Wok Damage?

Here's a picture of my wok and the scratches on the patina I seem to be making when I clean it with my metal spatula and my bamboo brush. I've only used it about 4 times, but the food seems to stick to it a little more each time and this time, it was pretty tough to get the sauce off of the wok.

Why is this this happening?

  1. Is there something wrong with the way I seasoned my work? I've been using vegetable oil over medium heat for 10 minutes and then repeating that 2-4 times after cleaning. Tonight I tried crisco for the first time.
  2. Am I only supposed to use metal and bamboo brushes on it after I've used it for a few months?
  3. Are these scrapes normal and unrelated to why my sauces are sticking to the bottom?

For reference, here's the only 2 recipes I've used on my wok. Perhaps they're too vinegary to be used this soon?

  1. Beef and Broccoli
  2. Kung Pao Chicken

3 Answers 3


It can take years to build up a strong patina, and to smooth off your tools so they don't dig in

Relax, just wash it with a plastic scourer (3M green type), oil it and heat it up on your burner (tilt the wok to reach the high sides)

The damage seems mainly in the 'off' zone, so it shouldn't effect your cooking process too much

The main issue is that most woks are cheaply made, and not hand beaten, but 'metal spun', and have concentric groves which catch the tools. Not much you can do about it, and not worth worrying about

  • 4
    Agreed on the "it can take years" part. It looks to me, from the photo, that the patina is not really actually scraping off but in fact still in the early stages of developing. My carbon-steel and cast-iron didn't turn a consistent black until after about a hundred meals.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Jun 4, 2013 at 23:52
  • I have the same problem but instead of those little scratch lines in the pic I have big patches coming off. Should I just keep cooking or do I need to remove and redo the seasoning? Commented Jun 18, 2015 at 21:44

most likely your tool is cutting into the patina, causing it to break up and separate, so your sauces can penetrate between the patina and the metal.
Use wooden or plastic tools instead, without sharp edges.

  • But there are other posts on this forum that said you can and even should use metal tools. Why is there this inconsistency here? Commented Jun 4, 2013 at 6:15
  • 2
    I've always been told to not use metal tools in cookware that is coated (and a patina is a coating) to avoid scratching. I have also been told to always use metal tools because they're more hygienic (easier to clean). There is of course ambiguity there, so I use plastic and wooden tools and simply replace them regularly (especially wood, those get replaced at least once a year).
    – jwenting
    Commented Jun 4, 2013 at 9:10
  • Metal tools are easier for fast wok cooking. Once "worn in" they won't damage each other
    – TFD
    Commented Jun 5, 2013 at 1:54

I had the same problem. So I switched to bamboo spatula for stirring/cooking and a plastic spoon for scooping food out. I think after a strong build up is created then can go back to the metal spatula that came with the steel carbon wok.

  • It also helps to file down the edges of the wok turner, if it's not already rounded.
    – Joe
    Commented Feb 20, 2017 at 14:14

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