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I've had my cast iron for several weeks now and have been able to cook with it about 10 times. The problem is, the amount of smoke, and timing of it, have me thinking I'm doing something wrong...

I seasoned it 3 times with canola oil (put in oven at 500 degrees for 1 hour), and only cook with avocado oil (because of its high smoke point).

After letting the pan pre-heat on the "4" setting on the stove (medium heat basically), the smoke appears right when I place the oil in the pan. Now, avocado oil is suppose to have one of the highest smoke points, and for the pan to start smoking at medium heat has me very very confused.

Here are photos of the pan and oil I use enter image description here enter image description here

While there is no indication on the oil of it being refined, it advertises on multiple sections of the container that it is intended for high-heat cooking. As for the pan, while there are uneven patches, the surface is smooth and undetectable if you run your finger over the sections.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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    A cast iron pan would heat past 520F if you let it preheat long enough. What makes you think it's a problem with the pan? – Sobachatina Apr 19 '17 at 20:50
  • High smoke point isn't necessarily the best stuff to use if you haven't yet seasoned the pan. You typically want higher iodine content for that. See cooking.stackexchange.com/q/13555/67 – Joe Apr 21 '17 at 4:30
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You might want to state how long you have been preheating the pan. Also, are you using a glass-top stove or gas? I'm assuming the latter (from my experience, gas usually manages to heat things up a tidbit quicker).

That being said/asked, I doubt the pan is the problem (without detailed photos, nobody here can judge on that, but I assume you would have observed something unusual about the pan), it's probably your timing.

You can experiment with the timing this way: Put oil in the pan, preferrably not too early, but early enough for it not to smoke right away (there surely is such a point in time). You will be able to observe different stages:

  1. The oil becomes more 'runny' due to absorbing more heat.
  2. The oil will start to run in streaks and actually become less runny again, increasing viscosity. This is not too long/shortly before it will smoke.
  3. The oil starts smoking.

Now, once at 2., you can reduce the flame (gas stove). If you're on a glass top, be quick to maybe even temporarily switch off the stove (the top will stay hot, anyways) and be quick about it, because glass tops retain heat and will keep heating your pan.

Either way, stage 2. is where you want to saute/stir fry stuff. For merely frying pancakes, this might be too hot, unless the pancakes are really thin.

You can also try this test, if you don't feel like putting the oil into the pan too early (I like to put in the oil as late as possible, so it isn't heated unnecessarily much). I have tried it with a cast iron pan, and it worked alright there, as well, as far as I can remember.

Last but not least, just to double-check: Is your Avocado oil refined? Because if it isn't, I doubt it has a high smoke point.

  • Greatly appreciate that video! And to answer your question, I'm actually using a glass top stove. Here are photos of the pan and oil I use: goo.gl/photos/Vh64o5yuUtot3LeVA. While there is no indication on the oil of it being refined, it advertises on multiple sections of the container that it is intended for high-heat cooking. As for the pan, while there are uneven patches, the surface is smooth and undetectable if you run your finger over the sections. – Adrian Sadoogh Apr 19 '17 at 21:33
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    @AdrianSadoogh Dear Adrian, here on the Stackoverflow network, it's best if you consider (helpful) improvement remarks like those I made by editing your question. That way, the additional information is instantly visible to anyone looking up this question :) P.s.: That video rocked my world on discovery :D – polynomial_donut Apr 19 '17 at 21:36
  • Thank you. Do you have any thoughts on the pictures and comments I made? – Adrian Sadoogh Apr 20 '17 at 4:19
  • No, because they confirm my assumptions. You still haven't posted how long you have been preheating, though ;) I'd also say you can safely go for peanut oil, because the oil you bought looks like it's very marketing-heavy and hence overpriced. – polynomial_donut Apr 20 '17 at 7:10
  • Sorry about that! I watched the video you suggested and just implemented it tonight while attempting to make my chicken. I repeated the water-drop process all the way until the water actually formed the "mercury ball", meaning I stopped one step before the video had recommended. As I poured the avocado oil, the smoke instantly appeared again.... And now I am more confused than ever. – Adrian Sadoogh Apr 23 '17 at 3:59
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"Medium heat" is not a stove setting. "Medium heat" is the heat at which you cook the average dish. I would even argue that it is not a temperature, but a rate of heat transfer. For each combination of stove, pan, heating time and dish, you will achieve medium heat at a different setting of the knob.

There are foods which need high heat, and then your oil will always smoke, no matter which you choose. But if you are making a food which needs medium heat, just use a lower setting than the one you are currently using.

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To mirror off what rumtscho mentions about heat, I frequently cook with both cast iron and regular non-stick. I use a much lower setting for cast iron then I do with non-stick. For example, on my stove, if I'm doing something like pancakes, I'll have the setting at 3 or 4 on non-stick pans but only at 1 for cast iron. I think simply your pan is too hot.

  • Thank you for getting back! Yesterday I made some chicken at a relatively low temperature and had no problems. I'm still concerned what may happen if I decide to cook something like steak-- which will require a much greater temperature for searing. – Adrian Sadoogh Apr 23 '17 at 4:04

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