Carbon Steel Wok: Everything You Need to Know About It

Any home cook or a chef knows the value of a good cooking pot. If you love to cook, you must always be on the hunt to find high-quality cookware, kitchen appliances, and tools for cooking. However, with hundreds of cookware on display in the store, which one you must go for is the real question. It is even more critical when you are new to home cooking. Moreover, not any cookware would get the job done. So, you need to have high-quality cookware in order to cook the most delicious and healthy meals. In this regard, the wok is something you need to get your hands on add to your cookware collection. 

However, when it comes to the best cooking pot or wok, carbon steel wok comes highly recommended. Carbon steel wok is the front-runner in any kitchen. While there are several other types of woks available in the market, carbon steel wok is a cult favorite among home cooks and chefs. Not only is it low-priced as compared to the other woks, but it can also conduct heat evenly, making it one of the best cooking pots you will find anywhere. However, is it worth the hype? Should you buy one? Most importantly, is cooking in carbon steel wok healthy for you? If you have all these questions in mind and want to find your answers, be sure to give this article a read. 

What is the best metal for a wok and why?

Not all woks are the same! You can find them in several sizes, styles, and even materials in the market. From stainless steel to cast iron and from non-stick to carbon steel, you have different options available out there. However, carbon steel wok is the most traditional and recommended way to go. It is superior of them all if you will. If you are wondering why you should buy one, here are the significant reasons.

  • The rule of thumb with buying kitchen tools and appliances is to get the best you can afford. The good news is, carbon steel wok is inexpensive as compared to other types of woks. 
  • It is one of those types of cookware that maintains their proper shape and last longer no matter how much you use them, making carbon steel wok durable. 
  • When it comes to weight, carbon steel wok is lightweight and becomes heavy only when filled with food.
  • Due to its lightweight, it heats up quickly and evenly. So, in the home kitchen, it is a must with stoves not as powerful as the commercial kitchen ones. 

Is carbon steel wok good for cooking?

Yes, carbon steel wok is considered good for both cooking and baking due to all the right reasons. After trying different cooking equipment and cookware, cooks swear by this amazing cooking pot. It is because no matter which kitchen set up you have, carbon steel would not disappoint you and is suitable for any home and commercial kitchen. Unlike any other cooking pot material, carbon steel has high-temperature tolerance. It means that even upon reaching the temperature of over 500-degree, carbon steel wok does not emit toxic fumes. Therefore, cooking in the carbon steel wok is safer than cooking in any other pot. 

Is carbon steel wok healthy?

As mentioned above, carbon steel wok does not release toxic fumes, making it the safer option for cooking. So, when you prepare your meals, you will not have to worry about lethal smoke mixing in with your food. In addition to this, what makes it a healthier option is that carbon steel cookware is lo-stick and relatively non-stick by nature. It gets this property from the oil residue left by cooking. However, it does require seasoning before using it the first time to get that non-stick surface. Since it develops the non-stick surface over time, you will not need to use butter and unhealthy oils for cooking. Therefore, no coating will flake into your food, and you can enjoy fumeless, less oily, and healthier meals. 

How to clean a carbon steel wok for the first time?

When you buy a carbon steel wok, it will ultimately come with dust and some factory oils to prevent it from humidity. It is always a great idea to give your wok a good wash with mild hot water before preparing it for seasoning. It is essential to know that it will be the only time you require a scrub and sponge to clean the cooking pot. If you want to learn how to clean your carbon steel wok, follow these steps:

  1. Fill your sink with some hot water and put a small amount of soap or detergent in it. 
  2. If required, scrub the exterior of the wok without touching its interior. If you are scouring the interior, make sure to keep a light hand. 
  3. After washing your wok, let it dry. 
  4. Place the wok on medium-high heat to dry it thoroughly. 

It was all you need to do to clean your carbon steel wok. Now it is time to learn how to season it.

How to season a carbon steel wok?

Now that you got rid of all the dust and factory oil, it is time to select your seasoning oil to season your wok. While picking seasoning oil, you must keep in mind that whatever oil you choose should not burn at high temperatures. Moreover, it should be refined and have a neutral flavor. It means extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil is a big no. The best seasoning oils include canola oil, peanut oil, soybean oil, grapeseed oil, avocado oil, lard or pork fat, vegetable oil, and flaxseed oil. Now onto the seasoning part:

  1. Wrap your wok’s wood handle with aluminum foil to avoid burning. 
  2. Now open the metal pores by preheating the wok over high heat. 
  3. Make sure you are heating the sides, front, and back of your wok well. 
  4. To test if it is ready to be seasoned, throw a drop of water on the pan. If the water is evaporated within a second, it is ready for seasoning. 
  5. Now let the wok cool to the point where it is safe to touch.
  6. With the help of a paper towel, coat it in a high smoke point oil. Keep the oil layer thin and coat both the inside and the outside of the wok.
  7. Place the wok again on medium-high heat.
  8. When the oil stops smoking, that portion of the wok is seasoned. To season each section of the pan, keep flipping and tilting it.
  9. If the wok’s surface changes to a matte finish and dark hue, know that the seasoning process is complete. 
  10. Now using the hot water again, wash your wok using a bamboo wok brush to clean it. Be gentle so that you do not remove the seasoning. 
  11. Return your wok to the heat to dry it thoroughly. 

Now, if you want a thin non-stick surface, store the wok until you plan to cook in it. However, if you want a thick protective layer, repeat the process thrice to achieve that.

How to clean a carbon steel wok? 

To clean your cooking pot, always read the instructions that come with it. When it comes to cleaning carbon steel wok, it requires extra care while cleaning so that the seasoning is not removed. Here is how you can clean it after cooking. 

  1. Again, fill your sink with hot water with soap in it. 
  2. If there are any food particles, gently scrub from outside and inside. 
  3. Do not be aggressive with the scouring pad as it can remove the seasoning. 
  4. Wash off any debris. 
  5. Let the wok dry completely.
  6. Place it over the high-medium flame to get rid of any extra water.

Why is my carbon steel wok rusting?

The one downside of carbon steel wok is that it can rust if left in a humid environment for a longer time. It is probably the main reason why people complain about their wok rusting. Any rusty spot means you have not got rid of all the moisture when heating it. So, if you get rust on your carbon steel wok, repeat the cleaning process to remove the rust before cooking. To prevent rust in the first place, I suggest you apply a thin layer of oil if you are not planning to use your wok for over a week. 

Summing it up

Carbon steel wok is the way to go if you love to cook food. Above I have mentioned why you should get it and how you can clean it, season it, and take care of it. I hope this article has answered all your questions regarding this cult-favorite cooking pot.