Newbie Seasoning Question

Greg Gardner

New member
Why do most seasoning regimens advise to leave the pans in the oven to cool, and many go so far as to caution against even opening the oven door for a couple of hours? I guess I can see that it's not optimal to go from 350-400 degrees to 70 degrees, hence not removing the pans immediately, but I don't get the 'Don't even open the oven door!"

Doug D.

Site Admin
Staff member
It has little or nothing to do with the seasoning process. It's more about an abundance of caution as pertains to unlikely but potential damage by (relatively) rapid heating or cooling of older, thinner (and usually more valuable) pans. Another benefit is that you'll get an extra 30-60 minutes of bake time for no electric expense.


I have always taken my CI out of the oven when its done. I never had a problem yet, but it makes sense to let it cool down slow.
I believe it’s possible for a pan to warp if the temperature changes too fast. I have a #9 Griswold Dutch Oven that warped and I believe it was from putting it into a hot oven while the pot was empty and cold. I gave my Daughter a #8 unmarked Wagner and it was warped on a smooth top electric stove. Her stove burners heat up at a rapid rate and the pan doesn’t have a heat ring so it has maximum surface contact.
Convenience and better seasoning. The polymerization process in the oil takes time. It cannot be rushed. So going the full time at temp works best. takeing the pan out before it is cool decreases time at temp and also strains the initial bond between the (green) seasoning and the metal. As far as my time goes, I season in the evening. I put pans in cold oven, bring up to temp, let soak at temp for an hour then turn off oven and go to bed. I'm sleeping while they're cooling so no waiting on anything.

I might do another round in the morning, another at noon and so on. But my time is my own. I can get a pan seasoned in a couple days.

I use one and only one oil and that includes fingerprints. The pans stay in the oven and only get touched with the oil wiping cloth.

Doug D.

Site Admin
Staff member
In all my years of restoring and seasoning hundreds of pans and talking about it with hundreds of others who also do, I've never had a pan that suffered from, nor encountered a single person who experienced a problem with seasoning after having touched bare iron with bare hands.
In my month of rattling around the web trying to learn what I can I have encountered people having all kinds of problems.Lot of flaking, and I have had this too.They blame the oil, I blame the prep. I have a background in painting metal, mostly old motorcycles. I have had a lot of painted parts fail with the paint falling off or oxidizing through. All the failures have taught me some things. Like to be extremely fussy with my prep.

Squalane (fingerprints) boils at 349F. Flaxseed smokes (and starts polymerizing) at only 225 F. So Squalane under Flax will be bubbling the Flax at say 355 F. This will give bad adhesion.

Granted I am making cookware for serious service, not collectors pieces. I have Corning Ware that is pretty scratched up after long service. I want my CI seasoning to take at least 5-10 years without needing rework. And I want a really good cooking surface. I was just looking at some recipes that my grill pan just wont do. So it's in line for the lye bath. Then the tops of the ribs will get the full no-stick treatment.

Seasoning is just painting without the benefit of primer. Two of the primary rules of painting: No dust, No fingerprints. So I do that.

Sorry to bend your ear so much. Long night trying to get those pictures to work,.:frown:

Doug D.

Site Admin
Staff member
I'm still to this day amazed that a blog post by someone who had only ever seasoned one piece of cookware before has in some circles come to be touted as the be-all to end-all of cast iron seasoning. I was especially disappointed in Cooks Illustrated's endorsement of it, as it appeared their main test was passing it through a dishwasher cycle; nothing at all regarding performance or durability under real world cooking use. Their seasoning method prior to "discovering" the flaxseed oil post was to merely wipe a pan heated over a medium burner with vegetable oil several times, no baking involved; a process they say they repeated "when a pan starts to look patchy". Not an apples to apples comparison, IMO. More disturbing, a recent post elsewhere stated flaxseed oil must be used because it is "the only oil that actually polymerizes". Uh-huh...

Cooks (and collectors) managed just fine for decades, centuries in fact, using animal fats or readily available cooking oils. Prior to the flaxseed oil craze, the only folks who seemed to have a problem with adhesion were those who rushed the process and applied too much oil in a single pass. Folks who knew how to do it right and used Crisco, grapeseed, canola? Nary a complaint. Now, more often than not when the subject of seasoning turns to flakes, the common element is flax. Yes, I know there are those who have used it and report being satisfied with it, but I would be interested in knowing what percentage of those satisfied users are actually high heat cooking in the pans vs. just creating cosmetically attractive wallhangers.

I'm still having a hard time wrapping my head around the finger oils thing. I wonder how, as I'm slathering then wiping oil off a hot 350-400°F pan, that my fingerprints are surviving unscathed to then go on to undermine the adhesion of the multiple coats I'm going to be applying. I'm not sure, either how paint prep correlates, as I'm guessing the motorcycle tanks aren't being heated in the oven prior to the application of primer and paint.
I have not done just one pan Doug, I have a whole stack of them. And I've had many failures and had to strip and redo with better methods. Flaking, too fragile (the scraping hard with stainless spoon test), poor non-stick qualities, weak color, and so on. I'm in a hurry (the stainless was coming out of the lye to be given away as the iron was going in) so I have to accelerate the learning curve, apply everything I know, learn a bunch of new stuff, do a lot of experimenting.

I do not apply oil at 350, more like 200 if that using an IR thermometer. I do not heat raw iron in the oven. I have gas and get flash rust. I heat on the stove top. I only want enough heat to drop the viscosity of the oil so I can buff it out. I do not apply a bunch of oil and wipe it off. Seems a bit silly to me. I want an extremely thin coat so I only apply an extremely thin coat. But I am using pigmented oil so it is easier to judge the film applied. At the moment I am working on techniques to cope with very fine detail that cannot be buffed or wiped. If I get it the methods they might be of some interest to collectors (unlike the rest of what I do which, as you pointed out, will destroy the value of a collectable. I get it).

I use Flax because of some experiments I've done trying to get an extremely tough, black, rustproof coating on bolt heads. I used boiled linseed catalyzed with japan drier and then baked them. One coat, thick, applied cold. The coating was as tough as I could hope for, not black enough and so slick it was useless. I will revisit the process with what I have learned on CI and I bet I get it.

I don't paint body work, don't have the gear. I do things like brackets, parts of frames, engine parts and the like. Horn brackets have deviled me forever. laminated high carbon steel, rusts like crazy, very exposed, takes severe vibration. I have been rattling around blacksmith circles. They use boiled linseed applied at blue heat to wrought iron when they want the toughest coating. I watched a vid. of a guy doing one of those triangular dinner bells, Talk about severe service. Weather exposure and regular use involves being whacked a lot with an iron striking rod. It seems boiled linseed is tougher than organic filtered flax But still...

Grandma used what she had. I don't feel limited by what limited her. That old Wagner you ID'd for me had a thick smooth layer of carbon on the bottom. After a mild soak for a few hours in tomato curry at 170F it had softened quite a bit. I mechanically removed it. No particular seasoning underneath.

Last night I left the 6" on a lit burner and fell asleep. In the morning I kicked myself but the pan was unharmed except it's wipe of olive oil had gone sticky. Tonight I made an egg and yogurt stuff in it that stuck pretty well. Instead of soaking like I would have done (I can soak my seasoning forever) I went in with the chain mail scrubby and vigor to get that sticky off. it got off without soap. Barely a scratch to the base seasoning. That pan got the least smoothing of the ones I've done and established the minimum for that step.

here is a pic of the Lodge 9" and 12" after final seasoning. $300 pans don't stack up to these. Then I made chicken Jogan Rosh in the 12" (tomato rich with long simmer time) and cornbread in the 9". Stellar performance from both. That cornbread just fell out which it will not do from a factory Lodge. Maybe I'll sign them so they can be collectors items someday?


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