Like a lot of cooks, Chowhounds treasure their cast iron pans. They hold heat well for even cooking, are reliably nonstick when properly seasoned, are virtually indestructible, and they even impart a little bit of iron into your cooking, MamaGoat says. Seasoning a new cast iron pan can feel like an initiation ritual: the pan must be warmed and rubbed with a thin layer of fat (lard, shortening, and peanut oil are all good), dixiegal says. Then, scubadoo97 explains, you have to heat your pan in an oven seat at 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

But what if, like esoterikk, you’re rubbing in the layer of fat and finding that pieces of lint or paper towel are sticking to the surface? You might be using too much fat—just apply a thin layer, so that the pan appears dry, with no sheen, scubadoo97 says. Also, try using a flour-sack cloth instead of a paper towel, MamaGoat says. Finally, the rough texture that’s common to new pans will gradually get smoother as the pan develops a patina, as sherrib discovered. Tom34‘s cast iron pans, made in the 1930s and ’40s and passed down for generations, are very smooth —that’s part of the appeal of vintage cast iron.

Discuss: Cast iron worse than high maintenance girlfriend!

Photograph of rough modern and smooth vintage cast iron pans by terlin

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