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Can I cook on a random piece of hot rolled steel after I remove the mill scale?


Joined Jun 25, 2019
i bought a thick piece of hot rolled steel from a cutoff bin. I have no idea what kind of steel it is or how it was treated.

I think I have removed the mill scale by soaking it in vinegar for 24 hours. I plan on seasoning it. After that, am I good to cook on it?

I heard that it could have been pickled and then it wouldn’t be usable. I’ve heard that it’s fine. I don’t know what to believe. Is there a way to tell if it’s been pickled?


Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
Joined Nov 24, 2011
If it's got mill scale on it, it sounds like raw steel.

As to "pickled steel", it is my understanding that pickling is using an acid to remove surface impurities such as the mill scale. If you have scale, I doubt it's pickled. Also the acids are usually common ones and really should not matter. Your vinegar soak is a mild version of the commercial pickling process anyway as vinegar is a fairly mild acid.

The only thing I know would be a problem was if it was galvanized or zinc plated. Heating galvanized steel above a certain point releases the zinc fumes and those can make you very sick (google metal fume fever). Again if you have mill scale, it does not sound like it is galvanized or zinc coated. If you have any concerns of chemicals, remember you can always burn them off in a long high heat session before seasoning. Most treatments will only off gas so much and when they are done, they are done.

You could alway's hit it with a grinder or sand it to the raw metal if you had concerns of coatings (and to remove residual scale). Then use a good quality food oil to season. America's test kitchen recommends flaxseed oil. The more unsaturated the oil, the better the carbon seal it leaves on your steel. Also once seasoned, do not put soap on it to clean. Just use water and heat, and add a light coating of a cooking oil before putting it away to prevent rust. Basically treat it like a seasoned cast iron pan after that.

Fueling Around

Master of the Pit
SMF Premier Member
Joined Dec 10, 2018
Acid soak doesn't remove scale from hot roll.
It also doesn't reduce a zinc (galvanize) plate to safe levels to use for food.

Hot roll scale is simply an oxidation layer you want to remove by sanding then wire wheel down to the raw steel. Apply animal or vegetable oil to season.
Personally, I use lard in my cast iron.


Smoking Fanatic
Joined Feb 4, 2019
Just take a flap wheel to it until it’s shiny, then season it as you would cast iron.

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