Iron cast cookware can last a lifetime, as long as it is cared for. Seasoning is one of the things that must be done to iron cast cookware. However, the type of oil used and at what temperature it should be seasoned is somewhat up for debate.
Many will insist that 350 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal temperature for seasoning. While 350 degrees works, mostcooking experts say that 450 degrees Fahrenheit is the best temperature for seasoning cast iron. Below we'll dive into the science of seasoning cast iron cookware.
Table of Contents
- Why You Should Season Your Cast Iron Cookware
- Why Does Cast Iron Cookware Need to Be Seasoned?
- What Is the Best Oil to Season Cast Iron With?
- How Much Oil Do You Use to Season a Cast Iron Skillet?
- How to Season Cast Iron Cookware
Why You Should Season Your Cast Iron Cookware
Cast iron cookware is interesting because it is a strange mixture of being both unusually delicate and incredibly durable. Physically, the cast iron is sturdy. However, the cast iron is also very reactive. Even one drop of water allowed to sit in your cast iron skillet can leave rust spots in your pan.
To keep your cast iron cookware protected and make it rust-proof, you have to coat it with a thin layer of cooking oil that has been hardened. This process is known as seasoning. To best season your cast iron, it needs to be baked at450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Why Does Cast Iron Cookware Need to Be Seasoned?
In a way, polymerized oil is a bit like plastic. It becomes hard and resists sticking. When you heat the entire pan at a sufficiently high temperature, the oil bonds permanently to the raw cast iron.In this form, the oil protects the cast iron from food and air.
Although most cast-iron cookware now comes pre-seasoned, all it takes to ruin your cast iron skillet's seasoning is for it to be left sitting in water once. Also, since the pans come already seasoned, most cast-iron newbies don't know how to re-season their pan until they research it online.
When your cast iron pan needs to be reseasoned, you essentially have to repeat the process the professional did by building up polymerized fat in layers.
What Is the Best Oil to Season Cast Iron With?
Depending on what you read, you will see a wide variety of recommendations of the best oil used for cast iron seasoning. We will go over some of the most common options below.
Most of the research we found suggests using Crisco or canola oil for seasoning cast iron.
Still, quite a few love to season their cast iron skillets with flaxseed oil. However, the coating that you get with flax seed oil is 68% polyunsaturated fat and not as durable as the one you get with Crisco or canola oil. If you use flaxseed oil (also called flax oil) for seasoning your cast iron frying pans, be sure to follow the instructions carefully.
Lodge, the leading manufacturer of cast iron cookware, says you can use vegetable oil to season cast iron pans. Lodge also notes that if you use animal fat to season your cast iron cookware, the fat can go rancid if your cookware is stored for long periods of time without being used.
How Much Oil Do You Use to Season a Cast Iron Skillet?
Your goal is to get an extremely thin layer of oil on your entire cast iron pan before you put the pan into your hot oven.
Why Is a Seasoning Oils Smoking Point Important?
Here are the smoke points of some of the various types of seasoning oil that are commonly used for seasoning cast iron.
- Canola oil: 400-450°F
- Refined grapeseed oil: 475°F
- Crisco or another solid shortening: 490°F
Regardless of the oil's smoke point, they will all still polymerize on your pan at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep in mind that seasoning cast iron cookware at 450 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal. This is assuming your oil layer is very thin and that you heat it for enough time to let it reach a dry state. You will know your pan is dry after it no longer feels tacky or sticky to the touch once cooled.
This is important: always use an oven mitt or potholders. Never allow synthetic fibers such as those found in your microfiber cloths to touch your hot cast iron pans. They will melt when they get too hot and fuse to the cast iron. Then, you will have a whole different problem to deal with.
When Seasoning a Cast Iron Pan, Do You Keep the Temperature Below the Oil's Smoke Point?
You need to get the temperature of the oven up to the oil's smoke point or slightly higher. It needs to be there for the polymerization process to occur.
How to Season Cast Iron Cookware
Fortunately, the process for seasoning cast iron cookware (or re-seasoning it) is pretty straightforward and simple. Before you start, carefully examine your cast iron cookware to make sure there is no rust anywhere on the pan.
How to Remove Rust from Cast Iron Pans
If you spot even a speck of rust, you will need to remove it before proceeding with the seasoning process. To remove the rust, scrub your pan vigorously with steel wool. Using some coarse kosher salt will also help to remove stuck-on particles and rust.
You can also use dish soap if it helps you get the rust off of the pan. Most experts recommend Dawn specifically. Scour the pan inside and out just to be on the safe side.
Note: If you are restoring vintage cast iron, follow the detailed instructions at Cast Iron Collector or our guide for best results.
Steps for Seasoning Cast Iron Cookware
Follow these simple steps precisely and your cast iron cookware will be as good as new. Again, be sure you're preheating your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 1: Clean the Cast Iron Pan Thoroughly
The first thing you have to do is thoroughly clean the cast iron pan you're preparing to season. If your pan has any rust on it, follow the steps above to remove any rust.
There is a myth that you can't use soap on cast iron skillets. This isn't entirely true. You can actually use soap on your cast iron if you absolutely have to. For one thing, soap can help you get the smoothest possible coating because it will remove any remaining tiny food particles. The key is making sure you thoroughly rinse the soap off of it after scrubbing.
To get your cast iron pan super clean, use a brush with stiff bristles that are non-metal.
After scrubbing your pan, run it under hot water for as long as you need to to ensure that it is completely free of any food particles or soap.
Step 2: Completely Dry the Pan
After washing your pan, dry it completely with a paper towel or microfiber cloth. After you hand-dry your cast iron pans, put them on the stovetop for a few minutes on medium to high heat. This will help any residual water molecules to evaporate.
Keep in mind that any moisture that remains will interrupt the seasoning process, so your pans need to be completely dry.
Step 3: Rub your Cast Iron Cookware with Oil
Using your oil of choice, rub your pan inside and out using a paper towel or microfiber cloth. Keep in mind that you will have to throw this away when you're done.Be sure to choose an oil with a high smoke point so that you don't fill your oven and house with a smoky haze.
Your goal is to achieve a patina of fat. Rub the oil into your pan with a paper towel until the pan no longer looks greasy. Then, take a clean microfiber cloth to rub off as much of the oil as you can. Leaving too much oil on the cast iron will cause it to form pools. The end result will be droplets of polymerized oil that are hardened in your cast iron pan.
Wipe the excess oil off until the pan looks glossy but not wet.
Step 4: Put Your Cast Iron Pan in the Oven
Cover the bottom of your oven with aluminum foil so that any oil that drips from the pan will drip onto the foil. Heat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Next, put your cast iron pan in the oven upside down. Let it stay in the heated oven for one hour.
At this point, you can allow the pan to cool in the oven. However, you will benefit from repeating the entire process three to four times. Doing so will get a nice solid fat layer baked into your cast iron pan.
Step 5: Moving Forward, Take Good Care of Your Cast Iron Cookware
Once your cast iron skillet is nicely seasoned and has an excellent cooking surface, you're ready to cook delicious meals. To keep it this way, avoid cooking acidic foods in the pan. And above all, don't let it sit in water.
Technically, once your pan is seasoned, it should be highly resilient. However, it's impossible to get a perfect layer of fat. If there is even a tiny hole somewhere on the surface, water can get in and cause your pan to rust.
Also, cooking acidic foods like tomato sauce or recipes that contain lemon juice isn't good for your cast iron cookware. The acid will corrode your cast iron cookware's seasoning. Instead, use a stainless steel pan for these recipes.
If you mess up and leave your pan in water or cook acidic foods in it, it's not the end of the world. Simply repeat the seasoning process.
Important: Never put your cast iron cookware in the dishwasher.
Below, we have compiled a list of the most commonly asked questions about cast iron seasoning.
Can You Substitute Olive Oil for Vegetable Oil When Cleaning the Cast Iron Skillet?
Technically, you can use olive oil to season cast iron, but other oils that work better.
Can You Use Coconut Oil or Avocado Oil to Season Cast Iron?
As with olive oil, you can use refined coconut oil to season cast iron, but there are better oils to use. Never use unrefined coconut oil because it has a low smoke point.
We don't recommend using avocado oil for seasoning cast iron.
Can You Season a Cast Iron Skillet with Bacon Grease?
Yes, you can use bacon grease or lard to season cast iron skillets. However, if you don't use your cast iron frequently, the animal fat can go rancid and create an unpleasant odor and taste in your cast iron pan.
Can You Season Your Cast Iron Pans with Peanut Oil or Mineral Oil?
Never use mineral oil for seasoning cast iron pans. However, you can use peanut oil if no one you cook for has a peanut allergy. To be safe, it's better to use other cooking oils. The same goes for soybean oil.
What Is the Ideal Surface Temperature for Seasoning a Cast Iron Pan with Canola Oil?
Experts recommend 450 degrees Fahrenheit for oven seasoning cast iron pans with canola oil.
Why Is the Surface of Your Cast Iron Cookware Rough?
If you feel a rough texture on your cast iron skillet, this is sand. This is completely normal. The sand used to be removed when the cast iron was processed, and this is why vintage cast iron skillets are incredibly smooth.
How to Tell If a Pan Is Made from Cast Iron
A cast-iron skillet or pan is made of iron that has been alloyed with a small amount of carbon that serves to harden the material. The first giveaway that indicates a pan is cast iron is the weight of the pan.
Additionally, the brand name will give you a clue as to whether or not a pan is made of cast iron. Some companies that make cast iron cookware are Lodge, Camp Chef, Griswold, Le Creuset, and Cuisinart.
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Put the oiled pan in a preheated 450°F oven, and leave it there for 30 minutes. It may get a little smoky, so keep your kitchen well ventilated. It's during this time that the oil will polymerize and form the first of several hard, plastic-like coatings you'll be laying down.Can I season cast iron at 350? ›
Lodge's preferred method is to rub the seasoning oil or melted vegetable shortening all over the pan and let it bake on the middle rack of the oven at 350 degrees for an hour, with a sheet of aluminum foil underneath to catch any drips. Repeat as necessary until the seasoning is where you want it to be.Is 500 degrees hot enough to season cast iron? ›
His recommendation — oil the skillet, and bake at 500 degrees on repeat, just as she says, but instead of running six three-hour cycles, run each cycle for only ten minutes and ignore the cooling phase (and be sure not to burn yourself).How long to season cast iron at 250 degrees? ›
Next, heat the pan in a 250 degree oven for 2 hours. It may be necessary to add extra shortening to the pan. Do not let it dry out; if it does then apply more shortening. Let it get stone cold and wipe out with paper towel.Can I season my cast iron at 400? ›
The method is simple: coast iron in a thin layer of oil, place in an oven running really hot — usually around 400 degrees — remove after an hour to an hour-and-a-half, allow to cool and repeat steps as many times as needed.Can I season cast iron at 375? ›
You can place the skillet upside down on a middle oven rack at 375 degrees. Place foil on a lower rack to catch drips. Bake the cast iron for about an hour and let it cool entirely in the oven.What temperature will damage cast iron? ›
Your cast iron can withstand heat - a lot of heat. A cast-iron skillet can withstand heats of up to 1500°F, which is much hotter than your oven could ever be. The seasoning will only burn off at about 800°F, so don't worry that you will damage your pan by cooking with high heat.Can you season cast iron at 300 degrees? ›
To season cast iron: Generously rub the pans inside and out with a flavorless oil (canola, corn or safflower). Bake them in a 300-degree-Fahrenheit oven for an hour, then turn off the heat. Leave them in the oven as they cool completely.Can you season a cast iron too long? ›
Although it seems odd, it is technically possible to over-season a skillet. Too much oil baked into the cast iron will cause it to polymerize unevenly and eventually will cause the surface of the skillet to flake. Adding too much oil when seasoning will also cause your pan to become sticky, notes Lodge.Can you overheat cast iron when seasoning? ›
Don't worry, it takes far more than that to damage a cast iron pan. The worst that could happen is that you overheat the seasoning on it, in which case it may flake off. If it does start flaking then you need to remove what is loose and then re-season.
Cast iron cookware can be re-seasoned to get back its non stick ability in about 30 minutes!How do you know if cast iron is seasoned enough? ›
An easy way to test a skillet's seasoning is to fry an egg (heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in skillet over medium heat for 3 minutes, then add egg). If your pan is well-seasoned, you should not experience any major sticking.What temp does cast iron start to glow? ›
Iron or steel, when heated to above 900 °F (460 °C), glows with a red color. The color of heated iron changes predictably (due to black-body radiation) from dull red through orange and yellow to white, and can be a useful indicator of its temperature.Can you ruin a cast iron skillet by getting it too hot? ›
Don't overheat it. Sticking your skillet into a roaring fire might seem like a good way to heat it up in a hurry, but overheating or uneven heating can cause your skillet to take on a permanent warp, or even crack. Same goes for pouring cold water into a red-hot pan. Don't do it.Can you season cast iron at 200 degrees? ›
Set your clean and dry skillet in a 200° F oven for 15 minutes. Heat opens the pores of cast iron, so that it will easily accept the seasoning. Cast iron retains heat and the entire pan (including the handles) will get hot- so don't forget to use an oven mitt or potholder when you take the pan out of the oven.How many coats of seasoning cast iron? ›
You're going to have to give your skillet at least six coats of oil and baking to create a hardwearing non stick base. Basically, new cast iron needs some intense TLC for the first year or so of it's life.Why is my cast iron Brown after seasoning? ›
Newly seasoned cast iron may have a brownish tint to it. It's not rust, it's just the initial patina baking in. It can take a few coats of seasoning and some use to get a black finish. Don't worry about the brownish colour - go right ahead and use the pan.Can you put too much oil when seasoning cast iron? ›
Using too much oil, anything more than about the size of a quarter will just build up and cause an oil slick on your pan. When it's time to season your cast iron skillet, you simply can't do this with a cold skillet. This will cause build up of that oil residue, and cause stickiness.What is the best oil to use for seasoning cast iron? ›
All cooking oils and fats can be used for seasoning cast iron, but based on availability, affordability, effectiveness, and having a high smoke point, Lodge recommends vegetable oil, melted shortening, or canola oil, like our Seasoning Spray.How long does it take to season a cast iron pan at 500? ›
To get a seasoned cast iron, follow these steps:
Coat the cookware with a very thin, even layer of cooking oil (inside and out). Insert the cookware upside-down in the oven. On the lowest rack, spread out a sizable baking sheet or some aluminum foil. Bake for one hour at 450–500 degrees Fahrenheit.
If the seasoning in your pan is sticky, this is a sign of excess oil built up on the cookware. The Fix: To remedy stickiness, place the cookware upside down on the top rack of the oven and bake at 450-500 degrees F for one hour. Allow to cool and repeat if necessary.
Set your burner on medium and let your pan of oil heat for around 5 to 10 minutes. Put the meat thermometer in the center of the oil to check the temperature. The oil should be between 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 Celsius) and 400 F (205 C), depending on what you're cooking.How long to season cast iron at 550? ›
I normally do a third coating at around 550-600°F for 10-15 minutes. During this step, you should notice smoke coming off the pot(s).Can cast iron be ruined? ›
If a crack appears in your cast iron pan, it's time to ditch it. Even a hairline crack will expand and contract when heated and cooled, and ultimately the pan will split—a potentially dangerous situation if it happens during cooking! Plus, cracks are difficult to clean and may harbor bacteria and rust.Do you preheat cast iron before seasoning? ›
Pre-heating the pan this way ensures it's completely dry and opens the iron's pores to better soak up seasoning.What to do if cast iron is sticky after seasoning? ›
If your cast iron is sticky after seasoning, then too much oil was used. One remedy is to bake it again without adding new oil. Another fix is to clean it first before re-baking. If you don't use dish soap with your cast iron, consider using kosher salt as a scouring agent.How can I speed up my cast iron seasoning? ›
- Blot a cloth or paper towel with a little oil and wipe it across the entire cast iron skillet. ...
- Make sure your kitchen is well ventilated and the fan is running. ...
- You can repeat this process several times to build the seasoning or use this method for maintenance after cooking and cleaning.
The seasoned surface will deteriorate at the temperature where the coating breaks down. This is typically higher than the smoke point of the original oils and fats used to season the cookware. Thus old seasoning can be removed at a sufficiently high temperature (~500 °C), as found in oven self-cleaning cycles.Why do you season pans upside down? ›
Bake for 1 hour
Preheat your oven to 350–450 degrees F. Place aluminum foil on the bottom rack of the oven to catch any excess oil. Put your cookware upside down on the center rack. This helps prevent oil from pooling on the cooking surface.
Will soap ruin cast iron? Using soap will not ruin your pan. It is totally fine on enameled cast iron, and on plain cast iron, too. It's not going to destroy your seasoning.
- All other highly acidic foods.
- Delicate Fish.
- Sticky Desserts (Unless your pan is very well-seasoned)
The reddish color you see on the pan above isn't just rust: it's heat damage to the metal that is irreversible, and it's difficult to build good seasoning on top of it. Some people like to clean their cast iron in an oven set to the cleaning cycle.How long should I let my cast iron cool after seasoning? ›
Turn off the oven and let the cast iron cool for 2 to 3 hours.Do you wipe cast iron after seasoning? ›
If the skillet is well-seasoned from years of use, a small amount of mild soap may be used without doing much damage — just be sure to rinse it well and oil it after drying. Remove rust from cast iron by using steel wool or by rubbing it with half a raw potato and a sprinkle of baking soda (seriously, it works!).What happens if you don't season cast iron? ›
It works just fine. Here's the thing: if you have the time and the patience, seasoning and maintaining your skillet will really pay you back in spades. But truthfully, if you decide to skip this step, your pan will be okay (or even better than okay) if you use it regularly and know a few tips beforehand.At what temperature does iron glow orange? ›
Above 800 degrees Fahrenheit, steel produces incandescent colors. Between 1000 degrees Fahrenheit and 1500 degrees Fahrenheit, steel turns an increasingly brighter shade of red. Between 1600 degrees Fahrenheit and 1900 degrees Fahrenheit, steel turns orange and then yellow.How long should I preheat my cast iron? ›
Cast-iron skillets don't heat as evenly as nonstick or stainless steel pans, but they keep their heat very well. So preheat the skillet on low to medium heat for 5-10 minutes, until it's evenly heated. You can carefully hover your hand over the pan to feel when it's hot enough and ready to go.What temperature should I preheat my cast iron skillet? ›
"Preheat cast-iron in the oven to get it evenly preheated. The stove can result in hot spots," Bolling says. To do this, place your skillet in an oven set to 'off. ' Turn the oven on to 450 degrees, and let the skillet heat up as the oven does the same.Can you use Pam on cast iron? ›
Do not try to use nonstick sprays like Pam to season your cast iron skillet, as they contain other ingredients that aren't good for your pan.Will steel wool scratch cast iron? ›
Steel wool pads are popularly used for cleaning many types of cookware—however, it is best to proceed with caution or avoid this, as this will create small scratches and abrasions over time. Be careful with steel wool around your stainless steel pots and pans, along with your favorite cast iron pans.
As a general rule, you want to keep your cast-iron pan very dry to preserve its seasoning and prevent rust. The acids in food left in the pan will break down the seasoning, plus storing food in the pan for prolonged periods makes it more likely to impart metallic flavor.How long does it take to season a cast iron skillet at 400 degrees? ›
Place pan upside down in 400°F oven for 1 hour. 15. Turn off oven, but leave pan inside, allowing seasoning to cure. 30-60 minutes is recommended.Do you have to remove all rust before seasoning cast iron? ›
Remove all the rust using a scrubby sponge or steel wool.
It will remove the seasoning from your pan! But, you don't have to worry about removing the seasoning here. You'll reseason the pan later so remove as much as you can!
The rust you see on your cast iron pan is a drag, but fortunately it's a superficial problem with an easy fix. The solution involves removing and then restoring the seasoning of the pan—a simple five step process you can complete with only a few basic supplies that you likely already have at home.Why is my cast iron still black after cleaning? ›
They are most likely carbon deposits. This happens due to overheating of fats and oils. Using an oil with a low smoke point will carbonize at high temperatures and cause residue from the pores of your pan to rub off onto your food.Should my cast iron be black when I wipe it? ›
The black residue on a cast iron skillet isn't harmful; it's just a part of cooking with a cast iron pan. A black seasoned coating shouldn't rub off easily or affect the food, as it should form a useful non-stick surface for cooking. If residue starts to build up, however, this can affect your cooking.How do you keep cast iron shiny? ›
If youâ€™ve purchased a pre-seasoned cast iron pan give it a quick rinse, place it on the stove and heat it up. Rub the pan down with a paper towel dipped in vegetable oil. Use a clean paper towel to clean off any areas that might have too much oil. Repeat a couple of more times and your pan is ready for action.How many times should I season my cast iron? ›
Many manufacturers pre-season their cast iron before selling it, but it's still a good idea to know how to prepare because it's recommended maintenance two or three times a year. Without this protective coating, the combination of water, cooking, moisture, and exposure to oxygen can rust the cast iron.What oils should not be used on cast iron? ›
Higher Concentration of Unsaturated Fat
Unsaturated fats have a chemical makeup that is more optimal for polymerization, the process that needs to occur to develop the perfect cast iron seasoning. So steer clear of oils with a higher concentration of saturated fats, like coconut oil and palm oil.
Per Lodge Cast Iron, the secret to frying eggs in your cast iron pan so they don't stick all comes down to the oil you use and the temperature of your skillet. The makers of this wonder pan recommend using a 10.25-inch pan to make your eggs and heating it for just 5-minutes on medium-low before you get started.
Can you season cast iron with olive oil? Yes. Olive oil can be a popular choice when it comes to seasoning cast iron cookware, and that's because it's one of the most well-known and widely available oils on the market.Which oil has the highest smoke point? ›
Avocado Oil: Pressed from fresh avocado pulp, which is up to 25 percent fat, avocado oil has the highest smoke point of all plant-based cooking oils (510 to 520°F).Do you oil cast iron hot or cold? ›
First, it's important to always heat up the pan prior to adding any oil, butter, or fat. When cooking on cast iron, when it comes to fat, less is not always more. It's better to err on the side of too much fat, and then simply drain any excess after cooking.Should I season cast iron at 350 or 450? ›
Put the oiled pan in a preheated 450°F oven, and leave it there for 30 minutes. It may get a little smoky, so keep your kitchen well ventilated. It's during this time that the oil will polymerize and form the first of several hard, plastic-like coatings you'll be laying down.Can I season cast iron at 250 degrees? ›
Coat the interior where food will touch. Do not use vegetable oil as it will leave the pan sticky. Next, heat the pan in a 250 degree oven for 2 hours. It may be necessary to add extra shortening to the pan.Can you season cast iron at 425? ›
This depends on your use of the cast iron. When used regularly you'll rarely have to season it because you're using oil to cook with it so it's basically getting seasoned every time you cook with it. If it develops gummy or sticky spots, wipe it clean, and place it in the oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour.What is best oil to season cast iron? ›
All cooking oils and fats can be used for seasoning cast iron, but based on availability, affordability, effectiveness, and having a high smoke point, Lodge recommends vegetable oil, melted shortening, or canola oil, like our Seasoning Spray.What happens if you leave cast iron on heat for too long? ›
If you accidentally leave your cast iron cookware on any heat source for too long, food, marinades, and sauces can burn and get stuck to the surface. The Fix: Use a pan scraper to remove stuck-on food. If the problem persists, simmer a little water in the pan for 3-5 minutes, then use the scraper.
Just re-season it on the stovetop. The traditional method involves heating an oven to 450 degrees and baking oil onto the surface for an hour. This may be necessary to create a base seasoning on a new pan or to restore an old one, but you don't need to do this every time just for maintenance.At what temperature does oil polymerize? ›
The thermal polymerization process occurs by heating these oils at high temperatures, usually in the range of 260 to 340 ° C, for a period to be determined according to the purpose of the material, and may occur in an inert atmosphere or in an open system. The lower the temperature, the longer the reaction time.
If the skillet is well-seasoned from years of use, a small amount of mild soap may be used without doing much damage — just be sure to rinse it well and oil it after drying. Remove rust from cast iron by using steel wool or by rubbing it with half a raw potato and a sprinkle of baking soda (seriously, it works!).