How to clean a cast iron skillet?
Cast iron skillets are not only inexpensive and versatile, they will also last for generations! Cast iron can unfortunately rust or even burn, so it must be well maintained and cleaned.
You don’t care for a cast iron skillet the same way you care for an aluminum skillet. In order to enjoy your cast iron skillet for a long time, follow our advice on how to clean and maintain your cast iron skillet.
Before you even use your brand new cast iron skillet, you will need to prepare it, season it to ensure its longevity and prevent rust from appearing on its surface. This is done by creating a hard, protective coating by heating thin layers of fat (like oil) on the cast iron. As the fat is heated, it bonds to the metal in a process called polymerization: the fat turns into a form of plastic.
After applying enough coats of oil, not a greasy coating but a hard, blackened skin will form and protect the metal of the pan. This will also bring non-stick properties to your pan, which makes even the most stick-prone foods (think fried eggs) a pleasure to cook with cast iron.
Here are the steps for seasoning a cast iron skillet:
- Wash the pan with dish soap and a sponge, then dry well.
- Coat it with vegetable oil, inside and out, including the handle.
- Heat it in an oven at 230 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes.
- Repeat 3 or 4 times: take the pan out of the oven, coat it again with oil and put it back in the oven.
After each use, you will need to maintain your cast iron skillet to ensure its longevity. To do this, you will need vegetable oil, salt and paper towels.
- Pour two tablespoons of oil in the bottom of the pan, then put the pan on the fire and let it heat for a few minutes.
- Then, turn off the heat, and pour 3 tablespoons of salt. Roll the paper towel into a big ball, and rub well all over.
- Once done, rinse the pan under running water, and dry well.
- Finally, apply another thin layer of oil.
If you follow all the above steps correctly, your cast iron skillet will remain in good condition for a very long time.
3. Clean a cast iron skillet with salt
After cooking with your cast iron skillet, pour salt into the bottom of it and leave to act for a few minutes. The salt will absorb grease and dirt. Then rub gently with a clean cloth.
Don’t forget to apply a coat of vegetable oil before storing your pan to keep it in good condition for a long time.
4. Clean a cast iron skillet with baking soda
Following the same principle as salt, baking soda will absorb grease and dirt. Sprinkle it over the entire surface of the pan, leave to act and rub gently with a clean cloth. Then, apply a layer of oil to store as always.
Baking soda is a really great product to have around the house. Whether cleaning a cast iron skillet or cleaning a stubborn stain.
Bicarbonate is also used to clean pans as you will discover here: Clean a burnt pan.
5. Clean a cast iron skillet with a potato
Another effective grandmother’s trick for cleaning a cast iron skillet is the use of a potato… Yes, a potato! Here’s how:
- Once your pan has cooled, sprinkle baking soda over the entire cooking surface of the pan.
- Then use half a potato to rub the entire surface of the pan.
- Rinse, dry well and apply a coat of oil before storing.
6. Degrease a cast iron skillet with lemon
If your cast iron skillet is very dirty and greasy, scrub it with half a lemon. Then, wipe well to prevent it from rusting. Pat dry and apply vegetable oil.
Be careful to dry well after rubbing the inside of the pan with the lemon because rust may form quickly, very quickly.
If after trying to clean your cast iron skillet it is still very dirty, let it soak overnight in water to which you have added soda crystals. Rinse, dry completely and apply oil.
If your cast iron skillet is stained, fill it with bleach and let sit until the stains are gone. Rinse and dry as usual, before applying a layer of vegetable oil.
Be careful, it is important to wash and rinse thoroughly to remove all traces of bleached water from the cast iron skillet.
One of the best places to get a quality cast iron skillet is at flea markets or yard sales. However, your dream cast iron skillet may need a lot of love and elbow grease if it’s covered in rust. Do not despair, it is quite possible to renovate a cast iron pan! Here’s how:
The sandpaper: Get a soft grit sandpaper and gently rub the entire surface of the pan to remove the rust.
Aquarium sand: sprinkle the pan with fine sand such as that used for aquariums, and rub with a soft, lint-free cloth.
Vinegar: Soak a sheet of newspaper rolled up in vinegar with vinegar and sprinkle with coarse salt. Then rub all the rust spots until they disappear.
Lemon juice and baking soda: make a paste by mixing 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of baking soda and a little water. Coat the pan with this mixture and leave to act for fifteen minutes. Then, rinse and dry well.
After this renovation work on your cast iron skillet, don’t forget to prepare it (season it) before using it by following our advice mentioned earlier in this article.