Cast iron skillets are a timeless kitchen utensil but they will only stand the test of time if they are treated properly. You actually want a thin black carbon layer on your pan. This is called ‘seasoning’ and its purpose is to protect the cast iron from rusting. It is best to avoid soap or scouring when cleaning cast iron cookware, it’s actually better to clean them with a sheet of kitchen paper and oil.
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However, sometimes the build-up might become too much that you want to clean your cast iron skillet and, if this is the case, you need to do this properly.
If you’re cleaning the outside of the skillet, the chances are you will remove the seasoning from the inside too. It is important, therefore, that you re-season your skillet after you’ve finished cleaning it.
Cleaning a cast iron skillet is a job that not a lot of people enjoy! You can, however, make it much more enjoyable (and easy!) by using a few tried and tested techniques that will get the job done well without taking up too much time.
Easy Ways to Cleaning a Cast Iron Skillet Outside
There are many different ways to clean the outside of a skillet. For this method, you till need:
- A sink
- A scrubber
- Cooking oil
- A chemical cleaner
Different Scrubber Types
It’s up to you which scrubber to use best, you might want to try a few different things to see what works best. You could use a wire grill brush, a steel wool pad, or even a wooden spoon!
Step 1: Boil some water.
Step 2: Place your skillet upside down in the sink. If it won’t fit entirely face down, it’s OK to do it at an angle.
Step 3: With care, pour the boiling water onto the skillet, over the outside.
Step 4: Be careful not to scald your hands during this – scrub off buildup or food with a scrubber like your wire grill brush or steel wool.
Step 5: Repeat steps 3 and 4 until there is no more build-up.
Step 6: If the above steps aren’t getting rid of all of the build-up, try pouring salt over the pan. This will create extra abrasion that will help your scrubber to break through the build-up. You can add cooking oil into the salt. Adding grease will help to break down grease on the skillet.
Step 7: after the build-up is removed, you should wash your skillet in warm soapy water
Step 8: Dry your skillet completely
Step 9: Re-season your skillet with corn oil. Alternatively, you could use melted lard.
Best Stainless Steel Cast Iron Cleaner
Different Chemical Cleaners
There are many different chemical cleaners that will help you clean the outside of a cast-iron skillet for outdoor if the above method doesn’t work as well as you’d like. Brands like Bar Keepers Friend, Ajax and Comet are great. Also, don’t underestimate the usefulness of household items like bicarbonate of soda, and vinegar.
Other Tips and Ideas
It’s important not to leave a cast-iron skillet wet. Always ensure you dry it completely before you put it away. This is because cast iron will rust if it is not dry.
Some people swear by over cleaner to clean a cast-iron skillet and, while this does work, oven cleaner is strong stuff so extra care needs to be taken. If you’re going to use oven cleaner, you should place the skillet inside a zip lock bag with the oven cleaner in and leave for a few hours. After a few hours, take it out of the bag and scrub the outside with a scrubber pad. Obviously, you need to completely clean off the oven cleaner and re-season the skillet before you use it again.
The re-seasoning Process
As previously mentioned, the seasoning of a cast-iron skillet is a really important step because it prevents rust and maintains the pan’s non-stick qualities.
This is something you should do even if you’ve only cleaned the outside of the skillet because the whole of the skillet is vulnerable to rust.
Steps to take to re-season your skillet:
- Rub the skillet’s entire surface (both outside and inside) with a paper towel that is soaked in oil.
- Put the skillet into a cool oven. Turn on the heat to 250° Fahrenheit and leave for one hour.
- Repeat Step 1 and put the skillet back into the oven for a further hour.
- Remove the skillet from the oven and use a dry paper towel to soak up any excess residue after cooling.
- Make sure you keep the cast iron skillet in a dry place to avoid rusting. You could even store it with a paper towel inside to soak up excess moisture.