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I recently bought a carbon steel wok, and I've been trying to season it. I removed the protective coating (or at least, I hope I did) by getting it super hot on the hob, then scrubbing it with soap and steel wool. I dried it, then applied vegetable oil with some kitchen roll, buffed it in, and heated it all over until the smoking stopped --- I repeated this twice.

Now, I'm wondering if I've done it correctly --- the colour isn't uniform on the inside or outside, and there are definite streaks on the metal. My guess is that I've applied oil too liberally, and should maybe strip it and start again, but thought I'd check here.

Pictures

Inside of pan

Outside of pan

Detail of streaks inside of pan

Detail of centre of pan

Questions

  1. Have I seasoned the pan correctly? If not, what have I done wrong?

  2. Even if it's not seasoned perfectly, is it ok to use? Can I go ahead and start using it with the hope that future cooking will provide additional seasoning? Or should I strip it and start from scratch?

Thank you in advance.

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    Seasoning improves with use. The more you use it the better it gets.
    – moscafj
    Sep 9 at 16:32
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What you're seeing is the bare metal being exposed where the black coating has worn away.

That black coating is the factory's "pre-applied seasoning" - which is universally not a very good seasoning. The pre-applied seasoning is supposed to be a value-add, so a home chef can begin using the pan immediately. In my experience, this coating comes off easily and doesn't have much anti-stick properties - so you'll nearly always re-season the pan anyway. The pre-applied coating mostly serves as an anti-rust coating while sitting on the store shelf, in my opinion.

The lines you're seeing develop are likely from how you "buffed" in the oil during your seasoning - they look like streak and drip marks. The darker areas are thicker seasoning.

I season by pouring in my oil, rubbing it with a paper towel until the entire pan (inside and out) is coated lightly and the oil doesn't drip or run, then put it into the oven for an hour upside down (with a baking sheet on the floor of the oven to catch any drips). After an hour, turn off the oven and let the pan cool inside the oven. Repeat a couple times, then get cooking! If your wok has a wooden handle, you'll need to do it on the stove top instead, but the process is pretty similar.

Over repeated use (cooking, cleaning, re-oiling), the rest of the coating will come off and be replaced by your own developed seasoning. So, start cooking!

Just be careful how you clean it to not destroy your seasoning!

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  • I've heard that many commercial woks just come dipped in wax (or other non-food-safe rust preventer), so that it's easy to strip off and should never be used to try to cook with.
    – Zak
    Sep 15 at 19:49

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