Why Is My Cast Iron Sticky After Seasoning? in 2023

A cast iron can last a lifetime with proper care. However, while most people know it requires seasoning, not all understand what you should do when the seasoning doesn’t turn out well or why it didn’t work.

You have probably noticed that the surface of your cast iron becomes sticky after seasoning. Read on to know why cast iron becomes sticky and how to prevent it.

Why Is My Cast Iron Sticky After Seasoning?

If you own a cast iron, there are chances that you have your hand in the cast iron and notice it’s sticky or gummy. Some of the possible reasons for the cast iron to become sticky after seasoning include;

Using too much oil

If you use too much oil during seasoning, the extra oil will build up, causing a sticky surface. This is the main reason why most people have a sticky cast iron after seasoning.

Applying oil during seasoning is aimed at getting a thin oil layer. It serves to laminate the seasoning with the oil layer by layer.

More so, the thin oil layer absorbs oxygen better, creating a better seal on the cast iron pan.

Too much oil does not absorb oxygen, transforming into a congealed, sticky, and hardened surface.

You can, however, correct this by putting your pan upside down in the oven to bake. This will ensure that the excess oil will drop off. However, ensure to pass a baking tray on the bottom rack to catch the dripping oil.

Using the wrong type of oil

Using the wrong oil type can sometimes make your cast iron get sticky after seasoning. There are different types of oil and are made differently. Some oils are not ideal for high temperatures used in baking the pan.

One of the common mistakes that most people make is opting for olive oil during seasoning.

Unfortunately, olive oil has a low smoke point and burns easily. This will leave a black residue on your cast iron and make it sticky.

Fortunately, there is a range of suitable oils for seasoning. These include;

Canola oil- This oil has a smoking point of 400 degrees and is readily available in the market. Canola oil also features a neutral flavor and has many fatty acids to absorb oxygen, resulting in a perfect seal.

Peanut oil- with a smoking point of 450 degrees, peanut oil does not burn in high temperatures making it a perfect seal oil. The oil is readily available and has a neutral flavor meaning you won’t have any issues with flavor.

Coconut oil- this is an extremely healthy option containing lots of fatty acids. Coconut oil has a 450 degrees smoking point, and despite its smell, it does not have a lingering taste or smell when baked at high temperatures.

However, you should consider allergy issues among those close to you when choosing a food oil to use in seasoning.

Related Content:
Best oil (Canola) & proper way to season cast-iron cookware.
Can you season a cast iron pan with olive oil?

· Not enough heat

Another reason your cast iron may become sticky is that you did not provide sufficient heat to get the cast iron hot enough. If you season a cold pan, the cast iron will not accept the seasoning.

A cold pan will create a sticky residue instead of enabling the oil to soak into the iron as it would in a hot pan.

So, ensure you preheat the oven at high temperatures. You require sufficient heat to season a cast iron and the oil to develop a seasoning seal.

Seasoning a cast iron involves bonding the oil to the metal via a polymerization process. The process utilizes heat to convert the oil into a solid polymer that gives it a nonstick surface.

If you don’t make the cast iron sufficiently hot, the oil does not entirely or evenly polymerize, leaving the cast iron with a nonstick surface.

Not baking long enough

Even with ideal heating and the perfect amount and type of oil, your cast iron can still become sticky if you don’t cook it long enough. The oil requires sufficient time to polymerize.

The ideal temperature and time are very vital in helping the oil make a seal.

So, if you want shortcuts to a well-seasoned pan, this is not the place to cut corners. For the best results, you should ensure to leave the cast iron pan in the oven for at least an hour.

Then leave it for another hour to cool before you rub another oil layer to repeat the seasoning.

Seasoning on stovetop

Most people don’t consider the use of a stovetop as a possible cause for a sticky pan.

While you can season your cast iron on the stovetop, you could be doing it improperly, particularly if you are doing it for the first time.

Unlike an oven that cooks the pan evenly, a stovetop heats the bottom first and then goes to the sides.

This results in an uneven seal with sticky residue. It is hence recommendable to use an oven in seasoning your cast iron pan.

How Do I Keep My Cast Iron Skillet from Sticking?

Now that you know why your cast iron becomes sticky after seasoning, you can rectify where you go wrong to avoid it in the future.

Here is the correct way to season your iron cast and ensure it does not become sticky.

Clean and rinse

If your cast iron is crusty or rusty, you should start by soaking it in soapy hot water and using a scrubby brush or pad to clean it thoroughly.

Ensure to leave the pan’s surface smooth and free from any uneven particles or stickiness. Rinse it well with clean water.

Dry the clean pan

The next step is wiping down the pan with dish linen or paper towel. Then put it on a stovetop over low heat for the moisture to completely evaporate.

Cast iron pans are porous, which means they trap moisture. So, ensure the pan is completely dry.

Rub oil on the surface

With one of the main causes of sticky pans being excess oil, you should be careful in this step. Put one teaspoon of a suitable oil type in the pan and rub it evenly on the entire pan using a paper towel.

Rub the oil until the entire pan is covered with an even thin coat of oil. It is recommendable to use neutral flavor oils with a smoking point of about 400 degrees, such as canola and sunflower oil.

If the pan looks wet and slick, then you have used too much oil.

Preheat and bake

Turn on the oven and preheat to at least 425 degrees and then place your pan in the oven. It’s recommended that you place the pan upside down to drip off the excess oil.

But if you have oiled the pan properly, this is not necessary. Bake the pan for at least an hour and then turn off the oven for cooling. This will give you a non -stick pan ready to prepare your favorite recipes.

How To Fix Sticky Cast Iron?

If your cast iron is already or becomes sticky in the future, it is important to know how to fix your sticky cast iron.

Fixing with salt

This method involves the use of water paste and salt to scrub the pan’s sticky layer gently. This is done by adding one teaspoon of kosher salt or sea salt to the cast iron pan. Add some water and stir it to form a paste. Then use a cloth to scrub the pan gently.

Then, pour out the paste and rinse the pan with water until it is properly dry before you can oil it and restart your seasoning.

Restarting the process

If the stickiness on the pan is too much or keeps coming back after the salt scrub, you should consider redoing the entire process. Start by cleaning and rinsing the pan, dry it, and begin the seasoning from scratch. While you will lose all the progress, restarting the process will ensure you fix the problem properly.

How Do You Get Rid of Sticky Oil Residue?

If your skillet has a sticky oil residue after seasoning, you should follow these steps to get rid of the residue.

1. Scrub the oil residue from your pan using a scouring pad, some sea salt, or a bristly foam brush. Do this until the residue feels like a smooth texture.

2. Rinse the pan with a cloth and hot water without using soap.

3. Reseason the pan without rubbing another oil layer on it, following the proper procedure as described above.

After these steps, your pan will be stick-free and ready to cook your recipes.

Proper Way to Seasoning Cast Iron Skillets & Dutch-Ovens:

A cast-iron pan can rust if not well maintained. Proper care along with seasoning will help in preventing rust problems and provide you with many delicious foods.

Here are the proper steps to season your cast iron skillet & Dutch oven.

1. Clean your cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven

When seasoning your cast iron pan or Dutch oven, the first step is ensuring you have a clean slate. Clean it with soap and warm water thoroughly. You can also use steel wool or a stiff brush to scrub the entire pan. In case of any scrubs, ensure to scrub them out until you are left with bare metal.

2. Rinse and dry

After cleaning it, you should rinse it thoroughly with clean water and dry it with a kitchen towel or place the pan on the stovetop over low heat. It is important that your pan is as dry as possible.

3. Apply a thin oil layer

After you have a clean and dry pan, the next step is coating the entire pan with a thin oil layer.

To avoid applying excess oil, you can rub a small drop of oil on the pan’s surface using a paper towel.

Be careful not to put excess oil; otherwise, the pan will end up being sticky, which is not the result you want. After rubbing the oil, the pan should look almost dry.

4. Preheat the oven

Before you move to the next step, turn on your oven and preheat it to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

5. Bake

Put your Dutch oven and pan in the oven upside down on the middle rack. Leave it to bake for one hour.

You can place an aluminum foil sheet on the bottom rack to hold any oil drips. However, if you properly rub the thin oil layer, there should not be any oil drips.

6. Leave it cool

After an hour, turn off the oven and allow the cast iron pan or Dutch oven to cool with the oven door closed. The cooling can take about thirty minutes or more, so remain patient. Once it cools properly, get it off the oven.

7. Reseason

Start over this process at least two times, but you can repeat it even more than five times if you have the time.

Your seasoned cast iron pan and Dutch oven should be a nonstick, glossy black surface if done properly.

That’s it! Your Dutch oven or cast-iron pan has been properly seasoned.

If you notice any gaps in the shiny black sheen, you might need to repeat the same seasoning procedure until you achieve the desired finish.

Can You Cook with Sticky Cast Iron Pan?

The answer is yes! You can cook with a sticky cast iron pan. However, this is not ideal. While your food will cook well and might not even stick to the pan’s surface.
It will cause more build-up on the pan that will require it to be removed before your cast iron can go back to its perfect condition.

The residue can be challenging to remove and scrub off. Therefore, the more build-up you make by cooking with the sticky pan, the more problematic it will be to clean it up in the long run.

If you are in a hurry and did not notice your pan is sticky, you can cook with it, but ensure you give it a thorough scrub and seasoning before using it again.


We hope that you have understood why your cast iron is sticky after seasoning. Regular seasoning your faithful cast iron skillet and making it nonstick is crucial.

However, even if it’s still sticky after seasoning it, do not worry. These cleaning fixes reviewed will help you restore your pan to the best state.

A well-seasoned cast-iron pan is a perfectly-used one. Happy cooking!

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