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Don't hate me about my cast iron pans

I bought 3 in a yard sale about 25 years ago, Japanese, well well seasoned. But I am not supposed to cook with them on my glass-top stove. So I put them in the fireplace to increase the heat that comes out of it. They are quite, er, well-done. I still have them, tho. I wonder if they can be rescued?

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  1. cast iron can almost always be salvaged. I don't know what you mean by "well done" but if there's stuff stuck to them, heat them up a little bit and scrub them with some kosher salt with a drop of oil. A little patina might come off, but no big deal. I also wash mine in the sink with a little soap and water and a scrubby sponge "gasp" when they're gross, and just dry them right away in a hot oven (I rub a little oil on them first)

    1. When mine are too crudded up with gunk I run them through the self cleaning cycle of my oven. There will be a bit of oxidation whih will wash right out and then just reseason with solid fat not oil which will form a sticky residue.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Candy

        Yeah, I had an amazing cast-iron pan that eventually started losing its seasoning in crappy little hunks, and so I put it in the fireplace, burned off decades of black stuff, and started from scratch on the seasoning. Now, maybe six years later, it's starting to get super good again (smooth, very black).

        It was very entertaining watching the crud burn off of it in the fire. I recommend it as a winter night's entertainment

        1. re: Tartinet

          This sounds like a good thing to do on a cold winter evening! I don't have a self-cleaning oven, and I'm too lazy to scrub my gunky pans (there's a lot of build-up on two of them).

          Where did you put the pan - under the fire, in the fire, or over the fire?


          1. re: AnneInMpls

            I put mine standing up against the side wall, not in the flames

            1. re: xnyorkr

              Thanks! I know what I'm going to do next weekend - build a big fire, pop some popcorn, and roast my cast-iron pans. Now that's my idea of cleaning!


            2. re: AnneInMpls

              We just stuck it right into an already-established fire. Parts of it got red-hot eventually, which was pretty exciting!

              It would probably be more prudent to do it like xnyorker did--less stress on the metal.

        2. I don't understand the "I'm not supposed to cook with them on my glass cook-top stove" comment. Why not? Could you explain, please.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Sherri

            Boy, I'm encouraged that you think they are salvagable. They sure were good, and hearty.

            The manufacturer says not to use them on a glass cooktop because they will scratch it.

            1. re: xnyorkr

              xnyorkr, why would these pans scratch more than any other metal pans? Certainly if you banged them around a lot you'd stand a chance of breaking the top, but short of that, I still don't understand the prohibition. I have a friend who owns one of these and she uses several cast iron pans simultaneously.
              P.S. she fervently hopes that it will break soon so that she can replace it with a clear conscience - hates it with a passion.
              I remain perplexed. How does you manufacturer stand on Le Creuset? heavy stainless-lined copper pans?

              1. re: Sherri

                Yeah, umm... if you're worried about scratches on a glass top range, why did you buy it? Use your cast iron on the glass top and stop being silly - just don't slide it all around and you'll be fine.

                1. re: HaagenDazs

                  I actually did not buy it myself...it was here in the house.

                  I really like my cooktop. Sorry it doesn't work for your friend.

                2. re: Sherri

                  Different metals, indeed different materials of all kinds, have characteristic "hardness" - a harder material will scratch a softer material. There are different scales - the best known probably being Mohs and Brinnel - that scientists use to measure the hardness of different materials. Cast iron is a comparatively hard metal - that's why the manufacturers are concerned about it scratching a glass cooktop. Aluminum, copper, and even steel are softer and less prone to scratch other materials (although it's hard to generalize because there are so many different types of cast iron and steel).

                  1. re: FlyFish

                    Thank you for that explanation. I really didn't like having to explain myself to whomever thought I should be using the cast iron pans even tho the stove mfctr said not to.

            2. My mother always told me to clean the build-up off cast iron in a fire, so you're probably not hurting them. And you'll still have them to use as baking dishes, if need be.

              1. Question for anyone who may know - there was a brief blurb in this month's Cook's Illustrated that said to clean stuck on gunk from cast iron, use balled up aluminum foil. I tried this and I'm thinking maybe I messed up my Le Creuset enameled cast iron skillet. The skillet (about 2 months old) ain't lookin as black as it used to. What do y'all think?

                1. I have both a glass top stove and use cast iron....no scratches!

                  of course, I don't get all crazy bangin' them around either...usually.

                  1. It's a myth that you should not use cast iron on a glass or ceramic top stove. Manufacturers tell you not to (and also tell you not to use Le Creuset, btw) because they warantee the stovetop not because they are inherently prone to damaging it. It's a $$ issue for them, nothing more.

                    I use cast iron skillets and Le Creuset ovens on my glass top stove every day and have done so for 9 years. There is one small scratch on my cooktop made by a utensil not by a pot or pan.

                    Stove tops are not made from Waterford crystal -- the can stand a good deal of wear and tear. It is hard to scratch it, actually. As long as you are reasonably careful with cast iron and LC they are safely used on glass/cermic cooktops. IMO the incredible utility of cast iron skillets far outweighs the tiny chance that you might scrape it or drop it and damage the stove.

                    1. We had a glass cooktop at our prior house, and never had a problem cooking with cast iron. If I were you, tho, I'd first make sure that the pans don't have any burrs on the bottom - grind 'em smooth if they do - then go ahead and use them.

                      1. Do be careful about overheating your old cast iron. It can develope minute cracks, and there have been explosions. Gads!

                        here is a link I found some time ago written by cast iron collectors. Among the different cleaning theories are some good facts about cast iron cookware.


                        I use coals only no direct fireplace flames. Seems to work fine.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: toodie jane

                          Cast iron is very porus and does need care in handling. Since it is cast, the iron can have air pockets in it invisible to the handler. Even dropping it and hitting just the right spot can shatter it. Heavy and sturdy yes but vulnerable too. Just like DeBeers would like you think about diamonds being indestructable hit a stone in the right place it can crack or shatter, just like cast iron.

                          1. re: Candy

                            Yes, so true. I broke a treasured cast iron pan when I threw it down the stairs (it was an accident). The pan cracked into several pieces.

                            This was several years ago, and my replacement pan still isn't seasoned as well as the old one was. So don't drop those pans!