Cast Iron Seasoning: Flaxseed Oil is Fragile but Slick, Crisco is Tough, Why Not Mix Oils?

Please take everything I say with 2 Tablespoons of salt, I’m no expert
I wanted to get this article out there, not affiliated but I found it very informational. It is a comprehensive look at seasoning cast iron cookware:
http://www.castironcollector.com/seasoning.php

I had read from numerous sources that seasoning with flaxseed oil (I was going to us walnut cuz it’s similar and waaay cheaper) has been all the rage for a while now due to America’s Test Kitchen promoting it’s slippery polymerization. However there seems to be something not considered: durability.

Carbon content of the oil plays a role, see link. Apparently flaxseed just can’t render a finish as tough as Crisco or traditional oils like tallow/lard/bacon grease. You might apply several layers of flaxseed oil that will still serve you well, but it still won’t be as tough.

My idea: Mix oils! Is that a no-no? Why not use something like… 5 parts Crisco, 1 part flax/walnut? Then you get a little added slickness.

Anyways, let me know if you have any ideas on mixing oils. I will be reading this looong Chowhound thread some day that discusses all this at length: https://www.chowhound.com/post/ultimate-season-cast-iron-cooks-illustrated-757023?page=2

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I just use regular cooking oil. The way I see it is that you will eventually use regular cooking oil on your cookware, and that is what the seasoning surface. You can try to initially season your cookware using an unique oil, but overtime, the original coating will come off from wear and tear and the cooking oil will be replacing that seasoning layer anyway.

Best advice I’ve received: stop obsessing over seasoning and just start cooking. Use olive or vegetable oil, a lot at first. Shallow fry onion straws, chicken pieces, etc. it will get better over the next few uses and then you can cut down on the oil used for cooking. Do not start with bacon or sausage.

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Yes

For goodness sake stop overthinking seasoning cast iron cookware!!!

Just cook stuff in it!! Bacon!!

COOKING with fat will season it

Then devote your brain power to order good causes

Too much sugar in bacon and sausage to start off…those can be cooked a little down the line.

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Haha, I love how you guys are saying don’t stress, but then offer opposite advice XD.
I want to be able to cook only in cast iron, and I want to fry eggs, so yeah, Ima go ahead and figure out how to season it. Maybe it’s overthinking if you’re ok with also using nonstick pans, but I’d rather not use those.
Also, seasoning by baking creates a different kind of hardness and slickness, aka, it’s better, from what I understand.

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Well, I will tell you why I bake oil to cast iron/carbon steel cookware. Not because baking is better. Rather sometime I want to season certain areas difficult to season on a stove. Sure. I seasoned my cookware to produce a nonstick-like surface, but also to produce a non-rust surface. This was actually the prime function of seasoning in the old days: to prevent rusting. For example, I season the handles of my cast iron Dutch Oven because I want the handles resist rust. It is easier to bake the seasoning layer on the handles.

Let me know how long it takes you to get to frying eggs in CI w/o a lot of fat or sticking.

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Roger that

In the old days, their pans were slicker too. My lodge is so bumpy compared to my, now broken, Griswold.

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I promise you. They (Lodge) will smooth out over time. When my Lodge cookware were new, it would literally tear my papertowel when I wipe them with a papertowel. Not they are smooth. There are advantages of having slightly rough surface cast iron cookware – seasoning is more stable.

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I’ll try to update this thread, just incase anyone’s really curious. I aspire to this: https://youtu.be/LRLyvjtDT-8

I agree with the “just start cooking”, remembering that you will need to cook with oil and to not expect a non-stick surface for a while. I will say that one thing made my pans picture perfect after about 15 years of good seasoning that was still flaky in spots and never smooth. I brought a stainless steel chain-mail scrubber, and was amazed at how smooth and perfectly seasoned my pans were after about 6 months of almost daily use. I originally brought the scrubber because I was tired of the mess with salt/paper towels (some things just stick even if you clean pan right away) and it works great for that too. But the ability of it to smooth my pans out (two Lodge cast iron pans, and two carbon steel De Buyer pans) means I use those pans every single day now. Can I cook eggs without fat? Eh, maybe just a teaspoon.

Here’s the one I brought: https://www.amazon.com/Ringer-Original-Stainless-Cleaner-Patented/dp/B00FKBR1ZG

I’ve used friends’ scrubbers and they were larger and heavier, but the Ringer isn’t too expensive and is made in USA. By the way, I still season on the stove (mainly to get handles and bottom), and use Crisco after heating my pans up to a moderate heat. I think there’s something to the idea that too high of a heat for seasoning might make it too fragile. I wonder if that also contributed to my flaking problem earlier too (switched to medium heat a while after getting the chainmail).

And when I say “flaking”, I don’t mean the seasoning was flaking off, or anything like that. There were just low and high areas of seasoning, not a perfectly smooth surface. Does the chainmail actually sand the iron down? I don’t know, it is possible. I know people machine their pans, but I don’t have access to a shop.

You know, my grandmother cooked with cast iron. I have her old skillet. Do you think she went out & bought flaxseed oil or walnut oil or any other kind of oil to season her pans? I say, rub it with Crisco or any other kind of shortening & bake it at 300 degrees for an hour. Wash it & start cooking. & FWIW, rebel that I am, I wash my CI in the sink with hot soapy water. I doubt you’re gonna wash off a finish bonded on at 300 degrees with some Palmolive & hot water.

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Exactly. My mom was a Crisco advocate also, and not just for seasoning pans.
She used it in baking all the time.

I feel like people are really missing my point. Are yall just burnt out on people going crazy about seasoning? Cuz I get that, but at the same time, I have some good reasons.

I want to use cast iron for almost everything, everyday, and I want it to be really, really non-stick. I want to bake in it, fry eggs, just everything.

Now, back in the day, you might get a Griswold pan. I had one, but it cracked. Those are extremely smooth, and they don’t make pans like that anymore. If they do, they’re probably too expensive for me. I got a Lodge. Much bumpier.

I also hate, hate cleaning dishes like a heavy cast iron, so I would like nothing to stick. I am essentially replacing my non stick pan.

Anyways, I basically said most of that earlier, but there it is all together. It seems that most people on this forum are not looking for that exact kind of use out of their cast iron, and I understand the annoyance directed towards the “flax evangelists”. I mean, as soon as I realized how expensive food grade flaxseed oil is, I rolled my eyes myself.

I think cleaning cast iron is overcomplicated too btw. I seriously have always used dawn and a plastic bristle brush. That seasoning is supposed to be tough, so a detergent ain’t gonna do much.

Anyways, I ended up using a teeny but of refined coconut oil and Walnut oil combo, because that’s just what I had on hand. I plan on doing another coat each time I bake something in the oven. Here’s a toast to anyone else out there looking for Teflon alternatives. Cheers.

Amy, yes, this topic sets the interwebs on fire. . . Or to sleep, depending.
Check out the discussion over at the Chambers Commune. Lots of committed CI folks:

To get closer to non-stick I went the tin-lined copper route. Can’t manage heat levels with CI. But for some things CI is perfect. For eggs a tin-lined omelet pan is light weight, relatively cheap (Hi, Tuesday Morning, and thanks!), and a tiny spritz of cooking oil or a little bit of butter is just enough. Just sayin :wink:

Frustrating to hear that modern CI is such a bummer to scrape, grind, polish and season. And then look what happened to the price of vintage!

But if it’s what you want, it’s your journey. Enjoy it and report back!

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Burnt out seasoning freaks. No one’s given me such a compliment in years!
Actually, I have limited time on Earth and have put aside many once worthy goals and aspirations. Having a non stick cast iron skillet seems to have fallen by the wayside but I admire your obsession.
I may get that boat over the mountain
yet. :slight_smile:

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The ‘How To Season Cast Iron’ debates rival the ‘How To Sharpen A Hand Plane’ debates on the woodworking forums. People get REALLY passionate about it. I have a lot of CI & I use it a lot. All of it is either old & inherited or old & refurbished by me.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

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