How to Season a Carbon Steel Wok

Chicken and vegetable stir-fry in wok

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While many types of woks are available today, carbon steel is still the best. With proper treatment, it will last forever.

Difficulty: Average

Time Required: 45 minutes

Here's How

  1. Wash the wok in hot water with a small amount of liquid detergent and a scrubber (such as a stainless steel sponge or pad).
  2. If needed, scrub the exterior of the wok with the scrubber and an abrasive cleanser. Do not use the abrasive cleanser on the inside of the wok.
  3. Rinse the wok and dry thoroughly.
  4. Place the wok on high heat.
  5. Move the wok, turning it and tilting it up to the rim and back, until the metal turns a blueish-yellowish color.
  6. Remove the wok from the stove element. Turn the heat down to medium-low.
  7. Add a thin film of oil (about 1 1/2 teaspoons) over the entire inside surface of the wok. There are several ways to do this. One is to use a paper towel to rub the oil over the surface. You may want to use tongs to hold the paper towels. Another way is to use a basting brush for barbecues or any other heat-proof brush to brush on the oil.
  8. Heat the wok on medium-low heat for about 10 minutes.
  9. Wipe off the oil with another paper towel. There will be black residue on the towel.
  10. Repeat steps 7 through 9 until no black residue comes up on the paper (about 3 times). The wok is now ready to use.


  • Flat bottomed woks are better for electric ranges. Round-bottomed woks can reflect heat back on the heating element, damaging it.
  • It is important to thoroughly clean the wok to remove the manufacturer's protective coating.
  • In general, it is better not to purchase a non-stick carbon steel wok, as the high heats required for Chinese cooking may damage the non-stick coating.
  • If you do purchase a non-stick wok, follow the seasoning and cleaning instructions carefully, or you may damage the coating.