Just like cast-iron skillets, Carbon Steel pans need to be seasoned to ensure they work properly and last a lifetime. Most cast-iron is more porous than carbon steel. This means that the seasoning (polymerized fat build-up) seeps into the surface, permeating it. This is why conventional wisdom holds that you shouldn’t get your cast-iron pans wet; the water will leech its way into the surface, degrading the quality of the seasoning and causing rust. The seasoning on carbon steel pans is all superficial — meaning it just builds up on the surface of the pan. Cooking bacon in it is not effective as an inaugural seasoning for carbon steel pans, instead follow the directions below for the best results!
If you have a Prince Kogyo pan with a wooden handle, do not put it in the oven. You can season it over medium heat on your stove top instead.
Yamada brand woks and frying pans have an anti-rust coating that must be removed before seasoning. Make sure to ventilate if doing this indoors, as it will be smoky! Place the Yamada in an oven or BBQ, heat to 500 degrees F, and bake for one hour. Allow to cool completely, and then scrub well before seasoning.
Warm an unseasoned pan for 15 minutes in a 400-degree F oven to open its pores.
Remove the pan from the oven. Place 1 tablespoon flaxseed or other neutral oil in the pan and, using tongs (don’t burn yourself!), rub the oil into the surface with paper towels. With fresh paper towels, thoroughly wipe out the pan to remove excess oil.
Place the oiled pan upside down in a cold oven, then set the oven to its maximum baking temperature. Once the oven reaches its maximum temperature, heat the pan for one hour. Turn off the oven; cool the pan in the oven for at least two hours.
Repeat the process a few more times, until the pan develops a dark, semi-matte surface.
The first few things you cook in your carbon steel should be high in fat. Bacon works great, or even just using extra oil for your stir-fry.
While we don’t recommend aggressively scrubbing either cast-iron or carbon steel, this is especially important in carbon steel. An abrasive steel wool pad or harsh soaps will strip the seasoning right off a carbon steel pan. Instead, use water and a drop of mild detergent on a Tawashi Brush. The gentle coconut fibres of the brush are tough on food but easy on steel. Rinse your pan in hot water and dry thoroughly to avoid rust. Wipe it down with a bit of oil and you are done!
When using your pan over any kind of electric stove, take care to heat it slowly. Extreme uneven heat can warp the steel, so heat the pan slowly over a low temperature, and never heat it above the medium setting. A little patience on a lower setting will allow the pan to get hot enough for a great sear without damaging it.
Owen is another ex-chef among our ranks. After Chef-ing in Edmonton for around 12 years, he gave it up to be a human being again! He moved out to manage the Vancouver shop in 2018 and never looked back. Later, nerds! He can almost definitely beat you in a game of Street Fighter. come chat with him about football, steel, and how we are, once again, living in a golden age of rap music!