Chris Gardner

Chris Gardner

1104 posts

Comments - How to Salvage and Season Cast Iron Cookware

gffyhffuh on Jan 12, 2014:

Weird I just proof read that and those spelling mistakes weren't there. Wacky website

jhgyugdcc on Jan 12, 2014:

Flax is okay for low temps, for puerile who sear a lot or stir fry at high temps like 450 degrees, the flax will brush off afterwards. It's great on my eggs n sausage pan though which only sees 250 degrees usually. Soap isn't always as evil as the say, but There's no reason to use soap on a ci Pan if you're doing it right. The oil out oil and studies oil n salt will always get it clean to the wipe. If you feel you have to use soap a miniscule dot of soap will work even if you can't see suds. What people don't realize is soaps main reason for effectiveness is being a surfactant (keeps water from beading up so it penetrates surfaces better) which is why it gets under oil which does the opposite. One undetectable non bubbly drop of soap on a sponge can have that effect and help you get off stubborn gunk without having to go all out bubble war on your seasoning. You'll get a better seasoning whether soap has been okay in your experience or not, it would have been better. My pans look as if they are stripped bare and coated in a thin black reflective Son shiny paint, they don't have a thick pad of dull burnt looking grease. It looks beautiful and If I drop an egg on it it slides around as if it was oiled glass. I can even cook acidic foods in it now after a year and my seasoning is unaffected. I rarely resort to soap. Almost always use only oil wiping, occasionally with salt if I seared something.

EmJCNJ on Oct 06, 2013:

Thank you! Just got a cast iron skillet for FREE and was so pleased to find your helpful steps to season it!

Pam in Texas on Jun 02, 2013:

I've got a great old iron skillet thats sits flat, has no rust and is in sturdy condition except that the the side walls (inside and out) are heavily covered with scaling that appears baked in under the seasoned surface.  Can this be  stripped off or burnt off? How should I best remove it to restore it's original finish?

Anonymous on May 26, 2013:

To get rust off I used a potato cut in half and a large amount of kosher salt and elbow grease

Carol on Mar 23, 2013:

I HAVE A PAN THAT IS PERFECTLY FLAT WHEN COLD.  WHEN IT IS HEATED UP FOR COOKING, IT ROCKS ON FLAT COOKING SURFACE.  old pan bought 2nd hand store..seasoned, not pitted, cooks beautifully.  Can this be remedied ? T

Carol on Mar 23, 2013:

I have a cast iron pot I picked up in a second-hand store.  No cracks or pits, cleaned up beautifully and cooks beautifully....the problem is it is perfectly flat when cold....when heated up for cooking, it rocks on the cooking surface.  Is there a way to fix this probem ?

Milkmaid on Mar 16, 2013:

Iron skimmers is all I use and I also have been using then on a glass top stove for over 5 years not one problem!

Anonymous on Jan 15, 2013:

Can you use cast iron on an electric glass cook top?

Donna on Feb 09, 2012:

My dad (age 89) puts his iron pans in the woodstove in the den for the evening to get all the junk off, then reseasons with shortening in the oven.  This is a rare necessity, but does work beautifully.  We always wash them with soap and water, but I do remember mother's lessons of drying them immediately, not leaving them to drain.  Mom (an awesome cook!) and Dad (not a shabby cook, either) have been married over 62 years and the pans came along about the same time.  I just wish Mom and Dad were as indestructible. 

Lisa on Jan 20, 2012:

I have a skillet that is seasoned correctly everywhere but inside the skillet.  The inside is really rough.  Will this method get all of this out so I can start over?  I've had this pan for over 15 years and it has never had a smooth surface except when it was first given to me.

Phyllis on Jan 12, 2012:

I use my collection of cast iron generally on a daily basis. I use dawn soap to clean w/o problems. When I season I use lard or bacon grease & turn my pots upside down in the oven. My Mom taught me this years ago. 

Barbara on Jan 10, 2012:

@anonymous, I agree. I have a 30+ yr old cast iron pot that we ALWAYS used dish detergent on. It looks the same today in 2012 as it did when I was a kid! Soap will not harm it. We have never used oven cleaner on it because my mom did once (someone told her...) and it left little pock marks in the pot. We season our pot by washing first w/det. & water. Rinse, dry, grease well. Then we burn ours on a fire outside. The pot gets hot, grease burns off. Let it cool some and rub the grease all over w/old towel. Bring in, store in oven. Wash, dry before using. After cooking, wash, dry, lightly oil and heat on stove. (LIGHTLY oil so it doesn't drip) cool and store. I've done this for years and it's worked...

Anonymous on Jan 10, 2012:

I think the commenter suggesting that modern soaps don't remove seasoning because they don't contain lye is onto something. I have one very well-seasoned, hand-down cast iron pan that I wash with soap and it retains it's seasoning very well. The only time I've had to reseason is when it was overheated by leaving it to heat on a burner too long and the heat burned off the conditioning. However, this well-seasoned pan could more easily be reseasoned that the new one that I've seasoned inititally. Something about years of oils cooking in that makes an old cast iron pan far superior than a new one. Season you pan and then use it over and over and eventually you'll have a pan that you love and your kids/grandkids will appreciate years later.

Jim on Sep 14, 2011:

When it comes to seasoning, look to the Jan - Feb edition of Cook's Illustrated. You might be able to see it online.  They have a process with flackseed oil.  they feel they have run on the best seasoning processes to date

chris on Sep 10, 2011:

i've put mine throught the self clean on in my oven. it wprked great. i dont do this regularly or to season. it was to remove the years of crust that had built up on it. i bought it at a yard sale and it hadnt been taken care of. after running it throught the self clean cycle, that crust was burnt off and reduced to ash. a good option for those not wanting to use oven cleaner on something they cook food in.

Allison on Jul 04, 2011:

I mistakenly left my cast iron skillet on high heat overnight.  Today I noticed cracks in the bottom of the pan.   The cracks look like scratches and the pan does not leak  Does anyone have any experience with such circumstances"  Is it likely that toxins can get into the food thrugh such cracks?  Why are we cautioned against using cracked cast iron pans?

Thereasa on May 30, 2011:

omg...i have been hoarding cast iron pans for ions and they are in some rough shape.  I knew they had value and could bear the thought of tossing.  Now, I can't wait to revive them. 

Jorge on Jan 11, 2010:

As a new cast Iron enthusiast I'm pretty much trying out every bit of advise i come across, this will definetly make it easy on those salvaged pans I found, thx everyone.

thebeezkneez on Jan 07, 2010:

We have always burned our cast iron in a fire, too.  New cast iron comes with a horrible wax coating that is extremely difficult to remove and you cannot season cast iron until it is throughly cleaned or the seasoning will flake your food.  And for those unlevel pans, have someone really strong bang it flat when its fresh from the coals, either on concrete or I've seen someone use a tool once but I don't know what it was exactly.  This will have to be someone who really loves you or your cooking because it is a hot and bone-jarring job.  I've never had any luck seasoning with anything other than vegetable shortening.  Vege or canola oil just leaves a sticky mess.  On lazy days, in between proper seasonings, I just squirt mine with a bit of cooking spray like Pam.  And I do wash my pan; I save them for last when the water is cold and the soap has all but quit but I hate the thought of not washing them, especially since I use them for such a variety of things.  I would hate for my cobbler to taste like bacon and so on.

Jim on Oct 25, 2009:

I have found that the best way to restore crusty, rusty and downright ugly cast iron is to do it the way the chuckwagon cooks in the old west did... toss it on the cook fire coals and leave it overnight.

We stoke up the firepit in the back yard and enjoy an evening by a roaring fire. Then, when there may still be some flames burning or the coals are glowing hot, I put in any cast iron that I have gathered recently right onto the coals. You want the cooking side facing in toward the fire, handles up in the air. Move some coals to the back side of the pans and griddles with a poker and then leave them there overnight. They will get hot... glowing hot and this will burn off any old, baked on guck and rust.

First thing in the morning, hop out of bed and check out your cast iron pieces. They will be beautiful like the day they came out of the foundry!

A while back I was at a garage sale and found a dutch oven. I picked it up and smelled it. It still had dried on spaghetti sauce on it. The garage sale lady said "Oh, you can have that." I gave her a dollar for it to make me feel better about the deal. Later, when I gave it the glowing coal treatment, it looked brand new. Okay, maybe there was a little black from smoke and some ash on it, but that washed right off and into the oven it went for seasoning.

So, avoid the toxic fumes, chemicals and harsh abrasion that ruins the pores of the cast iron, and enjoy a roaring campfire while you restore your cast iron pieces to like-new condition.

Try it, you will be pleased.


ronmaggi on Jun 22, 2009:

About the only good use for Coca-Cola is as a rust remover. I havn't tried it on cookware, but it has served well on boats. Phosphoric acid is one of it's main ingredients, and the main ingredient in rust removers. Now you know why your teeth feel soft after drinking it! I believe it would probibly be easier than brushing it off with a drill. Just be sure to clean the Coca-Cola off real well, heaven forbid you should actually ingest the stuff!

demon64 on Feb 09, 2009:

I used electrolysis a couple years ago on a peice from Australia that was in very bad shape and it worked really well. That's the only method I've tried that worked on really bad buildup. It's also pretty inexpensive and is safer for your cookware than putting it in an oven or using lye. I found a page up just this year that looks like there going to offer a service where they do this. There's no pricing up yet and I don't know when they're planning on starting the service, but I took the survey they have up and I think it might be a good thing if it doesn't cost too much. Just do a search for castironclean and you'll get the link.

I'd be interested in discussing your own experiences with electrolysis if any of you have done it?

jackin on Sep 06, 2007:

Do not try the self cleaning oven rumor, I did and now my pot is messed up, I've got to start all over now.

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