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What is the best way to clean up an old iron skillet? I know you are supposed to rub oil on them after use. Is it true you do not use soap in them? My grandmother's old iron skillet has a few rusty areas. I'd like to clean that all up and start using it on a regular basis.
By Danielle from Raleigh, NC
The best way to season a cast iron skillet is to apply lard (you can get that in the super-market or Walmart) generously on both surfaces (including handles) and bake them in an oven for 15 minutes at 350 degrees F, then lower the temperature to 200 degrees F, flip the pan upside down over an aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour. Repeat this again using lard. If you are seasoning a new pan or gently used pan, do it only once - that should take care of it. But seasoning an old pan (especially that had rust), you have to do it twice. Hope this helps.
Scrub the rust off with steel wool, then season like asamuel suggests, or look in the archives for other methods. I usually just wash mine with a brush under hot running water, but I do use Dawn if I have burnt on stuff, because I wasn't watching when I was using it!!
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I received a seasoned Bobby Flay cast iron skillet for Xmas and can't seem to cook anything without it sticking. I have seasoned it a few times, the last time with Crisco (don't ever do that) which left it super sticky and awful. I think it may be ruined.
Does anyone have tips for stripping the sticky skillet so I can try to re-season it one more time. I have tried a can of Coke, which didn't do much of anything. Thanks.
By Danielle from northern IL
If it's truly cast iron without the enamel (I know nothing about Bobby Flay other than his name) use hot or warm water and steel wool to remove the gunk. Never use detergent or soap on cast iron.
Reseason it (Lodge Cast Iron has some great tips on their site: http://www.lodgemfg.com/ ) and for the next several uses, try cooking fatty foods (don't use tomato or other acid based foods until it has a good seasoning going on).
Only clean with water and reseason after use and be sure to keep all parts of your cast iron exposed to air as much as possible. IE: don't store them with lids on. (07/06/2009)
It wasn't the Crisco that made it sticky, it was the amount of time it stayed hot. You can clean it now with a rotary wire brush down to the metal, and then follow the steps to reseason the pot. (07/09/2009)
When the seasoning was completely ruined on one of my grandmother's iron skillets or iron Dutch oven, when she moved off the farm she would build a fire in her fireplace and burned them for an hour or so. I have done the same thing using my outdoor grill and firewood instead of charcoal.
I never throw away bacon grease because I season my iron skillets with it. I store it in the refrigerator in a small jar with a lid. After burning and washing the iron skillets, wipe dry and put on the stove to reheat. Put a little bacon grease on a folded paper towel and brush a very light coating all along the inside of the skillet. Put it back on the stove and heat just til it starts to smoke and wipe with the bacon grease again. Then put in the oven at 250 degrees F and "bake" for several hours all the while wiping it down with a light coating of bacon grease several more times. When done to your satisfaction, remove from the oven and wipe with a clean paper towel to remove any excess.
Also, as for washing an iron skillet with soap and water, my grandmother always did and so do I. You just can't scrub it. If the seasoning is good enough hot water and soap won't hurt it. Just remember to wipe it completely dry after washing. Myself, after washing, whether or not it needs it, I dry the ironware, add a very thin coating of bacon grease, heat for a minute on the stove, wipe it out and allow it to cool before putting away. I store my ironware with the lids on and a clean, dry paper towel inside the pot or pan to keep down the moisture.
Also, nothing wrecks a good seasoning on ironware like recipes with tomatoes or tomato-based products or a recipe that you have to add just a little bit of vinegar or lemon juice to. (07/10/2009)
I got a cast iron skillet at a yard sale. How do I season it? I put Crisco inside and out and baked it for about 20 minutes. But it still has little bumps in it and rust stains. I'd appreciate any info.
By lynn from Big Stone Gap, VA
I am in my 70s. I remember my mama peeling potatoes and putting them in an iron skillet with water to cover and boiling them slowly for a long time. I was a little kid and I don't remember how long it took. (05/09/2010)
By Marty Dick
Sorry, she boiled the peelings not the whole potato. (05/09/2010)
By Marty Dick
I bought an old cast iron skillet at an antique shop ages ago (for a few bucks!). I had to scrub it with either a green Scotch Brite pad, or steel wool. I seasoned it "after" I got all the rust off. I've been using it for years, and it's great! (05/09/2010)
Several web sites address this problem. I used Easy-Off. I sprayed the skillet, sealed it in plastic bag, and put it outside for a couple of days. I had to repeat this after the first cleaning. Season it in hot oven (400F) with Crisco. Be sure surface is smooth, at least inside. Some of the new cast iron skillets have a bumpy surface. I was never able to get that surface non-stick. The old ones are really smooth. After use, just wipe down with water if needed, then rub with a little oil (I use Pam spray). (05/09/2010)
You can also clean it well with a drill that has a wire brush fitting. The high speed helps scrub off the "lumps and bumps" and rust. Then follow the cleaning and re-seasoning procedure. (05/10/2010)
Wire brushing works well if it is rusty and pitted and needs smoothing otherwise if you have a self cleaning oven put your cast iron in the oven when you are going to clean it, let the oven run its cycle cool down, etc. Remove pan, rub with Crisco, tallow, or lard (I like tallow) and bake at 300F for an hour adding more fat as the iron absorbs it until it won't absorb anymore. I cook on cast iron every day and grew up cooking on it and have always had good success. If you do not have a self cleaning oven than you can do the same thing with a very hot campfire. Basically you are burning off all the contaminants. Good luck (05/11/2010)
By Anna Shobe