How To Re-Season A Cast Iron Pan

by | Mar 16, 2023 | campfire, cast iron | 0 comments

Cast iron pans are cookware that lasts a lifetime due to the coat of non-toxic protective coating of iron casting on its cooking surface. However, this casting is not indestructible, and with every use of your iron skillet, it becomes weaker, so you need to take some steps to preserve the layer by getting it re-seasoned every few weeks. 

Maintaining iron cookware is not very difficult – all you need is some kind of cooking oil and a heat source. Next, you can go through the steps discussed in the following article when you need to reseason a cast iron pan. Your old cast iron pan can look completely new with just a bit of re-seasoning. 

Read on to know more!

How To Season Cast Iron Skillet?

There is no avoiding the fact that any old skillet will slowly get rusty with usage and time. Even if your pan is a non-stick surface, the coating will start to chip, especially if you are using your cast iron to fry food.

Not all cast iron pans come pre-seasoned, so it becomes your duty to season it before use. Doing so can prevent a lot of incoming damage to your brand-new pan. 

  • Step 1

First, preheat your oven and let it reach a temperature of 450 degrees Fahrenheit to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. 

  • Step 2 

Put a small amount of vegetable oil onto the pan and then rub it in a manner that coat the pan thoroughly as you go, including the internal and external surface. The layer has to be very thin – just a light coating, so you can use a paper towel to spread the oil. 

  • Step 3

In case there is excess oil like drops or streaks that can lead to the surface it is on becoming sticky, then immediately wipe it and clear the pan from anything but the thinnest layer of oil coating

  • Step 4

Keep the skillet face-down in the oven and let it bake for around an hour at the same temperature. Repeat the process at least 3 – 4 times until the outcome is a black, shiny, glossy surface on the pan. 

Steps To Reseason A Cast Iron Pan That Has Turned Rusty

You will know when your pan needs to be reseasoned if your cookware starts getting rusty streaks, is dull, or isn’t as non-stick as it once was. Luckily, re-seasoning is the same process as seasoning a pan when you first get it. 

Step 1: Use Steel Wool And Clean It With Warm Water

The first step is to take a little soap to clean your cast iron pan and give it a good scrub. Make sure you are using warm, soapy water and fine nylon or steel wool to simply rub the surface of the pan. Scrub the rusty surface well and once it is clean, let it sit to completely dry up inside and out. 

You can also clean the rust from your cast iron skillets by submerging them completely in equal amounts of water and vinegar. 

The rust shall dry up in about an hour, but you can keep it for longer if there is a large amount of gunk. Try to watch over the process in order to avoid further formation of rust and dry it immediately. 

Step 2: Oil The Surface Of The Pan

Next, use vegetable oil like safflower or canola oil, covering the entire pain including the handle. 

These oils are good for use at a high temperature and will provide a protective thin layer, but if you do not have either, you can always use shortening. Try to cover the whole pan evenly, and not thick enough that it feels slippery. 

 You can actually maintain your old cast iron pan through this process by oiling the skillet after each use. This will keep the pan shiny and glossy – close to how it was when it was new. If you do not use it a lot, just 3 – 4 times a year should be decent enough. 

Step 3: Bake The Pan 

After giving your pan a nice oil coating, it is time to bake it. Preheat your oven to 350 Degrees Fahrenheit and keep the pan facing downward. Put it on the middle rack so that the oil in the pan does not collect inside. 

You can also spread aluminum foil on the bottom rack of your oven to catch any drips. 

Let the pan bake for about an hour and if you want it to look like a new skillet, you might need to season the utensil again. You can keep doing it till you get that nonstick surface again, and see if it has become well-seasoned by cooking a meal on it. 

Step 4: Dry The Pan 

When it has been around 1 hour, turn off the oven and let the pan cool in the oven itself. You can wipe away any excess oil drips with a paper towel and wash it once with just warm water before use.

You will know that the process is complete when you wipe the cookware and can’t seem to find any sticky or gunky materials. Make sure that your pan is always clean and dry to avoid rusting in the future. 

You now have a brand new nonstick iron skillet!

Tips For Maintaining Cast Iron Cookware

Despite the fact that they are hardy, cooking with cast iron pans will eventually lead to the coating wearing off and the time to reseason coming close. 

After all, we use it for multiple purposes like sauteing, frying and even cooking on an open fire. In this case, it is best that we take measures to not let the cast iron wear away so quickly. 

  1. Always Use Vegetable Oil

This cannot always be done, but it is better to always use natural cooking oil like mustard, canola, safflower, or coconut oil on the surface of your pan. Refined oil can have chemicals that will not react well with the surface of the pan, but vegetable oils are thick and spread easily as well despite the little amount.   

2. Try To Stay Away From Super Acidic Foods

Highly acidic food like tomatoes, lemon, vinegar, or white wine – ingredients that are usually used for making sauces in pans are actually very bad for the iron cast. Try and avoid such foods as their acidic content can break down the coating of the pan by reacting with it. 

3. Always Preheat Your Pan First

When cooking, we often make the restless mistake of adding everything into a utensil one after the other. However, not all cookware heats up in the same amount. Hence, pans take quite longer. 

It is better to preheat the surface first, or the difference in temperatures of the food can make it stick to the pan’s surface. 

4. Get A Pan Scraper

If pans rusting are a common concerning problem for you, then consider investing in a pan scraper, which is exactly what it sounds like. 

It’s a plastic utensil with which you can easily scrape off any leftovers completely in a gentle manner. In this way, you also avoid the chance of over-scouring your pan using steel wool or a pad, which can leave ugly scars with aggressive washing. 

5. Always Dry After You Rinse

There is not much debate about what kind of water you can use – all warm water, both soapy and plain are good for washing your cast iron pan, as long as you dry it well after use. 

The main root of rusting is always water. So, if you let it stay on the surface for a long time, it can collect and wear away the coating of that area. Hence, dry immediately. 

What Kind Of Oil Should I Use On Cast Iron?

You are free to use any kind of oil for cooking as it is not downright harmful in any way. However, using natural oils like the vegetable kind has less of a chance of damaging your pan as it does not contain any animal fats that can react with the iron-cast surface. However, for seasoning, you should always use vegetable oil as it does the job better. Only in case you do not have that at home, you can use canola oil or shortening. 

Final Thoughts

To wrap it up, re-seasoning a skillet, or any of your cast-iron pots and pans for that matter, can really help you transform your cookware and make them as good as new. You will know when you need to reseason a pan when things start sticking to its surface and your skillet starts looking patchy. 




Colin has been grilling, smoking, and barbecuing in his yard for as long as he remembers.  His favorite dish is pork belly smoked on his favorite offset smoker. Read more about Colin here.


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