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Jan 6, 2009 07:33 AM

Help, please

Last night, I prepared salmon in my Lodge (pre-seasoned) cast iron skillet. I browned it on the stove, and then finished it off in the oven.
Now, the skillet smells of fish. I washed it out last night (without soap) and dried it in the oven.
Any thoughts on how to get the fish smell out of the skillet?
Thanks so much.

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  1. The salmon oil has "seasoned" into the iron. I would now use this pan exclusively for seafood. One option maybe to use a wire brush and wear down the inside of the pan thereby "removing" the seasoning.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Lenox637

      This is going way overboard Lenox. A cast iron pan used exclusively for fish? No way. Use a wire brush and rip off the seasoning? Settle down...

      bxgirl, just cook something in the pan that has strong flavors and can help mask the potential fishy flavor that MIGHT carry over into your next dish. My guess from experience is that it won't. Try cooking some ground beef for tacos or even searing a steak. If your finished dish ends up tasting like fish, I'll be absolutely and completely surprised.

      1. re: HaagenDazs

        What about cooking some onions in it?

        And, btw, would sprinkling some baking soda (without water for obvious reasons) and leaving it there for a little while do anything good re the odors or bad to the CI?

    2. Try putting a little oil in the pan heating and then adding salt and then scour.

      1. What I'd do is leave it for the moment. Then, before you use it next time, wash well with soap and then cook as normal. Preferably something like a steak or chops that require high heat. I bet that would get rid of any remaining fish smell.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Kagey

          NEVER use soap on your cast iron and don't wire brush it. If you think the fish odor is bad, wait until you get the soap flavors in your food. You might try wiping it out with straight lemon juice. If that doesn't do the job well enough, try heating it, adding a bit of oil and with the oil very warm (but not hot enough to burn your fingers) dump in enough coarse salt to cover the bottom with a thick layer and use a paper towel or rag to scrub it with the salt, then discard the salt. (See mongaine's comment)
          If, for some reason, you find you still have an unpleasant odor, try frying some potatoes in the pan. Last resort, strip it in the proper manner using Byron's method ( and re-season.

          1. re: todao

            I sometimes (not always) use a bit of soap. My pan is very well seasoned and it's no catastrophe. Never had a problem with soap taste in my food because I actually rinse the pan!

            1. re: Kagey

              I always use soap to clean my cast iron. It gets all the food aromas out and it doesn't affect the seasoning one iota. I've been doing it forever. I find that there is almost a fetishism about cast iron seasoning. It's not a holy object; it's a pan you use to cook. Wash it and get on with it!

              1. re: roxlet

                Another with the soap, my pan works just fine and it doesn't affect the seasoning.

        2. Scour with salt and fresh lemon juice (I know, lemon is an acid and will remove some of the seasoning, but it also removes strong smells).

          Rinse, heat on stove until dry, brush on oil.

          Our 4 pans are ancient and have been used on and in and for everything, and don't impart smells or unwanted flavours.

          Good luck!

          1. I woul;d totally use soap on it, just don't use "flavored" soap. Use something plain, scrub it with lots and lots of hot water, and then heat more clean water in the pan on the stove, so the rest of the oils rise out into the water.
            Then re-season the pan.
            By the way, I have three cast iron pans, two of which I rescued from someone's trash because they were encased in rust. I revived them by cleaning off rust, rubbing them with vegetable oil, and heating them (right side up) in a low oven so the oil was absorbed into the bottom of the pan. I never have problems with them.

            I also have a giant enameled cast iron pan my mother bought for me somewhere, which is great too!

            8 Replies
            1. re: somervilleoldtimer

              I agree - soap is completely fine. There are some who freak out when they hear the words cast iron used next to soap and their hair starts falling out and they start crying, etc... it's sad ;-) but in reality a little soap on your cast iron won't hurt a thing. It helps get rid of things like fishy smells and overly greasy messes. Just don't let the pan soak in the soapy water.

              For those that have never used soap on your pan, good for you. But in the event you ever get a drop into "The Precious" it will be ok, I promise.

              1. re: HaagenDazs

                wow this is a lot of conflicting info. I just got my cast iron skillet for xmas (sounds like it was a popular gift this year).

                BXgirl: please let me know what you do (that works) as I am sure I will encounter the same issue at some point.

                If it was me, I would try cooking something else thought was Bacon, if it is inedible who cares. surely if anything can de-stink it, this would.

                perhaps it will smell but maybe it won't transfer to the food? and if this method does not work, you can move onto more extreme solutions.

                just throwing this out there...what about vinegar? will that stay around too?

                1. re: cleopatra999

                  Do not use vinegar in a new cast iron pan. There's lots of good info out there, but be aware of how you need to treat your pan.

                2. re: HaagenDazs

                  does washing w/soap and water keep cast iron pieces from looking/feeling "gunky"? i threw away a couple of pans/pots that my husband had when we moved in together b/c they felt so dirty. i just didn't want to cook w/them. i'm thinking of getting a small dutch oven to make no-knead bread. but i'm hesitant to get another pan that has to be seasoned and maintained like this.

                  1. re: clsm

                    Sure - I'm not exactly sure what you're getting at, but a wash with soap will certainly cut the grease. It's not something you want to do every day, but soap and water will not hurt cast iron as long as it is rinsed and dried appropriately.

                    If you're referring to the fact that some cast iron can truly get lots and lots of build-up, well then a little soap will not magically remove that. It can help prevent it over time maybe, but I can't imagine throwing out these pans for any reason.

                    Literally, unless they are flattened by a truck wheel or something else that renders the pan completely unusable, cast iron is always salvageable. I can only hope that your husband's pans were not handed down from his grandparents for instance! It would be a shame to throw away family heirlooms like that.

                    You don't need to get a cast iron pot to make no-knead bread. If you have oven safe stainless steel pots, that will work just fine. In any situation you can get an enameled cast iron pot like a Staub.


                    1. re: HaagenDazs

                      There only two times that I have ever given up on old cast iron.

                      One is crappy cast iron. Some of the cheap stuff, made from poor quality pig iron (just an metal-casting expression that has nothing to do with oinkers,) have a rough surface to begin with. From the original casting process. They're also likely to have cast-in hot spots where the iron wasn't poured evenly. They never seem to get an even seasoned surface. Ever. We bought some of these at auction and ended up pitching them after about two years of frustration.

                      The other is cast iron that has rusted out. My brother bought an old warehouse and we found tons (literally) of very old cast iron which we thought was a real treasure trove. Problem was that the rust had pitted most of it and the pitting was too deep to even sand-blast out.
                      Scrap metal.
                      Light rust can be dealt with but sometimes it's too far gone.

                      1. re: HaagenDazs

                        Cast iron can get gunky during the seasoning process if oil is too thick or pan doesn't get hot enough long enough. It also happens during use, especially in the corners and sides which don't get as hot as the bottom. I think it happens to some degree to most folks -- eventually you bite the bullet, strip the pan and reseason.

                        Gunky pans not only are gross to work with, but they attract dust and dirt like a magnet. More seriously, the gunk can get rancid, which will give your pan and anything you cook in it, a very funky and unpleasant aroma and flavor.

                        I have not had a real gunk problem with my fry pan, waffle irons, or stove top Dutch oven -- they get used too often. On the other hand, my camp ovens are used less frequently, so this can be a struggle with those pieces.

                        Minor gunk shouldn't require full-blown reseasoning. Start with hot soap and water, and a plastic scrubby. Rinse well then get the pan nice and hot all over -- use a 300-350F oven or covered gas grill set on medium. This will liquify most of the gunk which you can wipe out with a paper towel. Apply a very light coat of oil all over and pop back in the oven for an hour.

                        I love my five-quart Lodge for no-knead bread, but I have gotten great results with a covered Corningware casserole dish, camp ovens (outside with charcoal briquettes for fuel) and a pair of stoneware loaf pans (one was turned over on top to make a sort of cloche). The keys are the cover to keep the moisture in and the thermal mass of the cast iron or ceramic.

                        1. re: MikeB3542

                          Thanks for the helpful replies.
                          No, the cast iron pieces were not family heirloom pieces. But I do wish I had known how to clean and re-season them. Now I know better!

                          Mike - when you say "apply a very light coat ... all over" - do you mean the outside as well? This was my problem with the old pans I tossed - they were gunky on the outside. Your description of the problems I had was accurate!

                          I've tried making the no-knead bread in my Le Creuset 5.5 qt dutch oven and in my All-Clad stainless steel 4 qt. I much preferred the crackly crust on the LC version. I'd like to get a small cast iron dutch oven (that won't break the bank - so Lodge is a good idea) for baking bread. I like the shape of the bread in a smaller vessel. Lodge's 5 quart is a little wider than desired, and the 3 qt enameled is too short.