Seasoning and maintaining cast iron
Iron + Oil: Here's our quick overview of seasoning cast iron and carbon steel
Using and maintaining cast iron and carbon steel cookware can be very different from using other types of cookware, Like any tool, it needs to be taken care of and treated properly for it to work best. With proper technique, the performance, versatility and longevity of your cast iron are worth the extra effort. We put together this guide to help you get the most out of your cast iron.
Seasoning – Baking on Oil
Our cast iron skillets come with 4 coats of baked on oil, so they are ready to use right away. The oil coating on your skillet will get better with age if you properly clean and maintain it. Depending on how you use your skillets, baking on another layer of oil may be necessary. If the surface of the skillet starts to look really dull with no sheen and food seems to be sticking a little more, it may be time to bake on another coat. We always recommend wiping on a very thin coat of oil after cleaning and washing - this ensures that your skillet will be ready to go the next time you use it.
If you think its time to bake on another coat of oil, here's the steps:
1) Make sure you start with a clean surface. Scrub as necessary to make sure the pan is completely free of food residue before baking on more oil.
2) Wipe on a very thin coat of oil on every surface and wipe it completely off. Try to make sure the coat is as even as possible. We recommend flax seed oil or grape seed oil.
3) Bake in the oven at 450 degrees for about an hour. You will know when it's done when the oil looks dry. If your oven has a convection setting - use it.
4) With the smooth surfaces on both the carbon steel and cast iron, One coat should be enough.
5) Once the pan is cool, we generally like to finish with a very light "wet" coat. Wipe down the interior of the pan with a very thin coat of oil - no need to bake it on. This will ensure your skillet is ready to go next time you need it.
The difference in porosity is largely a result of the differences in surface finish. Cast iron has more texture and a more absorbent surface. It will soak in more of the oil during seasoning and builds coats of seasoning differently than carbon steel. When seasoning carbon steel, the coats of oil need to be extremely thin. Often carbon steel is seasoned on the stovetop rather than in the oven, so the skillet can reach higher temperatures to better dry and burn off excess oil .
Generally, carbon steel a little thinner and lighter. Our skillets are similar in thickness with the carbon steel at 3mm and the cast iron are between 2.5-4mm thick with the bottom being a little thicker than the walls.
Carbon steel and cast iron are seasoned in similar ways, they both are extremely versatile, can be used over any heat source, can be extremely non-stick and both will last forever.
Materials aside, other considerations between the two include the shape – cast iron usually has steeper sides and is better for baking, while the low flared sides common to carbon steel excel on the stove top.
Vitreous or porcelain enamel is essentially a glass coating that can be applied on materials with a melting point over 1500 degrees (F) which is the temperature required to melt and fuse the enamel. For cookware enamel is only used on top of Iron based materials. Enameled cookware never needs to be seasoned. Enamel is a lifetime coating, while it is possible to chip enameled products last for a very long time. Depending on the type of enamel, thickness and sheen some pieces can have issues with food sticking while others are extremely non-stick.
The table below highlights some examples of pan types are ideal for different foods and methods. The big disclaimer here is that any of these types of pans can be used for any of these foods and methods and that everyone has different opinions on which may be best.
Eggs / Crepes
Long Simmers / Reductions