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Dutchess_III's avatar

Do you wash your cast iron cookware?

Asked by Dutchess_III (44144points) August 15th, 2019

I keep hearing this persistent rumor that using soap to wash your cast iron is bad. Supposedly it removes the “seasoning.” However, I just don’t buy that and I have always washed my cast iron in soap water. After it is completely dry I reoil it.
It has never caused a problem with me.
You guys know that I’m not a germaphobe but to not wash the dishes just seems gross.
Also, Here is an article that agrees with my thoughts.
So, what are yours?

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37 Answers

KNOWITALL's avatar

Yes, I wash them thoroughly. You just can’t ‘soak’ them like other pots and pans.

SEKA's avatar

My Mom taught me to never use soap. We use hot water and a good scrub brush. You don’t need to reoil as often and your coating forms a better cooking surface with less oilings. I was not told to not wash. I was told to not use soap when washing as the soap ruins the coating which in turn ruins the cooking. It must be thoroughly dried as well. A properly seasoned cast iron pan will make your food taste twice as good. My great grandma used to hang hers in a tree on a very windy day to clean hers. She lived in the desert where a windy day blew a lot of sand.

If you look hard enough on the net, you will find someone who agrees with any point you wish to take. I prefer to season mine properly. You may choose to eat anyway you wish.

zenvelo's avatar

I use coarse salt on the pan to absorb the loose oils, and scrub the salt with a paper towel to pick up any stuck residues or particulates. I then rinse the pan in hot water, and then dry the pan.

I don’t put germy things into my pan, so that is not an issue.

Your article also confirms my approach as being okay.

kritiper's avatar

I never use soap on cast iron.
(Pioneers crossing the plains used creek sand to scrub their cast iron pots and pans. No soap.)

Cupcake's avatar

I have a metal scrubby that I use occasionally, but I usually cook eggs in cast iron and just wipe it out afterwards. I don’t ever use soap, so I guess I don’t “wash” it. I also limit exposure to water (I have some thin spots in the seasoning).

Dutchess_III's avatar

@zenvelo food gets germy after a certain amount of time if it’s just sitting around on your dishes.
But to address your comment, what would you consider a “germy thing” that you don’t put in your pans?

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Dutchess_III I’m curious too, because fried chicken is one of the best things in an iron skillet ever and it’s germy imo.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, after traces of it have sat in the skillet or on the cutting board for a day or two, it’s germy! Foods are the source of all germs.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

I was taught to use coarse salt and half of a potato, scrub to remove any food. Re-seasoning isn’t necessary.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I’m a cast iron collector and restorer. I have probably close to 200 pieces and I also actually use them, well some of them anyway. Most of what you will read online and on the internet is just horrible, wrong information.

You can and should use soap. Dawn is fine. Old soap from days gone had lye which will remove seasoning. Lye is what we use to remove old seasoning when we restore cruddy pans. You can let your cast soak for a bit if it is properly seasoned. Just not for an extended period of time and you should not run them through the dishwasher.

Never, ever clean your pans in a fire, use power tools or sand paper. You can use a scraper or SS scrunchy to get the really gunked on crud. Use plenty of soap and water just like other dishes

Never re-oil a pan before putting it up either. Oil will oxidize and become a rancid(rot) sticky mess. Put them up clean and dry.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Ah! Don’t season and then put away! That explains some things. @ARE_you_kidding_me, thank you.
How do people clean their pans in fire?
Also, how do they get seasoned?

ucme's avatar

We have staff for that

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Yeah 00 gage. It’s good for removing old crud when you want to start over. Yellow cap easy off will remove all the old seasoning if you want to start over. (it’s spray lye)

People will tell you to throw the pan in a hot fire to burn off the old crud to start over. Generally this causes fire damage from overheating and the pan will never take proper seasoning again. Some will say use a self clean oven but people have burned down their house doing that. Don’t do it.

Dutchess_III's avatar

OK. Thank you VERY much.

I never put it in self clean mode, but I DID use the highest bake setting for an hour once. I listened to the internet.

So how does it get seasoned if we don’t do it intentionally?

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Highest bake, like 500 degrees is where I set mine to season them. I use a mixture of beeswax, canola and grapeseed oil to season which has a high smoke point.

People put really cruddy pans in a self clean and they’ll actually catch fire inside the oven. Most self clean ovens lock the door during the cycle. All kinds of bad there.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

From bare iron: thin layers, (like wipe the oil on and wipe it off until you can’t get any more off thin) for an hour at a temp past the smoke point of the oil is best. I use an old t-shirt to apply and wipe off seasoning oil. Do this three or four times. Don’t use flax oil, it flakes off. Commercial products like crisbee or buzzywax are best. Crisco or canola are good choices as well.

Dutchess_III's avatar

So, after that you’re good to go forever?

All my pans are preowned. No where near new.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Mostly yeah. Just cook in it and keep it clean, don’t let crud build up on it.
If you start over use the easy off method to remove the old seasoning. Spray it on the pan, leave it in a plastic bag for a few days and wash it off, repeat if necessary. Use 50–50 water and vinegar for an hour at a time to remove rust.

Dutchess_III's avatar

OK, so when I get them out to cook in them, do I oil them up then?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Also, how do I use the Yellow Cap lye?

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Cook with what ever oil you want. Just don’t put it up oily.

Easy off instructions above. Wash the pan good after so all of it is off. Wear your goggles and gloves.

Dutchess_III's avatar

That makes sense and explains a lot.

How do I use the Yellow Cap lye?

Dutchess_III's avatar

THAT was a good video. I saw 14 minutes and groaned…so many people just talk to hear themselves talk, but that guy was through but to the point.
Well, now that I have an idea I can’t wait to get my hands on my cast iron, which I now know sucks! But not for long.

Man, one time I cooked some baked beans in my pot and there was NO getting that burned sugar off. I tried everything I could think of….except Easy Off.

I am forever glad I asked this question @ARE_you_kidding_me. Thank you.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I changed the link to more detailed info. I support what this group says.

Remember easy off is not for general cleaning. It’s for starting over.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I really wish it was written down though. Crisco first, then wipe off, 200 for…how long?
Take it out, wipe it off, 200 again for…how long?
Take it out, wipe it off, Crisco again 300 for…
Somewhere there was 400 for 3 days I think.
Ah well. I think I can figure it out on my own stuff.

zenvelo's avatar

Crisco? Just use a half dozen strips of bacon.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

200 is too low. 450 will be more like it. Use the instructions from the link above and this list of smoke points. You can use bacon grease if you want but it’s got salt, sugar and other stuff that does not make for the best base layer seasoning.

Dutchess_III's avatar

He did it 3 times. It was 200 the first time, 300 the second, and 400 the third time and the times to leave them in varied. Like I said, I wish it was written out.
Blurg. I went to fast forward the video a bit to make sure that’s what I heard, check but now it’s gone.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Read the info on the page I posted in its place. All you need is reposted here

Dutchess_III's avatar

OK, found it.

♣ He starts with a brand new Lodge skillet.

♣ He sprays inside and out with Easy Off.

♣He puts it in a big Heafty bag,wraps it up, and puts it in the garage for about a day. (Actually, 30 hours in this case.)

♣ Then he took it out in the sink and rinsed it off thoroughly.

♣ Then he takes Ivory dish soap and srubs the pan inside and out with “double ought” steel wool.

♣ Per the Easy Off website, any utensil cleaned with Easy Off then needs to be washed down with 50/50 vinegar and water. So he does.

♣ Now that it’s completely stripped he said it could start to rust immediately so he rinsed under the coldest water setting to stop the rust.

♣ Then he put the dry skillet in it in the oven and heats it to 200 degrees. (Yes. That two hunnert degrees. It’s at 7:48.)

♣ He leaves it in there for exactly 15 minutes.

♣ Then he takes it out.

♣ Then he rubs Crisco every which way but loose, then wipes it “completely back off,” with a blue, lint free paper towel of some sort. I think we used to use those at our shop.

♣ Then he puts the pan in the oven and sets the temp to 300 degrees. (He keeps using the word “Preheat” the oven but I don’t think that’s what he means. He puts the pan in the oven in before he sets the temp so it’s actually in the oven as it’s heating up.)

♣ Leave it in there for 15. He says it’s crucial to keep an eye on the time or the oil will pool.

♣ After 15 minutes takes it out and wipe it down once again with the blue paper towel.

♣ Then put it back in the oven (no Crisco) and sets the heat to it to 400 degrees and let it set for 2 hours.

♣ After 2 hours he lets it cool completely.

Then he does it all over again.

♣ After the pan cools he puts it back in the oven at 200 for 15 minutes.

♣ Takes it out and rubs Crisco every which way but loose

♣ Then he wipes it all off.

♣ Puts the pan in the oven and heats it to 300 degrees. Leave in 15 minutes exactly.

♣ Take the skillet out, wipe it down again

♣ Put back in the oven and set to 400 degrees for 2 hours.

I better get some super duper lurve for this!

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

The method I linked with the cast iron community site is better. His method is fine only I’d go higher on the temp. That video was meant to show how to use easy off.

Once you get into identifying and hunting the vintage stuff is when the addiction starts.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

If you post up pics of your iron I’ll identify them for you.

filmfann's avatar

I usually use soap and water, but occasionally use coarse salt, as described above.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’ll do that next time we go camping @ARE_you_kidding_me.

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