Author Topic: seasoning color, when does it happen for you?  (Read 1886 times)

Offline Lewis Downey

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seasoning color, when does it happen for you?
« on: January 22, 2018, 03:48:25 PM »
I hope to experiment with a bit, but my seasoning rarely gets darker inside of the oven. If anything it seems to lighten a little bit. I always apply the seasoning to hot iron. At some point I hope to compare by applying the oil to cold iron.

The pictures below illustrate this phenomena.

There will be several pictures across about 3 posts. This is a piece I am cleaning for a local collector.

The first pic is the piece cleaned to bare metal. The next two are the seasoned kettle. Two subsequent posts will show the kettle in the oven.

Offline Lewis Downey

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Re: seasoning color, when does it happen for you?
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2018, 03:55:07 PM »
The first pic shows the kettle after being baked without any oil for an hour or longer.  The oven temp was around 460 degrees F - just above the estimated 450-degree smoke point for Crisco shortening.

The second pic shows the pot after oil was applied outside of the oven and then wiped off. The the pot is about to be baked  at 460 degrees for about 2 hours.

The third pic shows the pot after it was baked for two hours.

Offline Lewis Downey

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Re: seasoning color, when does it happen for you?
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2018, 04:01:05 PM »
First pic is the second round of seasoning after the oil was applied to the hot pan.

Second pic is after the second of seasoning for about 2 hours around 260 460 degree F.  (edited to correct temperature typo, thanks Brian!)

Third pic is after a third application of Crisco was applied but before the pan was baked. In most cases I only season  two rounds. This piece went a third round for no particular reason.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2018, 07:28:50 PM by Lewisland »

Offline Lewis Downey

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Re: seasoning color, when does it happen for you?
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2018, 04:05:29 PM »
First pic is immediately after the third round of seasoning, while the iron is still hot.

Second pic is after the pan has cooled overnight.

It may be hard to tell by comparing these pictures but the pan is not darkening in the oven.

I am curious if that is your experience also?

Offline Brian Vick

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Re: seasoning color, when does it happen for you?
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2018, 06:15:03 PM »
Lewis,
1st your oven is too clean LOL ;)
2nd why drop the temp to 265F I keep mine at 485F THROUGH ALL SEASONING ROUNDS USUALLY 3 FOR 1.5 HOURS EACH I use canola oil.
neat looking piece by the way
OB ;D

Offline Lewis Downey

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Re: seasoning color, when does it happen for you?
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2018, 09:50:34 PM »
Hey Brian,

Two quick questions for you.
1 - Do you apply the oil to iron while it is warm or hot?
2 - Have you noticed whether your iron darkens in the oven after it has been oiled.

I'm guessing if the oil is applied to metal that is significantly below the oil's smoke point it darkens in the oven, but if it is applied to hot iron oil tends to darken immediately and might not continue to darken in the oven.

I like canola oil and use it sometimes, especially in spray form on complicated surfaces. I also use grapeseed oil. In the past I have probably tried 10 or 12 different oils and just settled on Crisco as a primary choice.  I'm beginning to experiment with combinations, like a base layer of grapeseed oil and a second layer of Crisco shortening or vice versa. I have not been able to draw good conclusions from the small number of informal tests involved.

Thanks for noticing the temp. in my post. That was a typo - now corrected to 460 degrees.

Offline Brian Vick

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Re: seasoning color, when does it happen for you?
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2018, 01:38:47 PM »
Lewis,
I let the piece reach 485F then apply the oil sets off the smoke alarm every time but it darkens even more in the oven AND I have the burns to prove it LOL I use mitts and welders gloves.

Offline Lewis Downey

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Re: seasoning color, when does it happen for you?
« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2018, 01:45:00 PM »
Thanks! That is very similar to my routine, except that my pieces rarely get darker in the oven. I had noticed that detail many times but it only struck me as odd recently.

I wonder what the difference is. I'll try raising the temp and seasoning a piece with straight canola oil to see if anything changes.


Offline Herman Gagne

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Re: seasoning color, when does it happen for you?
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2018, 02:07:21 PM »
Lewis,
In days gone by, I picked up pieces that had been blasted or scrubbed to the point of being "light grey"; the black was gone.
On all these pieces, they only turned brown instead of black.
I then realised that oils will turn brown when heated, but not black. Your pieces have to be black  to achieve a nice black finish.
You can try 2 different pieces, one black, one grey, with the same oil; you'll see what I mean.
I always season at 500 degrees for 40 minutes, then let it cool on it's own; I've had excellent results that way.
By the way, the first coat of oil is on cold metal, the second goes on as soon as I can handle it. I really don't think it makes any difference, at least, I've never seen any.
Your pot looks grey on the top picture, and I think this is where the problem is.
I've had pieces in the past that were grey, and I used gun blue to darken them, then seasoned it, and it turned out great.
Good luck.

Offline Lewis Downey

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Re: seasoning color, when does it happen for you?
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2018, 04:03:37 PM »
Herman thank you for your insights.

I'll read about gun blueing a bit; is it food safe? How do we know? I am not sure about its long term effect on the underlying metal -- maybe it protects the metal, but how do we know? I am a half-prone to a conservators' perspective and have not read of conservators using gun blue on cast iron. Tannic acid, yes, but gun blue has not showed up in my research yet. I expect to be slow to move in that direction but would like to see pictures of some of your pieces. If you have reference material about the process that would be appreciated too.

Yes in the top picture the pot was grey. I pretty much always clean to bare metal, which is predictably grey. The seasoned piece turned out dark grey, not as black as my mother's skillets but nice and dark. I doubt it will ever be used again, so it is unlikely to darken more due to use. Using a pan seems to be *the* great way to turn it black. If you happen to see that little kettle in real life you'll recognize that it is not jet black, but you probably won't be bothered by its color.

What I am asking about in this thread is the timing of the color change in the seasoning process. Does your cast iron actually darken when you season it in the oven?  If so, do you apply oil when the pan is hot, warm, or cold?  Mine darkens when the oil is applied to hot iron, before it goes in the oven. Mine generally does not darken more while it is inside of the oven. This seems a little odd, and I'm hoping to gain insights into the way seasoning works for others. Thanks!
« Last Edit: January 23, 2018, 10:46:05 PM by Lewisland »

Offline Herman Gagne

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Re: seasoning color, when does it happen for you?
« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2018, 02:58:13 PM »
Lewis,
I have no idea if gun blue is safe on cookware, I'd refrain from using it; I've only used it on ashtrays,  stove keys, and odd cast iron pieces like lamp bases.
I believe the color changes occur once the oil has reached a certain high temp. Different oils "smoke" at different temps.
And I also believe it make no difference when the oil is applied, cold, hot, or in between. The point is to get it to 450-500 degrees.
Again, the "seasoning" occurs at the instant of getting to the smoking point or thereabout. My first coat results in a somewhat flat black, much the same as before, because the oil penetrates in the pores of the metal; the second coat stays more on the surfaces, giving a nice semi gloss finish.
From my experience, all oils turn a shade of brown when heated enough, but on black cast iron, you can't see that brown.
Everyone has different methods of seasoning, but the basic principle remains the same: get the oil to the smoke point, and you're in business. One trick however is to wipe off the oil real good before putting it in the oven, otherwise you'll get a blotchy finish...
Good luck

Offline Fritz Neuhauser

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Re: seasoning color, when does it happen for you?
« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2019, 12:43:04 PM »
This is an interesting thread. I'm still a little new to the CI world, so  I did not know that "jet black" was the color goal of CI. I have restored ten pieces so far, skillets, Ableskiver pans, and two french roll pans, and when I'm finished with the two seasonings, They tend to be a very dark, rich chocolatey brown, which I find to be very attractive on my wall next to some black pieces I've purchased and not restored. Is there an unspoken rule that CI must be "jet black" to be considered perfect? :-/ That is a real question, I would like to know. I will still prefer the deep, dark brown color and I don't plan on selling them.

Offline Russell Ware

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Re: seasoning color, when does it happen for you?
« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2019, 08:22:16 PM »
The color of your iron should be a color you can live with. Color is going to be dictated by the oil you use. What oil are you using?

Offline Greg Stahl

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Re: seasoning color, when does it happen for you?
« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2019, 09:33:22 PM »
Quote
This is an interesting thread. I'm still a little new to the CI world, so  I did not know that "jet black" was the color goal of CI. I have restored ten pieces so far, skillets, Ableskiver pans, and two french roll pans, and when I'm finished with the two seasonings, They tend to be a very dark, rich chocolatey brown, which I find to be very attractive on my wall next to some black pieces I've purchased and not restored. Is there an unspoken rule that CI must be "jet black" to be considered perfect? :-/ That is a real question, I would like to know. I will still prefer the deep, dark brown color and I don't plan on selling them.
There are about as many seasoning methods and oils as there are opinions on how it should be done.  Bottom line is this, do what you like, what makes you happy and forget about what anyone else says.  Over the years, I changed from one thing to another and back again. I was happy all the time, but looked for better ways to skin the rabbit. 

If you like it......it is MARVELOUS!!!!

One thing to note, some older cast iron has more of a gray finish to it when you strip it down, sort of what the first pictures showed.  These pieces seldom get anywhere near the color of cast iron from Griswold and Wagner in the 20-40's.  The cast iron is different.
"NO MORE MISTER NICE GUY!!" Alice Cooper.