I found what appears to be a new wok at Goodwill. It came with a lid that is very light with a wooden knob on the top and it seems to be aluminum. The wok however is much heavier, with two side handles of metal that are welded/stuck to the wok. The outside of the wok seems ribbed in texture and the inside shows the rib lines but is smooth. There is absolutely no marking/stamp on the wok or the lid. A magnet does stick to the wok so therefore it is steel of some sort. There is no Teflon at all. I went about the process of boiling water in it to help release the manufacturer's coating as it appeared new and there was a film/residue inside the wok. I then scrubbed with a metal type scrubber (not brillo but similar). The bottom got a duller spot/s on it. I repeated the boiling and scrubbing while hot and I am getting brownish spots all over the inside of the wok that appear black when boiling water in it, and brown when empty and in the sink. This was a new wok for sure. I can still see some of the film and it is spotty and I can't seem to remove any more. Do I go ahead and season it or should I still try to remove more film? Is there an easier/better way to remove the remaining film? Is it possible I ruined this wok because it was not carbon steel? It has a round bottom. Not sure how to proceed but went vegetarian years ago and almost vegan a few months ago and stir fry has become a staple in my diet. Need help please. thank you.

the thin film that was uniformly all over the inside of the wok, and is still there in a multitude of places, was almost sheer. It was not a seasoning like I see described on the web where people use oil and heat to put a colored coating on the wok. Did I ruin this wok? It had no instructions with it, no name on it or label, nothing. I just followed the advice on the web. I also dried it by hand and heated it up dry before leaving it be for the night so it would not rust. I don't see orange-brown rust. I see what appears to be more of a bare metal now.

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    Welcome Wisconsinite, if you could add pictures of the inside of the wok it may help you get better answers.
    – Debbie M.
    Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 3:06
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    When you see brown, think rust - you've scrubbed off any seasoning (very likely what your "film" was) and have plain wet steel in air - it rusts in minutes.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 15:23

2 Answers 2


Dollars to doughnuts, the film you have been fighting so valiantly to get off there is polymerized vegetable oil - aka "seasoning." The odds that it was coated with anything else are quite low.

Since you're well into having destroyed whatever seasoning it had, go ahead and burn off whatever is left (place in oven on "self-clean" cycle, or place in a wood fire) or else attack it with abrasives such as steel wool or sandpaper (stick to fairly fine sandpaper or you're going to need to run through several grades of finer sandpaper to get the surface back to usable/smooth if you scratch it up with coarser stuff).

You can also try running it through the dishwasher - harsh dishwasher detergents will often strip seasoning.


I got a wok in '76 when I was going into my senior year of high school. It remains one of my favorite cooking pans.

A true wok has a completely round bottom, not a flat bottom. The roundness of the bottom allows for cooking with considerably less oil than a flat bottom. A flat bottom is nothing more than a frying pan with big rounded sides.

Another quality of a true wok is that it has no non-stick coating, not even polymers created by cooking cooking oil until it turns to plastic. When properly cooking in a wok (on the HIGHEST HEAT POSSIBLE), the foods will stick until they cook just enough to release. This is important because it will allow you to push cooking foods up the sides and not slide back down into the bottom. This means that foods newly added to the wok can cook on the bottom while the foods that have been/started cooking in the wok can be pushed up the sides. This allows the oils & juices to flow back to the rounded bottom of the wok, meaning that new foods are introduced to the liquids, not the dry sides of the hot wok.

I generally clean my wok with just hot water & then wipe it dry with a paper towel and let it air dry upside down before storing it. Occasionally, I have to let some hot water soak the wok to get all the foodstuffs off, and on rare occasion use soap & water with a nylon/plastic bristle scrub brush. None of my cleaning has ever seemed to cause any damage to the wok, and I still make Chinese (style) food in it weekly. By my calculation, I have cooked approximately 2,000 meals in it, and it still is just as good as it was the first time I cooked food in it.

My wok came with a Teflon coating, which I promptly burned off by placing the wok, dry, over a hot flame, and letting it cook until everything inside peeled off and I was able to wipe it out. Woks should not be seasoned like cast-iron cookware, per the reasons mentioned above. I still have a little bit of the Teflon coating along the top edge of my big wok, but my small one has burned it all off. About the only things you do not want to do is to cook over a flame lower than the highest setting as that tends to produce oily foods, or to leave it with water standing in it overnight, tho I have done that once or twice (tho not even once every 10 years).

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