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Mar 3, 2014 10:12 AM

Debuyer carbon steel frustrations

Hello everyone - I know many threads have been started about seasoning carbon steel skillets but despite trying to follow instructions, my failures are really bumming me out. Any advice is appreciated!

I have a DeBuyer Carbone skillet 10.25" (I think). I first started seasoning on the stovetop with flaxseed oil till smoking but had trouble getting even coloration and it was slow going. After doing maybe 5 reps on the stove I switched to oven method (500F for 1 hour with thin coats of oil). I did 3-4 reps of that and was left with an even coat of black seasoning.
Next, I tried cooking some bacon in it. The bacon stuck immediately (I didn't use oil thinking the fat would render out) and not thinking through it, I boiled hot water in the pan to loosen the charred remains. That stripped nearly all the seasoning I had built up...So I cleaned with salt and reseasoned 5 times with the oven method.

This morning, I cooked bacon and eggs WITH butter this time. It stuck a little but loads better than first attempt - just some charred bits on the bottom. I soaked in the sink in hot water for 10m after letting the pan cool a bit and scrubbed with soft sponge - about half the seasoning came off again! (see photo). I would expect the seasoning to be quite hard but it seems it's not adhering well either to the pan or to previous layers.

I've heard not to cook bacon after first seasoning as the salts don't help the seasoning - is this my issue?
I know a lot of people recommend seasoning over time from cooking but I was really hoping to get a decent seasoning prior to use and using the newfound experience to reseason my wok

Thanks much for any help!

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  1. It's the sugar rather than the salt in the bacon that can cause problems when you cook bacon in a not-yet-fully-seasoned pan. It caramelizes, sticks, and then tends to pull off some of the seasoning when you try to remove it. When my pans were fairly new, I tried to use only and uncured Applegate bacon from Whole Foods that's very low in sugar and that worked well for me.

    Your pan looks pretty good to me, and although it's not want you want to hear, I would just start using it and stop worrying about it. You may need more fat in the pan at first, but you'll find you need less and less as time goes on.

    1. Maybe your expectation of getting even coloration is unreasonable. My Mineral pan has developed that black patina in places, but it's far from uniform and the whole effect is rather ugly. I don't worry about it, I just use it. I don't care what my pans look like.

      1. I think you are over worrying and probably making your life harder by trying to hard to get it perfect - the even black seasoning will come with time - just keep using it and it will get better - use more oil than you normally would to cook at first until the non stick seasoning is really good - dry after washing and lightly oil.

        1. Hi yunyh, I'm surprised to hear that the oven method did not produce a good seasoning layer for you, as that's the only way I was able to season my Debuyer. Every stovetop attempt resulted in grey, patchy, flaky seasoning. Looking at what you have in the pan now, I'd advise you simmer some vinegar in there to loosen up the old seasoning, then scrub it out with a stainless wire pad. Then repeat your earlier oven seasoning, using an animal fat and keeping it in there for 90 minutes per seasoning cycle. Make sure that you use a very thin layer of fat, and that pan is upside-down to avoid fat pooling.

          To be honest, I'm not super impressed with carbon steel. It seems like a less capable, stickier, less seasoning-stable version of cast iron to me. But if you season it this way, you can at least get some use out of it.

          5 Replies
          1. re: RealMenJulienne

            Very surprised to read your comments regarding carbon steel. That hasn't be my experience at all. I have 5 CI pans (one of which was my grandmothers), and bought three deBuyer Mineral Bs just about a year ago. My pans looked very much like yunyh's after my first few seasoning attempts, but this is what they look like after just going ahead an using them for a while. I adore them, find them no stickier (in fact, probably less so), and certainly no less seasoning-stable. I still use my cast iron on occasion, but reach for the carbon steel far more frequently.

            1. re: JoanN

              I don't doubt your experience, but I feel I've given Debuyer a fair shake and they have fallen pretty low on my kitchenware lineup. My seasoned cast iron can even fry pot sticker dumplings successfully; I wouldn't dare try it with the carbon steel. About the only thing I use mine for now is for frying pancakes when the cast iron is occupied with bacon or sausage.

              1. re: RealMenJulienne

                You might want to restart your carbon steels and try the stovetop method again (making sure you remove ALL the coating first). I trust my CS pans to be more nonstick than my CI (in fact, I did pot stickers in the CS just the other week).

                1. re: Sirrith

                  I don't consider the Debuyer to be bad exactly. It's usable, but anything it can do the CI can do better, at least in my hands. So I only use it if the CI is occupied cooking another dish. The seasoning on my Debuyer is a rich, glossy. even black but it still takes more oil and attention to prevent seasoning wear and food sticking.

                  1. re: RealMenJulienne

                    Starting with new CI and new CS, we (and by "we" I mean the Dude) sanded the CI smooth. After seasoning both, there's no contest. The CS was, and continues to be, much better than my CI. I'd never used either before, and wasn't sure what to expect. I was surprised at the difference.

                    Both kinds have lost patches of seasoning in one pan or another. I'm currently rebuilding the seasoning on my 10" CI round griddle and my 9" CS frypan. Last night I stripped some seasoning off a new CS stir fry pan.

                    Still, give me CS every day. It is just more reliably nonstick than the cast iron.

          2. You did remove the factory coating before seasoning it, right?

            If not, or if you did but might have left some on, get rid of everything using steel wool.

            Next, give up on flax. I tried it before, it came off. Use lard or crisco. Get the pan screaming hot, put a small piece of lard/crisco on the pan (about 1 tsp), then as soon as it melts completely wipe it all over the pan with a piece of cloth/tissue to spread it evenly, wait for it to smoke (it will, a lot), then wipe it all off. Repeat as many times as needed.