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Help with cast iron

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

New here, and hope this is an appropriate question to ask (it's not really a review). 


I'm struggling to cook with cast iron. Most other people seem to like it. I'm just not getting it and suspect I'm missing something or doing something wrong. 


I have an older Lodge pan that lost it's seasoning. I re-seasoned it based on directions from the Lodge site. It lost it. I re-seasoned it. It lost it. I tried the high-temp seasoning with flax seed oil. This took some time. The pan was fantastic looking. It lost the seasoning. I've tried other techniques and had the same result. 


I decided there must be something wrong with the pan. Went and bought a new, pre-seasoned Lodge 12" inch pan. I've used it 3 times - twice for steak, once for bacon. I have never put soap in it. I cooked steak the other night and did not clean out the pan. The next morning I warmed it up and wiped out the grease with a paper towel. I let it cool and then put in some water and used a veggie scrubber to clean some stuck-on stuff from the bottom. Rinsed the pan and dried it. Seasoning was gone - I was staring at (what appeared to be) bare metal. I put it on the stove and wiped a little oil into it, then wiped it dry. It looks fine now. But it's not seasoned - it just has a thin coat of oil on it. 


A little more info: the food I cook in these pans comes out great. I use oil and don't have bad sticking. No issues with the actual cooking. I am putting salt directly into the pan when I cook steaks, but can't imagine that's an issue. 


I just can't figure out why the seasoning comes out so easily. Given that I can get similar results with stainless pans (they are stickier), I just don't see how CI that it's worth the hassle. Am I stupid? Doing something wrong? Missing a step? 


Thanks for any feedback. 

post #2 of 8

All you need to know is the following:  the seasoning process is just the start of seasoning.  It is a base coat, and more use will be required for the seasoning to really be effective.


Seasoning goes through phases and periods of partial loss.  Continued usage makes for a more durable and permanent seasoning.  Using hte pan 3 times isn't enough.  Concentrate on cooking/eating fatty food for a while - bacon and 80/20 hamburgers.  That will help you get the seasoning you desire.

post #3 of 8

It can take decades to get a good "season" on a cast iron pot.  The key is to keep some sort of fat in constant contact with the pot, cook fatty things in it, wash (don't scrub) it with a simple dish towel, put it back on the stove and heat it up to evaporate the water then pour in a cap full of oil and rub it in with a paper towel. Minimal contact with water and soap are key. Though I have never actually seen a pan "lose its seasoning" unless someone has scrubbed it off or its was placed in the dish washer. Cast iron, when heated is porous, (porous surfaces cause sticking), so when you heat a pan up and massage oil into it you are filling those pores in with oil, and over time that oil turns into carbon, creating a surface that in naturally non-stick.  I had some photos of a collection of cast iron pots my old school had acquired from various donors, antique stores, and private collections most were 50+ year old Lodge pans, but alas...gone.

Edited by Dobzre - 2/21/13 at 2:00pm
post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the replies. I hear what you're saying and have done that. The first pan I thought was defective I used for ~5 years and could never keep it seasoned. The new one lost it after 3 uses and washing with water only. 

Please keep in mind that I cook a lot. We currently have 5 kids in the house and frequently have people over. It's not unusual for me to cook for 8-10 people on a weeknight after working all day. I need reliable, robust, non- finicky cookware. Maybe CI requires a level of care I can't give. 

I do dry my CI after washing, don't use soap, then put it on a burner, and lightly oil it (lightly rub with oil then wipe off the excess). Maybe the seasoning isn't call coming off, but it looks like raw metal to me. Before I tried the high-temp flax oil treatment on the one pan I used oven cleaner on it. That's the look of raw metal I'm seeing after a few uses and washings of my CI pans. 

I don't see how the seasoning can build up if it keeps going away. I have also tried not washing the pan previously and just wiping it out. That led to a lot of smoking the next time I did high temp cooking.


post #5 of 8

If you're not getting a lot of sticking, then I think the seasoning must still be there. I have two fairly new Lodge cast iron pans and before they were fairly well-seasoned they stuck like crazy. Especially chicken skin. That "pre-seasoned" nonsense is just that--nonsense.


Even after baking on layers of seasoning, mine were still pretty sticky.

It was roasting a chicken in one of them that finally did the trick for me. That bird's skin stuck like crazy but it was the last thing that I had a problem with.  Lots of bacon in the smaller one. Now I always rinse them out and sometimes even give them a tiny bit of dish soap if they are particularly in need of cleaning up and they are still pretty non-stick. Every now and then I wipe them with oil after drying them on the burner but that's about it.

post #6 of 8

I feel for the OP as I am working with a Mineral B iron pan that I am trying to get to be non-stick so I can finally ditch my coated pans.  I know that when I can cook an eggbeater omllete in it that it is good enough to use for everything else.  I am slowly cooking 2 slices of bacon every other night in it to try and get the fat to burn and carmolize.

post #7 of 8

Keep using it for greasy things for a while longer. It will improve.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the additional replies. btw, I have no expectation that it will ever be non-stick. I have no issue with that. I just don't want to be dealing with rust and other issues all time. I will try to be more patient with it. For me, the value of using CI us declining based on the maintenance. I'll keep cooking steak and other fatty stuff in there and see how it goes. 

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