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Thread: Problems seasoning cast iron page

  1. #1
    ottercat's Avatar
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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!!
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  2. #2
    tamo42's Avatar
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    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.
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    phigment's Avatar
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    I was recently told to use suet. If that doesn't work bacon grease is aokay.

  4. #4
    Lynna's Avatar
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    Quote 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.

  5. #5
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    @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 at 05:49 AM.

  6. #6
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    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.

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  7. #7
    Uncephalized's Avatar
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    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.
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    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.

  9. #9
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    Quote 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.

  10. #10
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    Quote 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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