Seasoning is basically ‘build your own’ natural non-stick, and it is the reason why bare iron (or low carbon steel) cookware can become naturally non-stick without toxic and/or disposable synthetic coatings. It also helps iron cookware resist corrosion. Seasoning involves a process called polymerisation whereby oil and fat is transformed by heat and bonds to the iron, creating a natural, non-toxic and non-stick surface that you build and maintain yourself over time and can renew whenever required. A well seasoned pan is black in colour and performs very well as a non-stick cooking surface that gets better with time, cooking and appropriate care.
Seasoned iron is the only known non-toxic and forever-renewable non-stick. All other non-sticks are made with toxic and/or disposable synthetic coatings.
Seasoning will help you achieve your desired level of natural non-stick. It keeps renewing as you cook with fats and oils, so long as you are careful with washing. AUS-ION™ pans season exactly like cast iron (or carbon steel skillets and woks). It is very easy to 'build your own', if you follow our instructions (below), or find your own seasoning ritual, as the many millions of people around the world using seasoned iron already know. We recommend a combination of oven seasoning (for corrosion resistance) and stovetop seasoning (to more quickly build the non-stick cooking surface) for all AUS-ION™ pans.
Build Your Own seasoned, non-stick skillet, and cook with a surface you can trust. From bare iron, you can easily develop and maintain you own non-toxic, forever-renewable, natural seasoning. There is nothing new about seasoning - it’s been done since the age of iron - but we do have some important tips if you want to maximize your skillet’s low-stick ability and corrosion resistance
For AUS-ION™ seasoning instructions, read below;
This initial step is for AUS-ION™ RAW pans only (skip this step for AUS-ION™ ‘SATIN’ pans)
In the below video we show our 'best practice' method of achieving the most effective all natural, non-toxic, non-stick for SOLIDTEKNICS AUS-ION™ RAW smooth wrought iron pans (wrought in one rivetless solid piece, and half the weight of cast iron). This method also works very well for any smooth steel/iron pan, like French steel pans and steel woks.
1. Before seasoning can begin you will need to* remove the protective natural beeswax coating via one of the two recommended methods below (a or b):
a. Melt and wipe: Preheat your oven to 80°C / 180° F (no hotter as beeswax is potentially flammable over 100°C/210° F). Place your pan upside down in the oven on a tray lined with greaseproof paper to catch drips, and heat for 10 minutes or until the beeswax has melted. Carefully remove your pan from the oven (with thick gloves/cloth – HOT!), and place on a heat-resistant surface. Wipe the pan all over with a cotton or tough paper towel to remove as much of the melted wax as possible. Or, alternatively:
b. Pour boiling water all over the pan to strip the wax. Do this outside to avoid getting wax down your drain and please be careful!
2. Once your pan is wax-free the next recommended step is to ‘Key’, or roughen the surface all over to make a better micro topography for seasoning to bond to. This isn’t essential, but it can greatly improve the evenness and strength of the initial seasoning foundation layers. Abrasive pads are best for this purpose, and you can use fine sandpaper (400 or 600 grit), or fine steel wool to rough up the entire surface, including the base and handle. Don’t worry, you can’t damage AUS-ION™ - this scouring will only provide the seasoning with a better ‘grip’.
*Don’t worry about the wax! Removing all wax is only necessary if you want to follow our recommendation for scuffing the surface all over. Our non-toxic natural beeswax is entirely safe, and can actually help with seasoning (there are many very good seasoning sticks made from a mix of beeswax and oil, and we love them). If you would like to try this method, simply heat the pan to 80°C / 180° F and wipe most of the beeswax off while you’re mixing in a light amount of your preferred oil and polishing all over until there is no visible oil. The very smooth machine-wrought finish is more sensitive than a scuffed surface to anchoring seasoning, so you need to use less oil on a preheated pan to avoid spotting/streaking. Continue with the same steps as Satin below.
3. Now you can continue with the same seasoning steps as AUS-ION™ ‘SATIN' below.
Oven seasoning for AUS-ION™ ‘SATIN’ and prepared AUS-ION™ RAW cookware:
1. Preheat your pan/s in the oven to 90°C / 200° F for 15 minutes.
2. Carefully remove from the oven (with thick gloves/cloth – HOT!), and place on a heat-resistant surface.
3. With a cotton, linen (or any lint-free natural fabric) or tough paper towel, wipe rice bran oil (recommended), seed oil, canola oil, ghee or shortening over the ENTIRE pan very thinly, so the surface appears polished only (wipe on, then wipe off , leaving only a residue). Too much oil is a very common mistake, the pan will look like there is no oil left on the surface, but be assured there is (the pan should look dry, not glistening with oil). Polishing the oil on while the pan is hot is the best way to avoid using too much. Even if you think you applied very little, cold oil will soon run and bead up when pan is heated. Too much oil is one of the most common causes of weak, sticky, flaking or otherwise problematic seasoning (when the oil is too thick to properly transform/polymerise into hard inert seasoning, it will leave weak sticky patches).
Place skillet/s upside down in oven for 1.5 hours.
4. Turn oven up to 250°C / 480° F, and Place skillet upside down in the oven for 1.5 - 2 hours.
5. Switch off the heat and leave the skillet to cool in the oven for at least 30 minutes, or ideally overnight, before opening the door.
6. Repeat above steps two - three, or more times, if possible, to establish the best seasoning foundation for corrosion resistance, and further stove top seasoning.
Our Solidteknics AUS-ION™ ‘Satin’ pans do come lightly pre-seasoned, but they need further seasoning after purchase to avoid rust and maximize the natural non-stick you can build yourself with simple seasoning and washing maintenance. Here we will show around 10 minutes of stovetop seasoning action sped up to show you how easy it really is. A well seasoned pan is black and you will see your pan naturally darken before your eyes as progressive layers of seasoning are applied.
1. Heat skillet slowly to hot on your stovetop (remembering that you don’t need a high stovetop heat to get a hot iron pan*), drop in a teaspoon of one of the seasoning oils mentioned above in step 6 and wipe the inside surfaces with a paper towel (held in tongs for safety).
2. Continue wiping for 20 seconds as the skillet smokes.
3. Oil should be a very thin polish - no pools or lumps.
4. Remove from heat and cool for at least 1 minute.
5. Repeat this process for 10-15 minutes over two or more sessions, until the base is black, slick and oil repellent, or until you are satisfied with the pan’s non-stick performance.
SOLIDteknics founder/engineer in Paris cooking with old food friends, led by Paule Caillat of Promenades Gourmandes. Paule had a new pan she wanted seasoned in a hurry, so Mark took care of that with the chef's stove-top seasoning method while everyone cooked.
You will now have a great foundation, but it's only the start.... don’t expect perfect non-stick from the beginning, particularly with delicate foods like eggs and fish. As with all the best iron skillets, yours will only get better with time!
1. While seasoning, use your oven extractor fans on high and open the windows - make sure you have enough ventilation going to avoid breathing smoke and setting off the smoke detectors!
2. If your seasoned skillet is sticky to the touch after seasoning, this is an indication that either too much oil or not enough heat/time was applied. Repeat the oven seasoning instructions above to help remedy.
3. * Avoid overheating your iron pan on the stovetop while it is empty, and allow it to cool adequately between seasoning layers. While stovetop seasoning and cooking it is important that the burner is well matched to the pan size. Iron naturally expands when heated and although our pans are carefully designed with the correct amount of concave to compensate for that movement, there may be uneven movement if you are using large pans on small, high powered / high temperature burners when the centre of the pan will move a lot more than the outer edges. There may also be issues if an empty pan is left on high heat for too long and such misuse can lead to warping or deformation of the base.
4. Similarly, induction cooktops can put out a lot of heat instantly. Just as you should not put a hot pan under cold water, you should not expose a cold pan to intense, instantaneous stovetop heat (ovens are a different matter as the pan will heat uniformly). It is necessary to slowly heat pans for stovetop use, as well as correctly matching burner size to pan size, or the metal can potentially be warped (causing pans to either become spinners or excessively concave). We recommend warming on a lower temperature before turning up the heat, and never using anything higher than a medium setting with induction for iron cookware which is very conductive. Far better is to spend a little more time slowly pre-heating your pan on a lower temperature until it is hot.
Old-school seasoning while you cook: Continue to build your non-stick, natural, seasoning foundation by cooking with fats/oils.
Boiling liquids and acidic foods like tomato, lemon juice and vinegar can all erode oil based seasoning. To remedy, repeat the seasoning processes above as required. Natural seasoning is forever-renewable.
Instructional video for recommended cleaning methods for AUS-ION steel pans. See related YouTube video for seasoning instructions and the Solidteknics website for written instructions: www.solidteknics.com/ion
1. After cooking, run the skillet under hot water.
2. Never place in a dishwasher - these skillets are for hand-washing only.
3. Use a wooden or steel scraper to remove food residue. No soap needed! Use a brush if necessary though be careful with the beautiful black seasoning you have achieved!
4. Wipe with a towel or paper cloth to dry while the skillet is still warm.
5. Place skillet on stove top and turn heat on low for a final dry if needed. Ensure that your pan is completely dry before storing it away.
If you’ve washed your pan and you are drying it out on the stove, why not do a single stove top season while you’re at it? That’s a great way to quickly build up or replenish your seasoning as you go.
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.
1. Once a pan is well-seasoned, cleaning can be as easy as wiping out with a paper towel.
2. If your pan develops rust spots, gently scrub them away. Keep cooking or spend a few minutes stove top seasoning as per the instructions above.
3. If your seasoning works a little too hard with acidic foods or high heat, you may notice some dark residue on your towel when cleaning. This is perfectly safe and normal and will go away with regular use and care. We recommend the use of a dedicated ‘iron pan’ tea towel that you don’t mind getting a bit dirty - or use paper towels.
4. Enjoy the pride in building your own healthy, natural, non-stick, innovative 100% Australian-made iron skillet!
We don't want you to miss all the fun going on in our wonderful Solidteknics Cookware Lovers (private) Facebook Group Community: lots of cooking, recipes, and advice for anyone new to cooking with our highly conductive seamless iron and stainless steel cookware.
Join us and get into the solid spirit even before you get your pans! www.facebook.com/groups/solidteknicsusers
Contact the Solidteknics Australian team via email email@example.com if you have any questions! Happy Cooking!
Please don't expect Teflon™! Seasoned iron is superior in every way that really counts (health and sustainability), but will never be quite as slick or easy to wash as synthetic-coated pans even when perfectly seasoned. It will take a little maintenance and you will quickly develop your own flow. 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 when it comes to sustainable, non-toxic, natural non-stick!
See real life Solidteknics pans below from the home collection of our founder/engineer, MJ Henry, using the same methods detailed in the above 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 the same, the two AUSfonte cast iron pans (a range that has since been discontinued) on the top right aren't used quite as much as the AUS-ION skillets, and generally aren't used for acidic sauces, so they have been 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 non-stick convenience, this is healthy, sustainable forever-renewable non-stick that you are responsible for yourself and can always renew if/when required. It is also a great source of pride for cooks who know they will pass on these heirloom pans, as well as the skills and love for healthy cooking, to many future generations.
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?
FAQs are addressed here toward the bottom of this page.
Email our experts directly with photos and a 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 the right 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.
We would appreciate it if you please refrain from making frustrated social media posts before trying all of the above, and before 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 against impossible odds. We expect our customers to trust that we know what we’re doing, and so do the millions of iron pan users all around the world. Please do trust that we will help you 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. That’s very uncool! Please be patient and fair, and we guarantee to turn your personal seasoning issue into iron cooking triumph. You will have learned a new skill that means you can maintain your non-toxic non-stick iron pan for your whole life, then hand it down for many future generations of cooking love. It’s worth it! If you give up too early you will instead necessarily revert to disposing of imported non-stick pans that don’t last: potentially exposing yourself to a lot of toxic fumes, landfill and wasted resources many many times over the course of one lifetime. We firmly believe that zero waste and healthy non-toxic cooking in the same pan for generations is well worth the initial effort and learning curve that everyone new to iron cookware inevitably goes through (then forgets)! ♥ ♥
Preheat: Before food is placed in the pan, ensure it is preheated to the correct temperature (remember, you don’t need a high stovetop heat to get a hot iron pan, iron is very conductive). 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. 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 size: 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 bit longer before adding the oil. Do it like the chefs: quickly sear to seal and brown, then transfer the pan to the oven to finish baking and retain the juices. A hot, well-seasoned pan 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 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 .
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 to 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.
Induction warping: Our iron pans are so efficient with induction that heat can become too concentrated in the middle, particularly when mismatching induction ring size to pan size. Because our AUS-ION wrought iron pans are so efficient on induction, there is rarely any need to go above medium power settings. Small rings and high power can certainly warp any pan, and though ours are tougher than most, it is possible to ruin your pan through warping. The issues can be exaggerated with some high power or very centrally-focused induction. Like other situations of 'abuse', warped pans from overheating on induction are not covered under our warranty.
Lid security: Please note that our style of lid seal is not 'locking' so please be careful. The lid could slide off the base if both sets of handles are not held. This is particularly important when removing a HOT combination of base and lid from the oven. Remove the lid first and set aside before removing the base containing the food. Furthermore, the combination is potentially 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 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.
If the seasoning on your pan is sticky, this is a sign of excess oil building up and not fully converting to seasoning (too much oil, not enough heat or not enough time exposed to the correct heat). To remedy this, place the cookware in the oven, upside down on the top rack and bake at 250° C degrees for 1.5 hours. Allow to cool and repeat if necessary.
Occasionally when your seasoning works a little too hard with acidic foods or really high heat, you may notice some dark residue on your towel when cleaning. This is perfectly safe and normal, and will go away with regular use and care. If your pan develops rust, gently scrub it away and you can either keep cooking or spend a few minutes stove top seasoning as per the instructions above.
Enjoy the pride in building your own healthy natural nonstick on an innovative AUS-ION pan that will last for many generations, with a little of this kind of care.
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