Wok gets sticky when stored

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by orihara, Aug 11, 2014.

  1. orihara

    orihara

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    I have been storing my carbon-steel wok in my closet with a piece of wrapping paper over it to shield it from unwanted outside elements. But whenever I take it out and touch it, it is all sticky, and I have to scrub it off, which I hate doing because I'm eating away at the patina.
    What can I do?
     
  2. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    The oil is breaking down on the surface of the wok. This is normal. In fact, it seems cast iron and carbon steel contribute to the break down of cooking oil.

    For a wok I use frequently, (I have a number of them--too many really) I've taken to rubbing it with oil, and then wiping it as nearly dry as a paper towel will get it. By frequently, I mean use it again within a two week period. There's enough oil to protect against rust in the short term, at least in my dry climate. When I'm going to cook in it, I heat it til it starts to smoke lightly and add the oil to start cooking. The preheat seems to carbonize what little oil I left on it and contribute to the patina. 

    For longer storage, this is more of a problem. Cocunut oil or a product based in cocunut oil are good choices as it resists rancidity and the sort of breakdown of oil that iron contributes to.  The Camp Chef Cast Iron Conditioner is one such product I've used with good results. Use it thinly. 

     Or an outdoors store in your area that carries cast iron cookware will likely have it as well. 

    And while it's counter-intuitive, promoting air flow across the surface helps too. So if you cover it, it needs plenty of gaps around the lid or covering.  For a wok, simply store it upside down to prevent the dust from collecting on the cooking surface. That can be difficult to remove without scrubbing. But it will burn off the bottom side in use while keeping the cooking side in good shape. 

    If you get rust developing between uses with my light oil technique, then go back to a heavier oil coating. When it gets tacky, set it over a gas burner upside down and burn the excess oil off/carbonize it into the patina. Watch any wooden parts to ensure they don't scorch or ignite--usually the helper handle is more prone to this if its wood.  The heat concentrates in the dome of the wok, so you might actually burn off some of the patina there if you use too high of a heat. Monitor it carefully as you do this. 

    Yes, you could do it right side up, but in my experience it takes longer to finish breaking down the oil. 
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2014
  3. chefedb

    chefedb

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    I have used mineral oil (food grade)  as well as pan spray wipe down well when applying
     
  4. ordo

    ordo

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    Mineral oil will not polymerize.
     
  5. aplomb

    aplomb

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    I wash out the wok, getting all the food residue out of it.  Wipe it dry with paper towel, then heat it up very hot over the burner and put a little bit of peanut oil on a paper towel, wipe all interior surface.  Then, use a clean paper towel or the same, folding it to an unused portion, and wipe out as much of the oil as possible.

    If not used for several months there will be a slight old oil smell, but once you pre-heat for the next use, pretty much goes away.

    BTW, would never wrap it in plastic, which would invite rust and rancidity.  Storing in a brown paper bag is much better.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2014
  6. raibeaux

    raibeaux

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    I like flaxseed oil for seasoning.  Anybody else?
     
  7. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    I've read good things about flaxseed as it's a drying oil, but I  don't think I've ever seen it for sale. In the end, I don't have problems with the regular common cooking oils.  
     
  8. raibeaux

    raibeaux

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    You can buy it at the pharmacy.  Good stuff, particularly for new cast and steel.  Takes more applications/heating, but lasts longer than oil or Crisco.  Need to keep it in the fridge after opening, I think.  Trick is put on hot pan, wipe off all you can with paper towels, and bake.

    Don't know, but it's kinda like putting nitrogen in your tires, where the smaller molecules can't get through the rubber as easy.  Or something.
     
  9. french fries

    french fries

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    I buy flax seed oil at my local whole food, I believe it should be fairly easy to find... at least in stores that cater to health minded folks...

    https://www.google.com/#q=flax+seed+oil&tbm=shop
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2014