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Old 11-27-2011, 09:47 PM   #1
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Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Ashland, OR
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Did I ruin my wok?

I may have made a critical error while seasoning my new wok: I had it on high heat and waited until the color change was complete. When I added the peanut oil it erupted in flame, melting part of the stove-top ventilation system and leaving the bottom of the wok looking pretty bad:

Obviously, something went very wrong...I mean adding oil to a scalding slab of of metal seems like a terrible idea but I swear that's what the instructions said to do...

So, is the wok ruined? And my follow up question: what did I do wrong? How can I keep from starting a grease fire next time?

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Old 11-27-2011, 10:02 PM   #2
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Keep oiling it and heating it. However, it's adequate to wipe a light coat of oil onto the wok, no need for more.
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Old 11-27-2011, 10:05 PM   #3
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Since the oil is burned, I'd try to get as much of it out as possible and then reseason using a more reasonable method.
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Old 11-30-2011, 10:03 AM   #4
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I suspect something was lost in translation. They may have intended to say to first heat the pan until there is a color change that indicates it's definitely hot and then to let it cool, the object being to insure that any factory anti-rust coating is gone and that it's thoroughly dry. At any rate, the "color change" didn't mean glowing hot, but rather the mottling seen on uncured iron as it heats.

Whether the wok is carbon steel or iron, you can season as with any iron. Some people do warm the piece before oiling. The metal doesn't have to be hot when you apply the oil, although it may help it flow. The chemical nature of the oil changes at high heat and bonds polymerized oil to the metal. Not too hot, though. I you put the seasoned pan into the oven on Clean cycle, it will burn the coating off. (Note that your oven likely has spots of polymerized oil spattered on it from the past, and that burns off on self-cleaning.)

Read this, which is probably the best discussion for folks who would like more than just "do this" instructions but don't want a dissertation in chemical engineering. Read down through the comments and responses at the end, too. There are some good points made there. Anxd see the other posts it refers to.

Chemistry of Cast Iron Seasoning: A Science-Based How-To

But I would agree that you should start by cleaning the piece with oven cleaner so you start with a clean metal surface and not a soot layer that may not stick.
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