If you’re wondering, “what is carbon steel cookware,” know that it is one of the most popular cookware options on the market right now. This is because when it comes to carbon steel cookware pros and cons, the many positive characteristics of the material make carbon steel a great option in the kitchen. Whether it’s the lightweight qualities for easy maneuverability, extremely high heat tolerance, or the variety of shapes and sizes, there is no secret to how useful carbon steel cookware can be in the kitchen.
However, the most enticing characteristic for many people is the slick surface that your carbon steel pan will achieve throughout the seasoning process. Now, let’s get one thing out of the way. A carbon steel pan is not a non stick pan. It can become one over time, but your pan will not be nonstick out of the box. To achieve nonstick tendencies, you must season your pan and cook with it continuously. But with its amazing features, there is no reason you won’t use it every day.
You must season your pan to get started, and it’s essential to get this step right. With the proper technique and ingredients, seasoning carbon steel is an easy task that can be completed whenever you want.
Why do you need to season a carbon steel pan?
Carbon steel needs to be seasoned to achieve a slick surface for your pan. Technically speaking, seasoning cookware is the process of coating the pan’s surface with wax or high-smoke point oil to create a solid layer of polymerized oil, which is a chemical reaction caused by heating the oil.
Seasoning fills in the tiny pores of the cooking surface and helps prevent rust, leading to a stick-resistant surface. Think of the seasoning as a protective layer of the pan. It keeps moisture away from the pan’s surface and keeps it from rusting. Seasoning is also the foundation for your pan and will be the base layer for more seasoning applications as you continue to cook. As you cook with your carbon steel pan, natural oil and fats found in your ingredients will season the pan. Having that initial base layer of seasoning is essential to the longevity of your pan. To start the seasoning process, you need the right oil or wax.
What is the best oil to season carbon steel pans?
There are two options you have when choosing what oil to use to season your carbon steel pan. First, you have high-smoke point seasoning oil. The best oils for seasoning a carbon steel pan include grapeseed oil, sunflower oil, flaxseed oil, and canola oil.
There is also seasoning wax. Our Carbon Steel Seasoning Wax mixes two high-smoke point oils (canola and grapeseed) with beeswax that holds everything together. This wax is tasteless so that it won’t leave any flavor on your pan. It’s important to season your skillet with a high-smoke point substance so that polymerization happens when it reaches its smoke point. Polymerization is a chemical reaction that allows the oil to solidify into a hardened layer of seasoning rather than return to its original state as a liquid. This wax will be molecularly bound to the pan’s surface and create a slick surface on your pan.
How to season a carbon steel pan?
There are two ways to season carbon steel pans: the stovetop and the seasoning method.
The Stovetop Method
Always wash your new carbon steel skillet with dish soap and warm water. The residue on the pan is a vegetable oil applied to prevent corrosion during transit and to aid in the initial seasoning process, so any excess oil that remains after your initial wash will bake into your first seasoning.
After drying your pan, place it on the stove and turn the heat to low to medium heat. Doing this will allow any excess moisture to evaporate from the pan. Next, increase the temperature to medium-low, and apply a very thin layer of high smoke point oil or Made In Seasoning Wax to the entire surface of the pan. Use a dish towel or paper towel to apply the oil.
Gradually increase your stovetop temperature to medium-high until the oil begins to smoke. Let the carbon steel pan sit on the burner for around five minutes, making sure to rotate as needed to ensure the pan is heated evenly. Let your pan cool on its own, and you’re set!
The Oven Method
Bring your oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with tin foil. Then, while the oven is preheated, place your baking sheet on the bottom rack of your oven. Next, wash your new pan with soap and hot water. The residue on the pan is a vegetable oil applied to prevent corrosion during transit and to aid in the initial seasoning process, so any oil that remains after your initial wash will bake into your first seasoning.
After drying your pan, place it on your stovetop and turn the heat to low. Doing this will allow any excess moisture to evaporate from the pan. Next, increase the temperature to medium-low, and using a paper towel or dish towel, apply a very thin layer of high smoke point oil or Made In Seasoning Wax to the surface of the pan.
After applying the wax or oil thinly and evenly to the entirety of the pan (excluding the handle), wipe off the excess a couple of times with dry paper towels until the pan looks fully dry. There will still be a micro-thin layer of oil on the pan. Once the layer of oil is applied, place it upside down in the oven. The baking sheet will catch any oil drip. Leave the pan in the oven for an hour. After an hour passes, turn off your oven and allow the pan to cool naturally inside the oven.
Caring for Your Carbon Steel
These two methods are perfect for seasoning your carbon steel wok, roasting pan, frying pan, pizza steel, grill frying pan, or more! Either of these methods is the first step in creating the perfect seasoned pan. To make your pan slicker, cook with fattier foods or repeat this process. Avoid cooking delicate items such as fish, vegetables, and eggs until you have a well-formed patina (after 3-5 applications).
Finally, it is essential to remember to never place your carbon steel cookware in the dishwasher as it can lead to rust and ruin the entire seasoned cooking surface. Check out more of our carbon steel collection and accessories to enhance your cooking experience!