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How to Clean & Care for Cast Iron

We all love our cast iron pans, and we want them to last a lifetime. But what is the best way to care for them?

By Matthew LundgrenPublished 3 months ago 4 min read
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How to Clean & Care for Cast Iron
Photo by Artur Rutkowski on Unsplash

If you enjoy cooking and being in the kitchen, then we bet that you have at least one piece of cast iron cookware somewhere in your kitchen. Whether that's a dutch oven, pan, or skillet, cast iron is the mark of a true chef.

Cast iron is an ancient material, first being used for cooking in ancient China around 220. However, it didn't really become widespread until the 16th century when casting techniques became more advanced in Europe. Ever since, cast iron cookware has been popular in kitchens all over.

If you own and use any cast iron cookware like a skillet, then you know that while they are great and versatile for cooking, they do require a bit more care and maintenance than other skillets/pans like ceramic or stainless steel.

What Should I Do When I First Get Cast Iron?

When you initially get and want to start using your cast iron cookware, the first thing you want to do is season it. A properly seasoned cast iron skillet will both impart delicious flavor to your meals, but also help with the non-sticking properties that people LOVE about using cast iron.

To season your pan, you first want to preheat your oven to 350 degrees. While that is warming up, take a neutral oil like canola or vegetable oil (you don't want something with much flavor and you do want something with a high smoke point), and dab a paper towel with the oil. Then rub the oil all over the pan, including the handles, sides, bottom, and inside of course.

Once you've coated the pan with the oil, make sure to wipe off any excess oil. You want it all to be covered, but you don't want any oil dripping or running off.

Once your oven is preheated, place your cast iron pan or skillet upside down on the oven rack and bake for one hour. Make sure you line the bottom of your oven (or a cookie sheet on a lower rack) with aluminum foil to catch any dripping oil.

Once it has baked for about an hour, turn the oven off and let the pan cool. If this is a brand new cast iron, you'll want to repeat these steps several times to achieve the best seasoning.

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What's The Best Way to Clean My Cast Iron?

By Rayia Soderberg on Unsplash

Now that you've seasoned your cast iron and used it to cook a delicious meal, you now may feel a bit worried about the cleaning phase. I'm sure you've heard that if you take the wrong step while cleaning your cast iron, you can both cause damage to the pan itself and ruin any of that delicious seasoning that you worked so hard to build up!

If your pan was properly seasoned, then you shouldn't have a TON of stuck on food on the pan. Of course, there will always be some that gets stuck, and if anything burned while cooking that will obviously add to the mess, but in general your pan shouldn't be too tough to clean.

There are multiple ways to clean your cast iron, but we are going to share the one we think works best, and is the easiest!

Our Favorite Cast Iron Pans

Staub Cast Iron Skillet - 30% Off

Lodge Cast Iron Skillet

The first step is to obviously wait for the cast iron to cool down so that you can safely handle it and touch it. Once it is cooled down, pour a generous amount of table salt in the pan. Then, grab an old rag or towel that you don't care about anymore, and use that with the salt to scrub the cast iron and get off any stuck on food or grime.

Repeat this process (and you can rinse off the cast iron as you go), until your pan is looking good as new!

This cleaning method is safe for the cast iron in that it won't take off the seasoning or cause any rust or damage, and it's pretty quick and easy!

Should I Do Anything After Cleaning?

Great question! You're becoming a cast iron expert already!

After you've cleaned your cast iron, it's always a good idea to re-season it. This will help lock in any flavors you gained from the meal you just cooked, and can ensure that any seasoning that may have come off in the cooking or cleaning process is regained. Just take the same steps that we mentioned in the article earlier when you initially seasoned the pan.

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Matthew Lundgren

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