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How do you season a cast-iron pan?

I'd really like to start cooking in cast iron pans, because i know if you get even a decent pan, you'll have it for the rest of your life, which is pretty darn appealing. i have a pretty darn big frying pan already, but it hasn't been seasoned for years, and i have no idea how to go about it, can anyone tell me?

tmantyla2 years ago
Sheryl Canter did lots of research and found a great, long-lasting, safe, science-based way to season iron pans. But it takes time and effort:

"Chemistry of Cast Iron Seasoning: A Science-Based How-To"
http://sherylcanter.com/wordpress/2010/01/a-science-based-technique-for-seasoning-cast-iron/

Also see her post “Black Rust” and Cast Iron Seasoning":
http://sherylcanter.com/wordpress/2010/02/black-rust-and-cast-iron-seasoning/

A website on biofuels, which lists the iodine values of oils, can help you decide which oil to use. Sardine (and other fish too) oil, then linseed oil (food grade, NOT from a hardware store) look like the best available, followed in order by soybean, sunflower and cottonseed oils. Look under the table titled "Oils and their melting points and Iodine Values":
http://www.journeytoforever.org/biofuel.html#howmuch

Why these oils? Josh posts(on Sheryl's blog):

"A more direct measurement of an oil’s ability to polymerize is its iodine value. In a nutshell, this measures how much iodine an oil can absorb, which in turn is an indication of how many bonding sites are available for polymerization."

Polymerizing of the fatty acids,perhaps in combination with "black rust" (magnetite) apparently creates the hard, nonstick surface in a well-seasoned pan.

The most readily available oil for seasoning in grocery stores at a low price is soybean oil, the only ingredient in Crisco Pure Vegetable Oil.
Mirime4 years ago
what we do is first if there is any rust or c**p is literaly build a good bonfire and stick the pan or whatever in the very center of the wood upside down and burn the sucker then the next day when it is all cool pullit out and grease it with some lard then bake it again. grandma did this with all off her pans once a year.

oh and dont light the wood untill after it in and have some marshmellows on hand for roasting 
gibandy5 years ago
great answers everyone. Here's a little bit of advice that I learned from the "school of hard knocks" >>>> Never fill the cast iron skillet/dutch oven with water and let it soak, you're pan will rust. Same goes for storing food in the fridge; don't store leftovers in the dutch oven, you'll get rust and have to re-season. If you have some hard to clean food residuals, heat it up on the stove to the point of burning it, then scrape it. Use water and a scrub pad to get the gunk off, heat your oven to 350, turn oven off and then put the pan in the oven as it cools down. Works pretty good.
iPodGuy5 years ago
I made an instructable all about seasoning and maintaining cast iron cookware. Take a look:

http://www.instructables.com/id/Tool-Tips-Guide-Cast-Iron-Cookware/
Some of those long answers seem pretty darn good. Mine is a little more basic with throwing it on the stove with some vegi oil in the bottom enough to barely cover the bottom. Letting the pan get nice and hot, so the oil it just starting to smoke. I then take my silicone BBQ sauce brush thing and dip it in the hot oil and spread it all over the pan and then let it cool off. I haven't had lots of experience with cast iron pans but their has worked so far for me.
Tiny bit of olive oil rubbed around on it. Also works on wood cutting boards.
I use this method as well.
WYBirdGrrl5 years ago
I have bought a ton of cast iron at auctions and yard sales over the years. If the pot/griddle/whatever is rusty, I like to use some steel wool to get the rust off. Then I wash it in very hot water with a scrubby and some dish soap (not a lot, but I don't think you have to be afraid.. use enough to get a good lather). But the pot on the stove and heat until all the water is evaporated so that you don't get more rust. The pot will now be a sad, steely color with streaks and spots. So now I suggest pouring a generous amount of veggie oil or crisco or lard or whatever greasy food stuff you prefer into your pot (not enough to fry potatos in, but enough to make the bottom really slick). Take a paper towel and wipe the oil all around until everything is coated and looks black and shiny. Now put the pot in the oven and let the oven heat to 350. Once at temp, turn the oven off and let the pot sit in there until cool. At this point you can repeat the process if the pot isn't uniformly black and shiny, but one treatment is usually enough. If you have a pot that you cook acids in like tomato sauces, or if you cook meat or fish in the pot and find yourself having to really scrub the pot to get it clean, you can repeat this process as much as you need to to keep that great seasoning on the pot. Two more things. #1 as a general rule, not using dish soap is a good idea--hot water and a scrubby or one of those nylon pan scrapers does the job most of the time. But every so often you need to use soap--maybe the dog licked the pot or you didn't do the dishes right away and just can't get the goo out of the pan. Just use as little as you can get away with and then... #2. Every single time you wash the pot you need to put it on the stove to let it dry completely. Any standing water in there and you are asking for rust (this will not ruin the pot, but you will have to re-season it from the start). After the pot is warm and dry, pour some oil in, wipe it around with a paper towel and let it sit like that until you use it next. I like veggie or canola oil for this (not olive oil or lard) because in a warm climate those other things can go rancid in the pot. Good luck! And remember that the best thing about cast iron is that you really can't ruin it! It is built to last and be "refinished".. just like good furniture.
caitlinsdad5 years ago
Cast iron is the greatest, especially if you want to fry up something nice and crispy or get a nice sear on the food. Eggs and pancakes come out great. If your pan gets seasoned right, it will actually become "non-stick", but still use a bit of oil for easy cleanup. Seasoning is a dark coating that your pan gets after repeated cooking and treating. Take out that old pan and give it a good cleaning with hot water and dishsoap. Use a synthetic scrubber to wear down any rusty spots. Towel dry the pan. Put it on the stove and heat it up till it gets hot enough to where you can feel the heat with your hand placed over it . No need to get it red hot but next, put in a few drops of cooking oil. Careful not to splash, and it may smoke a bit. Grab a pair of tongs or spatula and wad up a paper towel to wipe the oil around the entire pan. You'll see some "seasoning" wipe off on the towel, it is not dirt. Add more oil if needed. You can heat up the pan for a minute or two longer and turn off the heat to let the pan cool. You can do this once or twice more and it should be seasoned for use. For cleanup after cooking, just soak a bit, if needed - scrub lightly with a synthetic or non-scratch pad, towel dry or reheat on the stove to dry. Season with another drop of oil. I think the heat is supposed to open up the pores. The more you cook and season afterwards, the better the seasoning will be. Cooking highly acidic foods like tomato sauce in cast iron for a long time is supposedly bad since it may react with the iron but I've never really run into that problem or cooked something like that for long in a properly seasoned pan. Bon appetit and good luck.
NEVER use soap to clean a cast iron pan. The taste will stay in it forever.
Use dishsoap; dishwashing liquid; same stuff to clean dishes. Never throw in the dishwasher with the caustic dishwasher detergents.
iotao5 years ago
Here's a link to a very helpful explanation that I found while researching this topic quite some time ago. While the other posts on that page are very informative too, the one by acmorris is quite possibly the best one on the subject I've read.
Fo55ilise5 years ago
You season a cast Iron frypan by rubbing a little oil around in it, pour in some (not huge amounts - enough to just cover the base) table salt and put over a high flame and heat When the salt turns brown, grab some kitchen roll and (try not to burn yourself here) rub the salt all around the pan's inner surface. Repeat a couple of times, washing in just clean water between each go. Always worked for me - hope it works for you too.
rickyd!5 years ago
put some bacon grease in it and put it in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes
rickyd! rickyd!5 years ago
you basically have to get grease in the pores
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