You just got a new carbon steel pan and are unsure how to make it non-stick. Seasoning is key to creating a slick surface and preventing rust. This article offers an easy guide on seasoning your pan, making cooking hassle-free.


Understanding Carbon Steel Pans

Moving from the basics, let's focus on carbon steel pans. These kitchen tools are a blend of iron and carbon, making them very sturdy. They heat up quickly and evenly, perfect for frying, sautéing, and even baking.

Unlike non-stick cookware that might wear out over time, carbon steel improves with use. The pan forms a natural non-stick layer as you season it regularly.

Seasoning these pans is crucial to protect them from rust and create that desirable non-stick surface. A well-seasoned carbon steel pan turns black, similar to cast iron but is lighter in weight.

This patina enhances its non-stick qualities and makes it an essential tool for every home cook. Whether stirring up pancakes or searing a steak, these pans handle diverse cooking techniques seamlessly while becoming better with age.


Why Seasoning a Carbon Steel Pan is Necessary

Seasoning a carbon steel pan is essential for creating a non-stick surface. This process helps in preventing food from sticking to the pan during cooking. It also protects the pan against rust, making it last longer.

Carbon steel pans need this protective layer because they are prone to rusting if left untreated. Seasoning transforms the pan's surface, enhancing its cooking performance over time.

With each use, the seasoned layer improves, making the pan more non-stick and easier to cook with. Oils like canola oil and avocado oil bond with the iron in the pan through heating, forming a durable coating that resists sticky foods and corrosion.

The darker your pan gets, the better it performs for frying, sautéing, or even baking. Moving forward, let's look into how seasoned carbon steel compares to cast iron pans.


Step-by-Step Guide to Seasoning a Carbon Steel Pan

Seasoning a carbon steel pan involves removing the protective coating, heating the pan, applying oil sparingly, burning it on, and repeating the process as needed. Then choose the right oil for seasoning and keep up with maintenance to ensure your seasoned pan remains in top condition.

Step 1: Removal of Protective Coating and Cleaning

To season a carbon steel pan, start by removing the protective coating. Cleaning it thoroughly is also key.


  1. Heat your carbon steel pan slightly to melt any beeswax coating. De Buyer's Mineral B pans come with this layer for protection.
  2. Once warm, scrub off the beeswax using hot, soapy water. A bit of elbow grease helps ensure no wax remains.
  3. Use a non - abrasive sponge or cloth to avoid scratching the pan.
  4. Rinse the pan under hot running water to wash away any soap and loosened wax.
  5. Check the pan carefully for any leftover residue or wax. If you find some, repeat the washing process until it's completely clean.


This thorough cleaning prepares your carbon steel pan for successful seasoning and years of non-stick cooking joy ahead!

Step 2: Drying the Pan

After cleaning, dry the pan thoroughly with a paper towel. Then, place it on the stove to allow any remaining moisture to evaporate.


  • This step is crucial in preparing the pan for seasoning. It ensures that the oil will adhere properly and create a smooth, protective surface.
  • Skipping this step could lead to uneven seasoning or even rusting of your carbon steel pan.
  • Properly drying the pan sets the stage for successful seasoning and prolonged use of your cookware.


Moving on, let's explore 'Step 3: Heating the Pan.'

Step 3: Heating the Pan


  1. Heating the Pan
  • Place the carbon steel pan on a stovetop over medium heat.
  • Allow the pan to heat for 5 - 10 minutes until it is thoroughly heated.
  • This process opens up the pan's pores and removes any remaining moisture, preparing it for oil application.
  • Heating also helps in creating an ideal surface for the oil to bond with, ensuring a smooth and durable seasoning.
  • Once heated, proceed to apply a thin layer of oil evenly across the entire surface of the pan.


Get ready to move on to "Step 4: Applying Oil Sparingly" to continue seasoning your carbon steel pan effectively.

Step 4: Applying Oil Sparingly

To ensure proper seasoning, apply a thin layer of oil to the entire surface of the pan. Use a paper towel to spread the oil evenly, covering both the inside and outside. Avoid using too much oil, as it may result in a sticky or uneven finish.


  • This step is crucial as it fills the tiny surface pores in the pan with oil.
  • Using too much oil can lead to clumping and an inconsistent seasoning.
  • Be sure to use an oil with a high smoking point, such as grapeseed oil, to achieve the best results.
  • After applying the oil, wipe off any excess to prevent buildup.


Step 5: Burn it On

Step 5: Burn it On


  • Heat the pan over high heat for about 10 minutes until it starts to smoke.
  • This process will turn the oil into a hard, slick surface, creating a protective barrier.
  • The smoking can be intense, so ensure proper ventilation during this step.
  • Be careful to not overheat the pan, as this can cause damage to the seasoning.
  • After around 10 minutes, turn off the heat and allow the pan to cool.


Step 6: Repeat Process

After burning on the oil, now it's time to build up the seasoning. This requires repeating the process over a few cycles. Each cycle should involve applying a thin layer of oil, heating the pan, and letting it cool.


  1. Apply a thin layer of oil: Use an oil with a high smoke point, such as flaxseed or grapeseed oil.
  2. Heat the pan: Place it in an oven at a high temperature for about an hour to allow the oil to bond with the metal.
  3. Let it cool: Once heated, turn off the oven and let the pan cool inside.


It's essential to repeat these steps multiple times to develop a durable, non-stick surface on your carbon steel pan. Remember that patience is key as time plays a more significant role in this process than heat does.

Regular re-seasoning with a thin oil layer helps maintain nonstick properties and protect against rusting.

Step 7: Use and Re-Season as Needed

Step 7: Use your seasoned carbon steel pan regularly to enhance its nonstick properties and build up more seasoning.


  • Re - season the pan as needed to maintain its nonstick properties and protect it from rusting.
  • Keep an eye on any signs of loss of nonstickiness or rust, and re - season the pan accordingly.
  • When re - seasoning, follow the same steps as initial seasoning to ensure consistent results.
  • Pay attention to how food behaves in the pan; if it starts sticking more often, it's time for re - seasoning.
  • Regular use and timely re - seasoning will keep your carbon steel pan in top condition for a long time.


Choosing the Right Oil for Seasoning a Carbon Steel Pan

For seasoning a carbon steel pan, use oils with high smoke points like soybean, avocado, peanut, or grapeseed oil. Avoid using olive oil and butter for seasoning as they have low smoke points.

It's best to opt for neutral oils that can withstand high heat.

Medium smoke point oils such as avocado, grapeseed, sunflower, corn, vegetable or canola oil are also suitable for seasoning the pan thoroughly. These oils ensure a durable and smooth non-stick coating on your carbon steel pan without leaving any residual flavors.


Maintenance Tips for Your Seasoned Carbon Steel Pan

To maintain your seasoned carbon steel pan, wipe it clean after use and add a thin layer of oil. Avoid using soap, which can strip the seasoning. If rust or food residue forms, scrub it with salt and a paper towel.

After cleaning, dry the pan thoroughly over low heat to prevent rusting. Proper maintenance will keep your carbon steel pan in top condition for years of reliable use.


Cleaning Your Carbon Steel Pan

To clean your carbon steel pan, rinse it with hot water and scrub off any food particles. Then dry and heat the pan before applying oil and letting it cool.

Step 1: Rinse with Hot Water and Scrub

To begin cleaning your carbon steel pan, rinse it with hot water.

Use a soft cloth or brush to gently scrub off any food particles.

If there are stubborn bits, you can use coarse sea salt as a non-abrasive scrubbing agent.

Ensure to thoroughly dry the pan after rinsing to prevent rust from forming.

Step 2: Dry and Heat the Pan


  1. Dry the pan thoroughly with a clean, dry cloth or paper towels.
  2. Place the pan on a stovetop over medium heat to ensure it is completely dry and to remove any leftover moisture.
  3. Heat the pan for about 5 minutes until it is hot to the touch and all moisture has evaporated.
  4. This process prepares the pan for the next step of applying oil sparingly.


Let's move on to "Step 3: Heating the Pan" to continue preparing your carbon steel pan for seasoning.

Step 3: Apply Oil and Let Cool

After heating the carbon steel pan, apply a very thin layer of oil using a paper towel to the entire surface. Use an oil with a high smoke point such as soybean or grapeseed oil. Allow the pan to cool completely, letting the oil penetrate and create a protective coating on the metal. This process is crucial for building up the non-stick properties of your pan and ensuring its longevity.



Achieve a nonstick surface and prevent rust by seasoning your carbon steel pan. Follow the step-by-step guide and use neutral oils with high smoke points for best results. Regular maintenance will keep your pan in top condition for cooking delicious meals.

Keep seasoning, keep cooking, and enjoy the benefits of using a well-seasoned carbon steel pan!

March 29, 2024 — Eric Steckling

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