How to Clean Cast Iron Cookware

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  1. Warren says:

    First of all, NEVER use soap on cast iron cookware. After cooking and while the pan is still hot, run some hot water into it and sit it back on the stove for a few minutes. If anything is burnt on, turn the burner on low. After a brief period of de-glazing, drain it and sprinkle it liberally with table salt. Wash with a cloth and a little hot water. Rinse with hot water and dry thoroughly. Allow the pot to air-dry for awhile and lightly grease the inside (if needed) with your fingers or a paper towel.

    Note: a metal or synthetic scouring pad may be used if needed, as long as it contains NO SOAP. I very seldom need anything more abrasive than salt.

  2. Lynda says:

    To get the nonstick back on the cast iron, this works great. Clean cast iron with soap & water; dry completely. Apply a coat of oil or shortening (non-flavored). Preheat oven to 350. Put aluminum foil on the bottom of the oven, put the cast iron on the top shelf upside down and bake it for one hour. Turn the oven off and leave the pan in oven until cool. Clean the pan with boiling water and a plastic scrub or bun (no soap). Dry thoroughly, spray lightly with Pam, wipe with a paper towel and store.

  3. Julien says:

    I have heard from some of the elder ladies in town that to recondition a cast iron pot (not the non-stick kind, the old fashioned kind), you simply place in the fireplace for an hour. I don’t know what this does other that burn off anything that isn’t the pot. I imagine a good cleaning is in order afterward. I have the seen the posting about NOT using soap… but I wonder why? I have never heard of this.

  4. Karen says:

    You don’t use soap, because soap is a surfactant and removes the oils that the cast iron collects to become non-stick. This is the same for the stoneware that has become popular. Both will absorb the oils (fats) in the items cooked, and then become non-stick. By using soap, you will release the oils that you are trying to keep. The second reason for avoiding soap is that the pans can absorb the soap and you will have a soapy taste to what you cook in it next.

  5. Cliff says:

    To clean crusty build-up and burnt-on food, soak in a solution of lye (sodium hydroxide) and water.

    Add about one can of lye to five gallons of water and soak overnight. Then wash and scrape off the built up crud. Lye will loosen the build-up and you can wash it right off. For rust removal, soak in a vinegar-water solution of half and half or stronger. Careful with the vinegar, it will pit the cast iron if left in too long. Wait about eight hours and check it, then scrape and scrub. Also be careful with the lye solution – use rubber gloves and eye protection. Lye is very caustic and will burn the skin. Lye won’t hurt the iron. It can be left as long as needed, well, almost.

  6. Cliff says:

    Use oven cleaner and wrap it in plastic wrap or in Ziploc bag overnight instead of using a lye solution (oven cleaner contains lye). See earlier tip for using lye solution or vinegar.

  7. Elkie says:

    If you have a piece of cast iron that is really dirty, you can put about an inch of white playground sand in the bottom and top off with water and boil it. Just keep an eye that it doesn’t boil dry. Make sure you re-season after you boil it and wash it out.

    Oh and do not put the sand down the sink drain. Take it out back and dump it.

  8. Ruby says:

    To clean my cast iron skillets, I use hot water and steel wool. Never, never use soap! This is a very good way to ruin them. When I need to season them, I use a little oil on a paper towel. I wipe them, then put them in the oven on a slow heat for an hour. After the hour is up, I turn the heat off and leave them in the oven.

  9. Steph says:

    I once took a cast iron skillet camping. After cooking on it, I’d just turn it upside down in the fire. I also would kill the fire in the evenings by putting the skillet upside down in the coals and then covering the whole thing with two inches of sand. If there was food caked onto the skillet I’d scour with sand before putting it upside down on the fire again. Before each use and when I broke camp, I coated the skillet lightly with olive oil and rubbed it down to remove any ashes clinging to the inside. The skillet loved that treatment and came home perfectly seasoned. The food tasted great, too (but then camp food always does).

    At home, where the tyrannical smoke alarm will not even let me use the broiler, I’m stuck cleaning my cast iron with hot water and a bristle brush, and seasoning on the stove or in the oven; it doesn’t like this nearly so much, but it’s usable anyway. I always finish up any cleaning by coating the pan with oil and heating it on the stove to kill anything still on it before it can multiply.

  10. Jon says:

    I just got a really rusted cast iron pan. I read that soaking in vinegar and water it will remove the rust, but leaving it too long can damage to the pan. I’ve had to soak this pan for a week and has removed all the rust finally. My question is, how does it damage the pan? The pan looks to be fine and smooth. The only thing I noticed is that you get iron on your towel when you wipe it.

  11. Karen says:

    The vinegar contains acid, which will eat into the metal. Once you’ve got all the rust off, it’s important to soak it in an alkaline solution to stop the effects. Something like washing soda does the job. If you’re getting iron on your cloth, the pan may not be seasoned properly – try re-seasoning it and never use soap to clean it as this removes the seasoning.

    Hope that helps.

  12. Dale says:

    Never, never, never use soap! To clean, use hot water and a brush or scrubber. Afterward, coat lightly with oil. To season cast iron, forget about using vegetable oil, use only BACON GREASE!

    Coat the utensil with bacon grease, put it upside down for about 2-4 hours on your BBQ grill outside on high, let cool, repeat this 2 to 3 times. Your cast iron will look and feel 100 years old and be non-stick! As a Scoutmaster for 14 years, I have seasoned dozens of cast iron cookware and this is second to none! Remember, never use soap to clean, if it is dirty beyond cleaning with hot water and a brush, cook it on high in a BBQ grill for a few hours, clean and re-season with bacon grease.

  13. Rose says:

    When I wiped my cast iron dutch oven, I get a black residue on the cloth. There is no rust and I have never washed it with soap, just hot water and dry it by placing it in the oven. What did I do wrong and can I correct this?

  14. Dale says:

    You’re doing nothing wrong. The black residue is just carbon from your cooking. If large amounts of black carbon build up in the pot, just scrap lightly while wet with a spatula, don’t try to get it all off. Just remember never clean it with soap, use hot water and brush lightly with brush, rinse, wipe dry and coat lightly inside with oil. That’s it from beginning to end!

  15. Riceball says:

    I think it’s kind of paranoid to not use soap. If you use the pan enough, the grease layer will be pretty thick.

    Also, you should not wash it that much – use it, then rinse it with a brush if you want, and leave it on the stove (using heat to dry it out). Put a lid on it to keep it clean. If you use it twice a day, it’s never really going to get “dirty”. I wash once every week or so, with soap.

    I know, it sounds disgusting and unsanitary to some of you, but, that’s the way to cook. It’s cooking, not surgery. The heat kills the germs. Your kitchen’s supposed to be in operation a few hours every day. Back when cast iron was common, people cooked three or four hours a day.

    Nowadays, most Americans wash everything all the time, cook for 30 minutes once a day, usually mixing take-away with something cooked and something microwaved, and basically don’t have a “cast iron” lifestyle. That’s why we use Teflon.

  16. Terry says:

    When we bring a new old cast iron skillet or pot home, we use a pumice stone to remove the rust. We also use a brass wire brush I bought at Kroger to clean it. To clean our seasoned cast iron, I scrub it with a brush and then dry it on top of the stove. I then oil it with lard and put it away.

  17. Ironman says:

    I’ve been cleaning my cast iron pans in the dishwasher for years with no problems. Simply wipe a little olive oil or other fat (no vegetable oil) in them after washing and they’re good to go. Dishwasher detergent seems to be the one thing that sticks to Teflon pans. I’d like to know where the “no soap” myth originated . . . anyone?

  18. Brian says:

    I have cleaned my cast iron with soap and without. The way I understand the reasoning for not using soap is that at one time soap was made with lye (just like oven cleaner you would use to strip an old pan) and would ruin the seasoning very quickly – hence no soap.

    Modern mild detergents don’t seem to do nearly as much damage to the seasoning. I tend to avoid soap with my pans as much as possible even so. I would avoid any soap that brags about its grease fighting properties though.

  19. Phil says:

    We had a rusted pot that seemed to be too far gone. I told my wife that I had heard that if you take it to the car wash and soak it with the tire wash, then spray it real hard with the spray in the soap cycle. I would not use these harsh chemicals on my good cast iron, but this needed something radical. She came back soaked and her car was clean, but what about the pot? Let’s just say she’s a believer. I took the pot inside and used hot water and a scrub pad and then rubbed oil all over it. We will see in the morning how it fared.

  20. Anna says:

    I forgot about some carrots and zucchini in my cast iron pot, and discovered them some two weeks later on the stove top. It smelled terrible, of course. What is the best way to get the smell out of the pan?

  21. Incognito says:

    Best way to get all the oil (including motor oil) and stink out of or off of a cast iron pan is build a campfire and toss the pan in. I take an old wire coat hanger and wire it to the handle, leaving the wire outside the fire so I can take the pan out as needed, remembering anything in or close to the fire is hot. The wire comes in handy too in case you would like to use this to hang the pan till cool… This will remove all the oils and stink, however you will have to wash and re-season, but I found it is well worth the effort because you have a blank canvas to work with. To get off the black after washing, you put the pan on the stove top, heat till you see the water evaporating, then take a paper towel and wipe it dry. Take the same paper towel and use it to apply your fresh oil to the pan, wipe till all coated, throw the paper towel away and you are done. Always remember too that cast iron is like any other material. Hot pans put down on too cold a surface may cause the pan to crack; had a friend who cleaned his cast pan in a black smiths forge and found out the hard way lol… The smelly pans are sometimes attributed to the oil that was used; any oil that sits without being heated for long periods of time, the oil will start to decay because, after all, it’s from an animal – mostly pork renderings: bacon, lard, etc. Some people use corn products like shortening, as this works also; the oil or shortening is used to fill the porous holes in the cast iron, thus giving it the non-stick cooking. Heating the cast iron in the oven, grill and etc. causes the pores in the cast iron to open allowing for the oils and etc. to go deeper into the metal making for a better non-stick cook surface. When cast iron cools, it locks the oils down into the cast iron; when heating the pan, you will see the oils start to come out of the pores of the cast iron. The black or brown coloring comes from about the same procedure as a gunsmith used to use in the olden days to blue gun barrels or gun parts; bluing is a controlled rust so salts and other seasonings over time will help color the cast iron with the heating and applying methods being very similar, even down to the coating of oil to stop the bluing or rusting process of the cast iron. I just learned lately from an elderly lady that when cast iron is used over a campfire, it helps to coat the outside of the bottom of the pan with soap before putting it on the fire – makes it easier cleanup after the cooking is done. I hope my ramblings have helped some of you…

    God Bless and Happy Cooking!

  22. Joyce says:

    I installed a new stove with a middle long burner with a cast iron skillet to fit. I seasoned it, followed the directions, planned on making pancakes, eggs, etc., but must have done something wrong. Now there is shortening gunk, sticky on the skillet. I must have used too much shortening. How do I clean this off and re-season? I really want to use it. Someone told me to make a paste out of dishwasher detergent and let it sit for a few hours, and scrape off? Should I do this?

  23. Just me says:

    With an insert all sticky and gunky, just soak it in Dawn dish soap, or any other will do the same thing. Take a stainless steel pad or Scotch-Brite and it should clean off easily. The trouble with shortening is it does tend to get gunky; once cleaned you may want to try a spray, like Pam. You may have better luck, just spray a light coat and wipe it evenly, you should have good results, dishwasher detergent might be too caustic and tends to make the cast rust easily if not tended to immediately.

  24. Hooky says:

    The reason you don’t want to use soap is that cast iron is porous, unlike stainless cookware. Anyplace where you’re taking seasoning off, you’re essentially taking off the sealant. At that point, you have soap in the cast iron and not only will it be difficult to season, but it will impart a soapy taste to the things you cook in it.

  25. Dawn says:

    I would think that if the health department learned that restaurants weren’t using soap to clean cast iron pans, they would be shut down. The pan isn’t clean if it’s only been scraped, dried and re-oiled.

  26. Brian says:

    I’ve been using cast iron for a while now. I have never had trouble with the use of soap on well seasoned CI.

    Normally, I don’t really need soap. Hot water and a paper towel work fine most of the time.

    The reason soap is not recommended is because at one time many/most soaps were made with lye. Lye is very caustic and is one of the methods used for “stripping” old crud/seasoning before re-seasoning. I have done this myself. Modern dishwashing liquids do not contain lye.

    I DO recommend using a mild soap, and wouldn’t soak a CI pan in a heavy degreaser overnight, but occasional use of a mild detergent has NEVER caused a problem for me personally. That said, I normally work in this order:

    Wipe clean with paper towel if possible. If not, use hot water and a paper towel. If that is not enough, I use a little oil and some coarse salt. I rarely use soap unless I am feeling a little lazy.

    So you can’t go wrong avoiding soap, but occasional use of mild soap will not ruin your CI. Well seasoned CI is slicker than Teflon and cleanup for me usually means a quick wipe.

  27. Brian says:

    I forgot to mention that as far as soap is concerned, degreasing agents “will” strip surface oil from cast iron and give the surface a dull gloss. Re-oiling will make it shiny again. When properly seasoned, the oils seep into the pores of the cast iron, and the heat polymerizes the oil to form a hard “varnish” that is “locked” into the pores of the cast iron.

    Degreasing will only remove the surface oils, which can be easily replaced. The soap your grandma told you never to use was probably lye, and that is a no-no as it will remove everything but the pan. Traditions die hard and this WAS very important advice back in the day.

    Mild dish detergents will not do this when used in moderation. Oil and salt is best, and it renews the oils while it cleans, but soap is not the scourge it once was. Season well and use the pan a lot and you will always have a well-seasoned pan. Use it once a year, wash it with soap and water and then put it away wet until next year and you are guaranteed to have a pan that EVERYTHING sticks to.

    I have a couple of my great, great grandmother’s cast iron skillets, and got them early because my mother never figured out how to use them correctly and switched to Teflon. Her loss!

  28. Bernice says:

    My son needed to clean his Cast Iron Dutch oven, after researching many ways people have don it. I said to him my Mom always boiled potato skins in her tea kettle to clean it. So he said let’s give it a try. In went two potatoes, filled it up with water and boiled it for about an hour. you wouldn’t believe what was on the bottom of the pot. Not quite good enough yet so we tried cream of tarter. Worked OK, but not good enough so back to two more potatoes and a pot filled to the brim with water. Boiled it on low for two hours. Emptied it out Amazing results. Wire brushed it after it cooled down as it formed some rust. It looked great so was ready to season it. Good luck if you try it and hopefully it will work for you.

  29. Carol says:

    Some of my cast iron skillets, pots and pans have wooden handles on them, therefore, I can’t put them in the oven to dry, so I place them on the top burner of my stove.

    I also use veggie oil to prep them; I read bacon grease is better, but I very rarely have that.

  30. Ruth says:

    I have two cast iron pots with wooden handles also. I season mine in the oven same as skillets. To remove the handles, I just unscrew them from the pan at the end of the handle, but yours may not be made like mine with round wooden handles and a long screw. But if they are, try to remove them. After you clean and season them, just simply re-screw them back to pan.

  31. Ken says:

    I have a collection of old cast iron pans; I use them all regularly. I never buy new, and to clean an old cast iron pan is quite simple. I purchased a hand-held sand blaster at Home Depot for about 12 bucks and a bag of the finest grit they had. It takes about five minutes to remove all the old coating from a pan. Make sure you do it outside and wear gloves and safety goggles. I then go over it with a Dremel tool polishing the surface. When I am done, I have a shiny new, old pan ready to be seasoned.

  32. Belinda says:

    I’ve read all the comments on how to clean my black iron skillet and will try some, but there is lots of crud on the OUTside of my very old, abused and misused treasure. I can’t do the sanding thing, or the fireplace thing, but what else will work? Anybody tried the oven-cleaner in a plastic bag overnight thing?

  33. Tracy says:

    Cooking with cast iron will give you much needed iron in your system. Our fast food life style is not giving us the vitamins we need, so doctors are finding that more people are anemic than in the past because of using aluminum no-stick pans. This is a proven fact.

    I recently purchased a comal, a flat, round cast iron griddle used to heat/cook tortillas. The information that came with the pan said it was pre-seasoned. The last pan I had said the same thing, but it isn’t seasoned, so you must season it yourself. Don’t cook vegetables (unless in a stew or similar) or acidic foods in the pan, like tomatoes, for acid will remove some of the non-stick coating you so lovingly spent time to make.

    Never, ever put something cold in an extremely hot cast iron pot, as it can warp. I was taught as well to never use soap and if the need arrives, I put water in the pan and heat on the stove and then if I have to, use steel wool to get the rest of the residue off, dry completely and recoat the pan.

    To season your pan/pot, put your pan in the oven and put the oven on Clean for two hours or so. This will burn off the factory coating. It is cast iron and there is no way that it will be damaged from the heat generated by your oven, so even longer won’t hurt. Let the oven cool (you have to wait anyway before it will let you unlock the door). Coat the inside of the pan with a layer of vegetable oil or shortening. I would stay away from anything with a “taste” like olive oil or bacon fat, which tends to get rancid and also has a low smoke point for the purpose of seasoning the pan. Apply another coating of oil/shortening and you are good to go. The more you use it, the more it gets non-stick. I have put cast iron cookware in a fire pit or fireplace or BBQ grill and no method works as easy as this one and it is also much safer, as long as you let the pan cool and there are no sparks to contend with like in a fire!

  34. Michelle says:

    I recently purchased two corn cob-shaped cast iron cornbread pans at an estate sale. They are coated in a thick, oily goo all over. I’d like to clean them and get them ready for use in my own home, with my own seasoning. What would be the best way to degrease/clean these pans?

  35. Janice says:

    I recently purchased a large antique cast iron teapot. It is rusted inside and the opening is not very large, making it difficult to scrub off the rust with steel wool. I read all the above remarks that discussed pots and pans and using oil, which I do to season all my other cast iron cookware as this is all I use, but I don’t want to season the teapot with oil, as I am afraid it will cause my tea to taste like oil. Suggestions on how to clean out all the rust from a teapot and then what? Leave it with or without oil?

  36. Jan says:

    I soaked my rusted cast iron pot in 50/50 cider vinegar and water for almost three days, and noticed that I now have a few spots where it looks like the finish was eaten off. Each spot is a bit larger than a quarter. Have I ruined it for good? Is there a way to fix it?

  37. Lib says:

    CAST: THE BEST COOKWARE YOU CAN BUY!
    For DAWN; The health department looks for contaminants and bacteria. Have you ever eaten a pizza? Pizza pans don’t get washed either, they get scraped to remove any food or buildup, for the same reason – it removes the seasoning. If food is stuck on your cookware, soap won’t remove it, but scrubbing will.

    Cast is almost indestructible! You can brush it, scrub it, rub it with salt, sand it, or sandblast it. Then season, and it’ll be as good as new! If you’re cooking acidic foods like tomatoes, clean immediately after cooking, apply oil when the pan is warm from washing, and wipe clean.
    For water, clean and season, then boil a batch or two and discard till the oil is gone. Dry thoroughly to prevent rust and allow the cast to breathe (don’t seal it tight with a lid).

  38. Mark says:

    Your cast iron teapot may be damaged and unusable as a teapot, I’m pretty sure it should have an enamal lining in it so your water stays fresh. Perhaps you could get it reglazed by a local potter? Hope this helps.

  39. Regina says:

    I just got a 12-gallon cast iron pot that was used for cooking outside over a fire and it has some rust in the bottom of it. Can someone tell me how to remove the rust so I can use it? Thanks to anyone who can help.

  40. Phil says:

    After reading all the comments, it is clear that the old method of cleaning cast iron (CI) in the mid-south (Memphis and environs) was never mentioned. If there are encrustations all over the CI, both outside and inside, it needs to be burned off. Stack a bonfire (but do not light it yet), place the CI upside down over a lot of the wood, stack a lot more wood on top, and then light the bonfire. Leave everything alone until it cools naturally, perhaps overnight. All the crud and carbon will have burned to a gray ash by cool-down. This can be wiped off with a slightly moist towel. If some crud/carbon is still left, then repeat the process.

    *Do not place a cold CI item into a hot bonfire; it is sure to crack or warp the piece. Always start everything cold.*

    You will also find that much rust is removed by this process, but perhaps not all rust. As for re-seasoning the piece, the comments are generally good. Personally, the best seasoning luck I have had is with butter, and not any vegetable-based oil. Heat the item a bit, place butter into it, melt the butter, and rub the butter all over it. Do not wash off the residue, just wipe it and store it. To clean it, wash it in hot water and use a non-abrasive pad, cloth, brush, or similar; dry it with a clean towel and store. With each use, it will gradually develop that inimitable coating that is nonstick as well as tasteless. By the way, I rather agree that soap of any kind is not really advisable. The soap can enter into the pores of the metal and leave a most unpleasant taste and odor. Good luck, all!

  41. Jill says:

    Oxalic acid neutralizes the chemical reaction of rust. I used it on a couple of cast iron chair frames and it worked great. You have to follow the directions carefully to make sure you get it fully neutralized, though.

  42. Lisa says:

    I was given an old cast iron corn bread muffin pan (muffins are shaped like ears of corn) and need to know how to clean it properly. It has some rust on it.

    Look! We’ve answered your question! Yippee!

  43. Tracy M. says:

    Question: Should my scrub brush be totally black and oily after cleaning my cast iron skillet? I decided that after about 12 uses, my Lodge pre-seasoned CI skillet looked a bit gunky/dirty; no food had become stuck on there, just a soft build-up of dirty grease. This was my first time using water on it, I typically just wipe it out with a paper towel and add another thin layer of oil (usually olive oil). Sometimes I rub around a bunch of salt rocks (the kind you use to make ice cream) and wipe it out with paper towel. I just want to know if this kind of gunky build-up is normal (on its way to becoming a great, hard seasoning layer), or if it’s going to wind up being cooked into my food? Should I bite the bullet and clean it with a mild soap and then re-season, or just keep on cookin’?

  44. Sian says:

    Why are my cast iron pots going white? How do I fix this?

  45. Pam says:

    I was given some cast iron pans a few years ago and the outside of the pans has this large build-up on it. I have tried to strap it, but it’s not making any real difference. The inside looks great, just the outside is stained and it smokes if you try to use it. What is the best method to return these pans back to a new condition?

  46. Mark says:

    I did not see anyone mention cleaning cast iron in a self-cleaning oven. I have heard this can be successfully done. Any comments?

  47. Melanie says:

    Mark,
    That method is mentioned for cleaning burner grates. The method is not recommended for cookware because some cast iron cookware has a Teflon coating, which will release a toxic gas if exposed to the extremely high temperatures of the self-cleaning oven process. Also, cookware that needs cleaning usually has a variety of burnt-on substances that could catch fire during the self-cleaning process.

    Source: HowToCleanStuff.net – How to Clean Cast Iron Burner Grates
    Source: TLC – How do self-cleaning ovens work?
    Source: What’s Cooking America – How To Use Your Self-Cleaning Oven To Clean Cast Iron Pans

  48. Pruth says:

    I found a Griswold frying pan that has thick black residue on the outside and bottom. It’s almost as though it has to be scraped off. Will oven cleaner and a plastic bag do the trick? If not, I’m open to suggestions. Thanks.

  49. Mike says:

    I’ve been thinking about cleaning my cast irons in the dishwasher without soap or detergent, especially after a big party. Just put all the cast irons in first, wash them, take them out, apply oil and bake in the oven – anyone tried it this way??

  50. Nick says:

    The all time proven method to clean cast iron cookware is whole seeded olives in a jar; Spanish olives work best. First, you pour the entire jar in the pan with the liquid. Use a hammer to carefully crush the olives and pits. If you do this on a flat surface, the pan will not crack. Let it soak for one hour. The vinegar and salt will start to clean the surface. Use a sponge to start scouring the pan with the crushed olives. The oil in the olives will start to coat the pan as the crushed seeds gently clean the residue from the past. Rinse with warm water and season as necessary. This works every time!

  51. Tiffany says:

    We have an old CI pot that was handed down through generations. I have used it for years, but it was in need of a radical clean. It was not rusted, but it had lumps all over it and it was starting to peel on the inside where the lumps were. My husband buffed it all down and it is now a beautiful silver color. It looks brand new. When he finished, it had dust all over it so I washed it and started my seasoning process; I have seasoned many pots/pans before and never had this problem. When spreading my oil on the pot, it turned my towel black. What is this and how do I get it to go away? It is not on the pot when I clean it.

  52. Debora says:

    It is easy to see the difference between someone who understands cast iron cooking and someone who does not. I loaned my antique cast iron Dutch oven to someone who removed the seasoning before using it and then returned it with food burnt into the bottom of the pan. I have started the restoration process with boiling water on the stove and plan to burn the rest off in the grill before reseasoning.

  53. Rose says:

    Cast iron is iron with lots of carbon granules in it and it is these that make machinists cutting cast iron get filthy.
    When a strong caustic or acid solution is used in/on cast iron, it dissolves out the carbon and leaves a very thin layer of iron molecules that is not locked into place so it comes of on a finger or paper towels.
    Use lemon/vinegar/caustic soda/oven cleaner as available, but keep checking to see when all the burned on food is loosened – help it along with a wire or emery scourer!
    You cannot hurt cast iron! And it is non-porous!
    Once it is cleaned and rinsed, put it on burner to get quite hot so when some of your favorite oil/lard/butter is put in, it smokes.
    Make sure all the inside is oiled/greased, then wipe with paper towel and let cool or start cooking.
    Best thing really is to keep cast iron fry or griddle pans for oily/fatty cooking rather than wet cooking for sauces/gravies.
    One old deceased English television cook said she had never washed the frying pan she used for making English style pancakes.
    Cast iron teapot?
    Traditional Japanese teapots are cast iron without any coating inside and the water they boil is clear and untainted – just the same as water in a cast iron pan – unless the water is left in the pan overnight to allow rust to form.
    After drinking the tea and while the pot is still slightly warm, empty it out and leave the lid off to allow the moisture to evaporate – if necessary pop it on gas ring for a half minute to get it nice and warm.
    All cast iron ware that is not going to be used for some days should be wiped or washed clean, then warmed up and lightly oiled/greased.

  54. Suzi says:

    I have an old cast iron skillet with pits on the inside. Is it going to season and be stick free?

  55. Melanie says:

    Suzi,
    Yes, it is the seasoning process that makes cast iron skillets stick-free. Once seasoned, the pitting should no longer cause sticking. However, pitting is often caused by rust, so if you have rust in the skillet, you should clean it before seasoning. If you want to completely remove the pitting (even though it’s not necessary), you can have the skillet sandblasted by a professional.
    Source: Macheesmo – Repairing a Cast Iron Skillet
    Source: Cast Iron Skillet Care Guide – Damaged Cast Iron Skillet Causes
    Source: American Cowboy – Restoring Dutch Oven, Skillets and other Cast Iron Cookware

  56. Maryann says:

    I accidentally left a plastic bag filled with russet potatoes in my CI Dutch oven. The smell (on a hot summer day) coming out of that cupboard was horrific. Now…I’m wondering how to really get this pot clean. I know I’ll need to strip it, but any suggestions on getting the stench out?
    Thanks!
    PS…I’ve heard that flax seed oil is the BEST for reseasoning CI; has anyone used it? I’m reading pros & cons regarding bacon fat vs. vegetable oil.

  57. Lori says:

    My parents have a set of cast iron skillets that they somehow left out in the rain, snow and weather for about five years and they are rusty. I told my dad about 50/50 vinegar and water and it worked for the smaller pan, but now he’s wondering if there is anything else that will work and isn’t harsh like the stove cleaner because they are elderly. Thank you

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