Seasoning a carbon steel pan essentially means adding layer after layer of oil to it, which will then adhere to the pan on a molecular level.
These oils are going to produce a thin layer on top of the carbon steel, which prevents anything from sticking to it. From then on, every time you use your carbon steel pan, you’ll be adding another layer of seasoning onto it.
Over time, your carbon steel pan will go from silver to having a smooth, black patina.
Some carbon steel pans come pre-seasoned, but the majority do not. You need to season them yourself.
Getting used to this process can be a good
In fact, the advantage of cast iron and carbon steel pans over other types of pans is that they can be refinished and reasoned again and again. Other types of
To season a pan on the stove:
- Rub the steel pan down with vegetable oil or another type of oil (such as soybean oil or avocado oil). It should be an oil with a high smoke point. Peanut oil is often recommended, but you should be careful as many people have peanut allergies. Olive oil is not recommended because it has a comparatively low smoke point.
- Heat the carbon steel pan until it begins to smoke. Continue to let the pan smoke for about two minutes. You will first see the oil begin to bead up on the pan, and then it will begin to evaporate.
- Cool the pan down completely and wipe it down with a cloth. Do not try to remove the black film on the pan: you want it to be there.
- Repeat this process until a dark, black layer has formed on the inside of the pan. Once the non-stick coating is done, you should be able to tell: you’ll feel that the surface is smooth and a little oily.
To season a pan in the oven:
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Rub the steel pan in vegetable oil, as described in the prior directions. You may want to use more oil, however, for this process: layer it onto the pan thickly.
- Place your pan in the oven and leave it there for an hour, after which the majority of the oil should have smoked away.
- Remove the pan from the oven and allow it to completely cool before wiping off any additional oil. Repeat this process if the pan does not yet feel like it’s properly coated.
A freshly seasoned pan is never going to be quite as “non-stick” as a pan that has been in use for some time. Over months (or even years), you’ll find your pan building up a more significant coating, and you’ll find it releasing foods even more easily.
If your seasoning is ever damaged, or rust starts to build up on your carbon steel pan, you can use a wire brush to clean the pan off entirely. Once the seasoning and rust has been properly removed, you can begin the process of seasoning again.
It’s the ability to resurface the pan, again and again, that makes it so long-lasting: you should never have to throw out a carbon steel pan.
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