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Recently, I bought a cast iron skillet, which was preseasoned. Still, I did season it a couple of times and since then I season it after every cook. I didn't cook anything crazy, just a dutch baby and a pizza.

Still, even after multiple seasonings, there is a clear hole in my seasoning in the middle of the pan:

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How I season it:

I put some oil in it, spread the oil with a paper towel, then heat it on the stove until it starts smoking, then let it cool.

I tried olive oil, which apparently is no good, so I switched to sunflower oil and now I am trying it with canola oil. I also switched from paper towel to regular towel, but still, the hole just seems to be getting bigger and bigger. When I touch it with my finger, I can see black residue on it.

What am I doing wrong here? Yesterday I even did a couple of seasonings one after another (let it cool, oil it, heat it, repeat), but this seems to have been counterproductive.

marked as duplicate by rumtscho Jan 15 at 14:01

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • When you season it, are you seasoning the whole pan (building up the area around it, too), or just trying to fill in the hole? – Joe Jan 14 at 17:04
  • The whole area, although I do not season the outer area, just the inner. – user1721135 Jan 14 at 17:09
  • Yesterday I washed it with some water and a plastic brush, maybe that wasn't a good idea? Although since then I have seasoned it multiple times. – user1721135 Jan 14 at 17:10
  • As you mention it's getting bigger and bigger, it's possible that there was something wrong with it under the pre-seasoning. You might want to contact the company to see if they'd be willing to replace it or had recommendations – Joe Jan 14 at 17:31
  • Try seasoning it in the oven at the highest possible temperature. – roetnig Jan 14 at 17:36
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A couple of things - the first is that I often hear people say that you should strip off/remove the pre-seasoning that comes with skillets, as it is inferior or will interfere with a proper seasoning done by you. Since you are having issues with your current seasoning, and it's not getting better, it might be best to strip it away and start from scratch.

While one might think that soap and a scouring pad is an okay to remove seasoning, soap is going to leave a residue. Cook's Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen (the closest thing to an encyclopedia or the Burning Bush for all cooking-related matters) says that a great way to remove existing seasoning is to run your oven through it's self-cleaning cycle with the skillet in it.

If you do not have a self-cleaning oven, here is another article from Cook's Illustrated on how to do it with oven cleaner, soapy water, steel wool and vinegar -

Follow this method to completely remove any residual seasoning on a cast-iron pan before reseasoning it. Easy-Off Oven Cleaner is a caustic alkali, so be sure to work outdoors, wear rubber gloves, and avoid spraying near your face or skin. The skillet will rust instantly once you’ve discarded the vinegar-water solution and rinsed and dried the skillet in step 5, so be sure to immediately apply oil to the surface.

  1. Working outdoors, place concrete block on ground and cover with heavy-duty kitchen trash bag, draping bag over block so that sides of bag will be easy to grasp and pull up over skillet.

2A. Place skillet upside down on top of block. Wearing rubber gloves, spray skillet all over with Easy-Off Oven Cleaner, being careful to keep spray away from your face and exposed skin.

2B. Flip skillet over and spray inside.

2C. Pull plastic bag up and around skillet and tie to close. Leave wrapped, sprayed skillet outside (or in garage) for 24 hours.

3A. Wearing rubber gloves, remove plastic bag. Scrub skillet all over with steel wool and hot soapy water to remove all residue.

3B. Rinse, repeat scrubbing with steel wool, and rinse again.

  1. Combine 2 cups distilled white vinegar with 2 cups water. Fill skillet with vinegar solution and let stand for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

  2. Discard solution in skillet. Rinse skillet well, then dry well with paper towels.

(start remaining seasoning process, below, here)

Cook's Illustrated: How to strip a cast iron skillet

Once you have, basically, the unseasoned metal skillet, if you want state of the art seasoning, go and find food-grade flaxseed oil. Flaxseed oil is the base for linseed oil, which is used as a tough, durable furniture finish. Keep in mind, you MUST get food-grade oil, as furniture linseed oil has a lot of toxic chemicals added to it.

Google shopping search for food-grade flaxseed oil

The flaxseed oil so effectively bonded to the skillets, forming a sheer, stick-resistant veneer, that even a run through our commercial dishwasher with a squirt of degreaser left them totally unscathed. But the vegetable oil-treated skillets showed rusty spots and patchiness when they emerged from the dishwasher, requiring reseasoning before use.

Why did the new treatment work so well? Flaxseed oil is the food-grade equivalent of linseed oil, used by artists to give their paintings a hard, polished finish, and it boasts six times the amount of omega-3 fatty acids as vegetable oil. Over prolonged exposure to high heat, these fatty acids combine to form a strong, solid matrix that polymerizes to the pan’s surface.

Once you have your food grade flaxseed oil, here are the steps:

How to Season Cast Iron with This Method Although lengthy, seasoning with flaxseed oil is a mainly hands-off undertaking. We highly recommend the treatment:

  1. Warm an unseasoned pan (either new or stripped of seasoning) for 15 minutes in a 200-degree oven to open its pores. The best way to strip a cast-iron pan of seasoning is to run the pan through your oven's self-cleaning cycle.
  2. Remove the pan from the oven. Place 1 tablespoon flaxseed oil in the pan and, using tongs, rub the oil into the surface with paper towels. With fresh paper towels, thoroughly wipe out the pan to remove excess oil.
  3. Place the oiled pan upside down in a cold oven, then set the oven to its maximum baking temperature. Once the oven reaches its maximum temperature, heat the pan for one hour. Turn off the oven; cool the pan in the oven for at least two hours.
  4. Repeat the process five more times, or until the pan develops a dark, semi-matte surface.

I'm going to assume that warming the skillet in the oven only set to 200 degrees, and then turning the oven off, and leaving it open while applying oil will have the oven cool enough to move to the next step. Also, saying to "repeat the process" does not include stripping off the existing seasoning each time. Just repeat the actual seasoning part.

This method was originally put out there by a blogger named Sheryl Canter. I don't think ATK added any twists of their own.

Sheryl Canter's blog entry about seasoning/polymerizing your skillet

Cook's Illustrated how-to article, NOT behind their paywall

All of my quoted passages are from the Cook's Illustrated articles.

5

Oy. Let's not get into your past stuff, but simply discuss what effective seasoning should consist of.

  • Wash the pan. Never with detergent, just hot water. Soak it if
    necessary, be generous with elbow grease, but you should never need detergent, even if the pan is not seasoned.

  • Dry it normally.

  • Put it on fairly high fire, don't wander off.

  • Heat it. Not till the fire alarm goes off, or till it turns red, just till you can feel heat if you hold your hand over it and it seems you could cook food in it if you were going to do that.

  • Then, and only then, oil it. First turn off the heat.

  • Trickle in a small amount of heat-compatible oil (ie not olive oil, but peanut, safflower, canola.. it's absolutely immaterial which). Like a tablespoon or so, not cups.

  • Use a paper towel to spread this thinly and evenly over the whole inside of the pan, not pressing hard, not burning yourself.

  • Leave it alone, let it cool before you use it.

If you keep detergent away from your pan, you may never have to repeat the process, and this seasoning could last you for decades. Maybe if you got too aggressive with the cleaning you might have to do it once in a great while. In no way should you have to do this over and over again. If it doesn't work, it's because you're not doing it right. For instance, the oil can only be properly absorbed in an already-hot pan, so if you oil first then heat all you're doing is burning the oil. Your black-residue center spot is probably just burnt oil.

No article for reference, but I learned this method in a chinese cooking class about 40 years ago, and all my pans are still healthy.

  • 2
    :-)!! I hope you meant the opposite.. – George M Jan 14 at 23:34
  • 2
    olive oil has a lower smoking point and is less "clean". of other matter(thats the taste). – Lassi Kinnunen Jan 15 at 8:07
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    Lol I meant the opposite – user1721135 Jan 15 at 8:15
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    @karan-harsh-wardhan it's not a matter of personal preference that olive oil is less refined than other oils you can buy. You'll even pay extra for extra virgin olive oil which is then even worse for seasoning cast iron or cooking at high temperatures. If you're stuck with olive oil, use the cheapest one, the more it has taste the less refined it is. You can season with it but it's not good for doing it, just like you can fry a steak in extra virgin olive oil but really you shouldn't. – Lassi Kinnunen Jan 15 at 8:19
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    @KaranHarshWardhan It's not a matter of taste, it's a matter of smoke point (see Lassi's first comment). This isn't personal preference - you don't want to be seasoning with an oil where the smoke point is lower than the temperature at which you will be heating the pan, otherwise it will burn. Olive oil, depending on how refined, often has a lower smoke point (e.g. below 200C) than many other oils and is therefore not a great choice for seasoning. The Wikipedia article I linked to has the smoke points of various oils for reference. – JBentley Jan 15 at 11:10
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Cook some bacon with it.

What are you cooking with it could have some reason for the area to be expanding, so just try cooking some bacon. Some recipes for seasoning include putting it in an oven with bacon on it.

  • I did cook steak in it yesterday with pleanty of butter. – user1721135 Jan 15 at 8:16

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