The seasoning process for a pan isn't difficult at all. No two people seem to agree on the exact method for seasoning a pan (what oil to use, temperature, waiting time, etc.), so I'll just quickly describe how I seasoned my 12-inch skillet and made it black and non-stick.

  • First, put a sheet of aluminum foil or a cookie sheet on the bottom of your oven rack, to catch the drippings from your pan when you season it.
  • Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  • While the oven is heating, scrub the pan with kosher salt -- not soap -- under running water for a couple of minutes, and give it a quick towel dry.
  • From here, we do the seasoning: pour a small amount of vegetable oil into the skillet, and use a paper towel or cloth to rub it all around the inside and outside of the pan, giving it a thin coating of oil. Only enough oil is needed to give it a coating, it shouldn't be dripping or sticky with the oil. (Other folks use shortening, lard, or bacon fat for the coating; the choice is up to you. I'm happy with generic store-brand vegetable oil.)
  • When the oven is at 425 degrees, put the pan on the rack above the foil, facing down so that excess oil will drip out of the pan and onto the foil.
  • Cook it in the oven for 60 minutes at 425, then turn the oven off and let it cool with the pan still in the oven.
  • After about half an hour or so, your first seasoning is finished. Take the pan out of the oven and give it one more thin coating of oil. Your pan is now ready to use, or to place in your storage area for pots and pans.

One coating of seasoning is enough for you to start cooking with your pan, though if you want to give it a good non-stick seasoning, repeat this process two, three, or even four times: take the pan out of the oven, give it another thin coating of oil, put it back into the oven, heat it to 425, cook it for 60 minutes at 425, and then turn the oven off and cool it again. Give the pan another coating of oil, and repeat.

YouTube has hundreds of homemade videos that demonstrate the method for seasoning a cast iron pan. As mentioned above, no one can agree on the exact specifics of the seasoning -- some use vegetable oil, some use fat or bacon grease; some cook the pan in the oven at 350 degrees, while some go as high as 500 degrees or more. Here are a few for starters:

About a month ago, I spent a Saturday morning giving my 12-inch skillet four or five coats of seasoning, and right after that I made a video of myself cooking an egg on it. It didn't stick at all, and the cooked egg fell right out of the pan when I tipped it onto the plate. If you don't want to spend a whole morning or afternoon hanging around at home and waiting for your pan to heat up and cool off, do the seasoning a bit at a time -- one hour per night, for instance. Or, after you've seasoned it for the first time, start grilling the hell out of stuff! :) Cooking greasy meat is also a great way to season your pan, and you'll have a lot of fun doing so.

YouTube: Cooking an egg on a non-stick cast iron skillet
See also Wikipedia's article on a seasoned pan.

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