I like to think that I have nailed the Maillard temperature on my stove. It's my go-to temperature for preheating tri-ply pans, as well as teflon-coated hard-anodized aluminum pans.

After years of relying primarily on tri-ply for cooking, I'm now returning to cast iron. (I lost a perfectly seasoned cast iron pan during a move, and couldn't see myself going through the labor of starting another).

smoke rising

As I preheat my twice-seasoned (once at the factory and once upside down in my oven at 375F for 90 minutes) cast iron pan, I see smoke rising.

Seeing some liquid oil after the second seasoning, I had (carefully and gently) washed (with mild dish soap and the blue-variety scotch-brite) the pan and dried it thoroughly. As I preheat it, it's smoking—despite the washing.

Can I start to cook on a cast iron pan while it's smoking?

It continued to smoke for a few minutes, and I suspect that that means it's not ready for cooking, but I'm not quite sure what the smoke means. Does it mean that the oil has not properly polymerized and it's still burning? Would just leaving it like that (still on the stove at the Maillard setting, not in the oven) for 30 minutes do the trick? (I'm reluctant to use the oven because the drips from the upside-down pan were far too messy.)

1 Answer 1


Yes, you can - for foods that are cooked at high temperatures, like steak, the oil is commonly heated until smoking anyways.

I suspect that the reason your pan is still smoking is due to the fact that you put too much oil when seasoning it - "I'm reluctant to use the oven because the drips from the upside-down pan were far too messy". When seasoning your pan, all you need is the thinnest of coats, and if there is so much extra oil that it drips out, you should wipe most of it out. Having too much oil results in a sticky or tacky surface rather than a smooth patina, and even if you manage to polymerise such a thick layer of oil, it tends to chip off more easily.

  • That makes sense. I thought I was immune to too-much-oil because the pans were upside down in the oven. Duh.. Now it makes sense. To depend on the excess oil dripping out, the pans must also be slanted. Otherwise the excess oil just forms pockets that are now sticky. This is a pair of new pans (used twice), and I now have to figure out whether the cure for the stickiness is to clean them with a harsher pad and restart the polymerization, or to continue cooking with thin layers of oil, while watching out that the flakes will not make it into the food.
    – Sam7919
    Aug 1, 2020 at 15:18

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