Seasoning A Canvas Tent and Cast Iron Cookware
It's an age-old saying that applies to so many things in our world but, when it comes to enjoying life outdoors, if you look after your camping gear, it will look after you.
Making sure your gear is properly prepped and ready for use before you take it out is important on a number of levels. Not only will you ensure everything performs the way the manufacturer has intended it to perform but you will also increase durability and reliability, which means getting more mileage out of your purchase.
The best part of seasoning your camping equipment is, while it might take a little bit of time, it requires very little elbow grease and sweat on your part. Here's how to go about it…
Canvas/Poly Cotton Swags & Tents
Seasoning your tent or swag before its first use is vital. Why? During the manufacturing process - which involves an extensive amount of sewing and needlework - it's inevitable there will be many tiny needle holes in the material, particularly around the stitched and seam areas. These holes are tiny but large enough to mean you're in for some damp conditions if it rains when you go camping.
So, how do you ensure your tent or swag is watertight?
Set up your tent or swag at home and plan to have it standing for a few days. It's important to set it up exactly as you would when you camp. Close/zip up all of your windows and doors as though it is about to rain. Take a good look inside to see if there are any obvious holes. You can do this by searching for pinpricks of light coming through the material, particularly around the seams.
Get your garden hose or sprinkler and give your tent/swag a thorough soaking. Try not to apply direct water pressure to the seams - 'simulate' a rain shower as best you as can, making sure you have an even and complete saturation (i.e. don't use a high-pressure spray appliance or 'jet' setting on your hose). If you can see areas of seams are still dry, take a rag or sponge and apply them to those areas to make sure they're soaked too.
As the tent/swag dries, the poly cotton material it's made from - and key areas you're trying to season like double-stitched seams - will naturally contract and bind together to create an even, more reliable moisture seal.
To be certain, allow your tent to dry and then give it another soak. Repeat the process until you're confident the material has contracted and bound together enough to be watertight and protect you in adverse weather conditions. If there are still persistent leaks, some seam sealer will do the trick.
It's best to season your equipment when the forecast is for a run of fine weather. You can combine the process with forecast rains but the drying process is equally as important for properly seasoning your equipment. Most experts agree that relatively warm, sunny weather offers the best conditions for getting the job done.
Cast Iron Cookware
Quality cast iron cookware can cost a pretty penny, so ensuring you prepare it properly for use when you're camping is an essential part of making sure it delivers value for money and provides years of reliable use. Even if you've purchased a pre-seasoned cast iron cooking product, giving it an additional pre-use seasoning won't do it any harm.
For seasoning cast iron cookware, you'll need some paper towels, warm water, dishwashing liquid, a scourer, an oven mit or suitable heatproof gloves and your preferred type of cooking oil (olive, grapeseed, canola, etc.).
Give your cookware a good clean in warm, soapy water using a scourer or steel wool, making sure to remove any labelling or adhesives that might have been placed on the cookware in the store or - if you've brought your cast iron out of storage - any dust or residue from your last use. Dry your cast iron cookware thoroughly.
Using a campfire, a hooded BBQ or an oven, warm your cookware slightly then remove the cookware from the heat using gloves or oven mits. On the inside of the Camp Oven, Jaffle Iron, Skillet or Grill Plate, pour in/on a medium amount of oil. Using some paper towels, wipe the oil throughout your cookware so that it forms an even, protective coating. Additionally, do this for the internal side of lids, if your cookware has lids. An alternative would be using spray oil to coat your Cast Iron Cookware to season them.
Return your cookware to your heat source (campfire, BBQ, oven, etc.). If you're using a hooded BBQ or an oven, ensure it's on a high heat. After approximately 45 to 60 minutes, carefully remove the cookware from the heat. Your cast iron cookware should have a shiny black coating. If required, repeat the process until you achieve an even, shiny coating of oil on your cookware.
Before storing your Camp Oven, Skillet, Jaffle Iron or Grill Plate, check that it is completely dry and then apply oil to the exterior and interior of this cast iron cookware.
Seasoning your camping equipment is what smart campers do. Make it part of your camping ritual and your camping gear will look after you for many years to come.