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How to Clean a Carbon Steel Wok: a Complete Guide

Every wok owner should know how to clean a wok. A proper cleaning of your wok is what will help it serve you longer. If you do it after every meal preparation, it will have the best effect on the pan. It doesn’t matter what you were cooking, cleaning a wok is essential. Moreover, it prepares the utensil for the next use. In this article, we will tell you how to clean a carbon steel wok.
The whole cleaning process is not difficult at all. Just make it your habit and your wok will be in the best condition for a long time. If you are frying in a wok frequently, our tip is to purchase a non-metallic scrubber in order to make the cleaning process even easier.

How to Clean a Wok

The wok has become extremely popular in the last years because it lets you cook delicious meals easily. The shape of the pan helps to distribute and concentrate the heat and many people even make sauces in it. But sediment from the oil and many Asian sauces that you might use, can gradually reduce cooking efficiency. In that way, it is essential to keep the inside walls of the wok clean. It is also better not to use strong chemicals. Therefore, knowing how to clean a wok is essential to preserve its qualities.
Let’s find out how to clean a wok after cooking. There are two main methods. Let’s start with the traditional and the most popular one:

Step 1

To clean a wok, first heat it over high heat. When a thick layer of oily sediment forms, place the pan over a strong fire and hold it until it gets very hot. Depending on the intensity of the heat, the wok can change color, becoming almost red in the middle. It may also slightly smoke and smell like metal.

Step 2

Chip off the sediment. When the sediment starts to build up a crust (it really will be crunchy), the wok is ready to be cleaned. Turn off the heat. Be careful and hold the handle of the pan with a potholder and peel off the crust with a flat non-metal spatula, allowing the parts to fall into the center of the pan.

Step 3

Cool the wok under running water. When you've removed the sediment as much as possible, rinse the pan under cold running water. Then use a natural bristle brush to brush off any remaining crust. You are now ready to start cooking again!
Please note, that after such a thorough cleaning process, it is essential to season your wok with oil for further cooking.
The second method is perfect for heavily dirty woks and you can choose any of them depending on the situation.

1Pour about 1.5 liters of water into a wok and heat it until it boils. 2Add about 40 grams of citric acid to the boiling water. Stir the liquid using a spatula and then scrub the pan with a sponge (still using a spatula or tongs) to clean the pan while it is still heating. 3Use a sponge and detergent to wash your wok in warm water. 4Wipe it dry with a paper towel after washing.

How to clean a wok after cooking

How to Clean a Wok with Rust

Woks can be made from different materials and some of them can easily rust. It can happen with your pan, too. Therefore, it requires constant maintenance – checking for rust, thorough drying, seasoning with a thin layer of oil. A good non-stick layer also helps to deal with this problem. Due to the tendency of carbon steel wok to rust, it cannot be soaked for a long time.
The choice of the product to use for a rusty wok depends on how deep the rust is in the pan. As a rule, rust can be removed without any problems with a metal washcloth or brush. After cleaning, the pan must be rinsed well with water and dried with a towel, then season the pan with oil.
Here is a simple instruction on how to get rid of rust:

1Pour about 1.5 liters of water in a wok placed over medium heat. Boil the water and add 40 grams of citric acid. 2While still being on heat, use a sponge, and, with the help of a spatula or tongs, clean the wok. It may take several minutes depending on the state of your wok. 3Now you can use a sponge and detergent to wash the pan in warm water. 4Pre-season the dry wok over the high heat. Wait for the bottom to turn blue and rotate the pan to pre-season the sides. 5Turn the heat off and wait for 5-7 minutes for the wok to cool down. 6Wash the wok again using a sponge and detergent. 7Carefully wipe the pan dry with a paper towel. 8Now you need to season your wok. Place it over medium heat and add about 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Wait for it to smoke slightly. 9Spread the oil evenly over the whole surface with the help of a paper towel and spatula. Do it for several minutes with the heat still on. 10Now wash the wok in warm water with a sponge but don’t use a detergent now. 11Wipe the wok dry and it is ready for cooking again.

How to Wash a Wok

The most important thing for cleaning a wok is to wait until the pan has cooled down and only then start washing. The temperature drop has a bad effect on any material. It is better to wait 10 minutes than spoil the utensil.
You can wash the wok at a temperature convenient for you with the use of detergent and a soft sponge. If the food is stuck, use a metal or wooden scraper to get rid of as many food pieces as you can. Wipe the pieces away with a paper towel and wash the pan with a plastic sponge without using any detergent. You’ll need to season your wok with oil again if you’ll use a detergent. Wipe dry with a paper towel after washing. If your wok is made of cast iron, for example, you can additionally apply a thin layer of oil.

How to clean a seasoned wok

If your wok is seasoned, it’s better not to use any soap to clean it. We recommend soaking it in water for a couple of minutes. After that wash the insides with hot water using a soft sponge and the outsides with a scrubber sponge. This will let you save the patina for the next use. Finally, dry the pan over low heat. If you will clean your wok after each use, it will serve you for a lifetime!
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