Here's the best and easiest way to maintain your cast iron cookware

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Actual “easiest way to maintain your cast iron cookware”: just wash the thing with soap and water and dry it.

The soap and water will not harm the polymerized surface, and will prevent the build-up of the fatty gunk that is causing you to need to keep burning it off in the oven.

My oldest cast iron pan is now 15 years old (I know, I know, a baby). I use it every single day, it is by far the most important piece of equipment in my kitchen. Seven years ago I started ignoring the “use kosher salt” and “never use soap” folks, and my pan has never been better or easier to clean.


Nice thing is, do what works for you and keep on doing it. Pan just gets better and better.


Make sure to cook entirely too much bacon in it from time to time. Mostly for the bacon, but its nice on the seasoning tooo


One point of inaccuracy …

“It heats evenly …”

No, it doesn’t. Cast iron is actually a poorer conductor of heat than other materials used for pans. This is why it often takes a while to get a cast iron pan to the point where it’s easily usable without having “hot spots”.

However, I agree with the rest of the points.


Choice of oil makes a big difference, some oil is more prone to the sticky rancidness mentioned in the article, even when seasoned properly.

Alton Brown’s books recommend vegetable shortening, but he’s since switched to organic Flax Oil (aka food-grade flaxseed oil).


AKA linseed oil. Season your pot, finish your deck!


I am lucky enough to have inherited the “family” cast iron skillet that my mother got from her grandmother making it more than 70 years old. She used it daily since I was a kid for frying everything. The pan is so well seasoned nothing sticks to it. I clean it the way my mom did rinsing with hot water from the tap and a scrub with a dobie then back on a burner to dry. This pan is the pride of my kitchen! Normal usage keeps it well seasoned I haven’t ever had to do anything to it.


I’ve been cleaning my cast iron skillet with some kosher salt, a bit of water, and a kitchen rag. The salt helps scrub all the gunk off and then the kitchen rag cleans everything up nicely. Once in a while I’ll season and put it in the oven on 350F for about an hour to seal it in.

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The real advantage of cast iron is that it retains heat much longer than other types of cookware, so food stays hotter, longer, and this superior heat retention makes CI more useful for high-heat cooking such as searing meats.


Yep, common misconception. A heavy weight aluminum pan or copper pan heats much, much more evenly. Similarly, the reason copper & aluminum are used for heat sinks is not because they are lighter than iron, it is because of their thermal properties, the same properties that benefit a pan. (disclosure, I love & use my cast iron skillets, grill pan & dutch oven all the time).

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You are 100% right. It’s exactly how cast iron is treated in most commercial kitchens as well (but in my experience, cast iron isn’t all that common in commercial kitchens).

Try telling a health inspector that your restaurant doesn’t wash your cast iron cookware and see if they are very understanding.

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A method for enameled cast iron I picked up from too much time on Ebay looking for old Le Creuset pieces with way too much grime is the use of oven cleaner. A couple of treatments will remove the crud collected by decades of neglect. Of course, completely clean and re-season your pan before using it again but if you have some pieces that look too lost to use again, give it a go.

My maintenance is kosher salt and a cleaning towel immediately after cooking and washing the back and sides with soap and water as needed.

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I’ve stopped taking my 2 cast iron skillets out of the oven when I do my regular baking. It won’t hurt them, and may add to the polymerization.

I tried the ‘season with flax oil’ for about 6 months, but didn’t notice a significant difference.

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I think the easiest way is to get someone else to do it and tell them you’re doing a stock photography session.


I like CI and got a saucepan in CI. I rarely use it, so it’s not seasoned well and it rusts, which makes me want to use it even less. Now I’m using SS more so that pot is way in the back of the cabinet, which of course means I use even less. Any one want a CI saucepan?

No chance for me. I have an IR/quartz-based cooktop. It takes FOREVER to try and heat up a cast iron pan. We’re talking 20+ minutes. Up until now, I’ve used a good, tri-layer stainless steel skillet for most things, and I have a few green pans (nonstick) for situations that call for it.

I’ve recently been introduced to Carbon Steel pans, which seem to have all the benefits of cast iron, except that they are MUCH thinner (meaning that they will heat up extremely quickly). They are both nonstick and able to give a great sear. They obviously won’t hold heat as well as a thick cast-iron, and they still need to be seasoned, but I think this is probably the best route for me to go, given my cooktop limitation.

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Sure, to the extent that “Vodka” and “Denatured Alcohol” are the same.

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I learned the salt thing from my mom, but it’s a PITA in my book.

I found another method, which I use, that I love. Wash with soap and water. THEN put it on the stove with heat up until all the water evaporates. If I like, I spritz some oil on it.


I found this I’m-pretty-sure-genuine Wagner dutch oven (with lid) literally in a dumpster. It cleaned up really well, and I seasoned it with canola oil. So far I’ve only cooked no-knead bread in it. Now I know what to do if it gets mucky!

Click through and scroll right to see the other pics of it.