Can You Use Olive Oil to Season Cast Iron?

A cast iron pan can give you many decades of use, but only if you treat it well — and seasoning is a big part of cast iron care. If you are new to owning cast iron, then you may be wondering if you can use your trusty bottle of olive oil to season your pan or not. Here is everything you need to know about the importance of seasoning cast iron cookware and whether or not you can use olive oil to do it.

brightland olive oils and foods

What Is Seasoning Cast Iron?

If you have ever used a cast iron skillet right out of the package, you probably noticed that the food stuck to the surface of the skillet. That is because cast iron needs to be prepared before its first use through a process called seasoning. Untreated cast iron is highly reactive and rusts very easily, causing the food to stick and the metal to discolor. Seasoning creates a seal over the iron, which protects it and makes it easier to cook with the pan.

In order to season the cast iron pan, you will apply a thin layer of fat (typically a cooking oil) and heat up the pan. The heat causes the fat to bond to the iron via a process called polymerization. After you repeat the seasoning process a couple of times, a hard black layer that acts like a nonstick coating will form over the iron.

Most new cast iron pans come with some layer of preseasoning, but it is still a good idea to season the pan a couple of times for best results. If you are trying to restore an older cast iron pan, that is a more involved process that will involve stripping off the old seasoning, removing rust patches and then reseasoning the pan from scratch.

Cast iron will need to be periodically reseasoned because washing your pan and cooking acidic foods in it will slowly wear away at the coating created by the oil. Most pans only need to be reseasoned two to three times a year, but you may need to do it more often if you cook with the cast iron pan frequently, wash your pan a lot or cook a lot of acidic foods.

brightland extra virgin olive oil

Can You Use Olive Oil to Season Cast Iron?

Spend a few minutes searching for the best way to season a cast iron skillet and you will come across people swearing by everything from lard to vegetable shortening to flaxseed oil. Since olive oil is such a pantry staple, many people naturally wonder if they can use olive oil to season cast iron.

You can use olive oil to season cast iron, but you need to choose a high quality extra virgin olive oil, which should have a smoke point close to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. This is because you want your seasoning oil to have a higher smoke point than the temperature that you normally cook at because heating the pan above the oil’s smoke point will cause the seasoning to degrade faster. If you routinely use your pan above 400 degree Fahrenheit, then you might want to use an oil with an even higher smoke point (such as canola oil) for seasoning the pan.

pouring brightland olive oil into bowl

We recommend entirely skipping over oils with a very low smoke point, such as flaxseed oil, which has a smoke point of only about 225 degrees Fahrenheit. While these low smoke point oils will create a seasoning layer more quickly, they will also degrade much quicker. We also recommend staying away from animal fats such as lard, which will go rancid unless you use and reseason your pan very frequently.

Need a high quality extra virgin olive oil to season your cast iron pan? At Brightland, we process our olives within 90 minutes of harvesting, ensuring peak freshness and a high smoke point for all your cooking needs. Check out our entire collection of olive oils and consider picking up some flavored olive oils for your cooking needs in addition to a neutral olive oil for seasoning your cast iron pan.