Seasoning Cast Iron

For the initial seasoning (or when the seasoning on your well-used cast iron gets a little thin), you can (re-)season it as follows:  rub a little vegetable oil over the whole thing with a paper towel (I use a 2:1 mixture of canola oil:lecithin that I keep around for greasing things [see "greasing without grease"]).  With a clean paper towel rub all the excess off so that only a very thin film is left (If the layer is too thick, it will get sticky instead of dark and shiny).  Then set the the item in a 450-500 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes, until the fresh oil darkens.  It may be a good idea to open windows and turn on the fan if you've got one because this can get quite smoky (and maybe take the smoke alarm down or battery out temporarily--don't forget to put it back when you're done).  Once the fresh oil is dark, take it out, let cool until not quite too hot to touch, and repeat as needed to make a nice, dark, shiny--not sticky--finish.  Use a hot pad to hold the paper towel if you're not patient enough to let the wok cool down between layers.  This procedure bakes a nice, slick layer of carbonized grease onto the surface that keeps food from sticking and protects the iron underneath from rusting. 

A good  seasoning should last for quite a while as long as you don't soap or scrub it too much--just a quick swipe with a soft-bristled scrub brush should be enough.  Wipe it dry or set it over low heat or in a warm oven to keep it from rusting.  Re-seasoning takes fewer coats to restore a good slick finish.

This wok has been treated only with a lecithin-oil mixture--no solid fat required.  It took about 10 rounds to go from bare metal


 to this finish:

Wok Inside

Wok outside

(The rough cast iron was first smoothed with long session of sanding with this attachment for my drill, before the initial seasoning.  The wall of the wok tapers from quite thin and delicate at the edge to thick at the base, making it especially nice for stir-frying efficiently.  Well worth all the effort, from raw rough iron to the smooth and seasoned result.)

drill attachment

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