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PatrickM. 05-27-2016 04:20 PM

Observation: seasoning of cast iron skillet
After lye soak and vinegar/water scrub rinse, the application of cooking oil turns the paper towel a rusty brown. Normal as expected. On another Wagner Sidney o pan, the paper towel color was a grey. Is this normal? Why is it different?
I actually did a 1hr vinegar/water soak to make sure it etch properly applying the cooking oil.

W. Hilditch 05-27-2016 05:36 PM

Re: Observation: seasoning of cast iron skillet
Brown is rust. Left over or flash rust. Gray is iron. The oil will pick up particles of both. If it does not look rusty, no need to worry about either.


PatrickM. 05-27-2016 05:55 PM

Re: Observation: seasoning of cast iron skillet
Thanks, I was concerned. It has stopped -grey color once the seasoning started to polymerize. The paper towel is now the color of the cooking oil.

Dan Farmer 05-27-2016 09:01 PM

Re: Observation: seasoning of cast iron skillet
I don't understand the "etch it" part. Haven't heard of that before, have never done that. Don't use vinegar at all unless I need to remove rust without an e-tank. Just a good water rinse during the usual scrubbing will remove any lye.

W. Hilditch 05-28-2016 02:07 AM

Re: Observation: seasoning of cast iron skillet
Dan, the theory: If the surface of the cast iron is too smooth the seasoning wonít stick properly to the piece. Sort of like SS or ceramic. So vinegar is used to etch the surface to be more adhesive friendly for the seasoning.

Image: A clear drinking glass that has gone through the dishwasher 3 times a week for the last 25 years.

Reality: The actual CI doesnít really care if it gets a 5% acetic acid soak for a few hours.


Doug D. 05-28-2016 09:05 AM

Re: Observation: seasoning of cast iron skillet
Etching the iron before applying seasoning sounds like something from one of the youtube "experts". It's not something I've ever encountered in any serious CI collecting circles, and I expect I would have by now. And since I've restored hundreds of pieces successfully never having done it, I see no reason to consider or recommend it. The only pieces I've ever come across that were so slick as to seem to defy oil adhering to them have been a couple of handle griddles, pieces which are normally used with a good amount of oil or butter and really don't require the kind of seasoning layer you want on a skillet or DO anyway.

The other reality is that CI absent-mindedly forgotten and left soaking too long in even 50/50 vinegar and water can be etched enough to destroy its value.

PatrickM. 05-28-2016 11:58 AM

Re: Observation: seasoning of cast iron skillet
The Sidney -O- #3 skillet has concentric milling rings on the cooking surface. Three application of easy off lye over 24 hrs did not remove all the dark lines around the concentric rings. My intent was to get the pan to a near new condition to start seasoning just like it left Wagner 60+ yrs ago. The 2" sides developed a little flash rust which was easily rinsed off with a nylon scrub pad. The cooking surface developed tiny bubbles during the vinegar water soak but no brown rust. After heating to dry, application of oil produced an grey color paper towel.

I know it is not standard practice to soak in vinegar/water for non-rusty pans. But I wanted to reset the clock to the beginning and experience what a homemaker would do years ago.

W. Hilditch 05-28-2016 12:59 PM

Re: Observation: seasoning of cast iron skillet
Patrick, I respect your efforts to do it right and experience how it would have been. Iíve really enjoyed using my CI wood stove in the same way. If you go back to the original experience remember all cast iron came with a coating of petroleum oil to keep it from rusting on the way to the homemaker.


PatrickM. 05-28-2016 01:38 PM

Re: Observation: seasoning of cast iron skillet
I also read on a vintage Wagner Ware corn bread muffin pan back label that they use to lacquer as a rust preventative.

Do you CI guys get this random dot seasoning pattern? Neat looking.


The seasoning has polymerized and it is pretty hard. I tested it at 450-500F no smoke using a infrared temperature heat gun.


Doug D. 05-28-2016 02:17 PM

Re: Observation: seasoning of cast iron skillet
That's an indication you're not wiping enough off before baking it.


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