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Old 08-06-2014, 04:47 PM   #1
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Seasoning a cast iron sauce pan

I own a Le Creuset cast iron sauce pan. Most of the pan is enameled, but the bottom exterior of the pan (the part that actually touches the heating element of the stove) is raw cast iron. The pan has a wooden handle that I can't remove. The bottom was originally seasoned, but over the years the seasoning wore off and the bottom now is rusted. I know how to scour off the rust and how to season cast iron (coat with oil, bake in oven), but the presence of the wooden handle makes baking seem like a bad idea.

How can I re-season the bottom of the pan? I posed this question to Le Creuset customer support. They offered to replace the pan (possibly for a fee), but offered no advice about re-seasoning the bottom. I prefer, if possible, simply to restore the pan to its original condition.

I searched the Internet for advice. I found one suggestion that was relevant to my situation: wrap the handle with a damp cloth, wrap that in foil, then oil the bottom and bake in oven. However, I don't have lots of confidence in that advice, since the person making the suggestion hadn't actually used that technique. Does it seem reasonable?

I had one idea: Wrap the wooden handle in foil and coat the bottom of the pan with oil. Place in an oven whose door is open, leave the handle sticking out of the oven with the bottom of the pan facing up and then turn on the broiler (it's electric). Might that work? Any other suggestions? Thanks in advance.

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Old 08-06-2014, 05:00 PM   #2
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Seasoning is usually done @ 350ļF. At that temperature, wood doesn't burn but may darken.

If you have a gas grill, you could leave the handle stiking out from under the lid and season the pan that way.
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Old 08-06-2014, 05:42 PM   #3
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Well I've never done this either but I think that original idea was pretty good if you use enough cloth to hold enough water that it won't dry out for a while and wrap it in foil to hold in most of the water. As long as the rag's wet the part of the handle touching the cloth can't get much above 212. The part that touches the cast iron though, will get hotter and it will get hotter even if the handle is sticking out the oven door because cast iron is such an excellent conductor. Is 350 hot enough to damage the wood and loosen the handle? I don't think so, but I'm not buying you a new pan if it does. You could probably hedge your bet a little by setting the thermostat a little lower than 350.

I use cast iron skillets on electric burners a lot and sometimes the seasoning gets burned off the bottom and it gets a little rusted. After washing I just rub grease or oil into the bottom as well as the top. It will smoke a little next time you use it to remind you not to burn it anymore.

The real reason for replying to your post wasn't to share my ignorance on the topic but to say I admire your restraint for not grabbing the new pan from Le Creuset. Any reason besides good breeding?
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Old 08-06-2014, 05:59 PM   #4
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The pan shouldn't rust if it's maintained properly. After cleaning our un-enameled cast-iron pans, we put them on a stove burner for a few minutes to evaporate the moisture on the bottom and sides. It won't rust without moisture.
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Old 08-06-2014, 06:10 PM   #5
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@skilletlicker - Le Creuset even offered to pay for all the shipping charges. I just figured it'd be less of a hassle to restore the pan myself (and I like working with cast iron).

@GotGarlic - Absolutely agree that the bottom shouldn't have rusted if properly cared for. But what's done is done, and the pan is 35 years old.
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Old 08-06-2014, 06:40 PM   #6
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@skilletlicker - Le Creuset even offered to pay for all the shipping charges. I just figured it'd be less of a hassle to restore the pan myself (and I like working with cast iron).

@GotGarlic - Absolutely agree that the bottom shouldn't have rusted if properly cared for. But what's done is done, and the pan is 35 years old.
So have you tried evaporating the moisture off the pan after removing the rust?
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Old 08-06-2014, 06:59 PM   #7
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I would use GG's dry out the pan after removing the rust and Skilletlicker's oil the bottom and use it on the stove.

If Le Creuset is like Copco (Danish enamelled cast iron), then the wooden handle has a metal centre that the hook on the end is attached to. That would heat up as much as the cast iron and could burn the wooden handle from the inside. My Copco stuff survived a bad apartment fire, but the wooden handles were gone. That's how I know about the metal running through the middle of the handles.
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Old 08-06-2014, 07:25 PM   #8
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GotGarlic is spot on. When you wash the pan, dry it over heat, i.e. put it on a burner until it is dry. It will not rust if it is dry before you store it. Caveat: if you live where the humidity is high, you might need to apply a light (very light) coat of oil to the bottom. In any event, even if there is a little rust on the bottom, it will not hurt the pan or the food cooked in it
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Old 08-06-2014, 11:45 PM   #9
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Thanks all,

What I'm understanding is that it's not necessary to season the bottom of the pan, since it's not a cooking surface. Simply drying the bottom after washing should suffice, and it may not even be needed to remove the existing rust (though I think I'll do so).

@taxlady - Yes, the handle has an interior metal rod to which attaches the hook at the end, just as you said.

Thanks again.
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Old 08-07-2014, 08:47 AM   #10
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...@taxlady - Yes, the handle has an interior metal rod to which attaches the hook at the end, just as you said.

Thanks again.

I'd bet you can unscrew the metal rod that holds the handle on. Since the pot is 35 years old, it may not be easy. While you may not have to season the bottom, it might be smart to do so. Then you don't have to deal with it every time you cook.
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Old 08-07-2014, 10:02 AM   #11
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I dry all my CI pans over a burner before storing them. I put paper towels between them when stacking them.
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Old 08-07-2014, 10:33 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Petek View Post
I own a Le Creuset cast iron sauce pan. Most of the pan is enameled, but the bottom exterior of the pan (the part that actually touches the heating element of the stove) is raw cast iron. The pan has a wooden handle that I can't remove. The bottom was originally seasoned, but over the years the seasoning wore off and the bottom now is rusted. I know how to scour off the rust and how to season cast iron (coat with oil, bake in oven), but the presence of the wooden handle makes baking seem like a bad idea.

How can I re-season the bottom of the pan? I posed this question to Le Creuset customer support. They offered to replace the pan (possibly for a fee), but offered no advice about re-seasoning the bottom. I prefer, if possible, simply to restore the pan to its original condition.

I searched the Internet for advice. I found one suggestion that was relevant to my situation: wrap the handle with a damp cloth, wrap that in foil, then oil the bottom and bake in oven. However, I don't have lots of confidence in that advice, since the person making the suggestion hadn't actually used that technique. Does it seem reasonable?

I had one idea: Wrap the wooden handle in foil and coat the bottom of the pan with oil. Place in an oven whose door is open, leave the handle sticking out of the oven with the bottom of the pan facing up and then turn on the broiler (it's electric). Might that work? Any other suggestions? Thanks in advance.
My brother's set of Le Creuset has the wooden handles. I know he puts them in the oven all the time. Do you still have your care instructions for your Le Creuset? If not, I can give my brother a call--he has his original care instructions. I didn't get the Le Creuset with wooden handles--wanted blue instead of orange. I'm not sure if my care instructions included that. I know that the different "knobs" on different dutch ovens have different temperature tolerances (I just checked that in my instructions the other day). Or maybe a DCer has the instructions provided with that now "vintage" Le Creuset type of pan.
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Old 08-07-2014, 01:28 PM   #13
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Thanks for offering to check with your brother. I no longer have the original care instructions, but I looked on the Le Creuset web site and found this information regarding the care of cast iron cookware:
Quote:
Pans with wooden handles or knobs must not be placed in the oven.
Since my email to their customer service didn't yield a satisfactory result, I'll call their toll-free number to see if they can offer better advice.
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Old 08-07-2014, 07:48 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Petek View Post
I own a Le Creuset cast iron sauce pan. Most of the pan is enameled, but the bottom exterior of the pan (the part that actually touches the heating element of the stove) is raw cast iron. The pan has a wooden handle that I can't remove. The bottom was originally seasoned, but over the years the seasoning wore off and the bottom now is rusted. I know how to scour off the rust and how to season cast iron (coat with oil, bake in oven), but the presence of the wooden handle makes baking seem like a bad idea.

How can I re-season the bottom of the pan? I posed this question to Le Creuset customer support. They offered to replace the pan (possibly for a fee), but offered no advice about re-seasoning the bottom. I prefer, if possible, simply to restore the pan to its original condition.

I searched the Internet for advice. I found one suggestion that was relevant to my situation: wrap the handle with a damp cloth, wrap that in foil, then oil the bottom and bake in oven. However, I don't have lots of confidence in that advice, since the person making the suggestion hadn't actually used that technique. Does it seem reasonable?

I had one idea: Wrap the wooden handle in foil and coat the bottom of the pan with oil. Place in an oven whose door is open, leave the handle sticking out of the oven with the bottom of the pan facing up and then turn on the broiler (it's electric). Might that work? Any other suggestions? Thanks in advance.
As a long time user of Le Creuset pans, skillets and casseroles/dutch ovens for 40 years or so I have never heard of seasoning the base. I still have the leaflet that came with them and a little booklet on the use of these pots, written by Elizabeth David, which was distributed by Le Creuset, neither of which refer to seasoning the base.

They do, however, advise to dry the bases carefully after washing and keeping the pans in a dry place.

I have to say that I have never had problems with the bottoms rusting, ever, in all the years I've used them.

Do you mean actual rusting or is it just discoloured? If the latter leave well alone.

Do not do the nonsense "recommended" on the internet. You could probably ruin a very expensive pan! If Brillo pads or steel wool or coarse sand paper doesn't remove the rust and only if the base is seriously compromised functionally, talk nicely to someone who has a drill with a fine sanding attachment for metal and watch him/her like a hawk while s/he takes off just the worst of the rust and make sure they don't make in-roads into the actual pan base. When this is done do NOT "season" the base - it isn't necessary.

Alternatively, leave well alone if the rusting is just unsightly and doesn't compromise the cooking performance. Le Creuset is made to use for a lifetime, not to be decorative. A friend has a casserole that she inherited from her French grandmother who received it as a wedding present in the early 1930s. The base has never been seasoned and has no rust on it.

The following tells you how to care for the pan and how to use it in the best way. You will notice that it says never to heat the pans dry and never to put pans with wooden handles into the over.

http://www.lecreuset.co.uk/Help-Advi...Use-Cast-Iron/
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Old 08-07-2014, 07:55 PM   #15
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I'd bet you can unscrew the metal rod that holds the handle on. Since the pot is 35 years old, it may not be easy. While you may not have to season the bottom, it might be smart to do so. Then you don't have to deal with it every time you cook.
No. On Le Creuset the wooden handles are fixed and do not unscrew.
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Old 08-07-2014, 08:00 PM   #16
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Alternatively, leave well alone if the rusting is just unsightly and doesn't compromise the cooking performance. Le Creuset is made to use for a lifetime, not to be decorative.
I agree with everything you said except this It's decorative as well as well-made. I love my Le Creuset. My LC French oven was a display piece at the store, so the bottom was scratched, but it works perfectly well and who looks at the bottom anyway? Plus, I got an extra discount because it was marred
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Old 08-08-2014, 09:14 AM   #17
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Most of my Le Crueset pans are 30+ years old. I've had them since the mid-70s. I followed the instructions for caring for them and have had one pan replaced because the enamel pitted (after about 25 years' of use). They are wonderful pans but other than the lasagne pan, none of them have been on my table or out on display. Every time a friend comes for a "cooking day," the friend ohs and ahs over the pans. I've had them long before cooking shows featured them. They weren't nearly as expensive then as they are now. I treated myself to a grill skillet on sale last week. That's one pan I'd been eyeballing. I'm also eyeballing the wok...and a round dutch oven that is between the gigantic one I have (oval) and my next size down.
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Old 08-08-2014, 09:21 AM   #18
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I get all my Le Creuset pieces at the outlet store or TJ Maxx. They have seconds and items with practically invisible defects with nice discounts. And I decided early on not to stick with a specific color. I have several colors that go together nicely.
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Old 08-08-2014, 09:35 PM   #19
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Most of mine are blue, but I also have orange and brown ones--the ones I picked up over the years. The blue ones are the ones my mom bought for me (and the griddle skillet is blue, but not the same blue as the others--I would've bought purple but the store didn't have the purple in stock).
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Old 08-09-2014, 10:52 AM   #20
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Most of my Le Crueset pans are 30+ years old. I've had them since the mid-70s. I followed the instructions for caring for them and have had one pan replaced because the enamel pitted (after about 25 years' of use). They are wonderful pans but other than the lasagne pan, none of them have been on my table or out on display. Every time a friend comes for a "cooking day," the friend ohs and ahs over the pans. I've had them long before cooking shows featured them. They weren't nearly as expensive then as they are now. I treated myself to a grill skillet on sale last week. That's one pan I'd been eyeballing. I'm also eyeballing the wok...and a round dutch oven that is between the gigantic one I have (oval) and my next size down.
The daughter of a friend had Le C on her wedding present list. I was about to splurge when I found out that the pans she wanted were the ones with the wooden handles and a loop for hanging them up - "What a good idea. They'll be on hand when you're cooking instead of having to root about in a cupboard" I said.

She looked at me as if I'd gone mad and informed me that you don't USE them!!! They are for decoration only in the modern kitchen!!!
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