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Pokajanie's avatar

Cast-iron skillet "problem"...

Asked by Pokajanie (1 points ) August 7th, 2007

I recently purchased a used cast-iron skillet after finding that I dearly missed one that a roommate took with her. I cleaned (a little bit of soap, hot water, and scrubbing) and seasoned (shortening, placed in hot oven) it, but something strange happens that never really occurred with my friend's skillet. If I run my finger or a paper towel along the surface after a water-and-bristle cleaning, it comes up black and rather gross. I doubt that it's toxic, and even if it's not unsanitary, I find it somewhat off-putting, and it makes me nervous about cooking on it.

This doesn't seem to be a problem, though, if I wash it with a little soap and water while it's still hot, and lightly oil it afterwards. But since I never, ever had this black finger phenomenon with my friend's skillet - and never, ever had to use soap to clean her skillet - something tells me that I'm doing something wrong. Any thoughts?

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7 Answers

jrpowell's avatar

Try some kosher salt and olive oil while the pan is still hot.

occ's avatar

this sometimes happens to my skillet too, even when it's clean. I don't think it's a problem. I just wash mine with water and a scrubber (no soap! never soap!), rub the brown gunk out with a kitchen towel, and then spray it with olive oil spray to reseason it.

gailcalled's avatar

Lodge sells terrific and inexpensive cast iron cookware. Check out their care instructions.

http://www.lodgemfg.com/usecare1.asp

bpeoples's avatar

This one's a little wacky, but try kosher salt (~1/2 cup?) and enough vinegar to get it wet (but not dissolve it). Scrub that around with the pot moderately hot with a paper towel.

Keep scrubbing. The salt is going to absorb a lot of that gunk, break the rest of it free, and the vinegar is going to etch the metal just a little bit.

Once you've got the pan scrubbed out, rinse it out a couple of times. Dry it just a little, then put it back on the burner on high, put a couple tablespoons of oil (extra light olive or canola or grapeseed) and it get it pretty hot (not smoking), carefully, with a papertowel, work the oil in. (Actually, you can use crisco, too, I just prefer oil) Once it's all coated with oil, let it cool, then wipe out.

You *should* be good then. (Or I could be wrong about the source of your black gunk)

(Also: this is how I treat my steel wok, so this might do bad things to a cast iron skillet)

segdeha's avatar

After each use, I "wash" my cast iron skillet with hot water (no soap) and a scrub brush. Afterwards, I put a few drops of vegetable oil in it and lightly coat the inner surface with it to prevent rusting. That's it. Over time, the pan will get seasoned. If you wash it with soap, you lose that and you will have to start from scratch.

hossman's avatar

Your "black substance" is probably a combination of carbonized food/oil particles and iron. Cast-iron cookware leaches iron out of its pores, which is a good thing, unlike aluminum cookware, which leaches aluminum, which some studies have linked to dementia and Alzheimer's. Iron deficiencies were much rarer when people used cast-iron cookware.

gooch's avatar

I cook exclusivly in black iron pots. What you need to do is" burn it" put it on your flaming burner or in your fireplace face down and burn off the pot. I let mine turn colors to ensure its burt well then let it cool wipe with a newspaper then lightly oil with olive oil or vegetable oil.

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