Can You Use Olive Oil to Season Cast Iron?

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A cast iron skillet is a great tool to add to your kitchen and it can be for years even decades to come — that is, if you take care of it properly, and the first thing that means is properly seasoning it. This is the process by which oil is heated up in the skillet to seal it, protecting it from rust as well as giving it a non-stick coating that will enhance its overall performance.

In this article, we will talk about the proper method to season your skillet as well as the oils that are recommended for the best results. Plus, as a bonus we will give three things that you should never do when dealing with cast iron. Let’s start with how to properly season your skillet.

How to Season a Cast Iron Skillet

A lot of the cast iron sold today in stores comes pre-seasoned, but it is always good to go through the process again just to make sure you get the best results possible. This process does take a little time but is a process that only needs to be done every now and then. Here is one of the methods that you can use to season your skillet:

  1. Heat up your cast iron pan for 10-15 minutes in an oven that has been heated up to 200-degrees Fahrenheit. This opens the pores of the material.
  2. Carefully remove the pan and then place 1 tablespoon of your chosen oil. Grab a paper towel and coat the entire interior of the skillet with a thin layer. Then take a new towel and thoroughly wipe the interior until all the extra oil is gone.
  3. Now return the skillet to the oven this time placing it upside down with a baking sheet below it to catch any drips that may occur. Raise the oven temp to the highest setting and then leave pan in the oven for an hour.
  4. Once the hour is up turn off the oven and let the skillet cool completely before removing
  5. Repeat the process until the skillet has a dark, smooth finish. (up to 5 times)
  6. You will notice that we did not give a specific oil to use and that is because that decision is up to you. There are many choices, but one of the most popular oils is not one of them!

Can You Use Olive Oil to Season Your Cast Iron?

One of the most popular oils to cook with is olive oil, but it is not a good fit for this purpose. Why? The answer lies in the smoke point. The smoke point is the temperature at which a given fat or oil begins to smoke and break down. Olive oil has a low smoke point, which is why you do not fry with it and since you seasoning process takes place in a super-hot oven you can see why using olive oil may not be advisable.

There are many choices that will be beneficial to the seasoning process. Fats or oils like soy, flaxseed, grapeseed oil or even sunflower oil are all great choices. Truly any oil or fat that has a high saturation level will work well with the process of seasoning.

So, olive oil is a no-no, but there are a few other things that should go on that list as well.

Other Things You Shouldn’t Do to Your Cast Iron Skillet…

These tips of things to stay clear of will keep that seasoning intact longer and make sure the life of that skillet is a long one.

Some things you should refrain from doing to your cast iron:

  • You do not want to take the chance that any water droplet gets into the pores of the pan. So, after you have finished cleaning it make sure to wipe it down thoroughly — do not let it air dry!
  • No chemical cleaning agents! Everyone washes dishes with soap and that is fine but if you want your seasoning to survive then staying away from any harsh chemicals is a must. Make sure to wash your skillet with only hot water and then use coarse sea salt to remove any food fragments left behind. Then rinse out wipe down with oil and let your oven dry it out.
  • Do not use metal utensils! Just like you do not want to use steel wool to clean it you also do not want to take a metal spatula to all that hard work you did when seasoning your skillet. Wooden or silicone cooking tools are a much better choice.

Final Thoughts

To answer the question can you use olive oil to season cast iron, the above information should help you. Though olive oil is not one of the oils that is a good choice for seasoning there are many other options for you. So, look at the suggestions above or look around you will find the right oil for you.

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