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  • Problems seasoning cast iron

    Sooo, I seasoned my cast iron pan according to the instructions in Chemistry of Cast Iron Seasoning: A Science-Based How-To
    (i.e. strip with oven cleaner, do the black iron thing, use a very thin film of flaxseed)

    And it just falls off every time I cook with it....
    Everything sticks like a bitch and then when I rinse and scrub with only hot water and a plastic scrubber, the "seasoning" comes off leaving bare iron.
    I re-did it in the oven at 450, in the grill at about 500 (several times before cooking with it). Lately I've been greasing it up and leaving it in the oven when I bake something. I even tried a layer of Crisco (don't ask)

    A) what am I doing wrong?
    B) why do I need to heat it to 450 when the smoke point of flaxseed is 200 degrees F?

    Thanks in advance!!
    Cooking Primal with Otter - Journal
    Otter's (Defunct) Primal Log
    "Not baked goods, Professor, baked bads!" ~ The Tick

  • #2
    I've given up on all the seasoning approaches.

    I just add butter/lard/bacon grease and cook. Over time, a seasoned surface will result.

    Don't use plastic or rubber utensils though. They will melt and leave nasty residues. I just use a metal spatula with a flat edge. The flat edge is important so that you don't gouge your seasoned surface.
    http://www.theprimalprepper.com - preparing for life's worst while living for the best

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    • #3
      I was recently told to use suet. If that doesn't work bacon grease is aokay.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by phigment View Post
        I was recently told to use suet. If that doesn't work bacon grease is aokay.
        This.. or lard.

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        • #5
          @ottercat: what type of oil/grease did you use initially? Did you pre-heat the pan to open up the pores? Also, did you wipe most of the oil off between coats to just leave an extremely thin coat for seasoning? I think in the comments on the article you linked, there is a discussion about the seasoning flaking off. Sheryl suggests cooking at full heat for 1 hour and keeping the pan(s) in the oven for 2 additional hours to ensure that the oil is fully polymerized.

          I did some more digging in the comments on that article. Check out this quote from Mario:

          As it turns out, the cross-linking and polymerization of linseed(flaxseed) oil starts at about 392 Degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius) according to a scientific article I found that I will link to at the end of this post. HOWEVER! At around 464 Degrees Fahrenheit (240 degrees Celsius), “heat bodying” begins to take the place of the cross-linking, producing a softer, flakier polymer. So as it turns out, the fact your oven only goes to 450 was a blessing in disguise, as that would be a wonderfully ideal temperature; right on the high side of cross-linking temp but below heat-bodying temp.
          He also provides a link to a study: http://ddr.nal.usda.gov/bitstream/10...ND22049813.pdf

          So if you're using linseed/flax oil, maybe the problem is that the oven temp is too high. Try it once more using the temperature "sweet spot" of ~450. It might even be worth getting an oven thermometer (if you don't have one already) and verifying the accuracy of your oven temp.

          Also note: If I'm interpreting the study correctly, it seems that soybean oil has both higher polymerization and cross-linking temperatures than linseed/flax (230.5C = 447F polymerization and >300C=572 cross-linking). Also there is a greater range between the two temperatures, so if your oven/grill can maintain 500F, it seems soybean oil would be a better choice. It was suggested in another comment that soybean oil has a higher iodine value and might therefore make a better seasoning oil. This adds evidence to support that position.
          Last edited by yodiewan; 09-20-2012, 05:49 AM.

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          • #6
            No soap.

            Also, if you use them to cook tomatoes or other acidic foods they can damage seasoning, but it will come back.

            Don't fret a little charred material left in the pan after brushing or scraping. It's the carbon combined with oil that forms the seasoning.

            It will take sooner or later.

            Did I mention No Soap?

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            • #7
              1) Only EVER scrape and wipe the pan clean, do not use chemical cleaners. Put in some salt and rub it around if you need an abrasive.
              2) Get a flat-ended metal spatula with rounded corners.
              3) Just cook. Use a TON of butter or grease at first. I personally find that butter works the best of every cooking fat I've tried. Really drown your food in it. This will keep it from sticking until you get it seasoned.
              4) when done cooking, lightly scrape any sticky bits off with your spatula, and then wipe the pan out.

              You should develop a pretty good layer of seasoning within a week or two of cooking if you do this. No need for fancy oven baking techniques. The best seasoning comes in tiny little layers every time you cook.
              Today I will: Eat food, not poison. Plan for success, not settle for failure. Live my real life, not a virtual one. Move and grow, not sit and die.

              My Primal Journal

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              • #8
                the truth is you basically can't season these things once, you have to do it a few times - the way you've been doing it - and then cook with fat.

                personally, i've reached the stage in my personal development where i can admit that cast iron, despite being cool, is a giant pain in the ass, and i'm completely and utterly over it.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Uncephalized View Post
                  Use a TON of butter...The best seasoning comes in tiny little layers every time you cook.
                  This matches my experience.
                  The Champagne of Beards

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by jakey View Post
                    the truth is you basically can't season these things once, you have to do it a few times - the way you've been doing it - and then cook with fat.

                    personally, i've reached the stage in my personal development where i can admit that cast iron, despite being cool, is a giant pain in the ass, and i'm completely and utterly over it.
                    i "season" a new piece of cast iron once. then i cook with it. it seasons itself

                    and cast iron is pretty much the easiest piece of cookwear you can own. cook. wipe. repeat. doesn't really get much easier than that. and it lasts forever.

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                    • #11
                      HOLY FRAKING CRAP... who told you to use any cleaner at all


                      lets hope you didnt ruin your pan



                      Find someone with a self cleaning oven who needs to run the cycle.

                      place you pan in there during the cycle... and pray to what ever gods you choose.

                      once it is out and cool wipe it with lard inside and out and put it in several paper bags and take it home.

                      then place a 1/4 cup of lard in the pan and place it in a 300 degree oven for 3 hours. pour our the excess after 3 hours and use it to wipe the entire skillet paper towel will work just fine. invert and place back in oven and allow to cool over night.

                      for the next several months anytime you use the skillet you will wipe it completely out with lard.

                      the only thing you will use to clean it is a steel scrubby with salt after cooking, wipe it out with lard
                      never EVER put it near water
                      Never ever put vegetable oils on your precious (to keep it seasoned, it is fine to cook with if you are into that sort of thing).

                      Kill who ever wrote that how to.

                      who ever gave vegans cast iron ( goes off muttering to ones self)
                      Optimum Health powered by Actualized Self-Knowledge.

                      Predator not Prey
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                      CW 315 | SW 506
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                      • #12
                        I've found the cast iron pan I have to be a pain in the butt. I've tried everything every one has suggested and everything still sticks to it. I have a vegetarian friend that uses cast iron pans; she cooks with olive oil and she cleans her pans with soap! Her pans look great and the food doesn't stick! Why is that?

                        I much prefer my chantal pans. Chantal Cookware | Shop and Buy Online Gourmet, Enamel, Professional, Safe Cookware
                        Life is death. We all take turns. It's sacred to eat during our turn and be eaten when our turn is over. RichMahogany.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Urban Forager View Post
                          I've found the cast iron pan I have to be a pain in the butt. I've tried everything every one has suggested and everything still sticks to it. I have a vegetarian friend that uses cast iron pans; she cooks with olive oil and she cleans her pans with soap! Her pans look great and the food doesn't stick! Why is that?

                          I much prefer my chantal pans. Chantal Cookware | Shop and Buy Online Gourmet, Enamel, Professional, Safe Cookware
                          i have no idea... deal with the devil?

                          not entirely true. i suspect that she never used oven cleaner on it. that stuff sinks into the metal.

                          I used Crisco when i was a younger man so olive oil could work.

                          does she warm the pan after she washes it and applies another coating of olive oil?
                          Optimum Health powered by Actualized Self-Knowledge.

                          Predator not Prey
                          Paleo Ketogenic Lifestyle

                          CW 315 | SW 506
                          Current Jeans 46 | Starting Jeans 66


                          Contact me: quelsen@gmail.com

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                          • #14
                            Also, you might check out this link: The Cast Iron Medic

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Urban Forager View Post
                              I've found the cast iron pan I have to be a pain in the butt. I've tried everything every one has suggested and everything still sticks to it. I have a vegetarian friend that uses cast iron pans; she cooks with olive oil and she cleans her pans with soap! Her pans look great and the food doesn't stick! Why is that?

                              My father in law washes his cast with soap after each use and then greases the cooking surface and heats the pan back up. After it has heated for a bit, he sticks it in the oven until it is needed again. Nothing sticks and he has been cooking on the same cast for like 18 years. I have been wanting to give it a try but an leary after all of my conditioning to never wash cast iron. I'm currently rehabbing a 18inch cast iron pan that I picked up at a yardsale over the summer and I am going to try his method on it to compare.
                              Male, 32y, 6'0" tall
                              SW 306lbs (6/1/12)
                              CW 244lbs (1/17/13)

                              BP down from 120/80 to 110/74

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