This one goes out to +Amanda Walker
and +Christopher Tate
So I decided it was time to level up in Cast Iron. To this end, I got my Prime on and ordered up your bog standard Lodge cast iron skillet. It arrived on Friday, so this weekend I prepped it.
As discussed in a previous entry, I've had excellent results by power-sanding my regular 12" pan. And, per +Amanda Walker
's boundless experience, I started using peanut oil to season it and it works even better.
So with this skillet, I decided to try an Experiment -- FOR SCIENCE!
Specifically, I ordered some 400 grit
pads for my orbital sander. My previous pan was only sanded up to 220 grit; the falsifiable hypothesis is that 400 grit would produce an even smoother
surface, for zomg yet more
So, having sanded it up to 400 and reseasoned it yesterday, tonight it was time to try it, by skilletting up (did you see what I verbed, there?) some burgers.
The burgers still stuck moderately well, insofar as I had to scrape them up a bit using a spatula; but I draw no conclusions from this, for two reasons. First, they stick about the same amount to my other pan, and anyway you don't want them entirely nonstick because then you get no char flavor, either. And second, this was after a measly single seasoning, so it's too soon to draw conclusions about long-term non-stickiness.
However! Check out the photo.
Those two spots are where the seasoning from last night straight up just flaked right off. And I mean, that was some solid seasoning, as you can see from the surrounding area!
What's more, you probably can't quite tell from this photo, but the seasoning is considerably more robust at the edge of the pan. In fact, last night I attempted a second seasoning pass, while the pan was hot. But when I put the oil on, it instantly fled (that's the only word I have for it -- it just ran right off) to the edges.
From this I tentatively conclude that 400 grit is a step too far. The edge of the pan is where it's slightly less well-sanded, as it's harder to get the sander in there. So I think the oil just tends to run off the super-sanded 400-grit central section and pool around the edges.
As well, even where it did manage to cure on, the bond isn't really that strong, since as we see in this photo some otherwise-decent seasoning just flaked right off after even milquetoast mechanical scrubbing.
All that said, the jury's still out. It's too soon to draw final conclusions from a single seasoning pass, so I'll report in again, after I use this skillet some more, and the seasoning has more time to do its thing. It's entirely possible that once the seasoning finds its legs that the smoother surface still wins.
But right now, early results point to 220 grit being about where you should stop, if you go the sanding route. At the very least, my other (older) pan is doing considerably better than the skillet is, currently.