Trouble with a cast iron skillet

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Trouble with a cast iron skillet

Postby citylights » Thu Mar 13, 2014 10:57 am

I recently got into cast iron cookware. I have a couple pre seasoned lodge Dutch ovens that are working great!

And I have a off brand non-seasoned cast iron skillet that I am having trouble with. I burned out all the old seasoning, coated it with oil and cast iron cream and baked it in several times, but things still stick to it. (Stick bad!) The casting is not so good, the cook surface is slightly dimpled and pitted, where my lodge surfaces are baby skin smooth.

Anyway, any tips for how to fix it?

Also, I just bought some bees wax to try and season it with. Any tips for using that? Just rub in and bake same as the oil?
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Re: Trouble with a cast iron skillet

Postby bobhenry » Thu Mar 13, 2014 11:55 am

I have picked up several yard sale finds that were severly rusted. I dry sanded then wet sanded with emery cloth and washed well . I then heated them to almost white hot on the gas stove. Rubbed in the wax and spread it evenly with a paper towel. One of them didn't quite suit me so I warmed it but not quite as hot and applied a second coat. It looked like wet glass in the bottom. I fried eggs in it the next morning.

Try it you'll like it!

One related tip never fry starting with a cold skillet. Get it to temperature and add any oil you may be frying in and when ready to cook add your eggs. This is even more important with pancakes or waffles you will have a stuck mess I don't care how well the pan is seasoned!
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Re: Trouble with a cast iron skillet

Postby Woodbutcher » Thu Mar 13, 2014 12:08 pm

I am sort of new to beeswax. The way I was shown was to heat the pan on the stove, and then melt in a little beeswax. Take a lint free cloth, like a handkerchief, and fold it into a tight little pad. Start working the wax around the pan evenly wiping out the excess as you go. The wax will start to smoke quite a bit as you do this. Keep doing it till the pan has just a sheen on it. Remove it from the heat and let it cool. Repeat several times.

I was told this was called Florida seasoning. Don't know why. But it works best on the bottom of the pan, and not was well on the sides.
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Re: Trouble with a cast iron skillet

Postby jonw » Thu Mar 13, 2014 1:48 pm

I recently got a Wagner 1891 10in round griddle to use for cooking pancakes on both a gas stove and an induction cooktop. The lack of sides makes it easier to flip pancakes (I think).

Anyway I seasoned it as I've done with my other cast iron with Crisco in a hot oven for an hour. It came out looking fine, but when I went to use it the first time my pancakes stuck to it bigtime. The trick was to spray it with a little cooking oil before the first batch (each cooking session) and then it worked fine. Also as Bob mentioned, let it get up to temp before putting any food on it.

I suspect it may have to do with the higher heat of frying? Haven't had the same issue with baking and stews in my normal DOs.
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Re: Trouble with a cast iron skillet

Postby wagondude » Thu Mar 13, 2014 9:11 pm

An ancient Chinese proverb: Hot wok, cold oil, food won't stick. It does not matter what the pan is made of, bring it up to temp first, then add the oil. If you start with a cold pan and oil and heat them together, it will stick every time.
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Re: Trouble with a cast iron skillet

Postby GerryS » Fri Mar 14, 2014 4:56 am

The proverb about hot pan is absolutely true. I'd love to know why.

Pancakes seem to help in the seasoning as well. The first few times my wife cooks pancakes (I'm the grill master, pit boss...she's the "inside" cook) they are a little tough and not very pretty. But after that, EVERYTHING Sticks less. I'm sold on beeswax and pancake batter as the ultimate seasoning 1-2 punch.
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Re: Trouble with a cast iron skillet

Postby bobhenry » Fri Mar 14, 2014 7:09 am

I kinda learned this using my waffle iron. I would start with a cold iron and the 1st waffle had to be picked out with a kabob stick ( What a mess) After some experimentation I learned to simply heat the iron until my spray oil smoked a bit when sprayed onto the iron. I then poured in the batter and each one came out with no effort and were golden brown. So if you have a cast iron waffle iron pre heat it also to save a lot of aggrivation.
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Re: Trouble with a cast iron skillet

Postby the other side » Fri Mar 14, 2014 9:13 am

That totally makes sense because when you are cooking (pancakes or waffles) the latter ones always come out better. Probably because by that time the pan/iron is hot!
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Re: Trouble with a cast iron skillet

Postby bobhenry » Fri Mar 14, 2014 9:44 am

I went looking for why .... " A hot woc , cold oil."

I found this to be most interesting.

When a wok is hot enough, adding oil on top of the hot metal create a thin film of oil that goes into the pores of the metal, creating a "non-stick" effect. The oil then dances easily on the surface. You will now have to use less oil to saute or stir-fry your food.

So how exactly do you know when your wok is "hot enough", you ask? No, you don't have to keep a thermometer handy. Some simple guides will do the trick - what Asians have been doing for ages.


How hot your pan should be depends on what you're using it for. If you're making a typical Asian meat stir-fry, you need it very hot so that the meat is seared as soon as it touches the pan. If you're stir-frying veggies, it doesn't have to be as hot as that. If you're simply pan-frying something that needs about 10 minutes in the pan, you need a medium to medium-high heat.

My method for determining these temperatures is surprisingly easy and needs something very commonly found - water. And only a few drops of it to sprinkle into the pan. Start by heating the pan for about 30-60 seconds on a medium-high flame. When you feel it's time to check the temperature, simply run your fingers under a tap of water. Then take your hand and quickly snap your wrist so that the residual water falls into the pan. The reaction of water on the pan can tell you how hot your pan is. Here's a key:

Water doesn't sizzle audibly and stays as drops on the surface: Unless you want to make scrambled eggs, your pan is not close to being hot enough.

Water starts sizzling on contact but doesn't evaporate immediately: This is your medium heat. If you wait for the water to boil off, you'll have a pan suitable for sauteing or for stir-frying vegetables.

Water sizzles loudly on touching the pan and boils off almost immediately: Ah, this is what you need for stir-frying. Add your oil and swirl it around and you'll see how easily it glides. You've now got a fine surface for cooking food without it sticking too much. Strips of meat added to the wok will now get seared instead of getting "stewed". That makes all the difference to texture and taste in a stir-fry. (A detailed article on stir-frying will come in the future.)

The water trick I've explained is an excellent technique to get the texture that you want from dishes. They will also reduce the amount of oil you need to use in dishes. Remember that once you add food to a pan, you bring the temperature of the pan down drastically so you have to turn up the flame for a short while as necessary to maintain the temperature you're looking for.
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Re: Trouble with a cast iron skillet

Postby the other side » Fri Mar 14, 2014 11:32 am

Now that's one thing I don't do, that I will start doing... turning up the heat after you add the food!!! I instinctively turn the heat down. It's gonna SIZZLE a lot next meal! Thanks Bob!
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Re: Trouble with a cast iron skillet

Postby GerryS » Fri Mar 14, 2014 5:50 pm

Good post Bob. I have the other tendency. I tend to start too hot...I tend to have undercooked middles.

I really drive Susan crazy because I bring the heat up too high in her opinion. Never a happy medium :)
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Re: Trouble with a cast iron skillet

Postby citylights » Sat Mar 15, 2014 12:28 pm

Cooked with the wax seasoned skillet today and it did great. Sausages, then pancakes. Tomorrow will be the true test when I try eggs again.

Another question about wax seasoning. Do you just use the wax to season the first time, then regular oil or cast iron conditioner after every use?

Or do you use the wax after every use?
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Re: Trouble with a cast iron skillet

Postby jonw » Sat Mar 15, 2014 2:05 pm

Just to follow up - heating the skillet up first and then spraying with oil worked great with my pancakes this morning.

And although I didn't season with wax, after use and cleaning under warm water with a brush (and NO soap) I towel dry and then heat it up a little (to further dry off any moisture) and then apply a light coating of peanut oil with a piece of old T-shirt (not a paper towel) cut up for this purpose.
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Re: Trouble with a cast iron skillet

Postby the other side » Sat Mar 15, 2014 2:59 pm

I was having problems with this one pan I got from the thrift store. It was a Wagner 8. For some reason it was horrible with eggs. I was trying to fix it so I went the bacon way (cuz that's what I had). After I fried the bacon (and ate it) I left the pan on the stove with the bacon grease in it. For 2 days I kept going to the stove and turning it on high until the grease got really hot. Then I would turn it off again. Next time I went passed the stove I got the pan hot again, etc... The third day I cooked over medium eggs. IT was fine! But I want to try the wax. Sounds like a good way!
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Re: Trouble with a cast iron skillet

Postby GerryS » Sun Mar 16, 2014 5:11 am

We keep a block of wax around and "hit it" periodically. But we will simply wipe it down with oil too. It's not that picky.
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