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How to Clean and Season a Cast Iron Skillet

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It was devastating to find our pan in this condition

It was devastating to find our pan in this condition

Cleaning cast iron doesn’t have to be difficult. I recently had to clean our cast iron frying pan so that we could take it camping with us.

Restoring old skillets or any cast iron cookware can be achievable in just a few steps. I will show you how I was able to clean my rusty old frying pan along with how to season it again after removing the rust.

Caring for old rusty skillets or any cast iron cookware can be a little time consuming but in the end it’s well worth the time.

There are Many Ways to Clean and Season Cast Iron

This is the way that I used to clean my rusted frying pan, okay I didn’t do the cleaning my hubby did, I'll admit that.

Supplies You’ll Need for Cleaning

I was able to purchase most of these at my local dollar store except the crisco that came from Walmart.

These are all your going to need to restore your cookware, everything was easy to get and reasonably priced and was well worth the cost to help save my rusted old camping skillet.

Everything you'll need to make it new again

Everything you'll need to make it new again

  • White Vinegar
  • Steel Wool – (make sure it’s soapless)
  • Copper Scrubby – (my husband preferred the copper scrubby)
  • Vegetable Shortening (my husband used the Crisco shortening instead of Crisco oil but either one works)
  • Paper Towel

Did you Know: Cast Iron Cookware was popular in the first half of the 20th century and that most households had at least one skillet.

Step One – Restoring the Cookware

This is the easiest step in the restoring process

My skillet was stored in our garage for two years and in that time the roof leaked, so needless to say it became extremely rusted. Now we want to go camping and because this is our camping fry pan I had to get it cleaned.

You can see from the picture that the last two years weren’t good for my pan, so here’s what we did.

Easiest part, put it in the sink and forget it

Easiest part, put it in the sink and forget it

  1. I filled the sink with straight hot water making sure there was enough to cover the entire frying pan.
  2. Then put a half a cup of white vinegar into the hot water.
  3. Add the rusted skillet to the sink of water, making sure it's completely covered with the vinegar water.
  4. Then leave it soak for the next twelve hours, best to do this overnight.

Did I mention this is the easiest step of the restoring project, not much to do here.

Step Two – The Cleaning

This is the hardest part to the restoring process, I didn’t have the muscles to do this part so my husband took over for me

He had a choice of using steel wool or the copper scrubby I had bought, but he didn’t like the feel of the steel wool so he choose to use the copper scrubby.

This is the hardest part, you'll need a little muscle power

This is the hardest part, you'll need a little muscle power

It took my husband about a half an hour to get the frying pan completely free of the rust, he scrubbed, rinsed, scrubbed, rinsed and scrubbed again. That’s all he did was scrub and rinse, with every rinse he made sure that the loose rust was all washed out.

My husband did make this comment while he was doing all the scrubbing “This is a lot of work, it might just be easier to go buy a new one”. I had to remind him that we aren’t made of money and other than being rusty there wasn’t anything wrong with the frying pan.

Step Three – The Seasoning

I was going to do this step but the hubby stepped in to help

My husband decided that he wanted to finish the job of restoring the frying pan, who am I to argue. I spent my time taking the pictures from different angles, easy work for me.

This part is pretty simply, maybe a little messy

This part is pretty simply, maybe a little messy

Anyway back to the seasoning step, this is where the paper towel comes in handy. You first have to make sure the cast iron is completely dry before applying the shortening. Once its totally dry put some shortening on a paper towel and start greasing.

Make sure you give it a generous amount of shortening along the bottom and around the sides. Once you’ve completed that it’s off to the oven.

Step Four – Baking the Seasoning to Stick

Now were going to bake it in the oven, I used a cold oven to start off with, we put the frying pan into the oven and turned it on to 350 degrees, this is where it’ll stay for anywhere’s from one hour to three hours.

We left ours in the oven just over an hour, then we took it out to see if we needed to drain any access oil.

Wow looks new again

Wow looks new again

We put it back in the oven and let it cook for a total of two hours, you can see the difference it made from the beginning when we first started. The rust is completely gone and our cast iron frying pan is like brand new again.

We’re happy that we can now use it once again on all of our camping trips, it’s the best pan for cooking over those open fires and because it’s cast iron theres no need to worry about the handle melting from the heat of the flame.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2020 ravko