Spun steel camp oven

Submitted: Saturday, Sep 13, 2003 at 14:34
ThreadID: 7205 Views:10293 Replies:5 FollowUps:3
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Hi All,
Just checking if any readers here know if you need to 'season' a spun metal camp oven (Hillybilly type), as you would a cast iron oven before its first use. Any info would be great....Thanks.

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Reply By: Wayne Prictor - Saturday, Sep 13, 2003 at 14:45

Saturday, Sep 13, 2003 at 14:45
Mick You Dont Have To Do Anything With Them Just Give Them A Wash Then Start Cooking
AnswerID: 30947

Reply By: DINGO - Saturday, Sep 13, 2003 at 15:04

Saturday, Sep 13, 2003 at 15:04
We have a"Bedourie" type and like it because of its weight, but have tried to season it a number of times over high heat with fat and oil and still find that the condensation inside the lid can start to rust when say cooking a stew for a few hours!Could anyone help us on what we are doing wrong or a solution?
AnswerID: 30948

Follow Up By: Member - Jack - Saturday, Sep 13, 2003 at 15:07

Saturday, Sep 13, 2003 at 15:07
I would rub the inside over with a bit of cooking oil after use, and leave some absorbent towel inside. I do this with my spun steel camp oven and have not had a rust problem, despite living close to the sea.

If you have any packets of silica they could also be useful in absorbing moisture.

JackAustralia - If you don't love it, leave!!!
FollowupID: 21931

Follow Up By: paul - Saturday, Sep 13, 2003 at 19:06

Saturday, Sep 13, 2003 at 19:06
seasoning with fat and oil will assist with preventing sticking but has nothing to do with rust control. take example the wok, the best type are the cheapest you can get in chinatown. after being seasoned mine is more slippery and less sticky than my $80 non-stick frypan. but rust they will. The solution to stopping rust after seasoning is never to use detergent! Wash with hot water or then cold water after heating up the surface. If stuff sticks then don't scrub with a steel wool as you will wear off the seasoned finish - you heat it up as long as you can, to red evem is fine, then pour on COLD water and theoretically stuff sticking to a seasoned surface will immediately lift off. If you have to get to that stage you may need to season again. Good luck.

One point is be carefull taking to a hot pan under cold water with a soft nylon brush, might melt - use a stiff one or a straw one.
FollowupID: 21949

Reply By: Dingley - Sunday, Sep 14, 2003 at 10:48

Sunday, Sep 14, 2003 at 10:48
FarasIknow, spun steel won't absorb anything. Can't season it. Just clean it and put it back in the cardboard box. Bit of rust is normal. Won't hurt you. Apply the oil after use, wipe it out prior to cooking and get on with it (Tom Kruse is still with us - in Adelaide - bet his bush cookware wasn't too pretty).Get me outa these suburbs !
AnswerID: 30983

Follow Up By: DINGO - Sunday, Sep 14, 2003 at 15:40

Sunday, Sep 14, 2003 at 15:40
Thanks for that Paul it seems to make some sence to me and i have been told that before but then you start to break rules and after a few years it befomes norm , so i will give it a wirl and see how it goes as there are a lot of these around and most seem to like them, i love my old cast camp oven but i just don't know how people can afford the weight and thats the main reason for trying the bedourie. As for rust not hurting you i was under the inpression that it was poisonous?????
FollowupID: 21976

Reply By: Member - Wherethehellawi - Sunday, Sep 14, 2003 at 17:50

Sunday, Sep 14, 2003 at 17:50
spun steel would be similar to a steel wok?
My wife's Chinese/Thai cookinjg instructor says it should be seasoned with a bit of salt n pepper and lots of herbs and burn it in with very hot olive oil (or canola or similar if you cant afford olive).

never srub your wok was also advised so I guess it applies here tooWow! am I cute
If yer ain't fishing, Yer ain't livin
AnswerID: 31003

Reply By: Member - Peter - Sunday, Sep 14, 2003 at 19:51

Sunday, Sep 14, 2003 at 19:51
Found this info from The Mitsubishi 4WD Owners Club (Qld) site after doing a generic search via Google for 'camp ovens'.
This seems to be the most complete answer.
(Thank to The Mitsubishi 4WD Owners Club (Qld) members for use of their information).
All the best folks,


Cast iron camp ovens are fun and a time-proven way to cook a variety of food including breads, roasts, stews and casseroles. Camp ovens come in various sizes and a good one will last a lifetime if cared for. Most camp stores carry good quality ovens but look for one that has a strong handle and a lid with a large lip to hold the coals.

Before using a camp oven and to prevent rust it needs to be "seasoned". The first step with a new cast iron camp oven is to peel off any labels and then wash the oven and lid in warm water only, rinse and dry completely. Grease the oven and lid inside and out with a good grade of olive or vegetable oil. Do not use lard or other animal products as they will spoil and turn rancid. Do not use a spray in coating the oven but rather use oil soaked in a paper towel.

Place the oven upside down on an oven rack with the lid separate and place aluminium foil underneath to catch any excess oil. Bake at 300-350 degree oven heat for at least an hour.

You will probably need to repeat the process for the oven to obtain the desired uniform black patina that provides the non-stick qualities and protects your oven from rust.


Avoid at first acidic foods and water which removes the "seasoning" otherwise you will have to re-season the oven. After cooking remove the lid and do not use the oven as a food storage vessel.

In cleaning the oven NEVER use detergents, they will enter the pores of the oven and you will forever have the lingering taste of soap. Never use a hard wire brush unless you intend to re-season the oven. Simply scrape out the remaining food and clean the oven with hot water and a natural fibre brush and allow to completely dry.

To store your oven, lightly oil all surfaces, place a piece of paper towel inside and store in a dry place with the lid ajar. The seasoning will improve with each use. It's a good idea to make a bag or a box to transport your oven. NEVER pour cold water into a hot oven as it may crack.


There are a few essential tools for cast iron camp ovens. The first is a long strong hook to lift the lid of your camp oven to check on cooking progress and to remove the oven from the coals. You can make your own from thick wire or you may find one in a good camp store. They are usually sold as tent peg pullers, are 60 - 70cm long and come with a wooden handle.

You will also need long handled tongs, a pot scraper (a spatula or putty knife), oven mitt or heavy pot holder, a small whisk broom (not nylon) to remove the ashes from the lid, paper towels and oil.

Cooking with coals from the camp fire is fine but it will take a bit of practice to get enough coals in the right place to avoid burning and to cook the meal to perfection. A great alternative to camp fire coals is heat beads (see Feb magazine). They are easier to control, hold their heat longer and you can use them to practice the art of cast iron camp oven cooking at home.

Australian Camp Oven Festival
Kampers Kitchen visited the Australian Camp Oven Festival (again) at Milmerran during October. There were camp oven demonstrations, cooking competitions, country music, bush poetry, sheep dog trials, a tour of local places of interest and lots of other country events and displays.

It was held at the show grounds and was well attended especially by caravan clubs from all over Australia but surprisingly there were no 4WD clubs. Ned Winter who is regarded as the King of camp oven cooking was doing his usual displays. Ned has a collection of around 100 camp ovens. His biggest is one of 10 cast at the Toowoomba Foundry for a cattle property in the Northern Territory. The lid alone weighs around 90kg with an all up weight of around 200kg. It holds 24 gallons (109 litres) of stew. Another giant camp oven was around 4 feet in diameter and was made from an old tractor rim. Ned used 25 kg of flour to cook a damper in it.

Some of Australia’s best and funniest bush poets were on stage for a couple of hours on Sunday morning and the bands were also very good.

Many of the camp ovens were 100 year old genuine "furphy’s" and there were some new ones, with a Milmerran 2000 lid, on sale for $135. By way of comparison Sherrys had an imported 12-inch oven for sale at just $30. However the lid of the Furphy weighed far more than the imported oven because of the better quality cast iron used.

The great grandson of the founder of the Furphy Company talked about the origin of the company and in particular about the water wagons used in the First World War and which of course gave name to "furphy" for a rumor.

It seems the old guy was a moralist of sorts because many of wagons carried the slogan, "good better best, never let it rest until your good is better and your better best!"

He was also against strong drink, but not wanting to upset many of his customers who weren’t, he cast on his water wagons in Pitmann shorthand, which looks like Arabic, a warning about evils of the demon liquor and that people should only drink the good water carried in his carts!

In case you are thinking of buying a second hand furphy camp oven from an antique shop forget it! One chap we spoke to said he had been all over Australia looking for them and the asking price is now more than for a new one. It seems there is a great revival in camp oven cooking because of TV shows featuring cooks such as Thommo.

However for just $10 more, that is around $145, the Furphy company will make a personalised lid for their 12 inch camp oven. If there is enough interest or demand we could order genuine Furphy camp ovens with the club name and logo as well as individual names cast on the lid. Not only would they be a novelty they will guarantee camp oven cooking success and they will become collectors items worth many times the original cost.

The standard of cooking in the competitions was very high and the prizes totaled several thousands of dollars. There were various age groups for children, novice etc and the prize for just boiling a billy, which any of our members could do, was $70.

After seeing our camp oven specialists in action at the Muster I have no doubt that our club could make a clean sweep of ALL the prizes. The next one will again be held at Milmerran and would make a great social trip for the club.

Testing camp oven heats by paper test

Kampers Kitchen has previously advised on regulating the heat of camp ovens using heat beads. Here’s a way to determine the heat of an oven when using coals from a fire.

Pre-heat the oven on a bed of coals. Place a piece of paper inside the oven to find out what heat the oven is at. The paper will change color according to the heat of the oven within a few moments.

Very hot oven 500 Dark brown
Hot oven 375-400 Light brown
Moderate oven
325-375 yellow
Slow oven 250-325 Crust
Black & on fire!

What do you think?

There are lots of recipes for beer dampers – what a waste – drink the beer and make your dampers using water or milk. For starters there would not have been much beer in bush camps and what little there was most certainly would not have used to make a damper. And that’s not a furphy!


Last Modified Thursday, 19 June 2003.
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