Yes—if you season it properly and routinely. Materials like carbon steel and cast iron retain microscopic layers of polymerized oil—that’s what you’re allowing to happen when you season the pan with wax or cooking oil. Over time, layers are baked into the metal when you season or cook with it, creating a patina, or natural nonstick layer, that’s free of chemicals.
The patina not only keeps food from sticking to the pan, but it also protects the pan from moisture. Some of you may see this pan’s aversion to water as a downside, but we find the seasoning process to be well worth it, since the reward is a pan that never needs to be replaced. (Also, isn’t there something so Zen about seasoning a skillet? No? Just us?) The pan can be washed with warm water, soap and a non-metallic brush or scrubber, but it will need to be dried and seasoned immediately after. (Sorry, dirty dish soakers.) And before you ask, it’s not dishwasher safe, since that could destroy the patina. Luckily, the upkeep is nothing to stress about—Misen has a ton of resources for fixing rust, a flaking patina, stickiness and more, plus a handy seasoning demo.
How to Season a Carbon Steel Pan
The first seasoning is super important, but it will take you about four hours if you really want to do it right. When the pan arrives, it’s covered in a protective beeswax coating, which can be scrubbed off under hot water or melted onto a baking sheet in the oven (be warned, this method may get a little smoky). Once the beeswax is melted and you’ve wiped off the excess, all it takes is blotting some cooking oil or seasoning wax on the pan with a paper towel and baking it in the oven for an hour three or four times until the pan starts to gain some color. (There’s also a way to do it on the stove if you’d like to save some time, but a forever pan is worth the wait in our book.)
After it’s seasoned, your once-silver pan will look sort of golden or brown in color. Over time, it’ll turn even darker, like borderline black. And that’s totally okay: Every carbon steel pan has a unique look, due to its patina gradually changing as its used. The first time you cook with it after the initial seasoning you may still need a bit of cooking fat to keep your food from sticking. (Although we fried an egg in the pan sans-oil after the four initial seasonings and it didn’t stick.) Eventually, once enough fats and oils have been soaked in, it’ll be nonstick on its own—and stay that way.
We know buying new cookware can feel like such a commitment. Thankfully, Misen offers a 60-day test option that allows you to try the pan for yourself no strings attached, plus a lifetime guarantee that you’ll get a replacement if anything ever happens to it.