(Image credit: Erika Tracy)

Most new cast iron cookware comes with a "factory-seasoned" label, but what does that mean? Are you getting the same well-seasoned, nonstick surface that makes your grandmother’s long-used skillet such a treasure?

In our tour of the Lodge cast iron factory, we discovered what the factory seasoning process is and the best ways to maintain that initial seasoning.

(Image credit: Erika Tracy)

What Is Factory Seasoning?

Normal cast iron seasoning is achieved when fats and oils collect on cast iron through regular use. Factory seasoning occurs when a specific soy-based oil is applied in high heat to allow polymers to form a seasoning layer comparable to 10 to 15 rounds of at-home seasoning.

Lodge Manufacturing was the first cast iron manufacturer to factory season cast iron cookware starting in 2002. “It was a total ‘Aha’ moment,” said Mark Kelly, Public Relations Manager of Lodge Manufacturing. “It should have been this way all along.”

Do You Ever Need to Re-Season?

No initial seasoning is required straight out of the box, so consumers can enjoy the benefits of seasoned cast iron immediately. But do you still need to keep seasoning your factory-seasoned cast iron? Indeed.

Factory seasoning is a kickstart to the fine art of cast iron seasoning, but seasoning is an ongoing process. Want that perfect black, nonstick patina? Then get to cooking — regular use and maintenance are the best way to build up the coveted nonstick surface.

A Few Seasoning Tips from the Folks at Lodge

  • Make your first meal. Anything will do, but frying up a little bit of bacon gives the factory seasoning even more extra oils.
  • Maximize your seasoning. Meats especially enhance seasoning.
  • Maintain the seasoning. Rub olive oil all over the cookware prior to cooking. After cleaning, rub oil all over the cookware, then place on a stove burner or in the oven at a low temperature, which allows the oils to seep in.

More posts in Maker Tour: The Lodge Cast Iron Skillet Factory