I love cast iron and use my pan almost daily! I also have a cast iron dutch oven and will slowly replace other pans with cast iron as the need and budget allows. My cast iron pan lives on the stove, I use it that often – there is no need for me to put it in the cabinet with the other pot and pans! I wash it with soap and hot water, once a week, after I make the pancakes for the upcoming week and then season it – the rest of the time after using I just rinse the pan in hot water and wipe dry with a cotton cloth.
I was recently visiting a relative and found a cast iron pan in their cabinet. The pan was covered in rust and that had to be fixed. If you read on the web it states to take a pan that has rust and wash in hot soapy water with steel wool, but I did not have steel wool, so I had to find another way. This is how I did it and it turned out great! Disclaimer – I had some technical difficulties with my computer and I lost most of the before pictures and some of the after, but felt I still needed to share the process – sorry!
Cleaning and Seasoning a Cast Iron Pan
Olive oil or coconut oil
Very course salt
1. Heat the pan, take off the burner fill with oil and allow the oil to be absorbed by the pan. I let the oil sit in the pan for about an hour and then wiped with a paper towel.
2. Since the bottom and sides of the pan were also rusted – I started cleaning the bottom first. I place the pan upside down on newspaper and then sprinkled a very course salt all over the bottom and then poured oil on top. I let the salt absorbed some of the oil and taking a cotton rag I rub the pan with the salt and oil. The salt absorbed the rust and the oiled seasoned. I did this about 3 times before all the rust was gone – beautiful!
3. Now that the bottom was done it was time to work on the cooking part of the pan. I followed the same steps as for the bottom.
4. The pan is clean and seasoned.
Now when you see a rusted cast iron pan at the thrift store or yard sale, buy it and clean it yourself. These pans will last for generations if properly cared for. If you buy a new one – it comes with a coating on it – you need to get the coating off. To get the coating off either wash in hot soapy water with steal wool and then season or use salt and oil.
Some basic tips on keeping your pan in good condition. Every once in awhile you will need to wash with hot soapy water to get the oil build up off – oil does go rancid and then season. If you are using frequently, like me, you can rinse with hot water in between uses and thoroughly wash once a week or every other week.. NEVER put a cast iron pan in the dishwasher. NEVER let it air dry with the rest of the dishes – dry with a cotton towel and make sure it is really dry or rust will form. NEVER pour cold water into a hot pan – the cast iron can break. If your pan is well seasoned food will not stick, if food is sticking you need to season/cure your pan. If you have been afraid to use a cast iron pan, don’t be and go out and get one – cast iron heats evenly, doesn’t add any harmful chemicals to your food that you are lovingly preparing and it will last your entire life time – great return on the investment. Cheers to your good cooking!