HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >


Brown patina on seasoned cast iron skillets

I recently seasoned my cast iron skillets for the first time, and they have a noticeably brown patina on them. They look almost bronze-like instead of the black that is normally associated with cast iron skillets. Is there a way to get that black color without having to completely start the seasoning process all over again? More importantly, is it safe to eat out of?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I don't know why it would be unsafe. What is your cleaning regimen after use?

    4 Replies
    1. re: GH1618

      I use hot water and scrub off any stuck on food with a stiff brush. Then I dry it on the stove and rub a light layer of safflower oil while it's still hot.

      1. re: pandoobus

        I think adding the oil at the end is the problem. After rinsing well, I put it over the heat for a short time and wipe dry with a paper towel. The towel removes surface oil along with the water. Then I put it away dry. There is no reason to leave an oil residue on a well-seasoned pan.

        1. re: GH1618

          Are you sure that's safe? We've all heard that one must apply a drop of oil to prevent cast iron from rusting.

          1. re: Mustardeer

            I ignore that advice, and it hasn't killed me yet. My pan doesn't rust because it's old and well-seasoned, but even if it did have a little superficial rust, that isn't poisonous.

    2. Another possibility - if you happened to sand your skillet down (made it metalic-looking rather than black) before seasoning it, a reddish hue is actually pretty normal for a newly seasoned pan. It's just the color of a thin layer of seasoning, made visible by the lighter-colored metal underneath. It will darken in time as seasoning builds up.

      That said, it would be a lot easier to say for certain what you're experiencing if you included a pic or two.

      1. It is a bit difficult for me to access. Brown patina, like cowboyardee said, is actually very normal seasoned color especially if you started from an unseasoned pan.

        However, if the brown color easily come off from papertowel, then that is probably rust.

        The brown seasoning will eventually turn into black. No need to worry. Yes, it is very safe to eat out off.

        1. My CI always does this in the beginning. Over time it will turn black. I too, store my CI dry. Greasy pans attract dust and will go rancid if stored and not used for a period of time. time. There really is no reason to store them oily. The baked on seasoning keeps them from rusting.

          2 Replies
          1. re: dixiegal

            <My CI always does this in the beginning. Over time it will turn black.>

            I agree.

            <There really is no reason to store them oily. The baked on seasoning keeps them from rusting.>

            I agree too. I think if someone is really concern about rusting from the humid air for long term storage (like a year or more), then one can always do one more additional seasoning before storage.

            Moreover, it is not that difficult to remove minor rust. It may be more difficult to remove rancid oil.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              >Moreover, it is not that difficult to remove minor rust. It may be more difficult to remove rancid oil.<

              Not to mention rancid oil smells. blek. The biggest mistake I ever made was oiling my wooden bowls with veg oil. Not only did it smell bad, it was so sticky and gummy. Took forever to get it off. It took many times of scrubbing with salt.

              I once was at a flea market and picked up on that rancid oil smell. I guessed it was coming from a booth with either wood kitchen stuff and/or cast iron pots and pans. BINGO a booth full of rancid old cast iron.
              I guess if you are selling old cast iron, you gotta do something to keep the rust at bay. Rancid oil stinks, but it won't harm the metal. It would be easier to get off of ci than wooden bowls. You can throw the cast iron on the grill or oven and bake it off.

          2. i have the same problem and i was lead to this thread. i bought 3 cast iron pans for $5, 2 small ones and one regular sized. i got it in the self-clead oven and got the gunk out. i used flax oil to season it and i did 3 seasoning for now, and they are dark brown in color. i was almost going to strip it again and do over until i found this thread. i might try to wait and see if it turns black after some time of use and additional seasoning.

            1. I reseasoned a new Lodge with flax seed oil. The first several coats came out bronze. After about the fourth or fifth coat it went black. I now have about 6-8 coats on it now and it works like a charm. When I started seasoning it, every time I baked some thing, when finished, I bumped the temp up to 450 and put the oiled skillet in and let it cook for 1/2 hour and then shut it down and left it in over night.

              1. Oil darkens over time. Keep cooking - they'll turn black.