Read the post to learn how to season your carbon steel wok pan and skillet. Plus, pick up tips and helpful hacks for caring for your cookware and preventing it from damaging oxidation.
There are not all that many steps that must be taken to do this successfully. However, if they are not followed carefully, you risk destroying your expensive new purchase. Plus, your food will not cook as well or taste as good. You don’t need an expert to do the work for you though. It is easily performed as a DIY project. It should only take about one to two hours and need only to be repeated as necessary. Just pay attention to the following advice.
Why Do You Need to Season?
Pan seasoning can also be referred to as “curing.” The name seasoning can be misleading to some, and it means flavoring in most contexts. However, here, it really means protecting. The curing process serves two primary purposes. First, it protects the steel on your cookware from rust, which could flake off into your food and potentially harm you. Second, it creates a nonstick layer in your cookware. This means that you will not have to spend an extensive period of frustrated time attempting to scrub black marks off of your cookware in the sink.
Some of the benefits of purchasing carbon steel cookware are as follows:
- It’s a natural alternative to cheap carcinogenic cookware;
- The material lasts way longer than other types of cookware;
- It is super versatile;
- It heats food more evenly, resulting in better-cooked food;
- Carbon steel is what the most successful professional chefs use;
- And more!
If you are looking to buy or have already purchased carbon steel cookware, there are some things that you need to know.
Before Embarking on the Seasoning Process
Seasoning a carbon steel wok starts before you use it for the first time and never really ends. First, it is crucial to determine whether or not your cookware has been made fully seasoned. If so, then you can actually skip this entire process—you’re already set to begin cooking! If, however, you have taken home unseasoned or just pre-seasoned wares, you need to learn how to do carbon steel pan seasoning yourself before use.
First, remove the protective coating that your wok came with. These coatings are commonly applied by manufacturers to protect your cookware from oxidation or any other type of damage during transportation. Though different manufacturers use a large variety of chemical treatments, most of them can be removed with hot water, a small drop of dish soap, a scouring device, and a bit of elbow grease. (Note that this will be just about the only time you ever use soap for this product!)
Next, begin learning how to season your carbon steel!
How to Season a Carbon Steel Wok?
The best way to season carbon steel wok is to place it over a hot burner and let it heat up. We have created a step-by-step video to help you:
After heating up the wok, apply an even coat of oil to the entire interior surface of your ware. You can do this using gloved hands, a brush, or any other method of application that is convenient for you.
When the oil on the wok starts smoking, reduce the heat. Then swirl the oil around the inside of the wok (you can use a paper towel for this). You need to do this for around 5-10 minutes.
Repeat the above steps at least several times. You will also need to add more oil distributing it evenly over the surface.
Then, let the wok cool down and wash the wok using only water and a non-abrasive sponge.
Wipe it dry with a paper towel. Then, enjoy your new seasoned carbon steel wok!
This is not the only way to create a non-stick surface. For example, this professional method includes applying just one layer of oil, washing the wok with soapy water, and stir-frying chopped ingredients: garlic, chives, and/or ginger:
Finally, you could use the fastest advanced method: heat up the wok, add 2-3 tablespoons of oil, and stir-fry chopped ingredients for 5-10 minutes before discarding them and washing the wok without detergent:
How to Season a Carbon Steel Skillet?
Need to know how to season a carbon steel skillet? It uses an identical process as described above. The primary difference is the shape of the cookware. The “how-to” seasoning carbon steel pans process is actually slightly easier than woks because their shape presents fewer challenges.
All you have to do is make sure you are coating the sides of the cookware as well as you are coating its bottom. If you let too much oil pool on the bottom of the ware, your carbon steel skillet seasoning will be uneven. Should this happen, you’ll risk substances sticking to its surface, and potentially damaging your pan!
How to Clean a Carbon Steel Pan?
Cleaning a carbon steel pan is extremely different from cleaning a cheap aluminum alternative you picked up at a big box department store. First, you must resist the urge to use any type of soap on the surface of the steel. This could potentially disrupt the surface coat you worked so hard to build up. Therefore, knowing how to clean a carbon steel wok is crucial for taking care of your cookware and ensuring that it will serve you for a long time.
Instead, after using your seasoned carbon steel pan, you are going to dampen a rag or paper towel. Use this dampened washcloth to gently wipe the cookware’s surface. Your goal in doing this is to remove residual food that is left. You are not trying to remove the shiny gloss that will remain like you would on an ordinary pan.
The most important thing to remember in terms of how to clean a carbon steel pan or wok is to refrain from using any unnatural treatment on it that will break its oily seal on a molecular level, such as dish soap or hand soap. Acidic foods such as fruits and vinegar can also disrupt the membrane you have worked hard to create.
Absorption of Flavors
When it comes to curing your ware, the thicker the layer is, the better. However, you should also remember that thick layers are added to via the cooking process, which means that the layer is absorbing anything you cook. As a result, this curing can take on flavors if you cook anything too strong in your pan. For example, you should refrain from using your cookware to sizzle fish if you do not want that which you cook subsequently to retain a fishy taste.
Preventing Carbon Steel Pan Rust
An essential step in your carbon steel wok care is to dry it off immediately after wiping its surface with a damp cloth. Do not be lazy and skip this step because you think your pan will air dry. While it is true that the leftover water will eventually evaporate, it is going to rust your pan in the process!
Carbon steel wok pan rust is incredibly difficult to get rid of, if not impossible. Thus, prevent this from happening by never letting water sit on its surface for an extended period. Just like you wouldn’t leave an expensive bike out in the rain, don’t leave a pricey piece of cookware to sit and get ruined. So, by properly cleaning carbon steel wok, you will ensure that your utensil will serve you for a long time.
Key Guide on How to Reseason a Carbon Steel Pan
Your carbon steel pan care routine may include recurring from time to time. You will know if it is time to do some touching up if you notice dull, bare spots on your cookware, or if food is sticking to its surface in a way that it does not usually.
Reseasoning a carbon steel skillet is similar to doing it for the first time. First, you are going to scour its surface in warm sudsy water. Your goal is to remove any layers of rust or uneven protection. Then, as you did originally, you’re going to coat the pan with oil. If you want, you can repeat the stove seasoning method described above a few times until you see that your protecting coating is restored.
Or, if you are wondering how to reseason carbon steel pan quickly, you can do so in the oven! Just set your oven temperature to a toasty 350 degrees Fahrenheit and let your pan heat inside for roughly one hour. Bake it upside down to stop oil from conglomerating in a pool at the pan’s bottom. Just make sure, if you are using this method, that your cookware is created from solid steel. If it contains plastic or anything else, you would not eat on the handle. If it does, you are going to melt it and ruin your pan.
Best Oils for Seasoning Carbon Steel Pans
When it comes to the best oil for seasoning a carbon steel pan, there really is no single correct answer. So long as the substance you are using actually, well, cooking oil, it should do the job just fine. In general, it is just best to steer clear of diluted oils or those that have filler ingredients.
Great oils include but are not limited to:
- Specialty sprays;
- And more!
Some people swear by seasoning carbon steel pan with flaxseed oil or coconut oil. The first option is probably the most popular. However, it is also one of the more expensive options to get your hands on. Additionally, flaxseed oil has been known to become prone to peeling over time. The second is coveted in the natural and organic communities. However, using coconut oil may result in the coconut flavor entering anything you decide to cook in your seasoned carbon steel skillet.
Many traditional chefs swear by seasoning a carbon steel skillet with leftover bacon fat or cheap Crisco. Not only are these inexpensive and easy to come by, but they are favored amongst the communities that have been teaching people how to season carbon steel skillets for the longest. The bottom line is that there is no best oil—it just has to be orally consumable. Anyone who says that one is better than the other is speaking from anecdotal experience. Use whatever is at your disposal.
Key Takeaways to Remember
If you were wondering how to season a carbon steel frying pan when you clicked on this article, hopefully, it has answered your doubts and inquiries. While there are plenty of places to purchase seasoned carbon steel pans for potato cooking, frying eggs, baking pita, or creating whatever else your heart desires, you can also do the curing yourself.
Until your cookware is thoroughly seasoned, avoid cooking any super sticky foods on it or burning anything on it. The seasoning will add a nonstick quality to your cookware, but only after enough of it has built up.
As we have written in our guide on how to season a carbon steel pan, remember to start by removing the treatment that your manufacturer has applied for supply chain protection, and to coat and heat your cookware enough times so that the seal is strong enough. Then, the more you cook with oil using your pan, the thicker your layer will become, and the better your cookware will work. Regardless of what oil you are using, your curing is going to be successful as long as you do it correctly a sufficient number of times.