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All About Seasoning – Cast Iron – Carbon steel – Stainless steel

What spices to use for seasoning a skillet and which is the best method? Check out all about seasoning a cookware there is worth to know!

What is seasoning

Seasoning in the context of cookware, particularly cast iron, refers to the process of applying a layer of fat or oil to the surface and then heating it to create a durable, non-stick, and rust-resistant coating. This layer is created through a chemical reaction called polymerization, where the oil is transformed into a hard, plastic-like substance that bonds to the metal.

  1. Protective Layer
    The seasoning acts as a barrier between the metal and food, preventing rust and corrosion. It also makes the surface non-stick, reducing the need for additional fats or oils during cooking.
  2. Polymerization Process
    When oil is heated past its smoke point, it undergoes a chemical change, transforming from a liquid to a solid polymer that adheres to the metal surface. This process is crucial for creating a durable and effective seasoning layer.
  3. Building the Coating
    Seasoning is built up over time. Each time the cookware is used with oil, especially for high-heat cooking, additional layers are added, improving the non-stick properties and durability of the surface.
  4. Maintenance and Re-seasoning
    Regular use and proper cleaning help maintain the seasoning. Occasionally, the cookware may need to be re-seasoned if the coating becomes damaged or food starts sticking excessively. This involves applying a fresh layer of oil and heating it as described in the seasoning process.

Benefits of Seasoning

Non-Stick Surface

    • Improved Cooking Experience
      Seasoning creates a smooth, non-stick surface that prevents food from sticking, making cooking and cleaning easier. This is especially beneficial for delicate foods like eggs or fish.
    • Reduced Need for Oil
      A well-seasoned pan requires less cooking oil, making our meals healthier and reducing the risk of food sticking to the pan.

    Rust Prevention

    • Protective Barrier
      Seasoning forms a protective layer that shields the metal from moisture, which can cause rust. This barrier is crucial for maintaining the integrity of the cookware.
    • Durability
      Properly seasoned cast iron can last for generations without rusting, provided it is cared for correctly.

    Enhanced Flavor

    • Improved Taste
      Seasoned cast iron can impart a subtle flavor to foods, often described as enhancing the taste, especially for dishes that are cooked over time, such as stews and roasts.

    Easy Maintenance

    • Simplified Cleaning
      Seasoned cookware is easier to clean because food particles are less likely to adhere to the surface. Typically, we can clean a seasoned pan with hot water and a brush, avoiding harsh soaps or scrubbing that can damage the seasoning.

    Versatility and Heat Retention

    • Even Heating
      Seasoned cast iron heats evenly and retains heat well, which is ideal for a variety of cooking methods, including frying, baking, and roasting.
    • Adaptability
      We can use seasoned cast iron cookware on the stove, in the oven, on the grill, and even over an open flame, making it highly versatile.

    Economic and Environmental Benefits

    • Long-Lasting
      High-quality cast iron cookware can be relatively inexpensive compared to other high-end cookware. Its longevity means w won’t need to replace it frequently.
    • Eco-Friendly
      By using and maintaining cast iron cookware, we reduce waste associated with disposing of non-durable cookware and minimize the need for chemical non-stick coatings.

    What type of cookware to season

    Cast iron

    Seasoning is primarily associated with certain types of cookware that benefit from having a non-stick, rust-resistant coating. Here are the main types of cookware that typically require seasoning:

    1. Cast Iron Cookware

    • Skillets and Frying Pans
      Commonly used for frying, searing, and baking.
    • Dutch Ovens
      Used for slow-cooking, braising, and stewing.
    • Griddles and Grill Pans
      Perfect for pancakes, flatbreads, and grilling.

    2. Carbon Steel Cookware

    • Skillets and Frying Pans
      Lighter than cast iron and often used in professional kitchens.
    • Woks
      Traditional for stir-frying, sautéing, and deep-frying in Asian cuisine.

    3. Carbon Steel Baking Pans

    • Baking Sheets and Pizza Pans
      Require seasoning to prevent rust and improve non-stick properties.
    • Muffin Tins and Cake Pans
      Less common but can also benefit from seasoning.

    4. Black Steel (Blue Steel) Cookware

    Carbon steel
    • French Crepe Pans
      Ideal for making crepes and pancakes.
    • Paella Pans
      Used for making traditional paella.

    5. Cast Iron Bakeware

    • Cornbread Pans
      Often have intricate shapes that benefit from a seasoned surface.
    • Muffin Tins and Loaf Pans
      Similar to cast iron cookware, these benefit from a non-stick surface created by seasoning.

    6. Cast Iron Grill Grates

    • Outdoor Grills
      Grill grates made of cast iron should be seasoned to prevent rust and create a non-stick surface for grilling meats and vegetables.

    7. Seasoning Stainless Steel

    This is not a thing. The term “seasoning” a pan refers to the process of turning oil molecules into non-stick polymers that bound to the iron atoms in carbon steel or cast iron pan. Stainless steel, unlike carbon steel or cast iron, is a non reactive material. It can’t be seasoned.

    How to Season Cookware

    Seasoning cast iron involves creating a protective layer of polymerized oil that gives the pan its non-stick properties and prevents rust.

    Materials Needed

    • Cast iron skillet or pan
    • Vegetable oil, flaxseed oil, or another high smoke-point oil
    • Paper towels or a clean cloth
    • Aluminum foil
    • Oven


    1. Preheat the Oven
      Preheat the oven to 450-500°F (230-260°C).
    2. Clean the Cast Iron
      If the cast iron is new, wash it with warm, soapy water to remove any factory residues. For older cast iron with rust or old seasoning, we might need to scrub it with a brush or steel wool.
      Thoroughly dry the pan with a towel or by heating it on the stove over low heat.
    3. Apply Oil
      Pour a small amount of our chosen oil (vegetable, canola, flaxseed, etc.) onto the skillet. Use a paper towel or cloth to spread a thin, even layer of oil over the entire surface of the skillet, including the bottom and handle.
      Wipe away any excess oil with a clean paper towel.
      The pan should look dry, not oily.
    4. Bake the Cast Iron
      Line the bottom rack of our oven with aluminum foil to catch any drips.
      Place the skillet upside down on the top rack of the oven.
      Bake the skillet for one hour. This process allows the oil to polymerize and form a hard, protective coating.
    5. Cool Down
      After an hour, turn off the oven and let the skillet cool inside the oven. This slow cooling process helps the seasoning set more effectively.
    6. Repeat (Optional)
      For a stronger seasoning, we can repeat the oiling and baking process 2-3 times. Each layer will build a more robust non-stick surface.

    Maintenance Tips

    • Use of Soap
      Contrary to common beliefs, the use of dish soap is entirely acceptable when cleaning a wok. Perhaps, in the distant past, when soaps contained caustic lye, such concerns were valid. However, contemporary dish soaps, such as Dawn, do not contain lye. In fact, dish soap serves as a useful surfactant that effectively removes unwanted flavors, grease, and residues following cooking. The crucial aspect is ensuring that remnants of the soap are rinsed off thoroughly.
    • Salt Scrub
      For stubborn food residue, use coarse salt as an abrasive. Sprinkle salt in the pan, scrub with a paper towel or brush, and then rinse with hot water.
    • Dry Immediately
      After washing, thoroughly dry the cookware with a towel or by heating it on the stove over low heat to prevent rust.

    2. Re-Seasoning After Cleaning

    • Apply Oil
      After drying, apply a thin layer of high smoke-point oil (like vegetable, canola, or flaxseed oil) to the entire surface of the cookware while it’s still warm.
    • Heat Briefly
      Place the cookware on a stove burner over medium heat for a few minutes until it starts to smoke slightly. This helps to polymerize the oil, reinforcing the seasoning layer.

    3. Regular Use

    • Frequent Cooking
      The more we use our cookware, the better the seasoning becomes. Cooking with oils and fats helps to maintain and build up the seasoning.
    • High-Heat Cooking
      Searing and frying at high temperatures can help strengthen the seasoning.

    4. Avoiding Harmful Practices

    • No Prolonged Soaking
      Don’t let our cookware soak in water for extended periods, as this can lead to rust and damage the seasoning.
    • No Harsh Scrubbers
      Avoid using metal scouring pads or harsh scrubbers that can scratch and remove the seasoning layer.
    • No Acidic Foods
      Be cautious with cooking highly acidic foods (like tomatoes or vinegar) as they can strip the seasoning, especially on newer pans.

    5. Storage

    • Dry Environment
      Store the cookware in a dry place to prevent rust.
    • Protective Layer
      If storing for a long time, apply a thin layer of oil before putting it away. Use a paper towel or cloth to wipe off any excess oil to prevent it from becoming sticky.

    6. Periodic Deep Re-Seasoning

    • Full Re-Seasoning
      If the cookware’s surface becomes sticky, rusty, or loses its non-stick properties, perform a full re-seasoning:
    • Clean Thoroughly
      Remove old seasoning and rust if necessary. This might involve using steel wool or a brush and soap for a thorough clean.
    • Dry Completely
      Ensure the cookware is fully dried.
    • Apply Oil
      Coat with a thin layer of high smoke-point oil.
    • Bake
      Place in an oven at 450-500°F (230-260°C) for one hour, upside down, with foil on the lower rack to catch drips.
    • Cool
      Let the cookware cool in the oven.


    • Seasoning is a process of creating a non stick coating on carbon steel and cast iron cookware.
    • The non-stick layer prevents rust, food sticking and reduces oil usage.
    • Apply a thin coat of oil then put the cookware into a 450-500°F (230-260°C) oven for one hour.
    • Avoid using acidic food or cleaner on the surface.
    • Use only mild abrasive for cleaning.

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