The ultimate guide to seasoning copper pans in 4 steps
This type of pan is among the most effective cookware, as it has good heat-conducting capacity, which will save you time and energy.
Apart from that, it can also perfectly fit your kitchen interior since it has a classic design.
In this post we'll cover:
- 1 How to season a copper pan
- 2 What is cookware seasoning?
- 3 What do you need to season a copper pan?
- 4 Why choose copper pans?
- 5 What to look out for when buying quality copper pans
- 6 How to use copper pans for durability
- 7 What heating methods are suitable for copper pans?
- 8 How to keep the pan free from tarnished spots
- 9 Take care of your cookware and season copper pans
How to season a copper pan
To season a copper pan, you need to take some care and maintenance steps in order for pans to function optimally:
1. Wash the pan thoroughly.
2. Put oil on the pan and evenly spread it throughout the surface.
3. Heat the pan using an oven or stove.
4. Wait, dry, use, and repeat the process.
In this article, I’ll discuss some steps on how to season your pan so that it can continue to function well and last for a long period of time!
But first, check out this video by YouTube user Washoku Cook Inc. on seasoning a coppan pan:
What is cookware seasoning?
Cookware seasoning refers to the process of applying a stick-resistant coating made from oil and polymerized fat on the surface of the pan.
End-user seasoning or post-manufacturing treatment is necessary for cast-iron cookware because it has the tendency to rust quickly when heated. Seasoning is also important to avoid food sticking to the cookware.
Although other types of cookware like cast aluminum and stainless don’t easily rust, seasoning is still required to prevent food from sticking.
The stick-resistant coating used in seasoning (particularly the carbonized oil) fills the small pores of the uneven metal surface, thereby preventing the process of oxidation from occurring. Oxidation can lead to corrosion and/or pitting. When pitting or corrosion is prevented, the food won’t stick to the pan.
What do you need to season a copper pan?
What do you need?
- Around 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Other cooking oil types could be used; however, it’s best to use vegetable oil for non-stick cooking surfaces. Take note that you only need a minute amount, enough to coat the pan evenly and lightly. Other oil options are grapeseed oil, canola oil, peanut oil, and lard. Olive oil and butter oil aren’t recommended for seasoning since these oils tend to smoke quickly.
- Tap water, for rinsing the pan.
- Soap: mild dish soap is recommended.
- Stovetop or oven: Stovetop is optional; the oven is mostly used.
- Paper towel, to spread the oil.
- A soft cloth, to wash the pan gently. The cloth could also be used for spreading the oil.
- Oven mitts, to ensure safety.
So what are the steps?
Wash the pan
Prior to starting the process of seasoning, it’s necessary to gently wash the pan using dish soap and warm water. Never scrub the pan since this can form abrasions, most especially if the pan is brand new.
Utilize a soft cloth to lather the soap gently.
Washing the pan is very essential to make sure that it’s free from any hazardous substances or chemicals, most especially if the pan is newly purchased.
Put the oil on the pan and evenly spread it throughout the surface
Put around 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in the pan.
Through the use of a soft cloth or a paper towel, evenly spread the oil across the pan’s surface. Also, put oil on the sides and bottom.
Again, ensure that you’re using an oil that doesn’t heat up easily. Otherwise, it’ll cause the oil to burn and will make the pan dry after heating, thereby making pan seasoning useless.
Heat the pan using the oven or stove
You have 2 options here: you can use either the oven or the stovetop to heat the pan; it definitely depends on your preference! To ensure safety, use oven mitts when touching the hot pan.
- Using an oven: Preheat the oven by setting its temperature to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Ensure that it’s preheated fully, then insert the pan into the oven. Heat the pan and remove it after 20 minutes.
- Using the stovetop: Set the temperature of the stovetop to a medium level. Heat the pan on the stove. When it starts to smoke, remove it from the stove. However, if you’re particular about heat and smoke, you can heat the pan prior to applying the oil. Heat the pan for around 30 seconds on low. Then apply the oil to the warm pan and spread it evenly.
Wait, dry, use, and repeat the process
In this process, you need to ensure that the vegetable oil dries up thoroughly so that the oil can fill the irregularities and pores in the pan (there are pits in the pan that are hardly visible).
When the oil has dried and cooled, get a soft cloth or a clean paper towel to remove the excess oil. At this point, you can now use your pan for cooking.
Do the pan seasoning process at least once or twice a year to ensure that your pan is functioning well. For the best results, you can season your pan every few months. This way, you can maintain your pan’s integrity and avoid food sticking.
Aside from seasoning, proper care for your pan is also important. After using the pan, quickly clean it using a soft cloth or paper towel. Don’t use steel wool or rough scouring pads.
Another way to care for your pan is to avoid using metal utensils (forks, spoons, or spatulas) when cooking. Instead, use cooking tools that are made of rubber, plastic, or wood.
Why choose copper pans?
- Excellent heat conductor: Copper pans aren’t just stylish, but also have great capacity to quickly warm and stay warm for a long time, thereby allowing you to cook your food evenly. You don’t have to deal with scalding or burnt spots when using this cookware.
- Safe to cook in: Copper is totally safe as long as it has another lining of non-reactive metal such as tin, stainless steel, and nickel. To maintain safety, it’s important to ensure that the lining of your pans isn’t worn out or destroyed.
- Hygienic: Copper is known to have antibacterial properties. Bacteria and other microorganisms cannot thrive on copper surfaces. This is the reason why door handles and water pipes in hospitals and other healthcare establishments are made from copper.
What to look out for when buying quality copper pans
If you’re still unsure of which pan to choose, it’s essential to first learn the features and characteristics of good-quality copper pans before purchasing one:
- Size and thickness: A valuable pan must be made up of copper in order to promote even and quick heat transmission. Its size must be 8 to 12 inches and have an average weight of 2 to 4 pounds. As for the thickness, it should be 2.5mm. Pans with this thickness have the perfect balance of weight and heat conductivity. Copper cookware with more than 2.5 mm thickness will heat up slowly and it’ll take a long time for this to cool down.
- Handle: Usually, pans with 2.5 mm thickness have handles that are made of cast iron. Cast iron handles form pits that allow users to have a stable grip of the pan as they cook. These handles can remain cool for a long period. It’s been proven that iron and copper are compatible.
- Lining: Copper pots were commonly lined with tin. Just like copper, tin is also a great heat conductor. Before the existence of stainless steel, tin was the lining of choice for artisan crafts. However, it’s too soft and is vulnerable to scratches. Apart from that, tin has the tendency to melt when exposed to heat of over 437°F. When the tin lining is damaged, this will require re-tinning, which will cause you inconvenience and extra expenses.
In contrast to tin, steel won’t easily melt and isn’t prone to scratches. So cookware lined with stainless steel is more efficient. Re-tinning isn’t needed and you don’t have to worry when your cookware is exposed to high temperatures. In general, stainless steel-lined cookware is commonly used these days because of its durability and strength.
How to use copper pans for durability
Prepare all ingredients and materials for cooking
As mentioned earlier, copper is a great heat conductor. Therefore, this can reduce your cooking time and can cook your food evenly. Since the pan will heat quickly, ensure that your ingredients and cooking materials are ready.
Set stove to medium-high heat
If you aren’t yet familiar with copper cookware, try setting your stove to medium first. Again, copper heats up fast. Setting your stove to medium-high allows you to discover the performance of your new pans or pots.
Use silicone or wooden utensils
Using silicone or wooden utensils prevents the lining of your cookware from being scratched. These utensils are highly recommended for tin-lined cookware.
What heating methods are suitable for copper pans?
- Electric heat: Copper pans can work well with electric heat. But discoloration will likely occur. This will leave marks on your cookware; however, this can be easily removed after the pans cool down.
- Gas stove: Copper pans that are lined with stainless steel, tin, or nickel are compatible with gas stoves. Copper pans that have a thickness of 2.5 mm easily conduct heat that’s evenly distributed throughout the surface of the pan.
- Induction stove: Copper pans don’t work well with induction stoves. The same goes for glass and aluminum cookware. In order for these types to function well with induction stoves, a magnetic material must be added to the bottom part of the cookware.
How to keep the pan free from tarnished spots
Since copper pans are efficient heat conductors, a high flame isn’t needed when cooking. Use only moderate heat as much as possible.
One of the myths about copper cookware is that it isn’t easy to care for. But actually, there are simple steps that you can follow to maintain the functionality and durability of copper pans:
- Thoroughly dry the pans after washing: It’s essential to dry your cookware after washing it with warm water and soap to avoid copper tarnishing.
- Polish tarnished spots with a mild abrasive: The best example of a mild abrasive is the combination of lemon and salt. Cut a lemon in half and sprinkle table salt over the cut side. You can also make a paste by adding cornstarch to the ingredients. Just mix one part non-iodized cornstarch and one part table salt, and add lemon juice to create a paste. Rub the paste over the tarnished spot using a soft cloth and rinse the pan with warm water. There you go! Your cookware will be as good as new.
- Use baking soda: Mix equal parts of lemon juice and baking soda. Rub the paste over the tarnished spots using a soft cloth.
- Use vinegar: White vinegar is best used to clean copper surfaces. Just soak a soft cloth in the vinegar solution and rub it on the surface of your pan.
- Use tomatoes: Tomatoes are also good copper cleaners because of their acidity. All you need to do is to cover the pot surface with tomato paste. Leave it for a few minutes, and then rinse it with water and soap.
- Monitor your pans for flaking or cracks: As long as the lining is intact, your copper pans are absolutely safe to use. However, if you see that the lining has started to worn out, it’s best to have it professionally re-tinned.
Take care of your cookware and season copper pans
When it comes to safe, non-stick, and effective pans, you can find a lot of these in the market these days. However, a copper pan is the most ideal option.
This is perfect if you’re looking for lightweight, chemical-free, and durable cookware. This type of pan is also a great heat conductor.
In order to maintain the integrity and function of your pan, it’s best to season it once every few months.
Thanks to the science behind seasoning cast iron pans, this process can certainly make all the differences on cooking using your pan. Seasoning prevents food from sticking to the pan.
So when you have a new pan, make sure to clean it gently and season it before use!
Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.