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How to season carbon steel pan or wok: 2 methods

season carbon steel pan

This short guide outlines the step by step process and different methods to season carbon steel pan, wok or other cooking utensils for the best non-stick surface.

Carbon steel utensils are one of the most popular tools in the market today. In many ways, it is caused by the advantages and disadvantages of carbon steel cookware, because many of the material’s positive characteristics declare that this is a cool thing for everyday cooking.

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If it’s the ease of use, extremely high-temperature resistance, or a variety of design options — every culinary geek will tell you that this cookware is extremely useful in the kitchen.

Nevertheless, the most appealing characteristic for many people is the smooth surface that your pan receives after the seasoning procedure. Originally, the carbon steel pan has no non-stick properties. It gets non-stick after a while, but if you buy the black carbon steel wok on, it will not be non-stick out of the box. To achieve a non-stick effect, you have to season it and use it all the time. But with its positive features, you can really use your pan every day.

So, you have to season the pan, and it is very important to take this step right. Seasoning carbon steel with the right technique and ingredients is a simple task that can be done at any time.

Why season carbon steel pan or wok?

season carbon steel pan

This material has to be seasoned to achieve a smooth surface of the pan. Technically, cookware seasoning is the process of coating the surface of a frying pan with wax or oil at a high smoke temperature to create a hard layer of polymerized oil, as a result of a chemical reaction caused by warming up. Think about it as the protective layer of the cookware. It retains moisture from the surface and prevents it from rusting.

Seasoning is also the base layer before you apply extra oil during the cooking. Besides, the natural oil and fats in your ingredients will season the surface as well. Having that initial base layer of seasoning ensures the longevity of your cookware. To start the seasoning process, you’ll require a suitable oil or wax.

Which oil is best to season carbon steel pan or work?

You have several options to choose from when it comes to seasoning your carbon steel pan. The best oils for seasoning include sunflower oil, grape oil, flaxseed oil, and canola oil. There is also a special seasoning wax. Carbon steel wax is a mixture of two high-temperature smoke oils (canola and grape seed) with beeswax that keeps ingredients together. This wax is tasteless, so it leaves no odor in the pan.

It is important to season the pan with a substance with high smoke features so that polymerization occurs when it reaches the smoke point. Polymerization is a chemical reaction that allows the oil to solidify into the hard layer of the seasoning instead of returning to its original state as a liquid. This wax will penetrate the pan and create a smooth surface.

How to season carbon steel pan or wok: 2 methods

There are several methods you can use to season carbon steel utensils:

1)    Use the stove

It is recommended to carefully clean a new pan with warm water and relevant detergents. When the pan is dry, place it on the stove and reduce heat to medium. This will facilitate the excess water evaporation from the surface. Then heat the stove to medium-low temperature and put a small layer of vegetable oil or wax on it. You can use some kitchen (paper) towels to apply it.

Step-by-step increase the stove heat to medium-high until the oil starts smoking. Leave the carbon steel skillet on the burner for about five minutes, rotate it to keep the pan evenly heated. Let the pan cool on its own, and you’re done!

2)    Use the oven

Heat the oven to 450 degrees in advance and place a baking sheet on the tray inside the oven. Then wash the new cookware with hot water and soap. After drying, place it on the stove over a small heat. This allows excess moisture to evaporate from the pan. Then increase the temperature to medium-low and, using a paper towel or kitchen towel, apply a very thin layer of wax oil to the surface of the pan.

Wipe off the excess oil several times with dry paper towels until the pan is completely dry. A micro-thin layer of oil will remain in the pan. Once the oil has been applied, place the pan in the oven, bottom-up over the baking sheet.

The baking sheet will collect drops. Leave the skillet in the oven for an hour. After an hour has passed, turn off the oven and let the pan cool naturally.

Caring for carbon steel

The above methods are perfect for seasoning carbon steel wok, skillet, pizza pan, grill pan, and more! To keep your skillet smooth, cook your dishes with higher fatty foods. Avoid cooking delicate foods such as fish, vegetables, and eggs until the surface has a thick fatty layer (after 3-5 uses).

Finally, it’s important to remember to never place carbon steel cookware in the dishwasher as it can cause rust and ruin the entire seasoned cooking surface.

Characteristics of carbon steel

Carbon steel contains 0.6% to 2.0% less carbon than cast iron. For the production of these pans, the manufacturers process pig iron into steel sheets in several steps, from which they punch circles. As with copper pans, these are shaped into pans.
Carbon steel pans are lighter than cast iron pans and are less likely to break. They take a long time to heat up and achieve even heat.

Advantages – Relatively inexpensive – Very robust – Natural non-stick effect through baking – Good heat capacity – Less prone to breakage than cast iron Disadvantages – Relatively heavy (but lighter than cast iron pans) – Takes a long time to heat up – Takes a long time to have an even heat – Do not leave in the water, otherwise rust will result – The bottom can warp if the temperature difference is too great