Just like cast iron, carbon steel needs to be seasoned—this is the process that polymerizes fats heated in the pan and bonds them to the cooking surface, forming a coating that protects against rust and helps food release more easily. The good news is that seasoning carbon steel is quick and easy. It takes just a single application of oil for a new pan to be slick enough for cooking—or to repair a chipped patina. The hardest part is that a new carbon-steel pan may not look very seasoned for a long time. Depending on how often you use your skillet or wok, the surface may look brown, blotchy, and streaky for months (instead of displaying the even black patina of an older pan). But trust us: With some fat added before cooking, the pan will still be nonstick, and it will cook food beautifully.