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In the hotel industry many of the old style hotels would never purchase non stick pans, one reason was in the “old days” they did not exist and another was that for heavy usage they would never last long. They would get scratched, dented, burnt, broken, smashed and even stolen, so to avoid this they would make their own non stick variety that would be hardened, sturdy and last forever.

I have done this many times personally and this is how they do it:

When I was conducting my training there was no such thing as non stick pans and they would use cast iron, very heavy and durable pans which needed to be “seasoned” for them to be able to be non stick.

On receiving a new, straight from the supplier, cast iron frying pan or sautéing pan, we used to first place it on a solid top stove, empty with absolutely nothing inside and get it so hot that it would be smoking.

We would then place enough course sea salt in the smoking hot pan to cover its entire cooking surface until it was about 2cm thick. We would leave the hot pot on the stove with the salt and slowly burn and cook the pot with the salt inside. The salt will very slowly “cook” by smoking, burning and turning the salt very slowly to a dark brown colour.

We would then discard the salt in a bin, get a piece of cloth (a towel cloth like an old bath towel or face cloth) dip it in oil and wipe or rub the pot until the hot metal would absorb the oil making the pan shiny.

When the pan is smoking hot, we would them wipe the pan clean with another piece of kitchen towel and then proceed with the whole process all over again from the beginning.

After doing this 2 or 3 times the metal will have absorbed the oil making the metal very shiny, “seasoned” and have a homemade non stick effect. When you have done this you need to try out the pan by making an omelet, if the eggs stick, you have to start all over again until the pan cooks an omelet without the eggs sticking.

The act of “seasoning” the pan may take a few days, a week on more than a week, but it is definitely a loving care process.

It is VERY important to know that this kind of pan, once seasoned can never be washed in water; they are just wiped clean with a dry kitchen cloth or paper towel. Water and this type of non stick pan are worst enemies, washing the pan with soapy water will ensure that you have to start the whole process again from the very beginning.

Once any metal which includes a barbecue grill, pots and pans or skillets absorb enough oil and become seasoned, nothing will ever stick to them again if you take care of them.

Even when you are using a barbecuing grill, you must rub the grill irons with an oily cloth enough times to ensure the metal has absorbed it. The metal will look moist and shiny and no food will stick to this metal. If the bars are hot, very dry and dull, anything you add to this grill will immediately stick and when you pull away the food half of it will still be stuck to the grill bars and then burn.

Metal which is used for cooking needs to be seasoned with oil and this takes patience, time, tender loving care and lots of effort, but once you get the pan the way you want it, protect it with your life as you will be the envy of the chef community.

Happy Pan Seasoning!!

24 Responses to “Making a homemade non stick pan”

  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by chefstales: Making a homemade non stick pan; http://chefstales.com/2010/02/10/making-a-homemade-non-stick-pan/

  2. puppyguy says:

    i may never do this ,but i think the way is totally awesome!

    • Michael Saxon says:

      Hi there,

      The best part is, is that it actually works as I have done it many, many times.

      Warm regards,

      Mike.

  3. babe_kl says:

    Hi Mike,

    When you mentioned this para “When the pan is smoking hot, we would them wipe the pan clean with another piece of kitchen towel and then proceed with the whole process all over again from the beginning.”

    Does it mean to repeat from the salt part or just oiling part? Thanks.

    • patabcn says:

      Hi Mike,

      I have the same doubt as babe_kl. Could you please explain that part? Cheers!

    • Michael Saxon says:

      Hi Guys,

      Sorry about not getting back to you earlier.

      Unfortunately you have to start from the very beginning again with the salting of the metal.

      Making your own non stick pan out of a skillet is a love journey, but once you get there its fantastic.

      Once the pan is ready though, you can never wash it, you only wipe it clean with a damp cloth or paper kitchen towel.

      Enjoy the journey, when it is over you will feel like you have created something special and great!

      Warm regards,

      Mike.

    • Michael Saxon says:

      Hi Babe,

      I think your blog is fantastic.

      I would like to link yours to mine at http://chefstales.com/

      I am the GM of the E&O Hotel in Penang.

      Warm regards,

      Mike Saxon

  4. babe_kl says:

    Hi Mike, thanks for taking your time to reply my query. I’m still deciding which non-stick pan to get, perhaps this might be my answer to a great pan rather than those teflon stuff!

    Yes, Mike, funny I know who are you and I’ve been following your column in Flavours magazine :D just read about the new place at Micasa. Will put your link up as well at my blog and thanks for the compliments. It certainly have made my day haha

    • Michael Saxon says:

      Hi Babe,

      How nice of you to remember my articles in Flavours!

      I have linked my blog to yours, I am very happy with this arrangement.

      Sincere and warm regards,

      Mike

  5. That was an very interesting article! We use cast iron dutch ovens all the time when we camp. I have never heard of using Sea Salt in the seasoning process. I have a couple of Dutch ovens that need to be re-seasoned due to neglect. I will definitely try YOUR process. Thank you for sharing. Now is there a way to do this to my stainless Steel? I have a glass top stove at home and cannot use cast iron :-(

  6. Reeta Luthra says:

    Hi Mike

    I try and avoid teflon whenever I can so this article is right up my street.

    How long does it typically take the salt to burn and do you stir it while it’s “cooking”?

    • mikesaxon says:

      Hi Reeta,

      This is a very slow and loving process where the salt is slowly cooked and browned over a low heat.

      The salt will slowly “season” the metal over time and the pan will get better and better the more you endure the process.

      Some oil will seep out of the salt and then penetrate the porous metal making the metal softer and more non stick.

      It can take hours or even days to get the pan sorted out, but when you have it done its yours forever.

      Warm regards,

      Mike.

  7. Great idea -I have done something similar with a wok but obviously not using the salt – it would slide to the bottom!

  8. Found you thru twitter, well actually you found me first . lol
    I love my cast iron cookware , Ive had it for years and it never lets me down. Its so well seasoned it looks like a non stick pan now :) I do/did everything the same as you , except used considerably less salt. and usually clean it by boiling a cup of water in it them rinsing clean . I do however have to add a drop of oil back to the pan after that . Thanks for the tips, Im going to try it out on one if my smaller , less seasoned ones.

  9. Thank you for this post. My mimi, who is now passed, used to do something like this, but I would never have known how she did it. I’m going to follow your steps and season some pans.

    Thanks,
    Cynthia

  10. Scott says:

    This sounds great and I have read a similar technique for when buying a new wok. What I am a bit unsure of is the non cleaning part with water. Is it hygenic to only wipe it with kitchen towel? If it is then why am I washing roasting pans which never get clean!

    • GC says:

      Scott I have done this for over 30 years with my cast iron and woks. I always wash with hot (not boiling) water, drain and wipe. This does not damage the oil. For hygiene I heat the pan or wok before use and wipe with a paper towel if needed before putting in frying oil.

  11. Fiona says:

    Use this technique with woks and my cast iron pans. It works well have not washed my frying pan in 10yrs and nothing sticks to it. Nor have I poisoned anyone ;0).

  12. Scott says:

    Thanks for confirming that, Fiona. Will have to give it a try one day.

  13. Woah this blog is fantastic i like studying your posts. Keep up the good work! You realize, lots of individuals are hunting round for this info, you can help them greatly.

  14. David says:

    Hey Mike,
    beeing a non-stick pan fan, I just loved this post. My only question ist, does this work only on cast iron pans or can i use the same technique on a steel or stainless steel?
    thanks in advance

  15. david says:

    Hi what if you cook something pungent in pan or smelly like fish and then want to cook something delicate what about flavor transfer wont it transfer from old to new?

  16. Geoff says:

    You’re preaching to the converted here. I have a set of cast iron pans that I started in my 20′s. Better than any so called non stick pan, they cook better than any other pan and they will become heirlooms. However I disagree with you about water. Soap or detergent as said must NEVER touch the pan but I always rinse my pans with hot water. After cooking I run water into the pan and then rinse and brush under the hot tap. My old pans are testimony to this working well.

  17. GC says:

    You’re preaching to the converted here. I have a set of cast iron pans that I started in my 20′s. Better than any so called non stick pan, they cook better than any other pan and they will become heirlooms. However I disagree with you about not using water. Soap or detergent as said must NEVER touch the pan but I always rinse my pans with hot water. After cooking I run water into the pan and then rinse and brush under the hot tap. My old pans are testimony to this working well.

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