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I saw this reddit post where people said BKF was fine but that doesn't match what I'm seeing.

I just bought a new wok which I was about to season. It had a coating of oil/grease. I washed it with dish soap and then wiped it with a paper towel. The towel became very very slightly dirty

So I thought I'd wash it again. I had just got a bottle of BKF and thought, "oh, perfect chance to try this!". I washed it with BKF and immediately it started to turn rust colored. Wiping looked like this

So I washed it 2 more times with dish soap but the rush just keeps coming

You can see the wok in the back of that picture is all yellowed. There was zero yellow after the first wash, before using BKF

Here is what it looked like just after that last picture

And here it is close up 10 minutes later

The advice in that reddit post is to scrub even more with BKF to remove the rust but AFAICT it was the BKF that made it rust so using more is going to make more rust not wash it off.

Have I ruined this wok? I'm afraid to cook with it and get rust in my food. Should I have not used BKF on carbon steel? I have 2 carbon steel frying pans and a smaller carbon steel wok. I've never used BFK (or even soap) on those. Once seasoned I just kept them clean with water, scrubbers, and then oiling them with heat. I was planning to do the same with this wok and then this rust thing happened.

Woks aren't expensive so no worries if I need to discard it but a little freaked out about BKF induced rust.


Update: Given it's already covered in rust I washed it 3 more times with BKF. Every time, seconds after I finish rust forms again. Rinsing off the BKF and wiping I get a paper towel full of rust.


Update 2: Here's video of me trying to wash it. Before I can clean 1/2 of one side of the wok it's already rusted again

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlXgrOmOWEg

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  • To get rid of the rust that formed, I like a copper bristled brush (you can get them at at hardware stores, sometimes automotive stores), or you can use coarse salt… take a paper towel or rag and dip it in oil, then in the salt, then use that to scrub. (Put the salt and oil in small bowls so you don’t contaminate your supply). The only issue is the oil will make it more difficult to tell when you’re done.
    – Joe
    Jan 29, 2023 at 2:56
  • Fascinating. BKF is a rust remover, and one that is used fairly frequently with all types of steel.
    – FuzzyChef
    Jan 29, 2023 at 20:43
  • Wait ... you're using *liquid" BKF? Use the powder instead. Too much water.
    – FuzzyChef
    Jan 29, 2023 at 20:44

3 Answers 3

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Definitely not ruined. When I had to completely redo the seasoning on my wok a few months ago I had something similar happen. The issue I determined was just that the wok was staying wet too long. Paper towels are only so absorptive, and then moving the same damp one around gives the metal even more opportunity to oxidize.

You can use a manual abrasive (like a green pots and pans scrubber instead of the blue sponge) just to scrape off rust and rinse as quickly as possible before drying it and putting it on the heat. Once being heated, grab a new dish towel and dry the inside even more, then go for the oil.

Prior to oil, and once the wok is hot/warm and dry, you can also use a mild dry abrasive like baking soda or salt and a dry towel to polish off any new rust. THAT SAID - you do need to oil it while it's hot if you go this route. Mine rusted again when I tried to take a break before seasoning lol.

That said, don't worry too too much if you still see a tiny bit of orange or grey prior to seasoning. Because once you have seasoned it, that surface with whatever miniscule traces of rust will be sealed under the layer of polymerized oil. It won't get in your food as long as the wok is seasoned well.

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It is not ruined...pretty hard to do that...If you've got some rust at this point, just scrub it off. Dry well, and immediately wipe it with a paper towel that has some oil on it. Heat your wok and season with a light coating of oil. Use a paper towel to make sure there is no excess while heating. Let it smoke for up to 5 minutes (keep vent fan on), wiping any excess oil. You should be good to go.

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  • I don't think you really understood my question. Watch the video I added. I can't scrub the rust off as it comes back too fast
    – gman
    Jan 29, 2023 at 9:56
  • I watched. I would stop using the BKF. You use a lot, and then need more water and scrubbing to get rid of the BKF...and I don't think it is necessary. Also, don't worry about the bottom (outside). Get a copper, or other abrasive scrubber. Synthetic ones work as well. Scrub, dry, and immediately oil. I also like @Joe's suggestion above...adding a small amount of oil as you scrub. A little rust is not a big deal...and seasoning will prevent this in the future. See also: webstaurantstore.com/article/510/how-to-remove-rust.html
    – moscafj
    Jan 29, 2023 at 12:04
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If it keeps rusting every time you wet it… stop wetting it.

Get it dry as rapidly as you can by not only wiping it round with several paper towels, but get it on some heat as well.

Once it's dry, one last wipe round to get the last of it off, then start seasoning. That last little bit of staining is unimportant, it will just get buried in the seasoning.

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