Our AUS-ION™ and AUSfonte™ pans are multi-generation durable (with multi-century warranty, here). Although the pans come lightly pre-seasoned, it still takes some additional seasoning, and some simple care and maintenance of the natural seasoning to maximise their healthy low-stick performance and avoid rust spots.
AUSfonte™ cast iron and AUS-ION™ formed-iron (low carbon steel) cookware are the highest-performance iron pans available today, but they are no more or less nonstick than other seasoned iron pans, and ours need the same care as all bare cast iron pans, French steel pans, and carbon steel woks. (However, our new AUS-ION™ Satin shot-peened surface makes them easier to season, as the surface grips the seasoning better.)
Ideally, we recommend a combination of two seasoning approaches: oven and stovetop.
STEP 1: Oven seasoning is great for providing all-over protection from corrosion, and at least 2 or 3 cycles is recommended.
STEP 2: Then switch to stove-top seasoning because it can more quickly build strong layers of seasoning on the actual cooking surface. Both methods are detailed below.
Remember: AUS-ION™ and AUSfonte™ pans are pre-seasoned at factory and ready to continue the seasoning: not coated in protective oil, beeswax or lacquers like most iron pans, so they don't need stripping and cleaning like those other brands. They are ready for more seasoning, and cooking.
Best of all, your seasoning is forever renewable, so if you make mistakes you can simply start again, unlike synthetic-coated pans, which must be thrown in the landfill once overheated, damaged or worn. With a little care, your seasoned nonstick will last as long as the Australian iron pan itself: multiple centuries.
Follow our instructions and you will enjoy a lifetime of cooking with your healthy, natural, non-toxic, forever-renewable nonstick iron: a nonstick you can trust because you've built it yourself!
Super-brief overview of our recommended seasoning and cleaning method:
- Oven season your new pan first: Rub high smoke point oil all over (rice bran oil, soy bean, seed oils, lards, but not olive oil), and so thinly it's just a light polish of oil. Place in high heat oven for 1.5 hours. Cool in oven for half hour. Repeat 1-3 times.
- Stove-top season your pan next: 1 teaspoon of oil, heat until smoking and rub all around cooking surface with a paper towel for 20 seconds. (Lots of smoke: ensure very good ventilation.) Cool for 1 minute. Repeat for 10-15 minutes until base is black. You now have a great foundation, but it's only the start.....don't expect Teflon-level nonstick, and don't expect great nonstick from the beginning, particularly for delicates like eggs/fish. It takes time!
- Old-school seasoning while you cook: Continue building on your new seasoning foundation consistently over time with lots of cooking with fats/oils, while washing carefully each time to preserve the black seasoning as much as possible. Don't scrub this valuable natural nonstick off!
- Careful washing: No dishwashers, ever, and no need for soap. Rinse under hot running water and lightly scrub with brush. If anything is stuck, scrape with a wooden spatula, preferably, to remove food scraps while preserving the non-food black seasoning.
- Enjoy the pride in building your own healthy natural nonstick on an innovative Australian iron pan that will last for many generations, with a little of this kind of care.
Iron pan seasoning and cleaning summary videos
What to expect, in reality
Please don't expect Teflon™! Seasoned iron is superior in everything that really counts (health and sustainability), but will never be quite as slick or easy to wash as synthetic-coated pans. It will take a little maintenance. Seasoned iron will also be more 'earthy' and less visually perfect on the cooking surface. Relax! Iron pans have been that way for thousands of years, and they still haven't been beaten by corporate 'technology' marketing coatings, for sustainable, non-toxic, natural seasoned nonstick!
See real life Solidteknics pans below from the home collection of our founder/engineer, MJ Henry, using the same methods in these instructions. The wrought iron AUS-ION Satin crepe/griddle pan at bottom was very carefully seasoned for maximum natural nonstick: mostly used for cooking with fats/oils, and carefully washed. Its natural nonstick approaches that of the disposable synthetic-coated imports. The two AUS-ION Satin skillets top left are Mark's 'daily workhorses', and more typical of what to expect when cooking a range of foods, including acidic sauces, with some rough, rushed washing at times. There's no food stuck on: that's all good seasoning - the transformed hardened oil you must try to retain as much as possible during washing. These pans are still naturally nonstick for most cooking, and very low maintenance. Though seasoned and cleaned th same, the two AUSfonte cast iron pans on top right aren't used quite as much as the AUS-ION skillets, and generally aren't used for acidic sauces, so are easier to maintain with good consistent seasoning.
Ugly, or natural? Easy or too much hassle? Chef pans hanging in restaurants can look much worse! The message is don't worry what your iron pan looks like if it works. This isn't disposable synthetic nonstick convenience, this is healthy, sustainable forever-renewable nonstick that you are responsible for yourself. It is also a great source of pride for cooks who know they will pass on these heirloom pans, the skills, and love for healthy cooking, down through many generations.
Sincerely tried following all instructions below, but still having difficulties?
For anyone new to iron pan seasoning and washing, there are a few simple common errors that can lead to weak/sticky seasoning, sticking food, rusting, etc. What to do?
♥ See more FAQs for common issues toward the bottom of this page.
♥ Email our experts directly with photos and description of your issue: firstname.lastname@example.org
♥ If there are still difficulties, one of our experts will call you to walk you through the issues and get you on course to enjoying natural seasoned iron as much as the tens of thousands of chefs and home cooks who already love their Aussie iron (and the many millions all around the world who love their seasoned cast iron and steel pans). It's easy, once you get it right!
♥ If our seasoning methods or oils don't work for you, feel free to switch and try the advice of other experts like Jeffrey B. Rogers in the USA. There are so many variables at play that no one method works for everyone, and there are many good ways to season iron.
♥ Please DO NOT make a frustrated social media post before trying all the above, and giving us an honest chance to fix your specific problems. It is a matter of mutual respect: we have worked long and hard to produce the world's finest iron pans, acclaimed by top chefs, while pioneering a whole new Australian cookware industry. We expect our customers to trust that we know what we are doing, and so do the millions of iron pan users all around the world, and to listen to our advice to correct your seasoning problems. We have little patience for trolls and haters whose first reaction is to make a damaging public post on social media. Very uncool. Please be cool, and we guarantee we will turn your personal seasoning issue into iron cooking triumph, and a new skill that means you can maintain your non-toxic nonstick iron pan for your whole life, then hand it down for many generations of cooking love. Give up too early, and you will continue disposing of imported nonstick pans: a lot of toxic fumes, landfill and wasted resources over one lifetime. Versus zero waste, and healthy non-toxic cooking in the same pan for generations. Well worth the initial effort! ♥ ♥
Note: Ensure you have a well-ventilated kitchen (windows open and good air flow).
1. For best results, pre-heat pan to around 90C (200F) before applying oil, to help it bond better to the existing seasoning.
2. Use a food grade oil with high iodine count, preferably rice bran oil, soy bean oil, sunflower oil, seed oils, lards, depending on preference. We still like flaxseed oil, but it can be 'flaky', so we don't recommend it now for beginners. (Important note: best oils for seasoning are not always good oils for cooking and vice-versa.....eg. never use flaxseed oil for cooking.) There's more info on oils in links at bottom.
3. Rub the oil lightly all over the whole pan with a clean lint-free cotton cloth (if paper towels be careful not to leave paper specks; old 100% cotton T-shirts or linen tea towels are great – synthetic fabrics can melt), leaving only a very thin layer of oil. Then wipe out again so that there is no visible oil: only a sheen. Excess oil doesn’t improve the seasoning: it can lead to sticky residue, spattering of your oven and excess smoke, and a weak seasoning layer that sticks to food and peels away.
4. Place in oven upside-down and heat at maximum (around 250 degrees Celcius / 500 degrees Fahrenheit) for at least one hour for flaxseed oil, and 1.5-2 hours for others listed above. Then switch off oven and allow pan and oven to cool for around an hour before opening the door. With a glove/cloth, remove pan and wipe on next seasoning layer while pan is still warm. Repeat until you can't stand it any longer, for best results, though 2-3 times should be fine, with good washing care.
Note: ensure you have plenty of airflow through the kitchen, and leave oven door closed until it cools down a little; it can get a little smoky if you use too much oil…..
Oven seasoning can also be achieved using a hooded BBQ outdoors. Great option for summer, and to reduce smoke inside!
If you have poor ventilation in your kitchen you may want to skip this step and do a few more rounds of oven seasoning. Stovetop seasoning, however, is the fastest way to build seasoning and improve the actual cooking surface of your pan.
Caution: This process is smoky, only attempt stovetop seasoning if you have a well-ventilated kitchen (strong range hood, windows open and good air flow), or on an outdoor flame.
1. Use a food grade oil with high iodine count, preferably rice bran oil, soy bean oil, sunflower oil, seed oils, lards, depending on preference. rub a thin layer around the inside of the pan with a lint free cloth, then wipe it off. Be careful! All you should see is the slightest sheen, no pools of oil.
2. Heat pan on high until it starts to smoke, turn back to medium, apply another half teaspoon of oil, then wipe the oil around (using tongs to hold the cloth or paper) to ensure there is no pooling and an even thin layer is applied all over the base. Wipe for around 20 seconds.
3. Turn the heat off and allow the pan to cool for a few minutes. This solidifies and strengthens your transformed hard polymerised oil. Repeat until:
a) you can't stand it any longer! Or,
b) The cooking surface of your pan is nice and evenly black. Eventually the pan will start to uniformly repel the oil, and that’s a good sign!
Note: If stovetop seasoning isn’t possible, a great compromise is just to cook lots of fatty meat and use lots of (good) oil in your pan to build up the seasoning over time, just like it has been done for hundreds of years.
During this process watch out for the seasoning turning blue in the middle which indicates that the pan is too hot (the seasoning can be burned off at very high temperatures). If this happens, take the pan off the heat for a couple of minutes to allow it to cool, then return it to a medium heat until the smoke dies down. Otherwise you will end up with a pan that has a nice external ring of seasoning, with none in the middle as pictured below:
We believe that all of the above is great advice but there are many ways to achieve the natural seasoned nonstick result, because the principles are all similar. Oven seasoning provides all over protection from corrosion, and stove-top seasoning, like the method above, simply builds the natural nonstick cooking surface faster.
Cleaning and maintenance:
· If your pan is well-seasoned and you have just cooked with oil, you can simply wipe out the pan with a paper towel. The thin residue of oil will be enough to condition the pan for next time.
· If it needs more cleaning, wash the pan under hot running water using a brush or a green sponge. Never use steel wool. Never soak. Avoid soap and lots of scrubbing. Rinse under hot water and scrape out with any scraper (wood is good, or metal for the really tough stuff), or use a brush, but don't brush away too much of your hard-earned seasoning. No dishwashers, ever. These all strip seasoning.
· Immediately wipe dry and reheat on the stove to fully dry. Don’t let pan air dry unless it is very well seasoned.
· Rub a light layer of oil inside the bowl of the pan to prevent corrosion if still new and lightly seasoned. If not, don't oil the pan.
· If a little rust appears at any time, first scrub off the rust with a scouring pad or wire brush until clean, dry thoroughly, then put the pan through at least one seasoning cycle (see methods above).
· The more you use your pan and the better seasoned it becomes over time, the less maintenance and oiling required.
· If you’ve washed your pan and you are drying it out on the stove, why not do a single stovetop season while you’re at it? That’s a great way to quickly build up or replenish your seasoning.
· If you don’t have access to an oven or hooded BBQ, or for pans too large for your oven, use the stove top seasoning method above and protect the non-cooking surfaces with a very light coat of oil between uses.
IRON COOKING TECHNIQUE:
· Preheat: Before food is placed in pan, ensure it is preheated to the correct temperature. Many newcomers don't allow enough time for pan/oil to come up to heat, and this often causes sticking. After several generations of synthetic nonstick, most home cooks have been trained to use far too low a heat to properly sear meats, generally stewing the juices out at low temperature instead. AUSfonte takes longer to preheat than AUS-ION (but then holds that heat longer). Match your pan size to burner size as closely as possible. Avoid fast high power in small burners, especially induction, with pans of much larger base: the concentration of heat in the centre can warp the pan unduly.
· Meat: The most common cause of stickiness with meats is searing on too low a temperature. Go far hotter than you may be used to, to quickly sear the juices and avoid stewing. You should go hotter than you're used to with other pans (it can take it), and let the pan preheat for a longer (at least 7 minutes for cast iron, less for formed iron/low carbon steel which heats faster). Do it like the chefs: quickly sear to seal and brown, then transfer the pan to the oven to finish baking to retain the juices. A well-seasoned pan at high temp doesn't need much oil, because it quickly caramelises and seals the surface. Coarse salt/pepper dry rub helps: see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ggiONseXig and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=987wOx8HXzo
· Bacon: some bacon has a high sugar content and that's what causes the gumming and sticking. Because iron cooking isn't so well known in Australia, there's lots of answers on USA forums and groups and one of the good answers we recommend is this: http://www.permies.com/t/12218/cooking/Cooking-bacon-cast-iron-skillet
· Eggs: Conversely, eggs often stick when cooked at too high heat and/or for too long. Butter/oil should be used generously. Use a well-seasoned pan on low temperature for scrambled eggs and scrape around the whole pan gently toward the middle to avoid sticking and burning. See this video for the fail-safe scrambies formed-iron and cast iron method: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_5rdQjN0kg .
CAUTIONS: READ BEFORE FIRST USE OF aUS-ION or AUSFONTE COOKWARE!
· Oven burn risk: Take care when handling any hot metal pan, especially when taking from oven, and use oven mitts to protect your hands and trivets to protect surfaces. After removing from an oven we recommend leaving the heat sock, mitt or towel over the handle to remind yourself the handle may still be hot.
· Stove burn risk: our longer skillet handles are designed to resist heat transfer up the handle, and this works so successfully that hand heat protection is normally not required and the pan can be lifted from stove with bare hand. This obviously does not apply to ovens or when the handle is ever exposed to direct heat from underneath (such as over a campfire/coals or burner). The effective 'cool handle' effect does not work for other pan models with short handles, such as the AUSfonte cast iron BIGskillet and DEEPan, or the AUS-ION 30cm duel-handled wok, although their handle designs are better than most short loop handles.
· Thermal shock: warping and cracking: Beware that iron pans can be warped and cast iron has been known to crack (although we’ve never seen it in AUSfonte) due thermal shock from heating too quickly on electric or induction cooktops set on max. So warm your pan a little more slowly on a medium setting for a minute on those stoves before stepping up to higher heats. On induction in particular, do not use a small 'burner' with a large pan (too much warping of any pan), and avoid settings above medium. Our iron pans are so efficient with induction that heat can become too concentrated in the middle, particularly with some high power or very centrally-focused induction. Thermal shock from cooling too quickly: never apply water to a hot pan. Apart from the risk from boiling water/steam, the thermal shock can crack cast iron or warp steel pans, no matter how thick and tough. Wait until your pan has cooled until just warm to the touch before washing. Like other situations of 'abuse', warped or cracked pans from thermal shock or overheating on induction are not covered under our warranty.
· Lid security: Specifically with the BIGskillet and DEEPan combination, please note that our style of lid seal is not 'locking' (it is designed to compensate for common casting 'out of round' by using radiused rims, not square), so please DO NOT try to move the combination around together, either with BIGskillet as a lid on DEEPan, or vice-versa. The lid could slide off the base if both sets of handles are not held. This is particularly important when removing the HOT combination from an oven. Remove the lid first and set aside before removing the base containing the food. Furthermore, the combination is heavy, particularly when full of food, and most ovens have awkward retrieval angles for the spine.
· Acidic foods and seasoning erosion: Until your iron pan is very well seasoned, avoid slow-cooking highly acidic food in pan such as tomatoes, as this can strip some of the seasoning layer away and impart a metallic taste (which is harmless - it's clean and safe iron - but not ideal in taste!). For similar reasons, don't store food in your cast iron pans overnight (but certainly use their great heat-retention properties for serving on a trivet on the tabletop)!
· Oil stains: Keep in mind if your pan is oily on the base it may stain porous surfaces.
FAQS ON WHAT'S DIFFERENT ABOUT IRON COOKING, AND WHAT CAN GO WRONG......AND HOW TO FIX IT.
Q: My seasoning looks 'patchy' and not as deep and dark as the pictures I see of everyone else's online. I cook a lot of curries and wash the pan under running hot water with a bristle brush soon after cooking. What to do?
A: It's a good question because it can be quite common in homes that cook more wet curries and less frying of oily meats. It's quite normal for seasoned pans to have 'patchy' seasoning and changing seasoning over time, depending on what's being cooked. Pans that are only ever used for frying with oil or with oily foods are always the easiest to maintain with a thick, even and nonstick seasoning. When a pan is used for a lot of cooking without oil, or for cooking in acidic liquids (particularly slow cooking), the seasoning won't be replenished by the cooking oils and food fats, but it will be eroded by the acidic liquid and by washing out.
A similar thing can happen if a pan is used more for baking than cooking of fatty foods in oils.
There's nothing to worry about, though, because the seasoning on iron pans is always easily renewed. If you think your pan is becoming thin and patchy in the seasoning, simply follow our seasoning instructions above to renew the coating, either with more cooking with fats/oils, or more oven seasoning.
Q: My iron pan isn't as nonstick as everyone else's and I had a major sticking disaster. What went wrong? Is it ruined?
A: Good news is the pan isn't ruined. It will take a little work, but can be recovered and made very low-stick and durable. Notes:
· First thing to be clear about: seasoned iron is not as slippery as synthetic-coated nonsticks, but well-seasoned iron can come close (and it has none of the disadvantages of their low heat limits, health concerns, rapid wear and disposability).
· It takes time for the low-stick properties of seasoned iron to reach their peak. Don't expect maximum nonstick when the pan is new: apart from adding more pre-seasoning, it takes cooking time to build up maximum seasoning effectiveness.
· If your pan is sticky to the touch before cooking, or food sticks with good (iron) cooking technique, it wasn't properly seasoned.
Common seasoning issues:
· The most common mistake is to follow our seasoning instructions, but apply the oil too thickly so it can't harden into a strong, hard deep seasoning, and the surface stays 'tacky'.
· The seasoning times were too short. Bake each layer for at least 1.5-2 hours for soy bean or rice bran oils if oven seasoning. Some other oils will take much longer, and may never work. Wait for a lot of smoke with the stove top method before turning the heat off.
· The seasoning temperature was too low (bake the seasoning layers at 250C or higher).
· It takes time to build up good seasoning, and most cooks new to cast iron expect too much, too soon. Even after our recommended pre-seasoning layers, the pan won't be at its best until it's seen a lot of cooking with fatty meats (or vegetables cooked with good oils), and washing care has been good. If possible, start with 'easy' foods to build up the nonstick properties of the seasoning: fatty meats.
· Incorrect cleaning can also erode a lot of the good seasoning work. Follow our cleaning instructions above to protect your seasoning.
· But don't worry, incorrect seasoning can be fixed: we recommend stripping away as much of the tacky seasoning as you can (preferably all), scraping with tools and scrubbing with scourers and soap - whatever it takes - then restart the seasoning process, per our instructions, with very a thin oil layer each oven run. For ultimate in hard seasoning base, do multiple seasoning runs with very thin oil shine at high temp (2-3 oven runs + a lot of stove top seasoning), and this will almost guarantee you a hard and tough nonstick seasoning.
· Remember: seasoning on bare iron is forever renewable and only improves over time, with a little of the right maintenance. We believe very strongly that this effort is far preferable to disposable synthetic nonstick pans, with their low temperature limits and (alleged) toxins issues.
Q: Someone scrubbed my pan with soap and left it wet (or, horror, put it in dishwasher), and now it's rusty. Is it ruined?
· If a little rust appears anytime, first scrub off the rust with a scouring pad or brush until clean, dry thoroughly, then put the pan through at least one seasoning cycle (see 'Well-seasoned' above)."
· Best thing of all: you didn't hurt the pan. Mistakes with synthetic coated pans (eg. overheating, scrubbing with harsh tools) usually mean disposal. Iron pans go on for centuries and the nonstick only gets better, with a little care, and the care is easy once you've seen how.
· See our complete restoration of a lightly rusted AUSfonte pan: www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIU1_pHAxcU The same principles apply for AUS-ION, just finish up with a lot of stove top seasoning if possible after 2 or 3 oven runs.
Q: I'm surprised my AUSfonte pan isn't perfectly smooth to the appearance. Should it have all those 'pits' in the surface?
· AUSfonte pans were developed for expert cooks who understand bare seasoned cast iron, and take the time to learn why our pans have the (expensive) extra benefit of a sanded-smooth cooking surface.....or for anyone who's willing to learn and reap the benefits!
· If your pan surface looks something like the one below - and every casting will look slightly different - it's perfect!
· The sanding process contrasts the bare metal of the removed tops of the sand-cast surface with the as-cast divets. This optical illusion of roughness disappears after more seasoning and cooking.
· We are the only production cast iron manufacturer to machine-sand our cooking surface smooth to greatly improve the nonstick properties after it's well-seasoned.
· Feel the cooking surface of our AUSfonte pans and compare with the as-cast side walls, or with any other cast iron brand. That's why we go to the considerable expense and effort, even if it isn't always understood at first. You're welcome ;-)
· For much more background/tech detail, please click here.
MORE RESOURCES FOR THE IRON COOKING ENTHUSIAST:
More science-based advice:
We're very good mechanical engineers, but not bio-chemists, so we aren't qualified to give detailed advice on the chemistry behind seasoning and cooking. Remember that our recommended methods are only one of many good ways to season iron pans. Both Solidteknics ranges, AUS-ION and AUSfonte , and all the millions of (good) iron pans are made from the same material - iron, so seasoning instructions are interchangeable.
More info on oils for seasoning:
Cooking and seasoning two totally different chemistry situations, with seasoning being a polymerisation process which depends on release of free radicals.....bad for cooking food in, but no problem for seasoning because it's all burnt off and turned hard and safe after high-temp seasoning, and a great and safe nonstick surface for cooking on. The best oils for seasoning are actually the ones that do release a lot of free radicals to create the hard and tough polymerised seasoning layer, and the best indication of this ability is high iodine count: http://thesoapdish.com/oil-properties-chart.htm
Contrast the seasoning oils info with modern and science-based cooking oil info: very different situations! http://authoritynutrition.com/healthy-cooking-oils/
We still think it is good in theory, but we no longer recommend flaxseed oil, simply because it can be 'flaky' and frustrating for beginners. It can give the best, hardest gloss, though, if you do it right, so if you're interested here's a link to the best science-based cast iron seasoning advice: http://sherylcanter.com/wordpress/2010/01/a-science-based-technique-for-seasoning-cast-iron/
If you're still having trouble after following our advice:
Most Australian's aren't very familiar with iron kitchen cooking, so we're working hard to spread the news about good seasoning, cleaning, and cooking methods. We want Aussies to know about the health benefits, cooking benefits, and natural safe nonstick performance of well-seasoned bare iron. Did you know over 3 million cast iron skillets are sold in the USA every year, for example, and (almost) all those cooks are happy and not going back to synthetic nonstick? We don't have those numbers in Australia, but we want Aussie cooks to know what they know!
If you've tried and still you find our resources aren't working for you, we recommend using Google and YouTube to find the high quality iron cookware resources out there. There's a lot of obsolete info out there, but some of our recommendations are:
Jeff Rogers, 'The Culinary Fanatic': A well-known American cast iron and low carbon steel pan enthusiast and expert, with great advice on his blogs and YouTube channel. www.youtube.com/user/TheCulinaryFanatic
Cast Iron Cooking: With 200,000+ members, this is THE site to get your cast iron info. Join the group so you can post questions: you'll get a ton of answers! Also post your cooking triumphs and help spread the word about the new Australian cast iron cookware industry. Search 'Cast Iron Cooking' on Facebook, or try this link to their really excellent FAQs page: https://www.facebook.com/notes/cast-iron-cooking/faq-frequently-asked-questions/860490870701416
Iron Cooking Australia: new and much smaller, and without the FAQs, but a great group of like-minded iron cooking enthusiasts: www.facebook.com/groups/172942786374489/
Solidteknics Cookware Users: not affiliated with us, but also run by Jeff Rogers, this is a great place to get extra advice from real Solidteknics pan users: www.facebook.com/groups/solidteknicsusers/
We're here to help!
If all else fails, and you've had a genuine go at following our instructions, and tried other experts' methods, please don't make a social media post, please email our experts directly: email@example.com .....we are very happy to help! If necessary we'll talk you through the seasoning/washing issues on the phone to ensure you're as happy as the tens of thousands of other SOlidteknics pan fans, and millions of other iron/steel pan fans around the world!