I seasoned my new carbon steel wok, and think I may have made a mistake. I scrubbed off the coating it came with using a scouring pad, and then heated it on a high BTU stovetop until it turned a nice blue hue, as the directions told me. Finally, I let it cool a bit and then added some oil around the inside and outside, putting it over the heat. I washed it with warm water only after the first addition of oil (once cool), then added oil again over heat, and repeated a third time (this time with onions, ginger, and garlic). It was still blue (I had heard it was supposed to turn black), but I figured (I suppose incorrectly) it was okay and ready to use.

My first attempt left food sticking to it and I figured I had messed up. Once clean, I tried scrubbing the center to get any coating off, and then re-exposing it to heat and then to oil again (canola), applied with a wet paper towel. I did this about 7 times, but I tried cooking again and an egg I added to a sitr-fry stuck during the first attempt.

It looks like I probably messed up the oiling part of the seasoning process. Can I simply scrub the wok down using steel wool or something and start the process from scratch, or is my wok a lost cause at this point? I have read different things about how to add the oil, what temp to keep it at, and for how long. Could you clarify the best approach?

  • 2
    I don't think it's a lost cause. In my experience at least, seasoning is more of a gradual process. You can't expect a perfect nonstick surface always and especially not at the beginning of the life of your wok. Just keep using it, use oil and never wash with soap and the seasoning will happen over time. Eggs are notoriously difficult even with true non-stick pans so you perhaps have unrealistic expectations. Also, don't forget that Chinese food cooked in a wok uses a lot of oil (which home cooks almost never replicate), which is probably the bigger reason that their food doesn't stick.
    – user50726
    Commented Dec 10, 2018 at 3:13
  • "I scrubbed off the coating it came with using a scouring pad" what kind of scouring pad are we talking about here? What was it made from?
    – FuzzyChef
    Commented Dec 10, 2018 at 4:30
  • 2
    When you say you applied oil with a wet paper towel, I assume you mean wet with oil. If you wet a paper towel with water then try to apply oil with it you won't get much oil
    – Chris H
    Commented Dec 10, 2018 at 7:48
  • I'm confused by all the washing. Isn't the premise of "seasoning the wok" that you don't scrub it after each use? I'm thinking it's like a Cast Iron Skillet, cooking flavors build over time and wiping away any food residue leaves layers of oil creating a stick-free coating (which you would never want to scrub off). Am I wrong about this?
    – elbrant
    Commented Dec 10, 2018 at 16:20

1 Answer 1


One thing that might help is more heat after applying the oil. I use a metal wok spatula in mine, which scrapes the coating on the bottom, so after cleaning (water and if necessary a plastic scraper) I dry it on the heat, add a little oil and get it good and hot. While the oil is warm I swirl it round then wipe off the excess, then I get it hotter. If I don't do this, and don't use it for a week or two, it rusts where the seasoning gets scraped.

This is a cheap carbon steel wok I've had for about 20 years, and I didn't put much effort into seasoning it in the first place. I'm generous, but not authentically so, with my oil, and if anything sticks it's high up the sides above the level of the rest of the food.

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