How To Clean a Cast Iron Pan – Step by Step Guide
Things you will need:
There is a widely accepted myth out there that you should not use soap on cast iron as it may remove the seasoning that you have worked so hard to create. And it is just that – a myth. The seasoning, which started out as fat, has been polymerized by the heat of cooking and so the only way to remove it would be to scour the pan with steel wool or some other abrasive material.
With that being said, go ahead and scrub the pan with soap and a sponge. If you have particularly stuck on food you can make a paste out of kosher salt and water and give it a good scrub. As I stated above, steel wool could possibly remove the seasoning, so try to avoid that. It won’t be the end of the world if you have to use it, though. You will just have to re-season your pan.
Next, you really want to make sure you dry the cast iron completely. If it is left to dry in the sink, the water will cause rust and you will have to start all over again. An extra step you can take to insure it is completely dry is to put it over heat on the stove, so the remaining water evaporates.
Oil and heat
The last step to cleaning your cast iron pan is to apply a little bit of vegetable oil or shortening with a paper towel or your hand. Buff out any excess oil. Once again, place the pan over heat on the stove for a couple of minutes. This step helps prevent any possible rusting and primes the pan for the next use. Be sure to apply heat for this step so the oil does not turn into a mess before the next use.
A few things to keep in mind
- Cleaning the pan while it is still warm will help prevent super stuck on food.
- Do not soak in water to remove stuck on food – this will cause rust
- The more you use it, the more seasoning it builds up. This creates a nonstick surface and also makes it easier to clean
Cast iron takes a little bit of maintenance, but when done properly, it can be the best cookware you will ever use.
How do you clean your cast iron? Please let me know in the comments.