Ultimate Guide to Cleaning and Seasoning your Cast Iron Skillet

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Many people avoid buying a cast iron skillet because of the perception they are difficult to clean and keep seasoned.

Nothing can be further from the truth.

The truth is, cast iron skillets are one of the best pieces of cookware you can have in your kitchen, as well as being very easy to maintain.

In this article, we will seek to bust the common myths and show you exactly how easy it is to care for your cast iron skillets.

Myths Surrounding Cast Iron Skillets

Don’t let these common myths dissuade you from having a cast iron skillet in your arsenal.

Myth #1: You can’t clean cast iron skillets with soap

While it is true that using soap can strip your cast iron skillet from its seasoning, it’s not something you should worry about if the mess calls for using soap. The truth is, you can re-season your cast iron skillet with whatever oil you have on hand.

If you find that your cast iron skillet is a huge mess and only soap can do the job, go ahead and use soap.

Myth #2: Once the seasoning is stripped, the cast iron skillet is ruined

Nothing can be further from the truth! All it takes to re-season a cast iron skillet is some oil and some patience. Later in this article, we’ll explain exactly how to season your cast iron skillet perfectly.

Myth #3: Food sticks to the skillet

Using a quality cooking oil while cooking will ensure your foods won’t stick to the cast iron pot. Of course, there are certain foods you won’t want to use cast iron for (eggs, pancakes, crepes, for example). Anything that is fragile is more suitable for non-stick cookware. However, any kind of meat or heavy vegetable will develop much richer flavors in a cast iron skillet vs any non-stick cookware.

How to Clean a Cast Iron Skillet Without Soap

The key to cleaning a cast iron skillet is to do so quickly after use, while it is still warm (but safe enough to handle). Use only water and a hard-foam sponge and spend a minute scrubbing it. You should be able to remove all food particles while some of the oils will remain, which is what you’re looking for.

Ensure that the skillet is completely dry after washing, you may even want to re-heat it so all the water completely evaporates.

A thin layer of oil is effectively what seasoning is on a cast-iron skillet.

The more you use the skillet, the stronger the flavor and non-stick properties will develop as layers of oil coat the cookware.

Never put a cast iron skillet in the dishwasher; not only can it potentially damage your dishwasher (due to it’s weight), it can also put the skillet at risk of developing rust.

Also, never let water stand in the skillet for more than an hour or so. The more water sits, the more likely rust will develop on the skillet.

How to Season a Cast Iron Skillet

Clean and Season a Cast Iron Skillet

Seasoning a cast iron skillet is very simple.

Using a high-smoke point oil, such as grapeseed or vegetable oil, you can re-season your cast iron skillet at home.

Simply apply some oil a piece of paper towel and apply a very thin layer all around the inside of the cast iron skillet. Put the skillet on a burner on medium high heat for 2 minutes for any excess water to evaporate. Allow the cast iron skillet to cool and use paper towel to clean any excess oil left in the pan. You will be left with a very thin layer of oil which will serve as the base to your skillets seasoning, and prevent rust.