Do you have a warped cast iron pan that you can barely cook with anymore?
Either the oil pools to the middle or runs to the outside, and your food doesn’t cook evenly.
If possible, you’d like to straighten the pan, and you’re looking for answers.
Can you fix a warped cast iron skillet?
Let’s find out.
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Can You Fix a Warped Cast Iron Skillet?
The most often repeated words I hear when this question is asked is, “It’s time to replace the pan.” And that’s because the chances of successfully fixing a warped cast iron skillet seem to be very rare. It’s been said that because cast iron is brittle, it will break before it bends. And yet it bent when it warped. So, if you are willing to risk your pan breaking or cracking, then there are a few ways you can try. For example, hammering out the warp, reversing it with heat and cold water or ice, or adding seasoning around the warped area.
A Word of Caution
Let me be clear. I am not an expert.
I cook in cast iron and share my experiences. I also do lots of research in hopes that what I write is worth reading and will give you good information.
I have no experience with trying to fix a warped cast iron skillet. My preference is to buy a new one if the warp becomes bad enough that I can no longer use the pan.
I come to this conclusion primarily because of my research and I don’t want the hassle. However, all my cast iron pans were bought new. I don’t have any that hold sentimental value.
So, if your skillet does hold sentimental value, you can most likely continue using it in the oven. Or you can display it.
I use a warped pan because it still works. However, I cook on a gas stove and don’t need my skillet to be flat. I know that isn’t the case for those who cook on glass top or electric coil stoves.
If you want to go ahead and try to fix the warp, and you are prepared for your pan to crack or break, then try one of the following three methods.
RELATED > > > > > Why Does Cast Iron Warp? – 3 Reasons to Consider
1. Hammering Out the Warp
Hammering out a warp is common with certain types of pans that are malleable, such as aluminum or carbon steel.
However, cast iron cookware is made mainly with gray iron, which has properties like glass. Glass is hard but breakable.
In the video below, you will see how to hammer out a warp using a hard surface, two towels, and a hammer.
You will notice the video is entitled how NOT to…
Some people might say it didn’t work because he didn’t use a hot pan, but others say you can’t get your pan hot enough on a stovetop or home oven.
Still, others caution that if you successfully hammer out the warp on a hot pan, you must control the rate at which it cools down. Some recommend heat blankets, and others say covering it in sand.
If you think about it, sand is how cast iron is initially cooled. The molten iron is poured into a sand mold and left to harden and cool down.
So, if you decide to hammer out the warp, keep these things in mind:
- Your skillet might break or crack instead.
- Having a hot pan you heated on the stove or in your oven may or may not work better.
- Controlling the rate of cooling is essential.
How NOT to Straighten a Warped Cast Iron Pan
2. Reversing the Warp
In theory, this method seems to make sense. And yet, I don’t know if it works.
One person claimed moderate success with their warped skillet. He had a spinner (the warp bowed down). And he was able to reverse some of the warp by putting his extremely hot pan upside down under cold water. He did this several times.
You can also use ice cubes.
This is what you do:
- Heat the skillet to very hot.
- Once hot, put ice cubes on the area you want to unwarp or run cold water over the warped place.
- If the pan bows upward and you have a hump inside, place the ice cubes inside.
- If the pan bows downward and the hump is on the bottom, put the ice cubes on the bottom of the pan.
The idea is that the temperature difference and quickly cooling it down caused the warp. Therefore, it can be reversed by doing the same thing, only targeting the warped area.
Note that both ice and cold water will run to the other areas of the pan. It would be impossible to contain the water in the warped area only. However, the water might instantly heat up, so it will have less effect by the time it hits the other parts of the pan.
Still, in my mind, this means you are risking additional warpage, cracking, or breaking.
Other things to keep in mind are it might take a few tries before it flattens, or the pan might only get less warped.
3. Adding Seasoning to the Warped Pan
Let me say upfront, this method is a lot of work and probably won’t be entirely successful.
Though it will strengthen your pan rather than weaken it. There are no risks of it cracking or breaking.
The first thing you do is find out where the points of contact are using chalk and sandpaper and rubbing the pan several times back and forth across the chalky sandpaper. After washing the pan, you can now begin the seasoning process.
- Heat the pan for 10 or so minutes at 200°F so the oil will pool in the low spots when applying.
- Put a thin coat of oil around the warped areas (where the pan made no contact).
- Bake it in a 450°F oven for an hour just like you would with regular seasoning.
- Remove from oven and reapply oil. Bake for another hour.
- Continue this process until you are ready to test it.
- Once again, run it over the chalky sandpaper to see if you have more areas of contact.
- If you wish, you can continue going through the seasoning steps if you still have low areas.
The video below will show you how the man did it, but in the end, he was disappointed. He said it took way too long and his pan, although better with more points of contact, still wasn’t flat. He didn’t say it was a waste of time, but neither did he recommend this way.
Nevertheless, this is the way I would choose if I were going to try and fix a warped cast iron pan.
This Pan Is Terribly Warped; Can I Fix It With Seasoning?
So, can you fix a warped cast iron skillet? It’s possible but not probable.
However, if you decide to try it anyway, just make sure you know the risks.
You can try to hammer out the warp, but it is likely to crack or break instead because it’s cast iron. It isn’t malleable.
Or you can try to reverse the warp using a hot pan and ice or cold water. But the risk is the same and possibly getting additional warpage.
One other way is to add seasoning to the pan. There is little risk of doing it this way, and it can even benefit your pan. However, the time and effort involved makes this method less appealing.
Overall, the vast majority think it is better to replace the skillet rather than try and fix it.
What do you think? Will you try to fix your warped skillet or replace it?
If you try (or have tried) one of these methods or another way, let me know how it turned out.
Share any thoughts or experiences you have with warped cast iron cookware in the comments below.