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I've always seasoned my cast iron pans with vegetable oil because that was what I was taught. I'd done some research before, and even came across this StackExchange post on asking the best oil for the job.

To my dismay however, when I tried doing some research myself, all sources pointed to blog posts, particularly the Sheryl Canter one. There is not a single source on her post and she doesn't seem to be very near a materials scientist. The closest paper I could find to the topic was this one. Other than that, it was all anecdotal evidence, many people claiming many different things. This will bug me till the end of time until I figure it out, so I need to know - does anybody have any real sources on cast iron seasoning?

Much appreciated.

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  • There's also cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/104229/… but finding an absolute answer seems to be tough. – Tetsujin Aug 23 '20 at 11:45
  • I modestly comment that from my point of view this cast iron seasoning looks like a fixation. In my country no one cares to it, not to such an extent. Nor it is different in two neighbouring countries I lived in. All three countries are rather reputed for their cuisine and family cuisine. Anyway I upvote because the question address a good point. Likely the data are existing but not collated in single work explicitly dealing with seasoning of a pan. – Alchimista Aug 27 '20 at 10:37
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it's applied chemistry so likely not going to find too many papers about it as not research per se.

but if you look at a site like serious eats you'll find a lot of discussion.

the reason to use a low heat oil like flax seed instead of olive oil is that the goal is to create a chemical change that will polymerise the oil to create a no stick surface to be able to sustain a very high heat itself when cooking.

YOu can get this with other oils to be sure - as has been the case for decades of folks using bacon drippings etc - but with its low smoke point it's pretty fast to do - and you can build up really thin layers quickly. The goal, again is to get that effect of a coating - it's not teflon but at least it's not plastic either.

if you look at the surface chemistry section in wikipedia on seasoning cookware you'll see more detail

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seasoning_%28cookware%29

and also this serious eats overview about cast iron is pretty good too

https://www.seriouseats.com/2014/11/the-truth-about-cast-iron.html

and https://traditionalcookingschool.com/food-preparation/how-to-season-cast-iron/

and one more that claims to debunk flax seed oil as the best oil https://www.chowhound.com/post/testing-debunking-flaxseed-method-seasoning-cast-iron-807107

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  • Flaxseed oil has one of the lowest smoke points of all, lower even than virgin olive oil. One of the reasons people use it is because it is very easy to smoke. The argument becomes whether this is better or worse as a final coating than a high-temperature oil such as tallow or coconut. See cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/104229/… – Tetsujin Aug 23 '20 at 11:42
  • yup flax seed oil is low - my apologies thinking low wrote hi - have corrected. – user24359 Aug 23 '20 at 13:05

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