Why Is My Wok Seasoning Coming Off?

If you own a quality wok, then it is important that you season it. A well-seasoned wok is better at imparting flavors into your foods. It also ensures that your wok is non-stick, helping you to easily toss stir fries and other culinary delights. If you are a newbie, you may understand the importance of seasoning a wok, but you may not know how to do it properly. As a result, this can cause the wok seasoning to flake.

If the wok seasoning is coming off, it is likely that the seasoning didn’t bond to the metal properly. In some cases, this may be because oil was allowed to pool in the wok. In others, you have tried to season a new wok without cleaning it first. Some new woks have a protective coating on them, preventing oil from sticking to the metal.


If your wok seasoning isn’t sticking to your wok, don’t fret! It is an easy issue to rectify. Plus, if it makes you feel more confident in your abilities, some experienced wok users will struggle to get their seasoning to stick sometimes.

Why Is My Wok Seasoning Coming Off?


When you season a wok, you’ll be creating a protective layer of oil known as the patina. To do this, you will essentially be heating up very, very thin layers of oil in your pan. When you heat the oil, it will go through a process known as polymerization. This chemical reaction causes the oil to turn into an almost plastic-like substance. As it does, it sticks to the bottom of the pan.

When your wok seasoning starts to peel off, it is likely because your wok didn’t complete the polymerization process. Most of the time, this is because you allowed the oil to pool at the bottom of the wok. This often happens if you used too much oil. If the oil doesn’t polymerize properly, then it will eventually flake off.

In rare cases, your wok seasoning may be coming off because you are scrubbing the wok too hard when you are cleaning. It may also be down to the chemicals that you use. Water that is too hot, as well as harsh soaps can cause flaking. So, where possible, always scrub gently with a very mild dish soap.

Finally, many new wok pans have a protective layer on them. The job of this protective layer is to prevent the pan from rusting when in the store. If you do not remove this protective layer before you try to season, then your seasoning won’t stick.

In most cases, your wok seasoning will come off shortly after a fresh seasoning. It is rare for older woks to have their seasoning chip (unless you are scrubbing seriously hard), because each time you cook, a new layer of seasoning is added to the pan.

If your wok seasoning is coming off, then you need to restore it quickly. If you don’t, then your pan could end up rusting. If that happens, it takes a lot of effort to fix it.  

How To Restore the Wok Seasoning 


To restore the wok’s seasoning, there are two things that you need to do:

  1. Remove the old seasoning.
  2. Re-season the wok.

Some people will only remove the old seasoning in the area that is chipping. You can do that if you wish. You can use the same method that we discuss here. However, we prefer to remove all the wok’s seasoning. Because if there is a poor ‘stick’ in one part of the wok, chances are that the seasoning wouldn’t have stuck properly elsewhere too. You really don’t want to be forever re-seasoning, hence starting completely fresh.

Let’s walk you through the steps.

Removing the Old Seasoning on Your Wok

To remove the old seasoning, you will need two things:

  • A mild dish soap.
  • A stainless-steel dish scrubber

Using warm water and soap, scrub the wok’s seasoning. If the seasoning is loose, this should lift it right off. If some areas seem a bit tough, then you may want to work a bit of baking soda in there too. It will work more effectively than the soap.

It is going to take a decent amount of scrubbing but keep at it. Once the old seasoning has been removed, make sure that you completely dry the wok. Any water left over could cause it to rust. If the wok is oven-safe, you could even put it in the oven for 10 minutes at 400F.

Don’t worry if you aren’t able to remove all the old seasoning. It is a tough job. If you get all the flaking areas, you’ll be fine.

Seasoning Your Wok

The next step is to season your wok. For this, you’ll need the following:

  • Paper towels
  • Vegetable oil or canola oil

You can use other oils to season your wok, but the process is easier with oils with a high smoke point. Woks need to be hot for that oil to stick, and you don’t want that oil smoking until the wok is hot enough.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Heat the unseasoned wok on the stove at a very high heat.
  2. Make sure that you heat up every part of the wok. This means the bottom and the sides. When it is hot (it may even start to smoke) remove it from the heat.
  3. Pour a small amount of your oil onto a paper towel. Spread a very thin layer over every part of the inside of the wok. It is important that this is a thin layer. If you let the oil pool, it will start flaking again.
  4. Heat the wok at medium-high heat until it starts to smoke. Once again, make sure every part of the pan is heated up. You’ll need to move it about a little.
  5. When the oil starts to smoke, remove the wok from the heat. Wipe any excess oil away from the wok using your paper towel.
  6. Repeat steps 1-5 several times. 3-5 times will be ideal. You want to keep repeating the process until there is no black residue on the paper towel when you wipe.

If you follow this process, then your wok should be properly seasoned. It shouldn’t flake again.

How Should You Maintain a Wok – And How Often?

family gathering
family gathering

You should be cleaning your wok as soon as you have used it, especially if you have cooked something that smells strongly or is highly acidic (e.g., used vinegar-based sauces). If you clean and oil after use, your wok should stay in perfect condition. You’ll probably never have to re-season it.

Follow these steps:

  1. Let the wok cool down.
  2. Scrub gently with warm, soapy water (don’t forget to use mild soap!)
  3. If any food is stuck to the wok, gently scrape it off using a stainless-steel scrubber.
  4. Dry the wok completely.
  5. Rub a thin layer of vegetable oil over the inside of the wok.
  6. Put it into storage.

If you have cooked something that smells strongly e.g., fish, then you may need to add an ‘extra step’. After you have spread the vegetable oil thinly over the wok, let the pan heat up until the oil smokes. After that, repeat steps 1 to 5 again. If you don’t do that, it will be tough to remove the stench later.

If you spot any rust, scrub it away. Re-season that area of the pan (as per the instructions we gave before).

If you haven’t used your wok for several weeks, clean it before you use it. This is because the vegetable oil you left on the pan may have turned rancid. You don’t want those flavors in your dish!

What Are Some Recommended Wok Brands?

If you are buying a wok, make sure that you pick up a carbon steel one. They are easier to season, and they cook so much better. There are a few different wok brands out there. If you stick to a quality Japanese brand, then you probably won’t go far wrong. We have our favorites, though.

We suggest the following brands:

  • Yosukata
  • Mammafong
  • Joyce Chen (if on a budget)
  • Hand Hammered Woks (expensive, but worth the money)

Final Thoughts

If your wok is flaking, it is likely because you didn’t season your wok properly. This often happens when you use too much oil during the seasoning process. The best way to deal with the flaking is to remove the old seasoning and re-season the pan. It takes a while, but it is worth it. A well-seasoned wok is so much more exciting to use.

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Hi there! My name is Zitang, and I’m a retired chef who has a passion for all things related to the kitchen. That’s why I founded my website, Kitchen Joker, to share my love of cooking with others.

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Email: lzt1344248578@gmail.com

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