Cast iron is praised by chefs, grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-great-grandparents. The stuff lasts for ages and is supposed to be non-stick if seasoned. But sometimes, even after seasoning, cast iron is sticky. You haven’t even tried to cook with it yet; it’s just icky. So what can you do when cast iron is sticky after seasoning?
If your cast iron is sticky after seasoning, then it has too much oil. One remedy is to bake it again without adding new oil. Another fix is to clean it first before re-baking. If you don’t use soap with your cast iron, consider using kosher salt as a scouring agent.
Cast iron is cast iron, except it isn’t all the same. Not only have manufacturing techniques changed over the years, but there are also variations in making the alloy. So yes, your cast iron might be sticky due to too much oil. But it can also be because your tried and true seasoning method isn’t working for this cast iron piece. Some need to be hot when oiled.
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How to Fix Sticky Cast Iron Cookware
We have already ascertained that the main reason cast iron is sticky is that it has too much excess oil. If you try to cook with sticky cast iron, your food will be cooked, but it will also stick to the pan. It will also make it harder to clean and the surface of the iron will blacken and char more. These easy fixes will have you using your cast iron effectively very quickly with no fuss.
Bake the Pan
The best quick fix for sticky cast iron is to bake it. How Hot Should Sticky Cast Iron Be Baked At? Your oven should be turned up to between 400 – 500 F (204.4-260 C). Leave it in there for a good hour. Once finished, do not immediately remove the cast iron. Instead, leave it in the oven with the door cracked so it can slowly cool down.
Re-Seasoning Cast Iron When It Is Sticky
If you cooked with your sticky cast iron, or it remains sticky after re-baking, then the wisest thing to do is not to throw it away but re-season it. Before plunging it into more oil or the oven, give it a good scrub.
Some find hot water and soap enough. Others need to scour. You can scrub with or without soap. Although these days, most people do use some dish soap to clean their cast iron.
Another popular scouring agent for cast iron is kosher salt. The reason kosher salt makes a better souring agent than table salt is the size and shape of the flake. Or, according to Popular Mechanics, if the situation is truly dire, use a chain-mail scrubber (also very useful to get the rust off).
Once you have finished removing all the sticky residue, any lingering food, and rust, you must make sure your cast iron is completely dry before seasoning. Make sure you use a small amount of oil. For a standard skillet, the size of a quarter will do.
However, if the cast iron piece is new to you, you might want to change your seasoning technique. For some, it is the type of oil. For others, you need to heat your cast iron before applying the oil.
Related read How to Season New Cast Iron Cookware
Best Oil for Seasoning Cast Iron
Cast iron needs to be seasoned with a neutral oil with a high smoke point. A lot of people use vegetable oil or canola oil because it is already too hard. However, some chefs are swearing by flaxseed oil. They say it gives a finish like using old-fashioned lard (when pigs forged, rather than fatten in feedlots) due to the high omega- 3 fatty acid.
After coating it with oil, wait a few minutes, then buff as much excess off before popping it in the oven.
Related read Best Oil for Seasoning Cast Iron
How Hot Should Cast Iron Be When Seasoned?
Another seasoning technique to avoid sticky cast iron is to oil your cast iron when it’s already hot. To do this, pop it on a burner and turn it on to medium. Once thoroughly heated, use about a quarter’s worth of oil to rub all over the cast iron.
For some cast iron, that’s all you need to do: coat it in oil when it is already warm. Finish buffing it, then let it cool naturally. However, some will need to be baked for an hour afterward between 400 – 500 F (204.4-260 C).
The reasons why some seasoning tricks work better for certain cookware are numerous. It depends on how you cook, what you cook with, altitude, climate, the age of your cast iron, or even the composite of the cast iron alloy. All these minor variables can impact the way your cast iron interacts with the world.
Related read How Often Should Cast Iron Be Seasoned?
Why Is Cast Iron Not All the Same?
Cast iron is an alloy of iron. Like baking a cake, the exact process and quantities of the ingredients vary to make cast iron. For example, cast iron can contain anywhere from 2 to 4 percent carbon. There is also silicon, and the amounts added impact its hardness. Even the amount of heat used when creating it will determine its malleability.
Also, the age of the cast iron cookware makes a difference. Cast iron cookware used to be produced by a method called sand casting. You can see this process broken down by clicking here. For cookware, once the item was finished, it was hand sanded until it was smooth.
However, this changed in the 1960s when Wells Manufacturing Co began manufacturing cast iron. The machining process is different from sand casting, allowing cast iron to be cheaper, but it also results in a slightly textured surface.
Related read History Of Cast Iron
Is Antique Cast Iron Cookware Better Than Modern Cast Iron?
If you ever want to ignite an internet fight that has nothing to do with politics, declare modern cast iron superior to antique. There will be some that agree with you. Then there will be people who will hunt you down, wielding their great-grandmother’s Griswold skillet.
Those that think modern cast iron is just is good blame people’s seasoning techniques and buying poor-quality cast-iron cookware. They may have a point. After all, the antique cast iron still in use tends to be the high-quality brands, such as Griswold, that have stood the test of time.
Quality antique cast iron in good condition can cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars. But if you are willing to scrub for your life and season like a boss, you might have great luck reviving an inexpensive antique that’s not looking its best. Of course, it will take some serious labor, but perhaps embrace the chain-mail scrubber to help you out.
Click on each image to check out the products as well as other styles, colors, prices, and what others have to say…
Beloved Modern Cast Iron Brands
If your modern cast iron you got for three bucks is not serving you well, consider upgrading to a more beloved brand when finances allow.
Recommended modern cast iron brands include:
FINEX is ultra-modern seasoned cast iron that is considered heirloom cookware. What does that mean? If you care for it the piece will be handed down through generations. It features a unique shape, coiled pot handles, branded lid knob and it is seasoned in the factory with flaxseed oil.
Lancaster Cast Iron
Don’t be fooled by the color and the lightweight of Lancaster cast iron cookware it really is seasoned cast iron and can be used exactly the same way as traditional cast iron. The color will darken with use, can be used on all heat sources including campfires. Made in the USA read more about this lightweight cast iron by clicking the image above.
Some modern cast iron can’t be put under a broiler or has problems with temperatures over 400 F (204.4 C). The better cast iron can handle intense heat and will happily sit under a broiler. So do some research when buying modern cast iron. However, no cast iron, even the kind that arrives pre-seasoned, will do well unless appropriately seasoned.
Lodge Cast Iron
The Iconic brand Lodge is still manufactured on US soil. The brand has spent decades perfecting its products. Lodge Manufacturing was the brand that started the trend of seasoning cast iron products before they leave the plant. This process is today standard practice. Lodge has its own secret blend of seasoning that is applied to every piece of cast iron cookware before shipping. Check Lodge cast iron by clicking the image above or head over and check out my in-depth Lodge Review.
Want to support our country by buying products made at home. Check out my list of Cast Iron Cookware made in the USA.
Smithy Cast Iron
Another USA-made cast iron manufacturer is Smithy. Their cast iron is also a unique color and will darken with use. Note the smooth polished finish and still needs seasoning but helps food release and resist burning. See more about Smithy cast iron cookware click the image above.
To Finish – Cast Iron Sticky After Seasoning
Cast iron cookware is more than just a way to make your food taste better. It’s also an investment in the future and in quality time spent cooking with family and friends.
Whether you’re looking for antique cast iron or modern, it will only work if properly cared for and seasoned before use. I hope this guide on how to season cast iron to avoid a sticky or tacky surface has helped you get started caring for your own kitchen and camping treasures!
One-Pot Cooking Rocks
Thanks for the video music – Ben Sound