How and When to Reseason Carbon Steel Cookware

Here’s when and how to tell that you should be reseasoning your Carbon Steel Pan.

By Emily Borst
Aug 12, 2020
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With the heat retention and non stick properties of Cast Iron paired with the heat control and cooking speed of Stainless Steel, our line of Carbon Steel Cookware is the perfect hybrid of two beloved Cookware materials. Best of all, it’s lighter weight, seasons easier, and can take a decent amount of wear and tear in the kitchen.

The key to getting the most out of your Carbon Steel Pans is to maintain its seasoning and slick surface. When you notice things are not going as smoothly, don’t worry, it may just be time to rebuild that naturally non stick coating. So here’s everything you need to know about reseasoning your Carbon Steel.

When Should You Reseason Your Carbon Steel Pan?

Seasoning is the layer between the metal surface of your Pan and the ingredients it comes into contact with. Because of that, it’s important to season before its first use. Once it’s been used for a wide variety of meals and has built up a thick patina, it’s common for your Pan to need a reseasoning, which involves stripping it back down to that base layer.

While there’s no hard and fast rule to when you should reseason, you'll likely run into one of two common issues. The first is you haven’t reached for your pan in a while and it’s gotten rusty. The other is that your pan is exceptionally dirty and needs a thorough cleaning.

Reason #1: Your Pan is Rusty from Disuse.

If you stuck your Pan in a cabinet or drawer and promptly forgot about it, you may pull out a rusty pan instead of a clean one the next time you reach for it.This can happen to the best of us, but don’t worry, your Pan isn’t ruined or past the point of no return. The rust however, is a clear signal that it’s time to reseason.

Since our Carbon Steel is made of 99% iron, rust is completely natural after being exposed to water for long periods of time. This most commonly happens after it’s been cleaned and wasn’t completely dry before being put away, but it can also occur if you’re living in a more humid climate.

Follow along with our video on restoring rusty Carbon Steel, or read on for step-by-step instructions. We recommend the stove method for reseasoning, but the oven method works just as well.

  • Scrub off the rust with dish soap, warm water, and the abrasive side of a sponge. Do not use something super abrasive like steel wool for this, it will backfire and cause more rust.

  • Fill your sink with a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water, then fully submerge your Pan (Note: no need to submerge the Stainless Steel Handle!).

  • Let soak for 30 mins.

  • Drain sink and wash your Pan out with soap and warm water.

  • Create a paste with baking soda and vinegar on the bottom of your pan.

  • Using steel wool, fully scrub the paste into all sides of the pan.

  • If there’s seasoning or rust on the Stainless Steel handle, apply a small amount of vinegar onto the steel wool and scrub. You can also use our Stainless Clad Cleaner.

  • Wash and fully dry your Pan. The rust and seasoning should be fully removed, leaving behind the bare metal of the pan.

  • You want to ensure your Pan is 100% dry before seasoning, so you can heat your empty Pan on the stove over low heat to evaporate any remaining water droplets. Water trapped below a layer of seasoning will cause more rust.

  • Add a small amount of oil (we recommend grapeseed) to the pan and buff into a thin layer all over the pan with a paper towel. If there’s too much oil, take a napkin and wipe it off—there should only be a thin layer.

  • Heat the Pan on the stove over low heat and slowly increase to a medium-high temperature.

  • When the Pan starts to smoke, leave it for two minutes. You can carefully rotate it over the burner to ensure every corner of the pan gets seasoned, but it’s not necessary.

  • Allow the Pan to cool completely. It should change color and darken as it cools.

Reason #2 : Your Pan is Caked in Food Residue

If you’ve made good use of your Pan but have too much stickiness and old food residue on the bottom that you can't remove with a simple cleaning, it's time to wipe the slate clean and restart your seasoning.

  • Heat your Pan over medium heat until a droplet of water is able to evaporate when it hits the surface.

  • Remove your Pan from the heat and pour in 2 tablespoons of salt and 1 tablespoon of oil.

  • Using a paper towel or old dish towel, scrub this mixture all over the Pan until food remnants loosen. Be careful as the Pan will still be hot.

  • Rinse your Pan with hot water and pat it dry, ensuring all moisture is removed.

  • Apply 1-2 teaspoons of oil onto the Pan, wiping away the extra oil with a paper towel.

  • Place your Pan over medium heat until the oil starts to bead.

  • Carefully wipe beads with a paper towel.

  • When the Pan starts to smoke, leave it on the heat for two minutes.

  • Turn off the heat and let it cool completely. The Pan should darken in color as it cools.

We recommend cooking something fatty (like bacon) in your Pan after reseasoning or seasoning for the first time to build up that smooth, non stick patina that well-used Carbon Steel is famous for.

A new seasoning can do for your Pan what a new coat of wax does for your car—provides a layer of protection between the surface and the rest of the world. Once it’s been reseasoned and restored, you can cook confidently knowing your Pan is well-suited for any task.