How to season cast iron (?)

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Postby DragonFire » Fri Sep 09, 2011 1:05 pm

I'm seasoning my CI right now...got my cactus corn stick pan on the grill with crisco, and the new pre seasoned Lodge 12' DO right next to it...the heirloom griddle is upside down with cider vinegar and water on it to get rid of the bit of rust that got on it from living in the San Francisco area. The it will get reseasoned. I don't know if I'll get to the aebelskiver pans today. Hopefully.

This is an interesting adventure..doing it on the grill. My dad always seasoned in the oven and never had a sticking problem. We'll see how this turns out!!
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Postby Kevin & Sandy » Tue Sep 20, 2011 1:30 pm

Something that has been working for me seems too easy to be true, but I have done it several times with good luck.

Get your charcoal grill fired up, don't use too much charcoal or you will burn the seasoning right off! A small pile will do.

Then apply either Pam or Crisco. Close the lid! I just forget about it, and when it is completely cool, go get your CI.

A little experimentation is necessary, if it doesn't burn long enough, the surface will be sticky, but it doesn't smoke up the kitchen and is really easy.
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Postby DragonFire » Tue Sep 20, 2011 11:16 pm

The DO came out nicely...I now have the CW set that I will start seasoning sometime next month.

How do you deal with the wax that is on the new CI? Do you burn it off? (makes a mess on the grill!) or do you soap and water wash it off? I'm thinking of soap and water this time, dry in the house oven a bit, then crisco and out to the gas grill. The cactus corn stick pan (it's a Lodge) needs to go in a few more times to get it smoother.

How does seasoning actually work? Why does it get smoother? I don't understand it, unless it's a fatty build up. All I know is that it works.

Does anyone use olive oil? I have a friend who swears by it!
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Postby Randy G » Tue Sep 20, 2011 11:30 pm

Ive tried everything, it dont matter who or how many people teach dutch oven seasoning 101, my wife washes them with soap. :x
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Postby DragonFire » Wed Sep 21, 2011 12:13 am

But does it take off that wax they put on for shipping???
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Postby bobhenry » Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:18 am

Randy G wrote:Ive tried everything, it dont matter who or how many people teach dutch oven seasoning 101, my wife washes them with soap. :x


It could be worse ! When my sister moved in with us for a while I found mine in the dishwasher.

By the time I had calmed down she had already been instructed in very short 4 and 5 letter word to never touch the cast iron again.
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Postby bobhenry » Wed Sep 21, 2011 6:04 am

DragonFire wrote:But does it take off that wax they put on for shipping???


Most anti corrosion coatings are organic rust inhibitor suspended in a water based acrylic polymer.

If you think you have heard "water base acrylic polymer" before think "Klear" or "Clean and shine" yep a water based floor wax but in higher concentrations for a thicker film. For removal in the janitorial world we would simply use hot water and sudsy ammonia. I have never purchased a brand new piece of cast iron ( I prefer the old stuff)so I am simply guessing but I would warm the pan on the stove with water in it to open the pores and soften the coating. Take the water almost to a rolling boil. Next rinse the piece with pure hot water gradually cooling with more cold and less hot until it is comfortable to handle then scrub with 2 oz of ammonia in a quart or two of very warm water. Rinse well and reboil to release any trapped cleaning residue and final rinse then heat to dry and season as you wish.

WARNING~~~ Preseasoned pans are just that, do not perform this cleaning on "Preseasoned" pieces unless you want to start from bare iron.

I believe the reason for the problems with the new iron is the anti corrosion coating .The ammonia will strip it off allowing the seasoning to now stick and build.

It is only a theory and if you feel I am in dire need of a porta potty you may very well be correct. After all most theory are full of c#$%p until proven to be fact. So someone with new toys please give it a try and report back.
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Postby CARS » Wed Sep 21, 2011 7:57 am

I seasoned a few of my CW pieces last weekend. That wax stuff was alot thicker than on the Lodge griddle I seasoned last month.

I warmed up the CW iron in my Green Mountain Pellet Grill (awesome grill if you have 110v to power the pellet feed) while the grill was getting to temp.

Then I took the iron out at around 200 degrees and scrubbed the iron with soap, water, and a nylon brush to get the wax off. Dried it and set it back on the grill for a minute or two to get all the water out of the pores.

Took it back out and crisco'ed the heck out of the iron, then set them in the grill for an hour at 400 degrees (all the higher the pellet grill will go).

Made some american fries with sausage last sunday morning. Awesome!
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Postby Moho » Wed Sep 21, 2011 8:00 am

When my grandmother wanted to "start fresh" with her cast she always threw it in the oven and set it on the short clean setting. Came out looking like new with everything cleaned off. I would say that would work for the factory rust inhibitor coating as well?
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Postby DragonFire » Wed Sep 21, 2011 9:26 pm

i'm fixin' to season my new CI after I get through the next couple of weeks, but just read the CW instructions and it says to just wash it with soap and water first. I may try that on a piece, or I may just burn it off in the house oven and/or gas grill.

I've got a 70 person progressive party coming to my house in a few weeks and a weekend trip to Chicago coming up. I've got to finish getting the house ready for all those people because I'll be gone the weekend before the party.

BUT....I'm taking time out to drive to the next state over to officially become one of you...a TEARDROP OWNER!! I'm headed over the mountain to put a deposit on a trailer!!!

After the giant party I'll go get my trailer and start on the CI seasoning...so keep the stories coming!!! I have the whole CW set to do, so I can try different things!!

Gotta get it seasoned and practice my DO skills because I will really be camping with you next spring!! I can't believe it!!! :thumbsup:
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Postby CARS » Thu Sep 22, 2011 9:40 am

OT, but...

What is a progressive party??

Politics? One person comes each day and it progressively gets bigger??
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Postby starleen2 » Thu Sep 22, 2011 12:12 pm

OK folks - lets not baby our CI! Yes you can use soap on a properly seasoned Cat Iron skillet, DO, etc. The soap myth came about during the time when CI was used for making lye soap - and yes - lye will strip the seasoning of the CI (and many other things as well). LYE soap will strip off the seasoning of CI but today's detergents are pretty mild and safe. It's one of those ideas that is hard to debunk.

Next - If your seasoning can't hold up to metal utensils and starts to flake off - the wasn't properly seasoned. I find it hard to believe that our ancestors who migrated west babied their CI with wooden utensil (since plastic wasn't around). Heck my Grandmother told me to put out the plastic stuff - the metal is all we used and it worked just fine! Want some proof? take a seasoned CI and try to sand the finish off by hand and see how far you get! If you get a good seasoning on it - it'll do just fine!

Proper seasoning means using the highest heat setting to properly polymerize with the oil you are using AND then using the CI to cook with. The more you use it - the better it will be. My method doesn't deviate from those above - but I do bake it about three times allowing for a full cool down in between - Works for me. (...and you're welcome to disagree!). . but I don't baby the stuff - after all it Cast Iron and has outlasted any teflon coated crap that I had


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Postby DragonFire » Sun Sep 25, 2011 9:11 pm

my Dad always used CI, and always used metal. When I got into CI my Mom asked me about the plastic spatula I was using. I told her what I had learned on this forum and she said "So Daddy was wrong??" I couldn't answer. I knew he and his father used CI exclusively. They used metal spatulas, etc. Probably that is how it was done in the Bowman family for generations. Our griddle is older than me (I'm 46) and it never flakes when we use metal.

So...I'm going back to using metal..or plastic if that is what I put in the tear. I will probably have both, as that is what I have for my Aristocrat.

I'm cooking in my Lodge DO right now....in a few weeks I'll tackle seasoning my CW set and getting that ready for the gatherings!
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Postby Rusty O'Toole » Sat Jan 28, 2012 12:54 pm

It takes time to season a cast iron pan. If I am starting with an old rusty one or a new one first step is to clean as clean as can be. I have taken old rusty pans, sandblasted the rust off then smoothed with an orbital sander before washing.

Was told many years ago by an old butcher, to get a hunk of suet (beef fat) from the butcher shop, put it in the pan and cook in the oven. The longer the better, you can leave it in there when you bake other things. The idea is to coat the pan with beef fat and cook it in.

Clean out the excess grease and your pan is seasoned or at least starting to get seasoned. Use it for frying, scrape out burned on food with a steel spatula to a smooth surface. Leave it greasy until you need to use it again. Wipe out the grease, wash under the hot tap, wipe with a paper towel and use immediately. Coat with grease and fry something.

If you keep doing this the pan will develop a hard surface that is almost as stick free as teflon. But no pan will be perfectly seasoned in a day.
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Postby dratkinson » Sat Jan 28, 2012 2:07 pm

I kept working with it and finally got my CI skillet to stop sticking. Scrambled eggs are now a pleasure to cook. I use a metal spatula.

Basically did what everyone was advising---baked it several times in a hot oven with my oil of choice (olive oil) while cooking a pot roast. After use, I dry it on a top burner and leave it damp with olive oil. I leave it stored with the lid on and had not thought about washing it out again before each use; it makes sense and will add that to my steps to use CI.

I was curious if I'd done the seasoning good enough because my eggs would sometimes start to stick, but I could easily scrape them off and if I stirred fast enough, they would not again stick. So I'm glad to read this light sticking is normal.

Thanks for all the help.



Anyone know how to spread the burner heat enough to cover the whole bottom of a CI skillet? I use my largest (electric, solid surface) burner, but the edge of my skillet is noticeably cooler than the center.

Maybe if I let the skillet preheat on the burner for a few minutes before using it it's bottom would be more uniformly heated.
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