How to Care for Cast Iron Cookware: A Washing, Seasoning and Maintenance Guide

cast iron cookware

You’ve watched numerous videos of quick recipes that require a cast iron skillet and you thought to yourself, “I got to have that.” So you purchased one and now what? Before you go off making those cast iron skillet recipes you found on Pinterest, it’s important to inform yourself on how to care for your cast iron skillet.

Cast Iron vs Enamel Cast Iron

Cast iron cookware has an “exposed” exterior, meaning that it is more likely to rust; hence why it must be seasoned after each use. Whereas enamel cast iron cookware is encapsulated by porcelain and does not need to be seasoned after each use. You can simply wash it with a mild soap, dry it, and put it away.

How to Season Cast Iron

Some of our cast iron skillets come pre-seasoned such as our 8" Black pre-seasoned cast iron skillet, but you may find it beneficial to season it prior to using.

Seasoning cast iron cookware means to coat it in vegetable oil and bake it onto the iron at a high temperature, creating a natural nonstick surface. Since you are creating the seasoning yourself you can maintain and even repair it, unlike chemical non-stick coating.

Start by lubricating the entire pan with vegetable oil, coating it with a thin layer. Yes, including the exterior, interior, bottom, sides and handle. Giving an exact amount of how much oil is difficult since cast iron skillets come in different shapes and sizes. Use enough oil to coat it without oil dripping off the pan or creating a sticky surface. Place it inside the oven and set it to 200-250 degrees Fahrenheit. Let the cast iron skillet bake for 15 minutes. Using an oven mitt or potholder, carefully remove the cast iron skillet from the oven and let it cool on the stovetop or rest it on a heat resistant surface. Once the skillet has cooled you can store it away.

How to Clean and Maintain

cast iron care with oil and salt

To soap or not to soap is a common question new cast iron skillet owners tend to ask themselves.

Many sources will say don’t dare let any soap grace the surface of your cast-iron skillets. While others say “go for it!” What do we say? Use your best judgement. If there is little to no bits and pieces left behind, wipe it clean with a rag and oil it before putting it away. Stubborn stuck-on gunk? Use a handful of kosher salt and take a rag to scrub away the gunk, then rinse with warm water. Dry immediately and season it with oil. If the thought of not scrubbing it down with soap and water makes your skin crawl, then go ahead and do so. Use a mild soap, soft scrub sponge, and be sure to dry it immediately and season it with oil.

We urge you to stay away from soaking your cast iron skillet in water. By no means necessary should you ever do so; you are just begging to rust your cast iron skillet. You should also refrain yourself from placing your cast iron skillet in the dishwasher, using strong detergents, or metal scrubbing pads because you will run the risk of rusting your skillet and removing the seasoning.

What Happens if it Rusts?...

No fuss, it is a simple fix. Rust occurs when the cast iron skillet has been exposed to water for an extended period of time; such as letting it air dry opposed to towel drying it immediately after washing.

Simply scour the rust with a handful of kosher salt or the scrubbing pad side of a sponge, wipe it dry (no rinsing) and oil it down with vegetable oil. Viola! Your cast iron skillet has been restored.

If you do NOTHING else, at the very least...

  • Hand wash and dry IMMEDIATELY to reduce rusting.
  • Rub a light coat of vegetable oil after EVERY wash, coating the entire pan with a thin layer. Yes including the exterior, interior, bottom, sides and handle.

The takeaway...

Love your skillet and it will love you back. By taking care of your skillet it will last you a long time and be there for you whenever you want a perfectly seared steak or to bake a Dutch baby pancake.

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