Carbon steel cookware can seem daunting at first, but with proper care it can become your go-to choice for a lighter-weight pan that can handle high heat (see: our Five Two Ultimate Carbon Steel Wok).
Prep for cooking: Many carbon steel pieces arrive with a thin coating of silicone wax over the surface to protect them before your first use. To remove, just wash with hot water and dry thoroughly. Now you can go ahead and cook!
Cleaning: After cooking, you’ve got a few options: Wipe down the inside of the pan with a dish cloth, or use hot water and a sponge. For tough stains or sticky bits, rub the surface with water and coarse salt. Always steer clear of soap, and never soak the pan or run through the dishwasher--this will erode the built-up nonstick coating (much like a cast iron pan). To prevent rusting, dry your pan thoroughly and rub the surface with a little oil before storing. Cooking with acidic ingredients (lemons, tomatoes…the usual suspects) could cause rust to form. If this happens, simply clean your pan and re-season it.
Re-seasoning: You’ll want to re-season your carbon steel pan occasionally to keep it in tip top shape. Here’s how: Heat your pan on the stove for a few minutes, then coat with a small amount of flavorless oil (vegetable or canola, if you please). Once it begins to smoke, drain and wipe well with a dry cloth. Repeat this step 2-3 times. To finish, let the pan cool down, then wash it with hot water and a sponge. Dry well and—you know the drill—coat with a little oil before storing.
Note: Discoloration is a normal part of the seasoning process, and it makes your pan more durable and nonstick by the day.