I bought a carbon steel frying pan. Now I need to season it. I think i messed up the first time. So I scrubbed it clean again. Now how do I now if my oil is polymerized or actually burned?

I heated a thin layer of flaxseed oil until it reached its smoking point and then let it cool and repeat. The coating was really black in the center of the pan and not so smooth. The edges around the center were smooth and golden brown and had a glossy finish.

Did I burn oil in the center and polymerized the edges?

  • Is it flaking in the center at all? That would show that you burned it. Polymerized oil can be pretty dark.
    – FuzzyChef
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 4:33
  • well I grilled a steak and the center part lost a bit of its coating when I flipped it. Is burned oil always flaking?
    – cris
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 4:41
  • Hmmm ... sounds more like you didn't get a solid enough coating of polymerized oil, and the steak stuck. I'd scrub it down with kosher salt & oil, and try re-finishing it.
    – FuzzyChef
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 4:53
  • how do I get a solid polymerized coating? The thin layer of oil already reached its smoking point and I was afraid that raising the temperature above could burn the oil.
    – cris
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 5:07
  • 2
    You did the right method, it's just that a steak may been a bit too much for your pan's first dish after seasoning. I usually start with something easier/lighter.
    – FuzzyChef
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 15:22

1 Answer 1


There is no clear cut border between polymerized and burnt, it is a continuum. The center went clearly farther than the sides, which is common enough in stovetop seasoning.

If the coating in the middle of the pan doesn't work well for you, you can strip and reseason to a lighter state, preferably in an oven. If food cooks well on it, you can keep it as it is.

  • thanks. Does that mean if it flakes in the future I need to reseason it everytime the whole pan? Or could i just reseason the burned area?
    – cris
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 8:10
  • If it flakes, strip and reseason all. You want a nice even coat everywhere, not a patchwork.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 11:14

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