How to Season a Carbon Steel Pan?

Confused between choosing a non-stick cooking pan or cast iron pan?

Why not get the best of both worlds by picking a carbon steel pan!

Carbon steel pans are perfect for searing food and you can use them with both ovens and induction cooktops. It’s just that you need to season them regularly.

Many users don’t know how to season a carbon steel pan before using it for the first time.

Let’s see how it’s done the right way!

How to Season a Carbon Steel Pan for the First Time

If you want your carbon steel pan to last for years, the initial seasoning is a crucial step. You’ll be glad to hear that it isn’t as complicated a process as seasoning a cast iron pan is. On top of that, you can reverse the seasoning with steel wool if anything goes wrong. Say no more to crying over a ruined pan!

The first seasoning of a carbon steel pan requires flaxseed oil or sunflower oil. In case you don’t have any of these at home, you can use any vegetable oil as an alternative.

Please note that some carbon steel pans available in the market are pre-seasoned. Hence, you need to check the labels carefully while picking the best one based on your cooking needs and preferences.

If your carbon steel pan is not already seasoned, you must get rid of its grease or wax coating before anything else. This coating is actually there to prevent your pan from rusting during transit, so you can safely remove it.

To remove the coating, use a mixture of hot water and dish soap. You don’t have to worry about the hot water ruining the surface of your pan, as carbon steel isn’t porous.

Simply, use a bristle brush for scrubbing your pan with the mixture. Alternatively, you can use a nylon scrubber or a two-faced sponge but avoid using steel wool on your pan’s surface. Steel wool can lead to abrasions, compromising your pan’s non-stick property after seasoning.

After the grease coating is removed, allow your pan to dry completely. Once it is dry, place it on the stove and heat it on low. While it gets warm, add a mixture of 1/3 cups of oil, two-third cups of salt, and peels of two potatoes.

Let this mixture cook on medium heat for a few minutes. This will remove any leftover grease or wax from the pan’s surface. Don’t forget to continue moving the potato peels and rubbing them up the pan’s sides after every couple of minutes.

You’ll see your pan changing its color to brown. It’s natural, so don’t panic. Throw the mixture away and let the pan sit for some time and cool down at room temperature. Then, use clean paper towels to wipe the pan.

That’s it! You’re done with the first seasoning of your carbon steel pan and it’s perfectly ready for use!

Pro Tip: If you feel your pan isn’t non-stick enough after the process, you can repeat it once more to achieve your desired level of non-stickiness.

Regular Seasoning of Carbon Steel Pan

The key to increasing your carbon steel pan’s lifespan and making the most of it is to season it on a regular basis and maintain its non-stick surface.

Sometimes, your pan is left unused for weeks or even months while other times, you may notice that regular use has made it dirty. In both cases, re-seasoning your pan is the answer!

Let’s discuss two methods of seasoning your carbon steel pan: the oven method and the stovetop method.

Seasoning a Carbon Steel Pan in the Oven

What You Need:

  • Vegetable oil
  • A clean paper towel or dishcloth
  • Baking sheet
  • Tinfoil
  • Tongs
  • Oven mitts

What You Have to Do:

  • The first step is to heat your pan. For this, you’ll have to preheat the oven to 4000 F. While it heats, put your pan in the oven for about 10 minutes.
  • Wear oven mitts and take out the pan from the oven.
  • Take a fresh paper towel or a clean dishcloth and coat it with vegetable oil. Hold the pan with oven mitts and the paper towel or dishcloth with tongs before spreading the oil on both the interior and exterior surface of the pan. Make sure no area is left uncoated.
  • Place a layer of tinfoil on a baking sheet and place it on the bottom rack of the oven.
  • Place your pan upside down on the rack above the one carrying the baking sheet. The sheet is meant to catch any oil drops dripping from the pan. Leave the pan in the oven for about an hour, heating it on 4000 F.
  • After turning off the oven, let the pan stay in the oven. Allow it to cool down naturally at room temperature and take it out only when it has cooled down.

Seasoning a Carbon Steel Pan on the Stovetop

What You Need:

  • Vegetable oil
  • A clean paper towel or dishcloth
  • Tongs
  • Oven mitts

What You Have to Do:

  • Place your pan on the burner and start heating it on medium-high heat. Continue heating until the pan is hot, smoke starts rising, and the pan begins turning brown.
  • Wear oven mitts before taking the pan off the stove.
  • Coat the pan with vegetable oil using a clean paper towel or dishcloth. Wear oven mitts for handling the pan and use tongs to hold the paper towel or dishcloth. Make sure the pan is well-coated with vegetable oil from both the inside and outside.
  • Place the pan on the burner and start heating on high flame. Keep heating until you see the fat liquefying and turning black.
  • Turn off the stove and remove the pan. Use a paper towel to wipe excess oil from the pan’s surface.
  • Keep the pan aside and allow it to cool completely.

Note: Besides vegetable oil, you can use any neutral oil, including canola oil and Grapeseed oil.

Using a Carbon Steel Pan after Seasoning

Once you’re done with the seasoning, you can start using your carbon steel pan. As you begin sautéing and roasting food on a regular basis, the non-stick properties of the pan will get better and the seasoning will build upon the surface.

Apart from this, you can repeat the aforementioned seasoning steps whenever you feel your pan is losing its non-stickiness. The seasoning on your pan can start to wear off depending on the frequency of its use.

If you feel the surface has become bumpy or has stubborn food residue on it, it’s time to re-season your pan.

Cleaning a Seasoned Carbon Steel Pan

If you want your pan’s seasoning to last for longer, always wash your pan with warm water. If necessary, you may scrub the pan’s surface with a non-abrasive, bristled brush or soft sponge to get rid of burned-on food or stubborn stains.

If you don’t want to scrub, you can alternatively soak your dirty carbon steel pan in warm water for a few hours before you start cleaning it. This will cause the reside food particles on the surface of the pan to loosen up, making it easier for you to wash them down the drain.

You should never use abrasive cleaners or chemical-infused dish soap to clean your pan, as they can remove the remaining seasoning from its surface.

For drying your pan, place it on the stovetop burner and heat on medium-low flame. If you use your carbon steel pan only occasionally, make sure you coat its surface with a thin layer of oil every time after you clean it to prevent it from corrosion and rust.

Why is it Important to Season a Carbon Steel Pan Regularly

Here are the top reasons why you should season your carbon steel pan on a regular basis.

  • Ensures proper, even cooking of food
  • Prevent the pan from forming rust
  • Prevent the pan from producing discoloration in food
  • Keep the food from sticking to the surface by promoting non-stick properties of the pan
  • Keep the pan working efficiently in good condition

Carbon steel pans are great cookware items to have in your kitchen. They not only make cooking and food releases easier but also give your food superior texture and flavors.

These pans also last longer provided that you season them before first use and keep seasoning them regularly to maintain the non-stick surface. Season your pan the right way to increase its lifespan and promote its function while keeping it looking like new!

You may also like the following articles about cooking pans: