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Cast Iron Seasoning


keeperovdeflame
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Recently, I was exploring the net regarding care for my Lodge preseason cast iron. Several posts and cowboy Ken Rollins recommended removing the factory preseasoning by sanding and then applying a new seasoning coat on the smoothed surface. I did this and reapplied my seasoning using grape seed oil. I applied the oil to a dry clean pan (my double handled 12" skillet) and then put it in the oven preheated to 350 and turned off the heat after 5 minutes keeping the pan in the heated oven until it was cool, probably about an hour. My result was not too encouraging, as the pans seasoning  remained quite soft and sticky instead of having The hard finish  seasoned glaze I was looking for. What did I do wrong?

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I use grapeseed oil for seasoning all my cast iron also.  In my opinion, 350 is not hot enough for that task.  I smear on a coat of oil as THINLY as humanly possible.  I wipe the pan down with a clean paper towel as best I can AFTER i have applied the oil.  I normally put my pan in the oven, close the door, heat it to 450-500°F and let it go for a hour.  I do this 3 times on NEW pans and I do one round of it on existing pans after every 3 or 4 cooks.   

 

Put your pan back in the oven and take it to 450 for an hour and you should see a huge difference...

 

@keeperovdeflame

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1 hour ago, John Setzler said:

And for what it's worth, i can see NO reason to ever remove the factory seasoning from any pan.  I dont know who Ken Rollins is or what his ideas are based on but I just don't see any use in that process.

 

Basically he says the reason is that the nubby rough polymer seasoning that lodge uses will take a long time to become truly non stick if ever,  due to it's texture. He does not recommend taking all the seasoning off down to the bare metal, but just enough to make the surface flat and relatively smooth. Don't really know if that is gospel or not, but a lot of folks in the cast iron world seem to refer to him. He is  pretty cowboy in his delivery, and  has quite an outdoor cowboy lifestyle and cooking following. Several books, lots of videos etc. 

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10 hours ago, John Setzler said:

The best way to season cast iron is to cook a lot with it.  It just happens naturally.  The lodge pans smooth out as they build their patina.

 

I second this. Our lodge and Lagostina cast ware alike started out very textured. you can tell which ones we use more by how smooth they have gotten over time. That said, years of SOS pads when they need attention from being unattended too long on the stove may have also contributed to their smooth finish.

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Years ago when I began acquiring cast iron for the grills, I followed instructions that were in vogue at the time re: flaxseed oil applied a minimum of three times for initial seasoning. The results were okay, but not spectacular. My CI pans (almost all Lodge) were not as slick as I would have hoped, even after years of use. I'm sure the web article is still out there. 

 

About two years ago I stumbled onto Kent Rollins' seasoning methods and have had much better success. He's recently started advocating flaxseed oil as well for initial seasoning, but the key to my success which he recommended was EVOO after each use on a warm pan. My Lodge 12" skillet is used 3 or 4 times per week and is now quite slick. It's my go to pan for fried eggs which were once an exercise in frustration with this pan. The amount of use and continued build up of seasoning over the past year or two with this pan have helped immensely. 

 

I did use his method of using one of my sanders on my Lodge pizza pan which gets infrequent use but had developed a sticky, gummy finish. I reseasoned with EVOO as I no longer had flaxseed available. The pan is much slicker and a lot easier to use. I did the reseasoning out on one of the grills as I'm not overly fond of the smell when done in the oven. 

 

As a hint taken from that initial flaxseed seasoning article, place the pan upside down in the oven or on the grill. If your seasoning is a bit too thick, it won't pool and get gummy. If using the oven place a tray on the lower rack beneath the pan. 

 

About the only thing I disagree with Kent Rollins on is his insistence not to use paper towels to wipe the seasoning on. I don't want to keep a dedicated (read: oily) cotton towel around for seasoning and find there's no problem using paper towels. 

 

Bottom line: time and continued use of cast iron helps immensely. I'm still working on CI I use infrequently, but it's getting there. 

 

-Dom

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  • 4 weeks later...

FYI, I can tell you that Lodge uses canola oil.  That's it.  (I live within a short drive from the factory, and while at their lovely new retail store, I asked.)  It is not a "polymer."  There's nothing artificial about it.  No need to try to remove it or to replace it with something else.

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I'm fairly certain you need to go higher than that.  I always heat well on the stove so I couldn't tell you the temperature, but I bet that is the issue.  And like John said make sure it is a very thin coal of oil, otherwise it will be gummy no matter what. 

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Lots of interesting perspectives here.  I just use rapeseed oil, it's what I have handy, apply a thin layer, wipe it off and place in a cool oven set to 350 for an hour, turn it off and get the pan out next day.  Works well.  My experience says 500 smokes real bad.  Of course smoking point depends on the oil and I also believe that flaxseed oil is the best.

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I've got a small assortment of cast iron skillets that I cook with.

 

I've been running a 10" Lodge the longest.  It still has that pebbly feel on the cooking surface no matter what I've re-seasoned with.

 

Thusly I use it for my cornbread and such....as well as other things.

 

I wanted something smooth enough that I could cook eggs with.  I found that with the Stargazer 10" skillet.  It arrived smooth as silk and it's been a nice work in progress to season it through cooking meats on it.  It's a hoot watching eggs slide around nicely with a shake of the handle.

 

If I decide to something different, I may use a disc wheel and take some off the surface of one of the Lodge pans and re-season it and see what's possible there.  

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3 minutes ago, Dub said:

 

If I decide to something different, I may use a disc wheel and take some off the surface of one of the Lodge pans and re-season it and see what's possible there.  

I sanded by lodge double handled 12, and reapplied the seasoning with grape seed oil. It is much smoother than it was and seems to take seasoning better. It seems to preform a bit better. I would really like to pick up a Stargazer or one of the other new generation pans but I can't find one in the double handled configuration. 

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