Can You Use Canola Oil To Season Cast Iron?

Cast iron cookware is known for its durability and ability to distribute heat evenly, but it requires proper seasoning to maintain its non-stick surface and prevent rusting.

A common method of seasoning cast iron cookware is oil or fat. Oils with a high smoke point are often considered a good choice. 

If you’ve found yourself wondering whether canola oil can be used to season your cast iron skillet, you’ve come to the right place.

Can You Use Canola Oil to Season Cast Iron?

Yes, you can use canola oil to season your cast iron cookware.

Canola oil has a high smoke point (468°F), which means it can withstand higher temperatures before it starts to smoke and break down. 

This property is important in creating a durable seasoning layer, that will protect your cast iron from rust and maintain a non-stick surface

Most importantly, canola oil has a neutral flavor that won’t interfere with the taste of your food.

Lodge recommends using vegetable oil, melted shortening, or canola oil for seasoning due to their availability, affordability, and effectiveness.

How to Season Cast Iron Using Canola Oil

Here, I will share two ways to season cast iron using canola oil 

The Oven Method

To season your cast iron pan with canola oil, start by cleaning and drying it thoroughly. 

Preheat your oven to about 500° F or as high as your oven goes.

Next, pour a small amount of canola oil into your pan and use a paper towel to spread it evenly across the entire cooking surface, including the sides and handle.

Place your cast iron pan upside down in the preheated oven and bake it for one hour. This allows the canola oil to polymerize and create a non-stick surface. 

After one hour, turn off the oven and let your pan cool for at least 30 minutes. 

You may want to reapply a thin layer of canola oil and reheat the pan for an additional hour to achieve the best results for seasoning cast iron.

Also read: How to Season Cast Iron Without an Oven?

The Stovetop Method

Another way to season your cast iron pan with canola oil is by using the stovetop method. 

Start by cleaning and drying your pan as before. Apply a thin layer of canola oil to the entire cooking surface with a paper towel.

Heat your pan on the stovetop over medium heat for 5-10 minutes or until it begins to smoke slightly. 

This temperature should allow the canola oil to polymerize without reaching its smoke point. After the pan has smoked for a short time, take it off the heat and let it cool for about half an hour.

After it cools, use a clean paper towel to wipe off any excess oil. You may want to repeat this stovetop process a few times to achieve the best seasoning results. 

Once you have seasoned your cast iron pan, remember to clean it after each use and reapply a thin layer of canola oil to maintain the non-stick surface.

Do’s and Don’ts of Seasoning Cast Iron

Before you jump into seasoning your cast iron griddle or skillet with canola oil, let’s discuss some of the key do’s and don’ts in the process of successful seasoning.

Do’s for Seasoning Cast Iron

Here are the Do’s-

  1. A high smoke point is crucial for successful seasoning, and canola oil has a smoke point of 468°F, which is suitable for the purpose. Other suitable oils for seasoning include avocado oil, grapeseed oil, and peanut oil, among others.
  2. Make sure to clean your cast iron properly before seasoning it. Remove any food residue or previous seasoning layers, then rinse and dry it completely.
  3. To ensure an even and smooth seasoning, gently apply a thin layer of canola oil to the entire surface of the cast iron (including the handle and the bottom). Use a paper towel or a lint-free cloth for even coverage.
  4. Preheat your oven to 350°F and place your oiled cast iron upside down on the middle rack, with a foil-covered baking sheet on the lower rack to catch any drips. Bake for an hour and let it cool before handling.
  5. If your cast iron needs a little more seasoning or if it’s brand new, consider repeating the seasoning process 2-3 times for optimal results.

Don’ts for Seasoning Cast Iron

  • Avoid oils with low smoke points, like extra virgin olive oil, as they can burn during the seasoning process and leave a sticky residue on your cast iron.
  • Be careful not to apply too much oil, as this can cause pooling and result in an uneven, sticky surface. Always remove any excess oil with a paper towel or cloth.
  • Preheating is an important step to ensure that your cast iron reaches the appropriate temperature before applying the canola oil. Skipping this step may lead to uneven seasoning and a poor non-stick surface.
  • To maintain the non-stick surface and avoid damaging the seasoning, avoid using harsh cleaning tools or utensils on the cast iron.
Also read: How to Season a Cast Iron Pan with Lard?

Watch the simple rules for cast iron cookware here: 

Caveats When Using Canola Oil for Cast Iron Seasoning

While canola oil might seem like the perfect choice, there are some downsides to consider.

One drawback of using canola oil is that it can sometimes leave a mottled surface on your cast-iron pan. 

This uneven coating may make it challenging to create a thorough and solid seasoning layer.

Moreover, canola oil may not provide the strongest and most durable seasoning over time, compared to other oils like flaxseed oil or even traditional animal fats like lard or tallow. 

This might require frequent reseasoning of the skillet to maintain its performance and non-stick properties.

Also read: Seasoned Vs Unseasoned Cast-iron Skillet

What Are the Other Oils to Season Cast Iron

While canola oil is a popular option for seasoning cast iron, other oils work well too. 

One of those options is flaxseed oil, which has a good reputation for creating a hard, durable seasoning layer on cast iron. 

It’s a popular choice among cast iron enthusiasts due to its high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids, which helps to create that tough surface.

Grapeseed oil is extracted from grape seeds and has a high smoke point (around 420°F) and mild flavor, making it another suitable option for seasoning cast iron. 

Peanut oil has an even higher smoke point (around 450°F) and a modest, nutty flavor. 

It’s a great alternative for seasoning cast iron, especially if you prefer a slightly nutty taste in your dishes. 

However, keep in mind that some people have peanut allergies, so use caution when cooking for others.

While canola oil, grapeseed oil, and peanut oil all have high enough smoke points for seasoning cast iron, their flavors differ slightly, and they each offer unique benefits in terms of nutrition.

Alternatively, avocado oil, sunflower oil, and soy-based vegetable oils also have high smoke points and can be suitable for seasoning cast iron. 

Olive oil has a distinct flavor and a lower smoke point (around 374°F) that may not be as suitable for seasoning cast iron. However, extra virgin olive oil is rich in antioxidants and monounsaturated fats, which makes it a healthier choice for everyday cooking.

Remember, seasoning your cast iron is not a one-time process, and you might need to revisit it occasionally, especially if your cookware starts losing its non-stick properties or develops rust spots. 

When that happens, simply clean your cast iron, choose an oil, and repeat the seasoning process.

What Not to Use to Season Cast Iron

Let’s discuss some of the products you should steer clear of when seasoning your cast iron cookware.

Firstly, synthetic chemicals and paints have no place in cast iron seasoning. 

They may contain toxic substances, which could potentially leach into your food. Stick to edible oils for seasoning to ensure a safe and healthy cooking experience.

Now, you might be tempted to use coconut oil, given its popularity in the culinary world. 

However, it’s not the best choice for seasoning, as it has a low smoke point and might not provide a durable layer of seasoning on your cast iron. 

Similarly, butter and extra virgin olive oil have lower smoke points, making them less suitable for seasoning cast iron. 

Butter is also prone to leaving a sticky residue on the surface of the pan, leading to uneven seasoning. Opt for oils with higher smoke points to ensure even, smooth layers when seasoning.

Lastly, avoid using oils that can go rancid quickly, like lard

Although lard was a popular choice for seasoning cast iron in the past, modern alternatives like canola oil and vegetable shortening are more stable and less likely to go bad.

Also read: Is Your Cast Iron Pan Turning Your Food Black?

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some commonly asked questions about using canola oil with cast iron.

Is Canola Oil Good for Frying?

Indeed, canola oil is suitable for frying due to its high smoke point of around 400°F (204°C), which means it can handle high temperatures without breaking down or producing harmful compounds. Additionally, it offers a neutral flavor that won’t overpower your food.

Is Canola Oil Bad for You?

Moderate consumption of canola oil is generally considered safe and even beneficial for your health, as it is low in saturated fat and contains essential omega-3 fatty acids.

However, like all oils, it is high in calories, so it’s essential to use it in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

Can You Blacken Cast Iron With Canola Oil Seasoning?

Blackening is a method of seasoning that makes your cast iron pan darker and more resilient.

Canola oil can help achieve a blackened surface, but it may require multiple seasonings to attain the desired color and nonstick properties.

How Often Should You Season Cast Iron?

The frequency of seasoning your cast iron cookware depends on how often you use it. 

Generally, it’s recommended to season your pan whenever you notice food starting to stick or if it begins losing its easy-release finish.

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