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Shel_B

Seasoning Carbon Steel Pans

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Hi Gang,

I just ordered another carbon steel skillet. However, I forgot the method for seasoning this puppy for the first time. I think it goes something like this - from some notes I have:

Wash pan well with hot, soapy water, dry it thoroughly.

Cover the bottom of the pan with coarse salt, and cover

that with a generous layer of vegetable oil (maybe peanut

oil, or what? I used safflower last time). Let pan sit at room

temp for 12 hours, then heat it over moderately low or maybe

medium heat until the oil is very hot and just starts to smoke.

At that point discard the oil and wipe the pan dry with a strong

paper towel or perhaps an absorbant and lint-free cloth towel.

Does that sound about right?

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I don't know what the salt is for. I'd be afraid it would lead to pitting of the metal. I also don't know what the 12 hour wait would be for.

Seasoning isn't magic ... you're just trying to bind a layer of polymerized oils to the porous surface of the steel.

I think you did yourself a favor using safflower oil last time. The more unsaturated the oil is, the more quickly and easily it will polymerize.

I'd be inclined to rub a very light coat of oil (safflower, sunflower, cannola or something similar) and put it in a 400 degree oven until the oil solidifies. you could then repeat with a couple of other very light coats. No need to let the pan cool all the way.

Alternatively, if you're lazy and plan to use the pan a lot, just let it happen naturally. Because of the surface structure of spun steel, it tends to build up seasoning faster than cast iron (but the finish is a bit less durable).

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I thought salt was only needed as a mild abrasive to clean the surface before the oil is applied.

I got an old cast iron frying pan from my mother a while ago, I heated the salt in the pan an used that to scour the surface to remove all the accumulated gunge. then appled oil to the hot pan to season it.

Chemistry was a long time ago, but I think as long as there is no water, salt will not react with the surface of cast iron.

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Since posting my request, I've been poking around and checked a number of sites and also read a few posts on the subject by some chefs who have worked extensively with carbon steel pans. There's a consensus that using salt is the way to go. I've yet to read of a downside to using salt. The manufacturer suggest using salt. Still don't know why the salt is recommended. An ex-Bay Area chef who uses the pans extensively suggested that the salt isn't needed, but others in the same situation swear that the salt helps.

In any case, reading all the comments jogged my memory. I used the technique noted in my post and the pan works great. There are some interesting variations, but all of them are basically the same technique. One - from the manufacturer - suggested adding some potato peels tho the salt/oil mix.

Seasoning Techniques for Black (Carbon) Steel Skillet

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I have a carbon steel wok, and I seasoned it using a traditional chinese method (according to several cookbooks)....I stir-fried coarsely chopped flat chives in oil until the oil smoked, let it cool, wiped it clean, then it was ready to go. Others use garlic & ginger in the stir fry...I grow chives in the backyard, so I went with the easiest for me method.

For cast iron, I follow the grease-with-solid-shortening method, then put the pan (upside down) in a slow oven for 4 hours.

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Recently, I discarded most of my non-stick skillets and acquired several carbon steel (DeBuyer and Matfer) and a few vintage cast iron items. I've done a great deal of research on seasoning techniques and have settled on a combination of stovetop seasoning (with either lard or flaxseed oil) and passes through the oven (with the same oils, at 500 degrees for one hour as described in Cooks Illustrated). This seems to be working very well for the cast iron pieces, but I'm having a terrible time maintaining the seasoning on the carbon steel.

My daughter cooked scrambled eggs in my little DeBuyer skillet this morning, and as usual they stuck to the pan like no tomorrow (this happens even with a fair amount of butter). Before today, this pan had a beautiful, smooth black patina from multiple seasonings. I put it on top of the stove with a little water and boiled it for maybe 30 seconds to loosen the eggs without scrubbing. Well, now the pan is pretty much back to bare metal. Seems as though the seasoning should be a lot more durable than this.

I have read that, with proper seasoning, these skillets should be practically nonstick. Please help. What am I doing wrong? Thanks very much!

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How often do you use the pans? Carbon steel seasons faster than cast iron, but doesn't always hold the seasoning as well. I would just keep using it, as much as possible. I rarely bother to do lengthy seasoning in the oven - just rub some oil on, wipe it off as much as I can, then heat the pan for a few minutes.

When stuff sticks, try using kosher salt or a salt-oil mixture to scrub it, rather than boiling water in it. And, try keeping a dedicated egg pan that you don't use water on at all. I don't know if it helps the seasoning, but I like to heat the pan while full of kosher salt and kind of occasionally move the salt around until it turns grey. Then re-season briefly on the stovetop.

I can cook fried eggs, even occasionally over-easy eggs, in carbon steel without sticking, but I have never had much luck getting scrambled eggs not to stick, either in carbon steel or stainless steel. I think having the eggs closer to room temperature is helpful for cooking any type of eggs on carbon steel without sticking.


Edited by Will (log)

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Hi,

I assume carbon steel is not nearly as porous as cast iron. That would explain the loss of seasoning.

Tim

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My daughter cooked scrambled eggs in my little DeBuyer skillet this morning, and as usual they stuck to the pan like no tomorrow (this happens even with a fair amount of butter). Before today, this pan had a beautiful, smooth black patina from multiple seasonings. I put it on top of the stove with a little water and boiled it for maybe 30 seconds to loosen the eggs without scrubbing. Well, now the pan is pretty much back to bare metal. Seems as though the seasoning should be a lot more durable than this.

You know, thats real funny you mention the seasoning coming off with the eggs. All the pans I have are Matfer, and have never regretted it. When I went to Yosemite this last June, I planned some meals with another family, and one morning I did a batch of scrambled eggs in my pan, which they stick too, and when I was cleaning the pan, the season started coming off in considerable amounts. I was always puzzled why that happened. I didnt think too much of it, I just reseasoned the pan when I got home and its fine, but that was the only time I cooked eggs in the carbon steel pans (with the exception of sauteing some potatoes and mixing eggs into it which gave me no problems) Otherwise, I have a single Teflon coated pan only for eggs, everything else in the kitchen in made in the matfer pans. I guess the scrambled eggs things wasnt an isolated issue, but the pans get hold in the heat too much for something as delicate as eggs. I'd just have a separate pan for eggs.

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I used to have an ancient small heavy aluminum saute pan that was somehow seasoned, maybe just from being used nearly every day for 40 years (inherited from mom-in-law). It was fabulous for cooking eggs and I never even thought about non-stick. Then it disappeared in a move and since you can't find nice aluminum cookware anymore, I use non-stick for eggs. Sure miss that little pan.

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Then it disappeared in a move and since you can't find nice aluminum cookware anymore, I use non-stick for eggs. Sure miss that little pan.

Most restaurant supply stores sell bare alumnium skillets, which are generally well made and heavy duty, if not especially fancy.

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Then it disappeared in a move and since you can't find nice aluminum cookware anymore, I use non-stick for eggs. Sure miss that little pan.

Most restaurant supply stores sell bare alumnium skillets, which are generally well made and heavy duty, if not especially fancy.

Really? Still? There's one not too far from us, I'll definitely check it out. Thanks! (Wonder how long it will take to build up that silky patina?)

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I got little sticking on carbon steel until I seasoned it – and now eggs stick like cement! Please help me understand what I'm doing wrong.

I recently got a carbon steel De Buyer frypan. New, with the beeswax finish it came with + one quick seasoning pass on the stovetop, I got only a little sticking; eggs were not a problem, and omelettes came out pretty good. This past weekend I finally got around to doing a real seasoning job on it, though: 4 thin coats with flaxseed oil in a 500 degree oven for an hour + 2 hour cooldown for each coat (the method advocated here: http://sherylcanter....ning-cast-iron/). When it was done I was a little puzzled to note that the seasoning coat didn't look particularly even; rather than a hard seal coat there's a lot of variation in coloring across the pan.

photo.JPG

The next morning when I made eggs, as soon as they went into the pan they stuck hard – so hard that I could not scrape them off the bottom of the pan. Note that I do use oil and do preheat the pan (I add my eggs just when olive oil starts to smoke). Later, as I tried to scrub the stuck egg bottoms out of my pan, I noticed that the seasoning comes off surprisingly easily with a little scrubbing.

What am I doing wrong? Why would I get _much more_ sticking after seasoning the pan than before? I really like this pan and I'd love to figure out how to make it nonstick enough for perfect eggs and omelettes. I thought I could treat carbon steel similarly to cast iron, but it doesn't seem to be working. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

The pan I'm using is this one: http://www.debuyer.c...p?id=778&cat=63

Thanks!

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Carbon steel doesn't really season the same way cast iron does. Carbon steel is also soft and, as you noticed, the seasoning has a tendency to come off. Typically you want to heat up the pan and reapply some fat every time you get ready to use the pan, effectively "reseasoning" the pan before using it.

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You need to hot sear a few steak or the like in it until it builds up some actual carbon within the seasoning. Eggs are a poor choice right now. And wash it gently to remove any bits sticking. I've never found steel to season quite as well as cast iron.

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Maybe it isn't compatible with whatever coating came from the factory. Try stripping it all with lye or abrasive and starting fresh.

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Typically you want to heat up the pan and reapply some fat every time you get ready to use the pan, effectively "reseasoning" the pan before using it.

Hmm. When I went to cook my eggs the morning after doing a full oven seasoning and put oil in the pan first, wasn't that "reapplying some fat"? Having the full seasoning layers actually caused more sticking, rather than less. What's the material difference between the quick reseasoning you suggest and the full seasoning I did?

You need to hot sear a few steak or the like in it until it builds up some actual carbon within the seasoning.

Interesting; do you have any info you can point me at for what it means to "build up some carbon" in the seasoning? I thought the seasoning was just polymerized oils; what does cooking a steak do to the pan beyond just adding its own fat which polymerizes from the heat?

Maybe it isn't compatible with whatever coating came from the factory. Try stripping it all with lye or abrasive and starting fresh.

Maybe that's worth a shot; according to the literature that came with the pan, the beeswax coating is actually supposed to aid the seasoning process, not impede it, but I guess that's what I'll try next.

I'd love to know more about what's going on chemically here and why layers of polymerized flaxseed oil would cause increased sticking.

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I can't offer any info except experience with seasoning cast iron pans and you have to use them hard right off the bat to finish the seasoning. The isomerized/polymerized oil is actually quite sticky. Hence your stuck eggs. My attempts at steel pans have eventually shed their coatings. What I came away from with the experiences is that steel pans really aren't meant to be seasoned in this fashion. However I have had some thin steel baking pans achieve this wondrous coating unintendedly after repeated uses at high heat.

Blacken a chicken breast, sear some salmon or do a steak at high heat to try it out. Looking at the pic you are almost there.


Edited by radtek (log)

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My steel pan is slickest when unseasoned and just coated with oil. When it gets crapped up with "seasoning", I steel wool the hell out of it and it returns to a pan that can make an omelet without sticking.

But I'm not sure that its worth all that effort. It looks "chefly", but it isn't practical. These things are heavy and require more maintenance than teflon.

Why do I bother?

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You don't say that you added fat before the eggs. I tend to find that eggs need a layer of fat, except with teflon, and, even then, benefit greatly from one. I grew up before teflon, and learned to make an omlette in stainless steel. Even now I cook eggs in a small carbon steel wok, but, I always add a pat of butter and swirl it around, first. Also, eggs shouldn't be cooked at super-hot temps, either.

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The pan is sticking because the carbonized layer of oil is broken and crazed as you didn't remove the beeswax coating before seasoning, it's a rust preventative coating only not an aid to seasoning. You are also employing the seasoning method used for cast iron which is a little unnecessary (but it looks like it worked well), you can quite easily use the seasoning method you'd use with a wok and repeat a few times.

In the end De Buyer Mineral B is just a thick steel pan made of recycled steel and covered in wax so it doesn't rust, you can go through the romantic cleaning process with potato skins and gentle, prolonged seasoning process they recommend if you want to. I clean well with a scouring pad, hot water and detergent, as long as the pan isn't too large ( and my burner large enough) to get the pan up to temp then wipe with a layer of veg oil, let it cool and repeat as necessary.

PS: You need to cook with some fat and eggs are the toughest test especially at low temperature.


Edited by antdad (log)

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I plan to season my new deBuyers steel pan w flax seed oil.

Ive seasoned pans before, so i have the general idea

on this pan, the 10 " 'fry' Id wash it with hot water and liquid dish soap, and dry carefully.

the instructions that came w it say to heat a film of oil in the pan until smoking, then wipe w paper towels.

would one also wipe the out sides w the oiled towel, not including the bottom?

that makes sense to me unless I hear otherwise.

then repeat. etc

as my large oven is not working, this is what i plan to do.

many thanks.

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can't see how it matters. thin coats. wait between coats for it to cure ie polymerize

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