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Please Help - Urgent Wok Crisis!


I have been away for a month and my housemate used my Wok. He left it half filled with water!!!!! I got back to day horrified to find it covered in water with bits of rust floating in it! And there looks like a bit of the black coating has come right of.

I am not sure what type of wok I have; but it is certainly non stick. Pretty sure it is Iron. I had to take off a layer of silver coating when I brought it from the store and season it numerous times.

Anyway. I have had it for months, had a beautiful black coating on it. And now I am quite honestly distraught.
I have soaked it with some detergent (prob not what It needed!) and dried it. See pics for post-soak pictures.
I heard rust can make you sick?
is this actually rust now on my wok?
Time to get a new one?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

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  1. (a close up of the weird white patch on the wok)

    1. close up of white bit that I think is the undercoat?

      1. I think this is the time for new one, sorry :)

        2 Replies
        1. re: LaurenKrese

          Yes,time for a new one....preferably purchased by your housemate to replace the one he ruined!

          1. re: grangie angie

            i prefer you get a hight quality one
            that's better for your work

        2. It sure looks like a rusty steel wok to me. Before buying a new one, see if you can clean it up. You could soak it in vinegar for a few hours to overnight, then give it a salt/oil scrub to remove the rest of the rust. After that, re-season and you might be good to go. It's easy and much cheaper than buying a new pan.

          If, otoh, cleaning reveals that's it's badly pitted, then I'd make roomie spring for a new one.

          1. I think you are fine and the wok is more then salvageable. Take a metal wooly scrubby thing and scrub some of the black seasoning off where that white patch is. Then re-season. Also scrape any leftover rust off.

            The wok I am currently using is one I found on the street pre garbage pick up. It was rusty and unevenly seasoned. I did the above and now I have a nicely seasoned wok. It's the beauty of these kind of woks.

            1. It is definitely a carbon steel wok. The black coating is the seasoning layer.

              <I had to take off a layer of silver coating>

              That I have not heard of.

              <I heard rust can make you sick? >

              Not really, unless in huge quantity.

              <is this actually rust now on my wok? >

              Yes, you have some rust on the surface, but like beetlebug said, you can still salvage it.

              <Time to get a new one? >

              Up to you, but I think you can just season the wok once and twice to get it back up and running.

              What I would so is to use a one of those green pads to sand off any questionable layer. Just to remove any trace of rust. Rinse it once. Then, you can add oil and season the wok once or twice on the stovetop.

              You have the option of burning all of the seasoning if you like. In that case, put the wok in a self cleaning oven and have the self cleaning cycle to burn off the seasoning. You can do it on the stovetop as well if you know what to do.

              13 Replies
              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                Hey Chem?

                I've always wondered about using the self-clean cycle to strip a wok. Wouldn't it be likely to warp, if it's a flat-bottom wok?

                1. re: DuffyH

                  I never gave thought regarding this. The reason is that I think it is unavoidable for a wok. Not so much about the self cleaning cycle, but that the woks are always used in high temperature cooking that the flat bottom woks will sooner or later warp just from their normal uses.

                  A slight warping is inconsequential on a gas stove or an electric coil stove. It will be problem for electric radiative stoves.

                  The original poster's wok already look slightly curve up at the center.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    I kind of thought it might be me. I have the Joyce Chen stir fry pan, which has a larger base than a wok, and it warped quite early in the seasoning process. It works on my induction range and heats up very fast and hot, but it is very wobbly, and I have to hold the handle to keep it flat.

                    Perhaps I should do as Swissair does, and switch to a clad stainless pan. He sure likes them.

                      1. re: law_doc89

                        Yeah. I noticed. It is still do-able for self-cleaning oven. What you need to do (or what I used to do) is to wrap a wet paper towel on the handle, and then wrap aluminum foil to enclosed the wet papertowel along with the handle. This will hopefully keep the moisture in the handle area.

                          1. re: law_doc89

                            Well, there is that option too since a wok is usually about $15-25 -- not too expensive. The original poster will just have to decide what makes the most sense.

                    1. re: DuffyH

                      The clean cycle would be too hot. I think the wooden handles will get destroyed. The OP can bake the wok after covering the handles with wet cloth/sponge, but self-clean gets well over 900 degrees.

                    2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      What I was referring to when I mentioned the silver coating was the store manufacturer's coating. The wok had to be completely scrubbed and then placed over the flame and seasoned with oil about 10 times before intial use. If that makes any sense?

                      I think I may be seasoning wrong. Do you just heat the wok up till smoking and then add oil and sear it over the surface?

                      Whats your take on non stick woks. I am always happy to have another wok (I only have one), and am thinking of buying this: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ozeri-Smooth-...

                      1. re: borisabrams

                        I have heard about the clear lacquer which need to be scrubbed and placed over flame....etc, but the lacquer coating is usually clear in color.

                        I think your seasoning method is fine since your seasoning layer looks good. I probably won't do it as many as 10 times, but there is nothing wrong with this.

                        As for your Green Earth Wok, there are many advantages. It is easy to start (no seasoning required, easy to care for (it won't rust), and it can handle very high temperature (unlike typical Teflon nonstick cookware). However, it has one very big disadvantage: the nonstick surface in these ceramic nonstick cookware do not last very long -- usually shorter than Telfon based cookware. You can read some of the lower star reviews here:


                        "The non-stick goes away very quickly after a few times of using...."

                        "...But after 3 months, food begins to stick at the bottom, making it much harder to clean."

                        "...but found out it is not THAT good at all after 2 months' regular use."

                        "...After that, it's like melting cheese to the rice even with 5 tablespoons of olive oil in the pan for 2 cups of cooked rice"

                        "After half year of use. I decide to throw away this wok and admit that next time, I should do better research"

                        "I bought this Ozeri wok and used it for about 2 months, now my wife asks me to throw it away. Why? becasue we had never been used any wok sticky like this one and so hard to clean it too..."

                      2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        hey thanks for all the advice!
                        So I did a 'wok facial' of rubbing salt and oil and removed most rust.
                        then did a total reseason of the wok (high flame --> off the flame --> pour oil and let it burn into the wok). Did it about 3 times.
                        It seemed to do the trick! But its not got a werid texture over the base of the wok. When i try and rub it off I get a brown looking muck spread on the wok. It may be oil residue?
                        What do you think it could be? This is how it looks now! I want to start using it already!

                        1. re: borisabrams

                          Ah, wok facial. That is a term which Grace Young loves to use. She probably invented this term, to be honest.


                          I like to think of my wok as a man, so I ain't going to ever give him a facial. :D

                          <But its not got a werid texture over the base of the wok.>

                          It looks like you have the gummy/sticky layer at the bottom. It simply means that the oil layer was too thick during seasoning, so some of the oil wasn't able to fully seasoned.

                          <It may be oil residue? >


                          What to do next depending how bad/thick this layer is. If it isn't too thick, then you can just go ahead and use it. In time, it will disappear. If it is very thick, then you can either (1) scrap some of the layer off with a metal turner or the green pads or whatever tools, or (2) take the wok to high heat, and have the heat to burn some of this layer off -- thinning it.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            Ah that makes sense - I only had a bit of groundnut oil left so just finished it of in the last seasoning cycle. Will try that out!
                            Hopefully can start using it tonight!

                      3. First off, you don't need a new wok. Secondly, it's carbon steel so it's totally salvageable.

                        Heat up your wok, add salt and use wads of paper towels and scrub away all the loose chips.

                        If you have a plain steel sponge, wash the wok wish dish soap.

                        By this time, all signs of rust should be gone.

                        Now, it's time to season. There's a youtube video by the Wokshop that will help with it. But here's the plan.

                        Turn on your oven and set to 350-400 degrees.

                        Heat up the wok so it's completely dry. Add some oil - peanut or canola and rub that all over your wok - inside and outside.

                        Since your wok has wooden handles, wrap the handles with a damp dish cloth, then cover completely with foil. This will prevent handle from burning.

                        Place wok in oven for 30 minutes or so.

                        Extra step: if you have chives, stir fry until they're charred on stovetop.

                        UNLESS your wok had holes or the handles have broken/fallen off, there's no need to buy a new one. It's almost always salvageable.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: nikkib99

                          OP's wok may have a detachable long handle, many of them do. Mine screws on easily. But the small helper handle will still need to be covered, as you say.

                          1. re: nikkib99

                            Thanks for the advice!
                            My oven is pretty bad (only a few more months of student accommodation!) - why I am so reliant on my wok!
                            Would seasoning the wok on the hob be as effective once I have rubbed salt and oil etc. Shall I just turn up the fire really high, drop oil in and turn the flame to low?

                            1. re: borisabrams

                              <Would seasoning the wok on the hob be as effective once I have rubbed salt and oil etc. >

                              Seasoning the wok on hob is better than in the oven -- in my experience.

                              You did this 10 times, right? Quote "seasoned with oil about 10 times before intial use." You are fine.

                              1. re: borisabrams

                                If you can get the flame really high, I think you'll be fine.
                                So you've done the salt/oil scrub and you're sure there's no longer any rust - great.

                                You've seasoned multiple times, so while your wok may not be fully blackened, it should be smooth to the touch and should not have little to no black residue when you wipe it with a paper towel.

                                Try this:
                                Heat up the wok until it smokes.
                                Then add about 1 tsp oil - might not need that much and swirl it around to make sure the wok is fully oiled.

                                Using a paper towel, rub the wok until it's completely clean and look at the paper towel. If it's black, then you might need to do this a few times until the paper towel just shows oil - not stain.
                                If all that shows is oil, you're all set. Happy woking!

                                1. re: borisabrams

                                  Did you review the vid for stovetop seasoning for which nikki provided a link?

                              2. If you do feel you need a new wok contact Tane at The Wok Shop. She responds to emails very quickly and is very helpful. She helped me select the perfect wok for my needs:


                                Good luck! :-)

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: UTgal

                                  Tane Chan is the best. The video link I gave was her showing how to season a wok. As much as I'd love to give Mrs Chan business, she'll probably tell OP she does not need a new wok.

                                  Then again, you might want to buy something from her just for that cute back scratcher.

                                2. How much did it cost?

                                  If it is cheap, just buy a new one and tell the RM to pay attention to the Chinese cleaver you wield!

                                  1. New wok and new housemate (or at least a good scolding).

                                    1. I have a wok very similar to yours and other than the "friend" who did this to you deserving to be waterboarded <g> it's a relatively easy problem to clear. Actually, you have two options here: you can recure it in the oven (yes! wooden handles on a wok do just fine in a hot oven, you just wrap the wooden handles in several layers of wet paper towels, then wrap aluminum foil around them so they don't dry out).

                                      To recure it, just follow this video from The Wok Shop in San Francisco. If you don't have fresh chives, the green oart os green onions work fine. And I use wet paper towels on my handles. It will work like a charm!