How To: Clean and Season a Cast Iron Skillet

There is something so nostalgic about a good cast iron pan. They are surprisingly easy to take care of, and are extremely versatile. Here are a few tips for cleaning and seasoning your cast iron skillet.

How To: Clean and Season a Cast Iron Skillet

Known to impart wonderful flavor and cook anything from bacon to bread, these iron heirlooms often get a bad reputation when it comes to cleaning, but if treated right, they will last you generations. There are many do’s and don’ts when it comes to your cast iron, but I have my own simple advice for how to properly clean your skillet.

Tips for Cleaning your Cast Iron Skillet:

After cooking in your cast iron, let it cool. When it has cooled completely, wet it with warm water and pour kosher or sea salt on it. Use the salt to “scour” the pan clean with a sponge. You can dry it with a dish towel, and then I personally like to place it back in the warm oven I just used (turned off) so it dries completely and every ounce of the the remaining water evaporates.

What you’re really trying to avoid at all times is rust, and water left on cast iron will turn to rust. So always make sure to dry your pan thoroughly. When purchasing a cast iron from a thrift store, make sure the pan you choose is rust-free. If it’s not, here are a few steps you can follow to restore your pan to its former glory.

Tips for Removing Rust from a Vintage Cast Iron Skillet:

  • Remove all the rust: Use a steel wool to remove the rust from the pan. Scour the skillet until all the rust is removed.

  • Wash the skillet thoroughly. Use warm water and mild dish soap and scrub with a sponge or bristle brush.

  • Dry the skillet immediately after.

Now, what does it mean to have a “seasoned” cast iron skillet you might be asking yourself. If you’ve ever noticed that your brand new shiny cast iron pan doesn’t cook up a pot roast like the years-old one your Grandmother uses it might just be due to the fact that hers is well-seasoned from years of use.

Cast iron is a porous material and cooking fatty meats time after time will build up a sort of layer on your pan, despite how good you clean it, that allows for an overall better and more even cooking experience. The key to truly mastering cast iron cooking is to build a perfectly seasoned pan and then never get rid of it.

Tips for Seasoning a Cast Iron Skillet:

  • Cover the pan with a small amount of cooking oil.

  • Place the pan in the oven upside down. Place a sheet of foil or a baking sheet on the bottom rack to catch any oil that may drip from the pan. Heat the cast iron for one hour at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool.

I hope these tips help you clean your favorite skillet. It is so important to keep these skillets around for generations to come.

heirloomed is a lifestyle brand with a mission of “keeping heirlooms around for another generation.” Our blog features stories about my favorite made-from-scratch recipes, creating traditions with your familyfarmhouse home decor, effortless entertaining by mixing new and vintage pieces, tips on gardening creating a timeless capsule wardrobe, and small town + historic travel. Our product designs feature a collection of “goods inspired by the past, for generations to enjoy” with an array of apronstable linenshand-poured candles and keepsake gifts. Learn more at www.heirloomedcollection.com

I’m an old soul based in Atlanta, GA and mom of 3 with a deep love of all things from the past with a story to tell, on a mission to keep heirlooms around for another generation - whether it be a tradition, splattered family recipe, or historic home.

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