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Sticky cast iron


Joined: Aug 09, 2010
Posts: 1
So I read the article about cast iron cookware.  I have several pans that I inherited.  One of them is a griddle type, flat cast iron pan.  I seasoned it, but it has a sticky residue.  I read that sometimes the sticky residue is the way seasoning starts out.  so what do I do about it?  Try to remove it?  Continue to cook on it?? Any advice or ideas?
Jami McBride

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 1869
From my experience, sticky residue only leads to problems . . . .

I would try a fast-clean first to see if that was enough to remove it.  Heat, warming the pan on your stove top, and a quarter size drop of oil, and using a scrubbing tool (I use a copper metal scrubber) light scrub until all the oil and gunk is lifted and moving.  Then wipe your pan clean with some paper towels. 

If you had a good season on the pan it will still be intact, if not your pan will dry to a light grey as the 'sticky' was all you had going for ya.  So you'll want to season your pan again in this case.

If this only removes part of the sticky - then you will need to bake off any left over residue in a very hot oven.  Place your wiped clean pan up side down in your oven, set at it highest temp and once it reaches temp time it for one hour.  When one hour is over turn off your oven but do not open the door, leave it alone for another hour to cool.  There will be some smoking as the old gunk burns off so you may want to open a window or use a fan.

Follow this by re-seasoning.

Tips: I've found that vegetable oils tend to leave a sticky residue when heated and left on a pan.  Because of this I've rendered my own lard from grass-fed beef fat and I now mix my oils - coconut, sunflower and olive with my lard, seems to work real well.  If I cannot mix and have to use only vegetable oils I completely clean my pan after each use.  Leaving no heated oil behind.  This too has helped.  Adding understanding of oil and their use to using a pans with a good hard seasoning has eliminated all my cast iron sticky problems.

I hope this helps, good luck!
Ran Prieur

Joined: Jun 01, 2010
Posts: 66
Location: Spokane and near Diamond Lake, WA
It works like this: heat turns oil to stickiness, and more heat turns stickiness to good seasoning. If the sticky residue is thick, then you'll want to remove it the way the other comment described. If the residue is very thin, all you have to do is heat the empty pan. 450 in the oven should be hot enough. The oven is safer because the stove can get hot enough to burn it off completely. In any case, don't cook on sticky.

Here's a very good blog post on cast iron:

Brice Moss

Joined: Jul 28, 2010
Posts: 700
Location: rainier OR
yep the one thing Paul's article there don't say about cast iron is that if you learned to cook on the thin nonstick crap that so many people use nowadays you're gonna need to learn to heat the pan up a lil more before you put food into it
Jami McBride

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 1869
However, you do not want to heat oils up to there smoke points and then eat them.

This is were seasoning begins - at oil heated past the smoke point, so cooking with oil and seasoning with oil are two very different processes.

Here is a how to post with a smoke point chart at the end http://gnowfglins.com/2010/03/12/how-to-season-cast-iron/ ; and there are smoke point charts on wikipedia also.
Brenda Groth

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
you may find when you first start using a cast iron pan that it might still be a bit sticky and might set off your smoke alarms..but that will soon be behind you if you continue to use it.

my suggestion for getting a pan really well seasoned is cook bacon and eggs in it for a week..the first few days it might stick or smoke a little but after a couple days you'll have the best bacon and eggs with no sticking


Bloom where you are planted.

Joined: Aug 24, 2010
Posts: 2
I appreciate all the info you're passing on!
I'm hoping you'll pass on a bit more...
I have a 25-year old Wagner skillet that I got on the recommendation of my daughter's pediatrician who said she needed more iron. I used it for years without knowing much about cast iron, but nothing stuck to it. And then -- something did. I couldn't get it off, so I stashed the pan for a number of years. I've recently tried to revive it. Scrubbed it down to bare metal. The advice I initially found on the internet said to use canola oil in a 350 over. (I know, I know...) The pan became sticky to the touch, but not really "gunk." This morning, I found this site and decided to fry some eggs and see what happened. They didn't stick at all -- so I became hopeful. Still, I want to get it right -- Do I take it down to bare metal again now and re-season at a high temp? Or can I cook bacon and eggs for a while and see what happens?
Jami McBride

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 1869
Give the bacon and eggs a go.  I would warm the pan up first and wipe out as much of the vegetable based oil as you can.  I've even had bacon stick in a pan I had used coconut oil in.

Use the salt crystals trick and save your bacon drippings.  If you run into problems later on you can always back up and burn off (at high oven temp) the old-gunk, and reapply new seasoning.

Let us know how it goes.....

Joined: Aug 24, 2010
Posts: 2
Thanks so much!
Bacon and eggs it is.
My husband will be soooo happy!
Will let you know how it works out.

Joined: May 02, 2009
Posts: 262
Location: Coast Range, Oregon--the New Magic Land
plus me on the bacon fat, either cooking bacon or rubbing it with lard and seasoning it in the oven. there is something not right with the oil. the lard just works way better.

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Neal McSpadden

Joined: May 04, 2009
Posts: 269
The difference is probably that fully saturated fats like lard and tallow have higher burn (oxidation) points.

Check out my Primal Prepper blog where I talk about permaculture, prepping, and the primal lifestyle... all the time!
Brice Moss

Joined: Jul 28, 2010
Posts: 700
Location: rainier OR
butter works fine too

I keep a stick of butter in the fridge with half the wrapper left on the back
once i get the cast iron to cooking temp I smear it with the butter, that lets ven the most sticky stuff release well
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