Why Is My Cast Iron Pan Smoking?

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You have just started to cook your food, you’ve got your cast iron pan nice and hot, and suddenly it starts smoking uncontrollably. What’s worse is it doesn’t stop. Before you know it your kitchen if filled with smoke.

Well that smoke is coming straight from the cooking oil you are using, and choosing different cooking oils will affect how much smoke is produced.

In this article, I’ll be discussing why your cast iron pan smokes, and what you can do to help it.

Why is my cast iron pan smoking?

Every cooking oil has a different smoking points, the “smoking point” is the temperature that it needs to reach before it goes through the chemical change called ‘burning’. At this point, the oil will begin to smoke.

Enzymes are responsible for turning oils into a smokey mess by producing free radicals in the oil. Free radicals are unstable molecules that have unpaired electrons, and they can react with other molecules in your oil. This produces smoke and free radicals in the oil.

When smoke from cooking oil is produced, it’s actually harmful for your health . These volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can cause cancer and other health problems. So once your cast iron pan begins to smoke, you should have adequate ventilation and prevent breathing as much of it in as possible.

How do I stop my pan from smoking?

The short answer is, you can’t stop your cast iron pan from smoking. However, you can reduce the amount of smoke that is produced by following some steps.

  1. Use a cooking oil with a high smoking point. (See: http://www.goodeatsfanpage.com/collectedinfo/oilsmokepoints.htm)

Cooking oils with higher smoking points will take longer to start smoking, and if your not cooking on extremely high heats, they won’t smoke at all. However, if you have seasoned your cast iron pan with flaxseed oil, or something else with a low smoking temperature, it’s going to smoke regardless. So if you are wanting to avoid smoking at all costs, then you’ll have to reseason your cast iron pan with a cooking oil that has a high smoking point.

  1. Cook on a lower temperature

Cooking on a lower temperature may seem obvious, but if you have seasoned your cast iron pan with an oil with a high smoking point, and you cook with an oil with a high smoking point, then you won’t get any smoke at all if the temperature of the pan is low enough.

Is Cast Iron supposed to smoke when seasoning?

Yes, cast iron is suppose to smoke when seasoning. The cooking oils polymerizes after the oil reaches it’s smoking point, which means once it’s smoking, the pan is beginning to get seasoned.

If your cast iron pan doesn’t smoke when you season it, then you are not seasoning it at all.

How can I season my cast iron without smoking the house?

The best way to season cast iron to reduce the amount of smoke in the house is using the oven. The oven should contain most of the smoke whilst the seasoning process is ongoing.

Once you are done seasoning, open a window and have a fan plugged in on the kitchen countertop which blows the smoke out the window.

best oil for cast iron cooking

In my opinion, the best oil for cast iron cooking is olive oil, this is because it has a smoking point of around 450 degrees F, and olive oil is very stable in high temperatures.

Olive oil will smoke at much lower temperatures than most cooking oils, which means you are less likely to get smoke in the house.

Not only that, but olive oil is healthy for you. So cooking in olive oil has both health benefits, and smoke reduction benefits.

can you overheat a cast iron pan

After much research, I found that you can overheat a cast iron pan if you are using a high heat cooking oil.

If the temperature of the cast iron pan gets to hot, it will cause the oil to burn. This in turn will produce smoke and give you a burnt flavor.

I don’t recommend going above 400 degrees F, however, if you are worried about destroying your seasoning, then simply use an infrared thermometer to detect when your pan is getting too hot.

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