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Jan 14, 2013 05:05 PM

Tried to season my first wok. Did I ruin it?

So I tried to season a wok following these directions:

But I think I messed up pretty badly. I misread the instructions and had a coating of oil on the pan during the initial heating/color changing step, which lead to a lot of the discoloration on the sides. And I had a really hard time getting my dorm burner hot enough to make the sides of the wok change color.

My first attempt left a greasy coating (that erroneous oil I guess) on the bottom of the wok. I soaped/scrubbed the whole thing with steel wool and tried again, this time finally getting the sides to darken a bit. But it's still pretty hideous.

End result attached.

Salvageable or a no go? Should I try the oven seasoning method here next time? Or is it too late to clean it off and try it now?

I've stir fried a few times. With some oil vegetables stick a little on the bottom (especially the lighter part), but not on the sides. Scrambled eggs stick pretty badly on the bottom. But maybe I need to build up a patina?

Not sure my burner is up to the task of doing this justice, especially when it comes to awkwardly holding it on its side trying to get the sides to darken up.

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  1. It's not ruined. I think you just don't have enough heat to do a great job. I do mine outside over hot coals with some wood burning in an open flame to get even more heat. Same way I wok for high heat. Works fast and makes it all black. At times I get mine literally red hot. At that point all the coating comes off.

    But yours is not ruined. You can always apply very high heat and burn off everything and start over. Can you find an oven to bake it on better? Also use high temp oil, like peanut oil. But my guess is you just can't get enough heat. Maybe you could get invited to a camp fire or BBQ and ask to play with it over the fire there. Of course, I use industrial foundry workers gloves.

    I wouldn't worry too much about cleaning it off. Just try to get more on at higher temp. That will bake what's already on there hard, plus any added oil.

    It doesn't look like anything is wrong. Just keep going like that and get it all black, but hard. "Patina" is just a coating of "ugliness" like you are building there. Re: the sides, that's why a like really hot coals with open flame. You can swirl oil around inside, up the sides, and it starts building hard black really quick. Oven is OK. But you can't swirl and watch it build. I can coat the outsides and handle too! All in real time. Fire, it's not an obsolete technology.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Eager6

      Thanks for the input! For now, I'll definitely try the oven method. Should I soap/scrub it all off and do a clean seasoning? Or just smear a layer of oil on and toss it in the oven?

      1. re: aegisxlii

        My 1st reaction is to just smear it with peanut oil and bake. But if the current coating is rough in spots, sand the rough down with steel wool or a 3M pad, maybe, or salt, or Al foil balled up. Then bake.

        The reason the Wok shop video looks so good is that she is using high even heat, with a high temp oil (like peanut). And this is before sticky food.

        Inside things are going to smell cuz you'll be at the smoke point of the oil. Another reason I like outside. But it's winter, and you may not have an outside. Just steel yourself for the comeing smell.

        1. re: Eager6

          Oven method worked great! Nice and golden brown all over, ready to slowly season more with time. Thanks a bunch.

    2. There are actually many many wok seasoning threads on chowhound. Do a search and see if any of them may be of use for you. You didn't ruin the wok, but you will definitely have to season your wok again. I don't like the oven method, but you can make it works.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        Thanks, I am just realizing this is a pretty frequenct concern/cliché question :)