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Thread: Is my cast-iron pan supposed to smell like burned oil all the time?

  1. #1
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    Is my cast-iron pan supposed to smell like burned oil all the time?

    I'm new to this cast-iron stuff. I read all the threads on seasoning, cleaning, etc...but I'm still skeptical. It just feels so sticky and icky all the time. I seasoned it with vegetable shortening when I first got it, and I've been scrubbing it out with kosher salt after every use and then wiping it down with a little vegetable oil. I guess I'm just used to scrubbing my dishes with soap until they gleam...is my pan supposed to stay dirty and smell like burning grease when I heat it? Is that just part of its charm?
    -Rebecca


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  2. #2
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    someome else can say maybe. I use a mild dishwashing liquid, then reseason. I have never used salt. Mine doesn't smell.
    Leisa

  3. #3
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    Umm, no. I think you're using too much seasoning! I wash mine with soap and water every time I use it. Only reseason when they start to look less shiny and/or show some rust (oops!). Your oil is turning rancid in your pan. Then again, I am no expert and I inherited my cast iron so it is pretty well seasoned. Haven't had much experience with the new stuff.

  4. #4
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    Rather than using salt or mild soap I use a very stiff brush and hot water to clean my pans. Then I return to the burner on low to make sure it is really dry before adding a tsp of oil and rubbing with a paper towel. Newer pans do tend to smell a bit like iron when they are heated but I don't think it should smell dirty. The only time I use kosher salt is when I have burnt something and it affects the finish or when it's a rusty one. Even old rusty ones I have bought at flea markets stop smelling after a couple of uses. What kind of oil are you using? I find oils that have a low smoke point (canola, corn, safflower, sunflower) aren't suitable to oiling or deep frying. Peanut, olive oil and avacado oil all have high smoke points (500F). Try one of those on your pan but wash it with soap and water first to remove any residues. HTH
    Well-behaved women seldom make history!

  5. #5
    I probably shouldn't say anything until I know for sure, but I read somewhere (and will try and find out where this evening) that you shouldn't use oil to season it, but solid shortening, like crisco, because the oil is more likely to go rancid and/or cause it to be sticky.
    Jennifer


    And in the end it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.
    --Abraham Lincoln

    Write it on your heart that everyday is the best day of the year.
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  6. #6
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    Originally posted by jjsooner73
    that you shouldn't use oil to season it, but solid shortening, like crisco, because the oil is more likely to go rancid and/or cause it to be sticky.
    My skillets are over 20 years old and are not sticky or smelly and I only use oil on them.
    Well-behaved women seldom make history!

  7. #7
    Originally posted by sneezles


    My skillets are over 20 years old and are not sticky or smelly and I only use oil on them.
    Well, like I said, I probably shouldn't have said anything until I was sure.
    I did do a web search and the Lodge site said no butter or margarine, but I didn't find anything else backing up what I said. I hate when I do that. I do remember reading that, but can't remember where or when, but I think it was recent. So, don't listen to me. Listen to Sneezles.
    Jennifer


    And in the end it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.
    --Abraham Lincoln

    Write it on your heart that everyday is the best day of the year.
    --Emerson

  8. #8
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    Ok, I'm going to jump in and refer to the info in Alton Brown's "I'm Just Here for the Food." You can decide whether to agree or disagree with him, but here's what he has to say . . .

    On the smoke point issue, AB has a chart in his book. Butter has the lowest smoke point at 350 degrees, followed by olive oil at 375. The highest smoke points are with peanut, soybean, and safflower oil at 450. Canola is at 435, and corn is at 400. Sunflower is at 390. AB mentions using peanut, corn, soybean or safflower oil if you need a high smoke point (sorry sneezles--I know some of this is a little different than what you said, so I thought I'd blame AB for the difference in opinion)!

    That said, when it comes to seasoning cast iron skillets, AB prefers using vegetable shortening because (according to him) it is more refined than other oils and won't leave a film. Also, when you're seasoning the skillet in the oven (at 350 degrees), turn the skillet over (layering the rack underneath with foil or use a baking sheet, etc) so that excess oil or shortening can drip off and not pool in the bottom of the skillet. We now season this way with better results than we had before.

    Lastly, if you do a search on this BB, I believe there was a thread some time ago about seasoning cast iron if you're curious. Hopefully reseasoning will help your situation???

    Hope this helps! If it doesn't, blame Alton Brown.

    Naomi

    P.S. Sorry, just noticed that you'd already read all the prior threads on this issue, so you were previously aware of the info I listed. All I have left to say then is good luck!!
    Last edited by naomike; 06-11-2003 at 05:04 PM.

  9. #9
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    Originally posted by naomike
    On the smoke point issue, AB has a chart in his book. Butter has the lowest smoke point at 350 degrees, followed by olive oil at 375. The highest smoke points are with peanut, soybean, and safflower oil at 450. Canola is at 435, and corn is at 400. Sunflower is at 390. AB mentions using peanut, corn, soybean or safflower oil if you need a high smoke point (sorry sneezles--I know some of this is a little different than what you said, so I thought I'd blame AB for the difference in opinion)!

    That said, when it comes to seasoning cast iron skillets, AB prefers using vegetable shortening because (according to him) it is more refined than other oils and won't leave a film. Also, when you're seasoning the skillet in the oven (at 350 degrees), turn the skillet over (layering the rack underneath with foil or use a baking sheet, etc) so that excess oil or shortening can drip off and not pool in the bottom of the skillet. We now season this way with better results than we had before.

    Lastly, if you do a search on this BB, I believe there was a thread some time ago about seasoning cast iron if you're curious. Hopefully reseasoning will help your situation???
    You know what's odd is that you can actually do a search on the smoke points and get completely different answers on over 10 pages of sites. But I'll stick with what works for me!
    Well-behaved women seldom make history!

  10. #10
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    Sneezles--well said, and I totally agree as well! I haven't done the search myself, but it doesn't surprise me in the least that you can find contradictory info all over the place (isn't that true on so many issues by the way)?

    At any rate, thank you for the insight. Obviously AB doesn't have the final word on smoke points or effective seasoning techniques!!!

  11. #11
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    Originally posted by naomike
    Obviously AB doesn't have the final word on smoke points or effective seasoning techniques!!!
    I think one of my pans might be older than AB!
    Well-behaved women seldom make history!

  12. #12
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    Just a small tid-bit of info...
    I think the reason there may be variance to smoke point is due to the fact that some oils are refined (higher smoke points) and others are not.
    For example, canola oil is mostly refined and so would have a higher smoke point.
    Peanut oil can be purchased refined or not refined....and so depending on which you use, you'll get differnt smoke-points.
    Same for olive oil.

    Unrefined oils contain more of the good, protective things in them, while refined oils are purified to the point where they may be pure fat vehicles for frying/sauteeing.

    wish there were one simple answer....sigh.
    Thoreau said, 'A man is rich in proportion to the things he can leave alone.'

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