How to season a cast iron pan:
Seasoning a cast iron pan is a simple and low-tech process that will make your cooking experience much easier in the long run with a small time investment in the short term. The purpose is to build an even non-stick surface in the pan.

When you first get a new cast iron pan (or any other cast iron cookware for that matter), or are ressurecting a long neglected one, follow these simple steps:

  1. If your pan is starting out in sorry shape (i.e. burnt on food or rusted) you must scour it down with steel wool and hot water before starting this process.
  2. Coat the pan (including the outside) with a thin layer of shortening or lard.
  3. Heat the oven to 250 degrees.
  4. Place the pan in the oven.
  5. Leave the pan in the oven for 15 or 20 mintues.
  6. Take the pan out and pour off any excess grease that may be in there.
  7. Put the pan back in the oven and let it cook for two hours.
  8. Take it out and let it cool.
Congratulations, you now own a seasoned pan. Now, let's talk about how to keep it in good shape.

Some people at this point will say the only way to keep the pan in good shape is to never use water on it again. If you are using this pan primarily for frying, this is great advice. In that case, when you are through frying stuff in it, heat it up with a little extra oil heat the pan until it starts to smoke a little bit, and using a paper towel or a rag or whatever, wipe/scrub it so as to remove any food bits that are in there. Then turn the heat off. This does several things. First, heating it gets any water that may be there to evaporate, tends to burn off volatile oils that would leave a flavor in the pan, and kills any nasty germs that are living there.

If you are going to be making curries or stews, or just can't face the idea of not washing the pan out of some Obsessive-Compulsive disorder, then the next best thing is to quickly remove any food from the pan, wash it with hot water but no soap, and then follow the directions above. Resist the temptation to scrub at the pan with steel wool because it can remove the finish you worked so hard to build when conditioning the pan, and then you'd have to do that all over agian. One other warning about steel wool: Tiny steel wool particles can get into the microscopic cracks in the pan and cause a metallic flavor to be imparted to any acidic foods you cook for a little while after you use it, so steel wool should be a last resort to be used only when all other scrubbing methods have been exhausted.

Some other nodes to look at for more context would be: