Cleaning a Cast Iron Skillet


When I was a young newly wed I received a cast iron skillet as a wedding present. It would be years before I cooked with it though. I hung it on the kitchen wall of every house we have owned but never used it. My husband and I used to joke about it. We called it the “tool by which I would keep him in line”.

I think I was afraid to use the cast iron skillet because I could never get the temperature correct and everything seemed to stick. Once it did stick I always had trouble getting it clean. As a result I avoided cast iron skillets like the plaque.

That was 30 years ago. Guess what. All my skillets are now cast iron. I will not use any other. I have come a long way haven’t I.

I want to share what I wish I had known the day I received my first cast iron skillet.

  1. Do not try to soak the food out of a cast iron skillet. It will rust.
  2. The best way to store cast iron skillets is to hang them.
  3. Never never use soap on cast iron. It can cause your food to taste like soap.

How to Clean a Cast Iron Skillet:

Have no fear because no matter how long or what is stuck in the bottom of your skillet the process is still the same.

  • Remove any loose chunky items from the bottom of the skillet. Pour off any grease that remains. Fill the skillet (no more than 3/4 way full) with water and place on the stove to boil. The temperature should be set on high for optimal results.
  • When the water begins to boil scrape the bottom and sides of the skillet using a plastic spatula. If  you find the steam from the pan a problem, remove it from the stove eye for scraping.( Never use a metal spatula it will scratch the pan) The idea is to remove the stuck food and this may take a little elbow grease. SAM_3584
  • Remove the pan from the heat once the water becomes fairly cloudy and pieces of food can be seen floating. At this point the pan needs to be emptied. If there is still food that can not be removed with a damp cloth, then repeat the process again. Many times this process will need to be repeated several times to ensure all the food has been removed.

The pan needs to be greased after the cleaning process is over. Dry the pan and let it cool. SAM_3589Only use a small amount of grease. You don’t want the pan dripping. You just want it to have a glossy appearance. Use your hand to smear the grease all over the bottom and sides of the pan.

I use coconut oil; but, any oil will do. I think that the solid oils work best because I can control the amount I dip out a little better;  but, a liquid oil will SAM_3588get the job done also.