I've just bought a cheap (+-$15) wok from an asian market and I'm unable to determine the type of material it is (the wok had no informative label/instructions). I was specifically looking for a carbon steel wok without a non-stick coating; I confirmed with the lady at the store that the wok did not have a non-stick coating, however, she was unable to tell me if it was carbon steel. The wok is not very heavy but feels fairly strong.

I've attached 2 photos of the wok. The black colour seems different from the other carbon steel woks I have seen, but I am no expert on the subject. If anyone is able to provide info on the material and how I should go about seasoning the wok I would highly appreciate it.

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4 Answers 4


It doesn't appear like a no-stick wok so its a carbon steel one. I'm concerned about the blackish colour. Normally woks don't come that black. Nevertheless, I would take an SOS pad and scrub it well but not too hard. See if some of the black comes off, if some comes off ok. If it doesn't come off with a good scrub then its on there for good. From your pics you have no wooden handles so no protection is needed. Wipe some vegetable oil all over it at room temp. (preferably peanut oil because of the higher smoke temp) and invert it in a 400 deg F oven for 15-20 mins. Let it cool down gently on its own. When you take it out and it feels dry, repeat the process, up to 3 times. Now you're ready to cook. But, you will now need a small bamboo brush. When you are finished cooking a meal all you do is rinse the wok under warm water and bamboo brush only!!! This is where the extra seasoning comes to play. Every time you use it the seasoning grows. My wok is seasoned but a black/browish tint. Good Luck!


I had a very similar coating on the wok I bought recently. The person I bought it from explained that the coating had to be burnt off, and not scrubbed off. I put the wok on a high flame and made sure to flame the entire surface of the wok, including the sides. The coating smokes and burns, but once it is off you will find yourself with a good carbon steel wok. it does take some time and great heat to burn it off so persevere.

  • 2
    Do this outside!
    – TFD
    Commented May 6, 2014 at 10:26

I can't help with the material, but having seasoned a few woks now I find this video by Tane Chan of The Wok Shop very informative, she talks through many different material and style woks and how to get a great starter seasoning.

Basic instructions are as follows:

  1. Clean wok per manufacturer instructions
  2. Rub oil onto all metal surfaces inside and out
  3. Cover all wooden surfaces with a damp towel and kitchen foil
  4. Cook upside down in an oven at around 200°C (400F) for 20 minutes
  5. Stir-fry some 'pungent vegetables' like Chinese chives until charred to take away any metallic taste

Could the dark color just be from the initial protective coating (generally, you're supposed to scrub new woks with water and soap before first use, to get that coating of).

If the wok is fairly light, it's likely to be carbon steel, especially at this price point. Plus, cast iron, the other possibility, is, well, cast, while this wok looks like it's spun (though a bit tricky to tell for certain from the pictures).


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