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How To: Seasoning Cast Iron
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Blue Pilgrim



Joined: 03 Sep 2007
Posts: 25
Location: Ilinois

PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2008 2:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

How I clean cast iron depends on how cruddied up it gets from whatever I'm cooking. If there is a lot of grease left in it I squirt some detergent in first so I don't clog up the drain.
For the scouring pad I use an old net bag from onions or such -- no scratch and easy to wash out. Those work quite well -- and are virtually free.
Then I generally rub on a bit of lard, and heat it to drive away any moisture.
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pbone



Joined: 05 Jan 2008
Posts: 99
Location: Dutchess County, NYS

PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2008 1:25 pm    Post subject: black skillets Reply with quote

Blue - one of the joys of black iron skillets is that you really don't have to worry about scratching. They are indestuctable, and they needn't be handled with kid gloves the way, for example, le Creuset and enameled pots need to be handled. You can do anything to them, hot water, cold water, burn 'em up, heat 'em to white hot (to sear steak, for example), use metal spatulas or pick at spots with metal screwdriver)))))) you could even put them in the dishwasher, but of course you'd lose your nice base and they'd come out all...yucky and dry.
No matter what you do to them, though, they will always come back to being perfect if you keep using them and leave a little grease layer on them. I highly recommend using cold water (after they have cooled down from whatever you cooked) and a copper mesh scouring pad, then dry. I just pour whatever oil is left into a container to throw away; it isn't the best for the pipes, so I don't pour it down the sink. But the little residue on the chore boy pad, I just run hot water over than and all the risidual junk from the pan goes down the drain.
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GaryProtein



Joined: 26 Oct 2005
Posts: 535

PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2008 2:55 am    Post subject: Re: maintaining seasoning on iron skillets or dutch ovens Reply with quote

susan pettibone wrote:
. . . . I let the skillet cool, then I put it under cold water and clean it with a chore boy (copper cleansing pad) in a circular motion (or whatever) until I feel the surface is nice and smooth . . . .


I had to just chime in on this one. Does anybody else remember back to the early/mid 70's when Chore Boy pads were called Chore GIRL in the days before political correctness??? I guess they wanted the world to know men can or should do some cleaning, too. As a college student, I learned fast that we had to clean!
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pbone



Joined: 05 Jan 2008
Posts: 99
Location: Dutchess County, NYS

PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2008 3:21 am    Post subject: chore boys....huh? Reply with quote

You know: YOU ARE RIGHT!!!! I remember ALWAYS calling them "chore girls"....and then I guess I didn't buy them for a while, or else I didn't pay attention, and then I noticed they are "chore BOYS" I mentioned it to someone and that person said, what? No. Chore BOYS! I thought my memory was playing tricks on me. How hilarious. Thank you so much!!! How TOTALLY SILLY.)))))))))))))lol.sp
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Xenobiologista
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 3:54 am    Post subject: Re: maintaining seasoning on iron skillets or dutch ovens Reply with quote

Hello, I'm new to this...I found the Cooking for Engineers site while looking for information on doing bacon for my boyfriend (who IS an engineer), stumbled across this thread while trying to find out about the chemistry of seasoning pans.

It's rather funny that I grew up in a Chinese family in a Southeast Asian country and didn't know about it. We'd always go to a lot of trouble to soak and scour our woks at home. Then, living in the US, I bought a cheap wok on Amazon that came with instructions. It was amazing, I had to email my mum.

susan pettibone wrote:
How you clean black iron cooking skillets, etc, is key to keeping and refreshing the seasoning. I never use soap of any kind.


IMHO, it's OK to use soap as long as you don't let it soak for an extended period of time (more than a couple minutes), don't scrub with steel wool, and rinse thoroughly. I scrub mine with soap and a cellulose scouring pad.

watt wrote:
That is, over time, a layer of fatty acids is formed; the FA stick to the iron by chemically bonding (the iron replaces the glycerol backbone in fats/oils.


I realize this is an old post and the person's been thoroughly chewed out on other points by one of the regulars, but I have to point out...in saponification there is NOT a covalent bond between the sodium ion and the acid! Soap is a salt!!! Also since there shouldn't be water around during the seasoning process, I don't think the oils could be hydrolyzed.

Re the person or persons who said it's a polymerized layer of fats...so basically a sort of plastic with the fat chains crosslinked with each other? How does it stick to the metal, that's the part I'm not clear about...
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rembrant



Joined: 30 Jun 2008
Posts: 11
Location: Santa Cruz Mountains

PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 11:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I worked at the local recycle as a temp and salvaged a nice oval griddle that had probably been neglected--then buried in garbage and left outside in the dirt and rained on until quite rusty.

I used a wire brush on a power drill,some semi-fine sandpaper and cleaned her up, soaked it in boiling soap water an hour,finished up with a heavy Nylon pad. Then put on a bit of corn oil with a paper towel and heated it for a couple of minutes. It's just fine...have used it for 5 years now,so,short of cracking it,there's little that can damage such a tough item. I'm not looking for my cast irons to be perfectly non stick so the only extra care they get is I heat dry and give a quick wipe with oil.

I used to go through various rituals but most turned out unnessecery.
That Griddle's role is mainly pancakes so I do often do a No-soap cleanup on it. The several other skillets don't get pampered

Dry it. Oil it lightly...that's the essential part.
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rembrant



Joined: 30 Jun 2008
Posts: 11
Location: Santa Cruz Mountains

PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2008 11:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The "heat treated" oils basically become a carbon skin that fills the iron's pores. Carbon and Iron do tend to form some bond. Some oil residues tend to remain as a film on that base. If you wash that away you lose your rustproofing,so you can avoid washing off all the oils-or you can replace them
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Guest






PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2008 3:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I love cast iron and have several pieces, from tiny skillets to a HUGE camp dutch oven with legs.
I recently bought a 4 qt cast iron dutch oven at a second hand store. It was REAL cruddy. Brought it home and had hubby help me using a hand held wire brush grinder, and we got all the crud off of it.
The problem is, I can't get it clean! I wash and wash, and still it turns anything that touches it black. I want to get started seasoning it, but what do I do to get rid of all the black? If I run a paper towel through the inside of it, it comes out BLACK. Not gray, but dark black.
What to do?
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Dilbert



Joined: 19 Oct 2007
Posts: 972
Location: central PA

PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2008 4:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd try oven cleaner; multiple apps as required.

the lye will strip it down to "bare metal" so to speak, re-seasoning will be a must.
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pbone



Joined: 05 Jan 2008
Posts: 99
Location: Dutchess County, NYS

PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2008 4:23 pm    Post subject: How to: Seasoning Cast Iron Reply with quote

I agree with Dilbert. Also would just like to add that Chore Girls (or Chore Boys, as they're now known)))), those copper scouring pads (NOT Brillo, which has jewelers' polish in it) are really great for smoothing and cleaning black iron that's got really cruddy. I use them on black iron after an nice long overnight soak in hot water and dishwashing liquid. This is rarely necessary once you get the item really in good shape and seasoned. If you season by putting a little oil on and heating the pot or skillet in the oven, one reminder: put the skillet/pot/dutch oven in the oven upside down, so the oil doesn't collect and reduce and create a gummy spot. I use an old pizza pan to collect any drips and cook the skillet for an hour or two at about 275 or 300F. Once the piece is in good shape, I just use it and let it cool, put cool or cold water in it, swirl a chore girl around til it's smooth, dry with a towel. Good luck!
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Blue Pilgrim



Joined: 03 Sep 2007
Posts: 25
Location: Ilinois

PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2008 5:16 pm    Post subject: black stuff Reply with quote

Guest:

It isn't clear the black stuff is on the iron, or just the bare iron reacting with moisture and such -- a combination of black iron oxide and the carbon in the iron. "Rust" isn't always red. I would try seasoning it and seeing if the problem went away. You might want to try some fine wet-or-dry abrasive paper first to smooth it out (you will probably get a lot of black in the process). A wire brush will leave a rough surface and 'open up' the pores. If it's fairly smooth just rub some fat on it and heat it up, and then let it cool down and rub it down with a towel, and repeat that a few times.
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DrBiggles



Joined: 12 May 2005
Posts: 352
Location: Richmond, CA

PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2008 4:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anonymous wrote:
I love cast iron and have several pieces, from tiny skillets to a HUGE camp dutch oven with legs.
I recently bought a 4 qt cast iron dutch oven at a second hand store. It was REAL cruddy. Brought it home and had hubby help me using a hand held wire brush grinder, and we got all the crud off of it.
The problem is, I can't get it clean! I wash and wash, and still it turns anything that touches it black. I want to get started seasoning it, but what do I do to get rid of all the black? If I run a paper towel through the inside of it, it comes out BLACK. Not gray, but dark black.
What to do?


Please describe the color, texture and maybe smell of the crud, if you remember? Pictures would be even better.

It's kinda difficult to come up with a good solution when you don't know exactly what problem we're attempting to solve.

The black stuff could very well be old carbonized food/oil and not be such a bad thing.

Biggles
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Watt
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 29, 2008 10:37 pm    Post subject: Re: maintaining seasoning on iron skillets or dutch ovens Reply with quote

Xenobiologista wrote:


watt wrote:
That is, over time, a layer of fatty acids is formed; the FA stick to the iron by chemically bonding (the iron replaces the glycerol backbone in fats/oils.


I realize this is an old post and the person's been thoroughly chewed out on other points by one of the regulars, but I have to point out...in saponification there is NOT a covalent bond between the sodium ion and the acid! Soap is a salt!!! Also since there shouldn't be water around during the seasoning process, I don't think the oils could be hydrolyzed.

Re the person or persons who said it's a polymerized layer of fats...so basically a sort of plastic with the fat chains crosslinked with each other? How does it stick to the metal, that's the part I'm not clear about...


I made no mention of covalent bonds (as the level of understanding of most chemistry related things on this forum is low), and you are indeed correct in that soap is a (mixture) of fatty acid salts. The fatty acids can be formed without water; when unsaturated fats are heated, huge amounts of aldehydes are formed (which is a major source of flavour) and these can oxidise (plenty of oxygen around!) to acids which can react with iron.

And to the the person who uses salt: the chloride ion is the major cause of corrosion in boiler systems, and steps need to be taken to keep it's concentration below one part per million if it is not to cause problems. KEEP SALT AWAY FROM CAST IRON. It also hinders browning.
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DrBiggles



Joined: 12 May 2005
Posts: 352
Location: Richmond, CA

PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2008 2:55 pm    Post subject: Re: maintaining seasoning on iron skillets or dutch ovens Reply with quote

Watt wrote:


And to the the person who uses salt: the chloride ion is the major cause of corrosion in boiler systems, and steps need to be taken to keep it's concentration below one part per million if it is not to cause problems. KEEP SALT AWAY FROM CAST IRON. It also hinders browning.


Gotcha on the boiler situation. Um, but manufacturers, end users and chefs have been cleaning cast iron cookware with salt since the pans first came to be. I can trace back at least 3 generations of my own family that have cleaned their cast iron cookware with salt, so far not one iota of rust or anything that could be considered a negative artifact. I stopped using salt a few years back due to the fact I found it a waste of good salt.

Biggles
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DrBiggles



Joined: 12 May 2005
Posts: 352
Location: Richmond, CA

PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2008 2:09 am    Post subject: Re: maintaining seasoning on iron skillets or dutch ovens Reply with quote

Watt wrote:

And to the the person who uses salt: the chloride ion is the major cause of corrosion in boiler systems, and steps need to be taken to keep it's concentration below one part per million if it is not to cause problems. KEEP SALT AWAY FROM CAST IRON. It also hinders browning.


Oh no !!! I've got chloride on my cast iron !!



And it's been there for 36 hours. I made popcorn and left it on my '52 Wedgewood gas range. Absolutely no signs of corrosion. The top of my stove maintains about a 113 degree F temp.

Any idea how long I have to leave an unwashed piece of cast iron spreckled in salt before I see any problems? Or should I just wipe it clean and move on like I've done for the past 3 decades?

Biggles
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