I've cooked maybe a dozen times with my flat-bottom wok (carbon steel, uncoated). A layer of ‘tar’ has developed in the bottom, which I've been unable to clean out. The ‘tar’ doesn't seem to affect flavor, but recently when I cooked tofu for the first time I saw unsightly black flakes on the tofu.

What can I do short of scraping? Can I loosen the ‘tar’ by boiling water in the wok? Or should I just live with it?

Next day: I woke up late and found that the elves had taken off most of the ‘tar’ with oil, kosher salt and paper towels. Now for the boiling water.

  • 1
    What material is the wok made of? Any coating? Please edit that into your question.
    – user34961
    Commented Dec 13, 2017 at 8:11
  • Also how do you wash it, what utensils do you use in it, and have you ever done anything to season it?
    – Chris H
    Commented Dec 13, 2017 at 10:21

2 Answers 2


Depending on the construction material of your wok, you can try going through the following four steps:

1) boil water in the wok to loosen the "tar" as you suggested. 2) scrub it out with a paste made of coarse salt and vegetable oil (about 1:1) 3) use a chain link scrubber if the salt paste doesn't work 4) re-season by heating the wok and then coating the surface with a thin layer of vegetable oil. Wipe out excess when the wok is cool.

If the wok is made of stainless steel, you can apply bar keepers friend to remove the remaining residue.

  • 1
    It does not sound like 'seasoning' but like (burned) food residu.
    – user34961
    Commented Dec 13, 2017 at 14:09

If your wok is coating-free, use oven cleaner. Spray it on, place it in a plastic bag, & give it a few hours/overnight (best) to work. It should all wash out easily the next day. Wash well, dry, & re-oil w/olive oil, etc.

PS: this also works wonderfully with those enamel-on-steel pots & similar stovetops.

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