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I got this cast iron pan several years ago, and tried more than once to season it according to recommendations from articles I read. Each time, the process involved something like rubbing it with oil and sticking it in the oven, upside-down, for some amount of time. And each time, the pan came out not with a nice new seasoned surface, but just hot and wet.

So, I gave up and figured I'd acquire a seasoning naturally over time by cooking with it. And by now, I think I have - but the surface is highly pocked, and the sides are really rough and feel caked-up. In particular, there's a large section on the edge of the bottom (on the left in this picture) that simply flaked off last year when I was scraping particularly aggressively to remove some burnt-on food.

Picture of the pan

What's the best thing to do for this pan? Should I strip the seasoning entirely somehow and start over?

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I suspect that you're not being brutal enough when cleaning the pan after each use, allowing deposits to build up over time. You should always scrape aggressively. You want a thin, tough layer, and that means removing anything that isn't tough.

I tend to scrub with a cloth, sponge, or plastic scouring pad to get the easily removed stuff off, wipe it dry, and then pour in a tablespoon or two of salt and thoroughly scrub with a paper towel using the salt as an abrasive; then rinse and dry. The pan should not be shiny when you're done cleaning it.

I rarely strip and reseason pans, unless they're rusty, but in this case it might be the most practical approach. Continuing to use it but cleaning more aggressively might sort things out over time, but in the process you'd have a patchy, flaky pan.

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Personally, I would strip it and start over -- you have some serious caked burnt oil and charcoal on that, and the seasoning is never going to "even out". And probably use different instructions this time*. Check the many questions linked by @Tetsujin in the comments.

(* judging just from that photo, I'd say you were using way too much oil. One seasoning "coat" should be like, 1-2 teaspoons of oil, no more)

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    1-2 teaspoons of oil, of which about 0.9-1.9 teaspoons should be wiped off. It is easy to leave too much oil on; it is impossible to leave too little on.
    – Sneftel
    Jan 9, 2023 at 16:07

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