ISO Help Seasoning a Carbon Steel Pan

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Assistant Cook
Jun 13, 2018

Let me start this off by saying that I am well aware there are much bigger problems in the world right now than my inability to season a carbon steel pan. That being said, for the sake of my sanity, and the sake of my marriage (if my wife has to hear the word seasoning one more time I fear she may actually throw the pan at my beautiful face), I need to resolve this! Needless to say tempers in my household are frayed, and as a result, I find this seemingly trivial matter rising rapidly to the top of my marital problems list (just below my wife's snoring, and my apparent need to correct grammar).

So….to the crux of my problem…Despite having scoured in the internet, watching every Youtube clip, and following instructions to the letter, I have been trying in vain now to season a carbon steel frying pan (skillet) for almost 2 weeks! It got so bad that I convinced myself that I had just bought a crap pan, so I went out and purchased a lovely new De Buyer, some good quality Flaxseed Oil, and even a damn outdoor gas burner (I have an induction hob in the house)…But, alas, it has been to no ovail.

So, I will not bore you with the details of my 2 weeks of effort using different oils, gas burner, hob, potato peels and salt and all sorts of other wonderful attempts, and instead I will tell you about my latest attempt, and perhaps someone with more sense than me can tell me what I am doing wrong…because, honestly, if I fail at this one more time I think I might just call it quits and go back to using (I can hardly bring myself to say it) TEFLON (throws up in mouth a little)!

So, to get to the point:

I am using a De Buyer 24cm (9 1/2") ACIER Carbone Steel pan.

My Seasoning Process is as follows:
1) Heat pan in the oven at 100 (celcius) to get it to a warm enough temp fo accept the seasoning
2) Remove pan and apply a light coating of Flaxseed oil all over front and back
3) Wipe off the excess oil with a clean paper towel so you can't even see it
4) Put back in the oven and crank it up to 250 celcius (approx 480 F)
5) Leave for 2 hours
6) Then switch off oven (keeping door closed) and let it cool down to room temperature gradually.

According to the experts I have listened to, this will allow the pan to develop a strongly bonded seasoning in a nice even coating, and having cooled down gradually it will be extra seasony full of lots of seasoned opposed to doing it all quickly and giving a flaky seasoning that could come off easily.

So, having gone through this laborious process, after 1 round I was DELIGHTED to see that the pan had gone from shiny silver to a nice brown tint, and it was immediately starting to look like it does on all those Youtube clips I had watched! GREAT! But, rather than getting carried away with my wonderful job, I decided that I would do several more rounds just to make ultra sure. So, all in all I actually gave it 10 ROUNDS of seasoning - going through the whole process, and each time watching as the pan took on a darker and darker tint but still staying lovely and smooth - needless to say I was almost overcome with joy!...After a few days I was eventually happy with the look of it, and couldn't wait any longer to try out my new pan!!!

So, I heat up a little bit of oil, crack a fried egg in there…and….WTF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That egg stuck to that pan as though it loved it more than life itself and never wanted to leave!!!! I nearly fainted at the horrors in front of me and could barely believe my eyes! When I eventually got over the shock, I said, ok you probably just did something wrong (clinging to any hope). So, I took it to the sink to wash it out. And, using a normal dish washing bruch (standard soft bristles) I start to wash the pan under hot water. And to my dismay not only did the remnants of the egg come off, but so did most of the seasoning! It was literally as though this 10 LAYERS of seasoning was just a bit of mild grease that I could just wipe off! I just don't understand! I thought I had been laying down minascule layers of chemically bonded oil each time, the purpose of which is to be so hard and so non-stick that you could use metal utensils etc and it would withstand the rigors of daily use! But, what I am left with is a pan that is now part-brown prt silver!

I am genuinely at a losss now. I like to think I am a reasonably intelligent man - certianly capable of following simple instructions. As far as I know I am using the same high quality pans as the pros, and following the same process, but for some reason I just do not seem capable of doing this one thing!

Can anyone even tell me why 10 layers of seasoning would just wipe off like that? After reading my "method" can you think of any reason it wouldn't work?

If you help me out, you will not only save a marriage, but most likely gain a friend for life.

Yours in utter dismay,
Hi FS, welcome to DC.

Sorry for your pan issues. Prior to seasoning the pan for the first time did you wash it thoroughly to remove all the factory coating?
I have the same question as Andy. I use carbon steel pans myself. When new, they are coated with a clear lacquer finish, which basically prevents them from rusting prior to purchase. I've found you need to thoroughly remove it using a combination of hot water, a good scouring pad, and a LOT of elbow grease.

If you don't get all that lacquer off first, you will never get a good seasoning on the pan.

As for frying eggs, I use mine all the time for omelets, but you have to sort of ease your way into it. I don't season the pan and then throw eggs into it right away. You're just asking for trouble. Usually, I'll spend the first week cooking other things, just to allow the seasoning to cure and build up even more.

When cleaning after use, you shouldn't have to use any sort of abrasives. All I normally do is heat it on the stove for a few minutes and pour in some water. Anything that is stuck should immediately release. I can clean up even the worst looking burnt on messes with just a paper towel.
Thanks for the quick replies. So I did give the pans a wash beforehand, however I can't say for certain that i removed every last bit of protective coating...But, let's say for argument's sake that I didn't remove it all and that's my problem. What I have now done is stripped the pan back to it's bare metal again. This has removed the dodgy seasoning, and most certainly any protective coating.

So, starting from scratch, I will attempt to season again!...I will report back with my results!

I don't really know what to expect. I guess I just watched these pro's on Youtube who apparently seasoned it once and et voila they have fried eggs gliding around the pan! Is that realistic???
I think I seasoned my first pan with four or five coats. The last one I only applied two very light coats of oil. My impression is that the seasoning has less tendency to peel if you don't apply too thick of a coating. The lighter the coat of oil, the better it bonds to the pan. I've never experienced any big advantage in applying many coats, regardless of whether you're using carbon steel, cast iron, or similar pans. They will all eventually build up a residue that resists sticking.

Some of these people on the internet are definitely overthinking the process, that's for sure. If you look for videos where Asian chefs are seasoning their carbon steel woks, they seem to put less effort into it than others and get the best results.

Like I said, I use mine for eggs all the time. So I know it's realistic.
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Flaxseed oil...Don't use it!!!

Strip the pan. Start over. Follow seasoning cast iron instructions.

Crisco, Lard, Vegetable(soybean based oil) Crisbee, etc, are much better choices for seasoning.

The oven only needs to be slightly above the smoke point of the oil used.

Good luck!
Don’t know if I’m too late with this. I don’t own any carbon steel pans. I did have a carbon steel wok once, but it disappeared, probably in my repatriation move.

I did find this ATK video on YouTube, though. It is a rating of the pans, but at about the 2 minute mark, you’ll find brief instructions on seasoning the pans.

Carbon Steel Pans

I’m wondering, would anyone reading this actually spend $230 on a pan? Has anyone here ever spent that much on one pan?
...I’m wondering, would anyone reading this actually spend $230 on a pan? Has anyone here ever spent that much on one pan?

I could have spent that much for my Le Creuset 7¼" round French Oven. I got it at the outlet store. It was marked down due to a cosmetic blemish. The MSRP was in the mid-$300 range.
I’m wondering, would anyone reading this actually spend $230 on a pan? Has anyone here ever spent that much on one pan?
No, not for a carbon steel pan anyway. I have two DeBuyers that were in the $60-70 range.

The most expensive skillet I own is stainless steel and cost something like $160, even after a discount. I have paid over $400 for cookware, but that was for a nice dutch oven.
No, not for a carbon steel pan anyway. I have two DeBuyers that were in the $60-70 range.

The most expensive skillet I own is stainless steel and cost something like $160, even after a discount. I have paid over $400 for cookware, but that was for a nice dutch oven.
Mark bought me a set of Martha Stewart enameled cast iron for Xmas 6 years ago. I think he spent near $500. I haven’t decided to whom I will leave the set, but I do love it dearly. Almost as much as I dislike Martha Stewart!
Yesterday I seasoned a newly purchased carbon steel wok. (a less than $30 wok)

Pretty simple to season.

First I filled the wok 3/4 full of water. Boiled the water for 10 minutes to loosen the protecting layer put on by the mfg.

Let cool a bit and added 2 TBL oil (I used canola) slow heated until lightly smoking, spreading the oil with a paper towel. Also I tilted the wok to get heat to the entire surface. Remove from heat, wiping excess oil. As I did this part, the wok and the paper towel each darkened. That's the seasoning part.

I repeated the heat to smoking part 5 times.

The inside bottom of the wok is showing dark layer of seasoned perfection now which will cover the entire wok as I use it.

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I think heat may be your underlying problem here. Not enough of it.

I have a couple of Yamada woks that came with simple seasoning instructions.
Do it outdoors - it really smokes.

Here are the instructions that came with my pans - I used a little coconut oil:

The process to remove its protective coating.

The factory coating needs to be burnt off over high heat to expose the bare metal surface before you consume food made in the wok.

Thoroughly scrub the pan inside and out using a kitchen sponge and dish soap. Rinse with hot water.

Open the windows and turn on the exhaust fan in the room.

Set the clean wok over medium heat and let it dry on a gas cooktop (or blowtorch/blowlamp).

Heat the wok over high heat until it gets discoloured like bluish-grey. It will probably smoke. Repeat this process until all surface has been done.

Let the pan cool down naturally. Wash it again with a kitchen sponge and dish soap. Rinse with hot water. Then, ready to season the wok.

To bake oil into the pores of the iron wok that prevents rust and provides a natural non-stick coating.

Heat the pre-seasoned wok over high heat. Add 1 wok ladle (hoak) of cooking oil in a circular motion to coat inside the wok with oil (It may be better to turn off the heat temporarily when you add the oil for safety sake).

Stir-fry some vegetable scraps or aromatic ones such as chopped ginger and scallions. The wok will gradually become shiny and look smoother. Discard the vegetable scraps. Then, ready to cook!


Each time before you cook, pre-heat the wok on low to medium heat and add 1 wok ladle (hoak) of cooking oil in a circular motion to coat inside the wok with oil, then drain the oil into an oil pot before adding the ingredients.

Interesting video here:
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Thanks for the replies one and all. In the end I decided I was devoting too much time to trying to get the "perfect season", so I stripped back the pan and basically started cooking with it! I used a reasonable amount of oil initially and have been frying up things that are not particularly "sticky", and will work my way gradually up to things like my home made fish cakes, which seem to be the gold standard for establishing the effectiveness of a pan's non-stick qualities! So far so good actually, as I am really please so far. Basically I have just been cooking with it, and when finished throwing some water and boiling it to get stubborn foodstuffs off, and giving it a little once-over with a chainmail scrubber...then a bit of oil and back in the cupboard. Seems to be working well, and the color of the pan is changing nicely.

Thanks again for all the replies. Much appreciated
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