Bring back cast iron
Cast iron is pretty invincible... you'd have to really TRY to damage it. Got reunited with CI when I found 2 "name" skillets at a yard sale... 2 Wagner's and a griswold... or the other way around. They were REALLY crusty with UNKNOWN gunk. If it had been COLD weather would have just run thru oven self-clean cycle. Since it was dead of summer, went quick & dirty and used SEVERAL applications of spray oven cleaner... a bit of heresy, I know. Once cleaned up, got SCREAMIN' hot on stove top and then a generour spoonful of bacon grease... that's what my grandmother always used. Made sure ALL surfaces were coated... inside, outside, handle... then into oven for??? a few hours at maybe 250... don't quote me on that temp.
I think one of the keys to getting the most out of CI is to USE IT as often as you can. If I cook something that doesn't just wipe off the surface with a paper towel, a use cheap-o salt, a scrubber, and HOT water. Once thoroughly rinsed, back on burner and a repeat of the bacon grease application.
All my CI was found at yard sales & thrift shops, for a song. Have a nice big round griddle.. Lodge, I think... that NOTHING sticks to. Once well seasoned, does about anything non-stick does except let you swirl the pan and watch an egg slide along. That's a good thing in my book. Instead of chasing an egg for over easy (with greater chance of breaking yolk), they turn over easily... and you can use METAL tools on the stuff.
There are some good step-by-step illustrated instructions at http://www.lodgemfg.com/usecare1.asp . I used them to bring back a rusty Dutch oven that had been left outside for a year.
As I rule, I don't use soap to wash my cast iron cookware -- just scrub it out with steel wool followed up with a scrunge pad, then dry it and rub a light coat of olive oil into it with a paper towel.
Use salt and cooking oil or a plastic scrubbie to rub it off. Heatit on the stove to dry, when cool, rub liberally with Crisco or lard (preferable) or vegetable oil if you're freaked out by solid fats. Pop it in the oven at 300 or so for 1 to 1.5 hours. Put something under it to catch the drippings.
I think the camp is divided on whether you ought to wash your cast iron cookware. I'm in the camp that says you shouldn't. I just periodically rub mine with salt if it gets too crusty and oil if it starts looking dry.
Have fun with the l'il bugger. It's great exercise to use and it'll last you forever and ever.
Oops, sorry I was unclear. Salt and oil and nothing else. IF that doesn't work (and it should) try a scrubbie with water. If you use water, you'l need to dry it over the stove before Crisco-ing. Otherwise, just wipe off the salt, Crisco, and pop it in the oven.
I should stop writing emails when I'm half asleep, huh?