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So full disclosure in that I'm kind of exploring cooking more and am a bit of a novice with my wok. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B084DQYNNM This is the wok in question for reference.

I thought I followed the instructions right in regards to seasoning it but now I'm not so sure. I came back after a week where my roommate used it and it looks off. Where it was once black there are now silver bits showing and it also looks coppery. After some googling I'm unclear on whether it needs to be tossed because the coating has peeled off, or it just needs to be re-seasoned or something else entirely I'm unaware of but if any wok experts know please help me! I don't wanna throw it away if I don't have to but also unsure what happened or if it can be fixed. enter image description here

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  • is it carbon steel? have you checked the related questions (on the right side of the screen if you're on desktop). This one for example cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/101209/…
    – Luciano
    Feb 8 at 14:48
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    Please check the same Amazon link for the reviewers giving the wok 1 or 2 stars ... your roommate is not be the big offender here.
    – EarlGrey
    Feb 9 at 10:54
  • is the darker patch wet or oily?
    – Tristan
    Feb 9 at 11:11

2 Answers 2

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That's not coppery, that's rust. Your roommate didn't clean and dry it after use, evidently. Steel rusts. Naughty roommate, don't do that to pots that are not yours...and get scrubbing!

The link states that it's black carbon steel, not any sort of teflon-coated thing where the present state would be "ruined" so it just needs cleaning and oiling/re-seasoning. We have had questions where people with teflon(PTFE)-coated woks have attempted to treat them like plain steel woks and indeed ruined them. Utterly different items of similar shape.

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  • Which leads to the question of whether a wok which is Teflon-coated is still a wok, or some hybrid inferior. Feb 10 at 7:27
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    Another possible reason it might have rusted is if somebody put it in the dishwasher. Black carbon steel will do this, and I think a dishwasher will make it rust much more quickly than just leaving water in it. Feb 11 at 19:50
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This is rust. Seeing as it looks like the wok is still wet a while after it was washed up, this is not surprising.

Carbon steel, like cast iron, will rust quickly if left wet and so always needs to be thoroughly dried, and not merely left to air dry on a draining board, and certainly not put back in a cupboard damp. It's generally recommended to thoroughly heat it over a flame to dry it fully after washing (you can also use this as an opportunity to top up the seasoning if you want).

If it hasn't been too long the rust probably hasn't penetrated too deep and it is probably salvageable. You'll need a steel wool scourer and to scrub the rust out completely. This will also remove any seasoning (including that that it seems to have shipped) with, so after removing the rust you'll need to give it a thorough seasoning as if it were brand new, unseasoned carbon steel.

This video here from Chinese Cooking Demystified has good advice on how to do that. In essence you'll need to heat it extremely hot over a flame until the steel starts to change colour, and then move the wok around so that the entire surface has been heated thoroughly and no silvery steel remains (it should all be orangey or blue). Then add a small amount of oil or fat (it is very easy to overdo this, so it may be easiest to use a piece of kitchen roll with oil on it, rather than pouring oil into the pan) and rub it into the entire surface, top and bottom. This will cause a lot of smoke. You don't want a thick layer anywhere as this will get gummy, just enough to coat it. You should start noticing the previously blue/orange areas turning black as the oil polymerises forming the coating.

In the end your wok should mostly look black (although you may still have some slight blue or orange bits around the edge and handle, as it's hard to heat these thoroughly). At this point it is ready to reuse.

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  • I guess the take off is: not every steel is stainless steel.
    – Clockwork
    Feb 10 at 20:18

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