When you first get a cast iron skillet, you will want to season it. To season a cast iron skillet, means to put a thin coating of oil all over and around it and bake it in the oven so the oil can harden to the pan. This will give the skillet a hard and glossy coating. It will make it non-stick and will prevent the cookware from rusting. Seasoning a cast iron skillet is simple, while also being a labor of love. Allow me to take you through the steps to properly season your cast iron skillet.
STEP 1: WASH
First, wash the entire skillet thoroughly (inside, outside, the handles and all around) using a scouring pad and some hot and soapy water. Scrub the skillet well. The type of soap that you use can be either a soap specifically made for cast iron ware or it can simply be your regular dish soap that you use to wash your other dishes. If you are on a budget, then there is no need to buy a soap specifically geared for cast iron ware. You can simply use what you have on hand. I have used both and I always get the same results.
STEP 2: DRY
After washing and rinsing the cast iron skillet with hot and soapy water, you will then want to dry it with a paper towel. Afterwards, put it on the stovetop over medium-high heat for a couple of minutes to absorb the rest of the water. This step is extremely important because in the next step, oil is used and it must be able to adhere to the pan.
Oil and water do not mix. So, therefore, having a damp skillet, will defeat the purpose of any addition of oil. Turn the heat off after a couple minutes. The cast iron will be hot, so be sure to use an oven mitt or pot holder to handle the cast iron ware from here until this 5-step process is completely over.
STEP 3: OIL
Now, it is time to get serious. Pay close attention. Are you ready? Good. It is now the time to oil the skillet. This process of oiling is crucial. This is beginning the process of “seasoning.” To properly season cast iron cookware, the right oil must be used.
The oil must be able to harden in the oven to adhere to the cookware without becoming sticky. After doing some research, I learned that Flax Oil is the best oil to use. Although it can be slightly more expensive than other oils you use such as olive oil or vegetable oil, it works wonders with this type of cookware. Although flax oil is deemed the best to use, I have used olive oil to season my cast iron, and it worked well for the job.
Pour a couple tablespoons of flax oil in the pan and then use a paper towel to wipe it in and all around the pan. Be sure to get the handles as well! Then, take a dry paper towel and wipe off any excess oil. The oil should have formed a thin coating in and around the pan.
STEP 4: BAKE
Bake the cast iron at 375°F/190°C for 1 hour. The cast iron should be turned upside down on the middle rack. Line the lower rack with foil to catch any oil drippings that may come about. However, if you wiped the oil off well in Step 3, then there should be no oil left to drip down. This is simply a precautionary measure.
STEP 5: COOL
After baking for 1 hour, allow the cast iron to cool in the oven for another hour before handling. Your cast iron skillet is now ready to be used! Enjoy everything you cook and bake in your newly seasoned cast iron skillet!