Why is My Cast Iron Skillet Sticky? The Answer and Remedy That Works

Cooking a dish using a cast iron skillet at the fired coal

Once you’ve cooked with a cast-iron skillet, it’s hard to imagine using any other pan to prepare your meals. But one day I pulled out my skillet and noticed that it had a sticky residue coating it. I asked myself, why is my cast iron skillet sticky? I had recently done a maintenance seasoning on it but didn’t think that could be the problem. And so I set out to find the answer.

Here’s what I found.

Why is My Cast Iron Skillet Sticky?

When asking, why is my cast iron sticky, the answers you find can be confusing. But here’s the reality: it’s something you inadvertently did. Cast iron skillets don’t become sticky on their own. It’s easy to make a seemingly innocent mistake that causes the stickiness.

When you first get a cast iron pan, you need to season it to make it nonstick and give it that smooth, glasslike surface. But one wrong step and you might find yourself asking, "why is my cast iron skillet sticky," too.

Also, as you use your pan, you should re-season it a couple of times a year. Doing so will ensure that your skillet stays smooth and keeps its nonstick surface intact. But here’s the deal: It’s easy to make a mistake during the seasoning process even if you’ve done it time and time again.

Ask me how I know.

3 Reasons Your Cast Iron Skillet Is Sticky

Cooked food in a cast iron

Let’s take a look at three things that may be the reason for your sticky cast iron.

1. Generosity will hurt you

2. Don’t be so cold

3. The countdown

The Science Behind Cast Iron Seasoning

bacon and eggs on a frying pan

Photo by freestocks.org from Pexels

With all this talk of seasoning, you may be wondering what the fuss is all about. After all, one writer says that 99 percent of people aren’t seasoning their cast iron skillets the right way.

It may help to understand the science.

To properly seal and season a cast-iron skillet, you need something to happen. For it to happen, you need to use a drying oil.

A drying oil can transform into a tough, hard film. The term is confusing because the oil doesn’t actually dry. In other words, it doesn’t lose its moisture through evaporation. Instead, it is transformed through a chemical process. That process is polymerization.

Polymerization occurs when heat causes free radicals in the oil to release. Once released, the free radicals form the hard film by crosslinking.

But for the process to work perfectly, you need the right oil.

What Oil Should I Use When Seasoning My Cast Iron Skillet?

cooked eggs and meat on cast iron

Photo by Chitokan from Pexels

You will likely hear a lot of different opinions about the oil you should use to season your cast iron skillet. Some people use olive oil, others use bacon fat, and still others swear by canola oil.

But here’s the deal: there is one oil that stands above the rest.

The science behind seasoning a cast iron skillet suggests that flaxseed oil is the best. Flaxseed oil is a drying oil, and that’s what makes it so ideal.

Here’s why.

Linseed oil is what painters and sculptors use to give their art that hard, glossy surface. And since the food-grade equivalent to linseed oil is flaxseed oil, it makes it the perfect oil for your pan. When seasoning a cast-iron skillet, you want a hard surface that adheres to the skillet and isn’t sticky.

So, if you’re asking, why is my cast iron skillet sticky, it might be because you used the wrong oil when seasoning it.

It’s Time to Season Your Skillet

Cooking a banana dish using a cast iron skillet

Image by Aline Ponce from ​Pixabay​​​Pixabay

Now that you have the answer to your question, let’s talk about how to re-season it to bring it back to that perfect shiny, nonstick skillet.

Here are the steps you need to take.

1. Get rid of the gook

2. Open up those pores

3. Ready, set, oil!

4. The final step

Answered: Why Is My Cast Iron Skillet Sticky?

Cast iron skillets are the best way to cook the foods you love. But every now and then we all do things that cause us to ask, why is my cast iron skillet sticky? Luckily, a sticky cast iron pan isn’t difficult to deal with. We hope you found the answer to your questions so that you can continue to use your favorite tool in the kitchen.

Have you ever asked, why is my cast iron skillet sticky? If you solved the problem a different way, please tell us about your experience in the comment section below!

Featured Image: Image by bmoreprep from Pixabay

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