With a bit of special care, maintaining your cast iron cookware is made simple.
If you’re new to the world of cast iron or an old pro, a few simple techniques will ensure your cookware will last a lifetime of home-cooked feasts and KOA camping trips. While instructions for the best way to clean your cast iron can be divisive – and include more than a few don’ts – our tips inspired by the experts at Lodge are sure to keep you cooking like a pro.
When Your Cast Iron is New
When you bring home a new (or used) piece of cast iron it’s okay to use mild, soapy water for a first washing. In fact, it’s suggested to wash before your first use. Then it’s time to season your cookware to ensure food doesn’t stick and cooks to perfection.
To Season Your Cast Iron
- Rub with a light coat of oil (such as vegetable oil) or melted shortening.
- Use enough oil to restore the sheen, but no so much that the surface of the cookware becomes sticky.
- The more you cook, the better the seasoning will become.
Cleaning Your Cast Iron
While the advice to clean with or without soup can lead to heated debates, cleaning your cast iron is a fairly simple process. While soap can be used – outlined below – it’s not necessary.
- Wash your preferably still warm pan in hot water with a sponge or stiff, non-metal brush to remove residue.
- If the pan is particularly dirty, use salt mixed with oil or water to remove the grime with a kitchen towel.
- Rinse with warm water before drying completely – moisture is the enemy of cast iron and can easily cause rust. To aid drying, place on the stove-top over low heat, then use a cloth to rub with oil once cool.
Refurbishing Your Cast Iron
If you’re stay on top of maintaining your cast iron, your seasoning should stay in good condition for many years. However, if your pan becomes rusted, especially dirty or if food begins to stick, it might be time to re-season.
- Wash the cookware with hot, soapy water and a stiff brush. Rinse and dry completely.
- Apply a thin, even coating of oil or melted shortening to the cookware, inside and out.
- Place cookware in a 350 – 400 degree Fahrenheit oven. We suggest placing it upside to prevent any oil from potentially pooling inside.
- Bake your cast iron for at least an hour. Then, turn off the oven and let the cookware cool before removing.
To Soap or Not
While the experts suggest avoiding soap outside of the first wash, mild soapy water is fine to use as long as you immediately dry and oil your pan. Lodge, however, reminds you that cast iron heats to 400ºF in just four minutes on medium heat; pans are sterile at 212ºF suggesting soap isn’t always necessary.