Monday, March 28, 2011

FAIL! Seasoning My Iron Waffle Skillet

Um. I dont know what went wrong with seasoning this thing, but here is what happened : My mom sent me this awesome cast iron waffle skillet, that you can use on any hot surface! No electricity required - you can cook on top your gas stove, wood stove, probably an open fire. So... it came unseasoned, ya know... without the blackened oiled non stick natural surface it acquires after use. So i pulled out the pamphlet and read that i had to oil it and then put it in the oven to start the seasoning. Ok. Not too hard, I hoped. So i put olive oil all over it and stuck it in my toaster oven. It wasn't long before I turned around to see what the fucked up smell was, that the whole cabin was filling up with a heavy thick white smoke!!! The waffle skillet had some kind of waxy shit on it ( i thought i felt on it but wasn't sure), that had to melt off and so I assumed the smoke was the wax burning... i had no idea it would pollute my house so bad! ...... so i tried something else..... At this point I figured most the mystery wax must have been gone (mostly now in my lungs and cabin ceiling)... so i let the oil sit in the skillet for a few days, thinking maybe it would absorb. But it didn't. Then i stuck it on my wood stove since i had a fire going and it was majorly hot. It still made really bad weird smells - but no smoke so I was cool with the mildly donut shop/mildly metallic/mildly 'what is that melting' stench. BUT then THIS HAPPENED!!!!! Look at these pictures! (above and below!) .... OMgawd, this is not was it is supposed to look like. One side of the skillet turned all orange red and looks not at all seasoned. The other side, WTF is that gelatinous substance? It's got a red black tint, and it's not even flowing while warm - it's like a goo. Like hot stable iron & wax flavored jello... or maybe chapstick? What did i do wrong? This is a total 100% fail! xoxxoxo


Meg said...

My Mom got one of those several years ago- glad I missed all the smells, that would have killed me! Anyway., I believe she had to soak in hot water, wash, repeat, something like that, first, before seasoning. Didn't it mention that in the pamphlet?

I think you have created a new substance!! You should be able to save it, though. I am not an expert on that, but growing up with cast iron, it seems pretty hardy. Will it come off if you wash it well? I am sure you know about making sure to dry afterward to prevent rusting. I think you can also try steel wool, though I don't know how that will work on a waffle iron.

Jane said...

First, check and see where it was made, if China it is probably never going to season correctly. They use weird metal, that is a cheap cast iron and who knows what they coated it with. If USA, then Meg was right, do a good wash first. Then you need an oil that is solid at room temp. Olive oil is not good for seasoning. You can use coconut oil, lard, something like that, it also has a higher smoke point so you wont get the house filled up with smoke. Slather it on heavy. Then you need to heat the pan for a long time at a lower heat. The best is about 250-300 degrees for 10-12 hours. If the heat is to hot it will burn it off before it can soak in. I have a pilot light in my oven, so sometime I leave it in there for 24 hours or so. Then the first couple times you use it, load it up with more oil. Once you get it properly seasoned, never wash it with water again. Just wipe clean. Good luck

Sean said...

Hi Leslie,

Thought I'd leave a comment for a change, as opposed to my usual lurking. Your only "fail" was using olive oil. Olive oil is a low to moderate heat oil that turns nasty at higher temps (as you found out). Seasoning cast iron should be done with a high heat oil like canola or safflower oil. Scour off the other gunk, apply a thin layer of high heat oil and heat. I've also sometimes briefly re-seasoned some items after washing by wiping the insides with oil, then heating on the stove-top.

I "feel your pain" to a degree. I've a cast iron griddle that I've attempted in the past to season for pancake use, but even with proper seasoning the pancakes still stick. So the griddle gets used for pizzas and teriyaki, and make pancakes in a non-stick skillet. I don't even want to imagine what the waffles would come out looking like if I attempted to use a waffle-iron like yours.

Getting back to olive oil, the best, freshest, most extra virgin olive oil you can buy will be the worst for cooking. That stuff's for dipping and enjoying as-is, and is just too good to ruin. Think how good it will taste on your fresh garden-grown veggies. Cheers!

Self Health Guru said...

Leslie, you need to use animal fat, not oil and heat long and 200 degrees for a few hours and then just rinse with very hot water and wipe with an oiled rag. It's ready to use then and each time you use it rinse with hot water only and wipe with an oiled rag and it will be ready for next time.

Jason said...

I spent lot of time restoring old Griswold skillets last summer. Did a bit of research on best techniques for cleaning and season cast iron. Bit of a science to it but the following links are some of the best info I have found and used.

You're going to need to clean your cast iron again and strip off the gunk that has formed from your attempt.

One of the best oils to use for seasoning is an oil high in EFA's. I've used flax oil and that works quite well. Reason being that the fatty acids will polymerize giving you the season coat you are looking for. Years ago, lard was used but todays lard has very little EFA's in it do to crap big Ag feeds pigs. You will need to put on thin oil coats and wipe off excess prior to heating in the oven. This prevents pooling oil and getting a sticky splotchy job. Multiple coats will be needed before your finished.

Best luck. Enjoy the cast iron.

Lou Cheese said...


I own 12 cast iron skillets and griddles, half of which are Griswolds made before the 1920's and the other half which were made before 1880, when the quality of cast iron was at it highest.

I've tried every form of seasoning there is out there, in terms of both oil and technique, and I've even experimented on my own by using high-temp smoke point oils like filtered safflower oil.

The best oil you can use for seasoning cast iron is flax oil. It's expensive and hard to find because it should be kept refrigerated. If you can't find refrigerated flax oil at a health store or grocery co-op, use linseed oil, it's basically the same thing, and it is what the cast iron cookware manufacturers used to season their products back in the day. It produces the black-as-coal finish which is truly nonstick and even better than Teflon.

IM or call me if you want to go over the specific techniques to season the waffle griddle. Look for my user name on The Canary Report's Skype User Club.

Lou Cheese said...

Also, you'll want to get a waffle griddle that was made before WWII. There's two reasons for that.

The best iron was used for the WWII war effort. It all went to the military. After WWII, the best iron in America had been mined and put into the war machine, as well as recycled and fed to the beast. There's no getting that back because now it is at the bottom of the ocean or buried as bomb fragments all across Europe and Japan.

Before WWII, cast iron cookware companies milled the cooking surfaces smooth. That helped to make it non-stick. They don't do that anymore because it's labor-intensive and less profitable.

Cast iron cookware is made from pouring molten iron into a cast mold made of sand. If the sand texture isn't filed down to be smooth after wards, you have a cooking surface that resembles sand paper. Making that type of surface non-stick is going to be a challenge, although it could be said that making any surface non-stick is a challenge without going through the trials and tribulations and figuring out the right technique. That isn't easy, even the guys at the Wagner & Griswold historical society, of which I am a member, didn't know about flax seed/linseed oil.

Anonymous said...

@ the neckbeards with regard to "Chinese metal"

The best steel and iron comes from China and Taiwan because they are the BIGGEST producers, refiners and manufacturers. You think that just because it's made in Amurika that it's superior? China owns it with over 1/3 share in the steel producing game. And most of the products made in the US is made from foreign produced steel anyway.

I own a restaurant and the waxy substance on your beautiful new piece of kitchen kit is most likely parafin wax, it's standard industry practice to coat it in that before shipping so it doesn't arrive rusted. Hot water with some light soap and baking soda will get it off, you just might have to scrub it a few times before it's bare.