I'm trying to make an informed decision as to which oil is best to use for cast iron seasoning. I've read all kinds of conflicting information online and the only consistency seems to be that seasoning involves polymerization of fatty chains.

This explains the formation of the coating itself, but I'm interesting in choosing the oil that is least likely to separate from the cast iron surface. So my question is this:

What is the chemical (or physical) reaction (or process) which is responsible for the adhesion between the polymerized oil and the surface of a cast iron pan? Is it different from that of unpolymerized oil?

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    $\begingroup$ Giving it some thought, pre-polymerization, we're probably talking about the process of wetting. So what happens when the fluid polymerizes into a semi or total solid? I can't help but notice similarities between this process and glue. $\endgroup$ Feb 4, 2019 at 2:13

1 Answer 1


Thank you for asking this question. As a French, I am 200+% obsessed with food, cooking and every dish my grandma was cooking for the family. I am also an organic chemist so I don't buy the "everyday bullshit" (if that makes sense).

My first (personal) remark would be that if there were a way to quickly season a cast iron pan, every manufacture would use it and build its reputation on that.

This brings me to a more physical/chemical remark: (1) seasoning cast iron takes time ; (2) many different fats are recommended, from pork fat (low in unsaturated fat) to olive oil (high in unsaturated fat). But only unsaturated fat can polymerize.

Overall, that points to something else, which is that burnt fat would play a major role in seasoning. Burning fat will create carbon (which iron cast contains) and aromatic compounds (from Maillard's reactions) which have affinity for carbon.

As a whole, I would suggest you to cook in this/those pan(s) as often as you can and deglaze it to make some sauce as we do in French cuisine.


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