Chances are, you’ve heard about how great cast iron is for cooking. But carbon steel is an alternative that gives you much of the same properties at a lighter weight.
Carbon steel is an efficient heat conductor, and it heats and cools faster than cast iron. In addition, carbon steel is a durable enough material that it’s likely to outlive most humans. Since carbon steel isn’t brittle, there’s no risk of shattering it when you drop it.
Carbon steel pans are made completely from composite metals. They don’t have any rubber or plastic, so you can use them in both the oven and the stove. Since carbon steel pans are made from naturally occurring material, they don’t have any of the unknown risks you’ll find with chemically synthesized cooking instruments.
However, carbon steel pans also don’t start as non-stick pans. Because of this, you need to season your carbon steel pan to make it non-stick. Thanks to the smooth surface of carbon steel, you shouldn’t need a great deal of resources or time to season it.
|Brand Name||Size||Oil type||Notes|
|#1. Flaxseed oil|
Our Best Pick
|16 ounces||Flax seed||Source of fatty acids|
|#2. Canola Oil|
|16 ounces||Canola seed||Cold pressed|
|#3. Grapeseed oil|
|16 ounces||Grapeseed||Dilutes essential oils|
How to Season a Pan
When you hear about “seasoning” a pan, you might think of the spices you use to season your food. But seasoning a pan is a process unrelated to spices. To season a carbon steel pan and make the surface non-stick, you need to infuse the surface with some kind of fat-based product. Oils work best for this purpose.
When you’re working with cast iron, the porous surface can absorb your seasoning oils. But carbon steel surfaces tend to be smoother and denser. Rather than absorbing the oils, carbon steel pans must be seasoned by creating a thin patina on top of the surface. You don’t need as much oil to season a carbon steel pan, but the seasoning is more likely to strip away if scrubbed.
It’s easy to season a pan. When you buy a carbon steel pan, oftentimes it will include a coat of beeswax to protect your cooking surface during the shipping process. Before you apply your seasoning, you’ll want to remove this coating. You should only have to douse it in hot water and use a gentle scrubbing brush.
The actual seasoning process involves just a few steps. You oil the pan while the pan is hot, then heat this oil until it begins smoking. This removes excess oils. After that, you let the pan cool. If you repeat the process several times, you might give your pan better permanent non-stick qualities.
The Best Oils for Seasoning Carbon Steel Pans
#1. Flaxseed oil
Many culinary experts say that flaxseed oil has exceptional seasoning powers. It’s considered the food-related counterpart to linseed oil. Linseed oil is a weatherproof oil that many carpenters use to condition their wooden surfaces against weather damage. There are multiple scientific benefits to using flaxseed oil, like the fat polymerization.
When you choose a flaxseed oil, it’s important to be certain that it’s made from 100 percent flaxseed. There shouldn’t be any additional oils or additives. It’s important to note that a worthwhile flaxseed oil will need to be stored in the refrigerator.
If flaxseed oil isn’t chilled, the omega-3 fatty acids will cause it to become rancid. Your best bet is to buy an organic oil. Carbon steel has a pure and chemical-free surface. That’s one of the biggest reasons to buy it. You don’t want to compromise your carbon steel pan by introducing strange seasoning chemicals.
A good flaxseed oil option is the Puritan’s Pride Organic Flaxseed Oil. It’s available with 16 ounces in a bottle. The organic components mean that it’s the best flaxseed oil to season your carbon steel cookware. It’s also more reasonably priced than many competitors.
#2. Canola Oil
For years, canola oil has been a staple of many kitchens. It has more versatile properties than almost any other cooking oil. You can use canola oil with everything from sautes to stir-fries to salad dressings. Since the oil is neutral, it doesn’t infuse your pan with a particular taste. This makes it an ideal option when it comes to pan seasoning.
One great canola oil is the organic oil offered by H&B Oils. It comes in a 16 ounce bottle that will last you a long time. Organic oils don’t risk introducing harmful contaminants to your food.
#3. Grapeseed oil
Grapeseed oil has had a strong place in the health industry for years. It has exceptional moisturizing properties. In addition, many people use it as a massage oil. But grapeseed oil may have a place in the kitchen as well. You can use it for seasoning your carbon steel pans. This neutral oil has a high smoke point, so it won’t smoke up under high temperatures.
A good organic choice for grapeseed oil is the oil offered by Artizen. This 16-ounce bottle contains 100 percent grapeseed oil without any additional oils or additives. In addition to being good for seasoning your pans, it’s also therapeutic grade, which means you can use it on your skin as well.
When you’re seasoning your carbon steel pans, you should use a neutral oil that won’t cause lingering flavors. There are a multitude of neutral oils that can suit your purposes.
Flaxseed oil is one of the healthiest options thanks to the omega-3 fatty acids. Grapeseed oil is ideal if you want an oil that can double as a moisturizer. Canola oil is a great choice if you want a tried-and-true oil that you can use for versatile purposes in the kitchen.