on the stovetop>

          Cool.

          <I used tongs and a wadded paper towel to smear a thin layer of pork fat into the hot pan>

          I like this method very much and use it for my cookware. I generally do not like to recommend this to others due to safety. Some of my recommendaitons here are the "dumbed" down version because I worry about people getting hurt. The paper towel can always burst into flame. I personally know what to do if it happens, but I just do not feel like putting others in this situation. Glad it all work out. Since you have done this once, then I will say in the future, use this technique over others. I really like this method.