Carbon steel-guide: How to build natural nonstick (seasoning)

Carbon steel-guide: How to build natural nonstick (seasoning)

Have you just received a carbon steel frying pan in the mail - or are you considering getting one?

Regardless, it's important to start off right with this pan so you can enjoy the many benefits of this fantastic kitchen tool!

Also read: 5 reasons to choose a carbon steel frying pan

The key to getting started with carbon steel is to build a good initial layer of "seasoning" - the treatment that ensures natural non-stick. Our frying pans come completely raw, which means you have control over building the perfect non-stick surface before you start cooking.

One of the most common questions we receive from customers is about how to properly treat an iron pan / carbon steel pan, so we've created a comprehensive guide below:

What is seasoning?

To achieve a smooth surface that cooks food evenly, enhances flavors, and prevents food from sticking, rust, and corrosion, you need to treat your new pan in a process called "seasoning" - it involves coating the pan with a thin layer of oil. This oil fills the small surface pores of the pan and enables natural non-stick.

As you cook, the fats and oils in your food will continue to fill these pores and build up a layer of polymerized oil, creating a smooth surface.

Our iron pans have relatively small and shallow pores. This means you'll get a solid layer after your first seasoning, and you'll have a super smooth surface in just a few treatments. In comparison, raw cast iron pans have deep pores, which means you'll need more time to build up your seasoning to make the surface smooth.

Your first seasoning

Your first seasoning is crucial to unlocking the full potential of your carbon steel pan. The good news is that treating carbon steel isn't as difficult as, for example, raw cast iron.

There are many, many ways to build seasoning. We are big fans of the stove-to-oven method, which provides a perfect seasoning using the technique below:

  • Wash your pan with hot soapy water and rub off any oil residues. The coating on your new pan consists of dried oil, which we apply to protect the pan and prevent it from rusting during transport. If the pan looks scratched, it's just the protective oil - it doesn't matter and will disappear when the pan is thoroughly cleaned and seasoned. The protective layer of oil is not harmful to ingest - but remove as much as you can with hot water and soap, possibly with steel wool - then you have the best starting point for your seasoning.
  • Place your iron pan over low heat for 2-3 minutes to open the pores of the iron and ensure all the water is steamed away.
  • Remove the pan from the stove and use a piece of kitchen paper to apply a very thin layer of oil over the entire inner and outer surface of the pan.
  • Wipe the pan again with a new piece of kitchen paper to ensure you have a very thin layer of oil.
  • Carefully place the oiled pan upside down in the oven, placing it on the middle rack.
  • Turn on your oven to 200-230°C. The oven temperature should be at or slightly above the smoke point of your oil or wax - we usually use grape seed oil and heat the oven to 220°C.
  • Let the pan sit in the oven for an hour at 200-230°C.
  • There may be some smoke along the way - that's perfectly fine.
  • After an hour, turn off the oven and let the pan sit in the oven until it is completely cooled.
  • Your pan is now ready to use - or you can repeat the process a few more times if you want a stronger seasoning.

NOTE: You can expect your pan to change color as you season it and cook on it over time. Embrace the process - it's what makes your iron pan different from all others!

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