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rehabilitating a cast iron skillet

Mine has quite a bit of perma-gunk near the edges and up the sides. I've tried scrubbing it with Comet or similar but have not made a lot of headway. What's the best way to clean this bad boy right nown to the bare metal so I can start over?


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  1. Run it through a self-cleaning cycle in your oven. In my great grandmother's day and my grandmother's they would clean them by putting them in a fire and burning the crud off.

    You will probably get more responses if you ask this on the Cookware board.

    1. In the episode of Star Trek, Mudd's Women, hanging the pots out in a sand storm did the job.

      1 Reply
        1. depending on how much crud is gooped on it, fill the skillet with water and boil on high heat. scrape it out and do over till clean.

          3 Replies
          1. re: hotoynoodle

            I don't have the self-cleaning option nor easy access to a sand storm. The gunk is too hardened to be boiled off, I've tried that a lot. I figured it might just be a steel wool deal. Any more ideas?

            1. re: allisonw

              they're cheap. start over, buy a new one and take better care of it! ;)

              1. re: allisonw

                If you have a gas or charcoal grill, you can put the CI pan over a very hot fire for a few minutes to burn off the carbonized food. Let it cool and then wash before starting over.

                A fireplace would also work if your house is so equipped.

            2. Oven cleaner should work..otherwise...elbow grease

              1. Take it outside and spray it with oven cleaner and then put it in a garbage bag over night. Scrub with steel wool. You'll have to re-season it, but that isn't such a big deal. I had to put mine in storage for a bit and it had rusty spots afterward and I ended up sanding them out, running it through the dishwasher, and then re-seasoning. Cast iron can take alot of abuse.

                5 Replies
                1. re: dalaimama

                  We're having the same issues. How do you re-season exactly?

                  1. re: sophie.

                    Look no further than Chow.

                    And, of course, prepare for a little dissent.

                    1. re: wolfe

                      lovely thanks. i should have done that.

                      1. re: sophie.

                        And thank you for expanding my culinary vocabulary when I saw your profile.

                        1. re: wolfe

                          It was a superb meal. I dream of gnudi.

                          I'm inspired to try to make it.

                          Our server at the Pig said that he and his roommate (another server) had been trying to perfect their own gnudi at home for months with little success. This convinced me not to try to make it at home. But the Gothamist recipe intrigues me. I'd skip the lobster and just attempt the gnudi. Semolina and ricotta is basically the gist of it. But it seems like at the Pig the ricotta is in the center and the semolina is on the outside forming a barely distinguishable (in texture) shell. Oh what a beautiful food.


                          Requires a new board...

                2. I've had that perma-gunk on my stainless-steel pots before. I used Bar-Keeper's friends and I'm amazed at how easy it comes off. I'd give that a go on your cast-iron pans. It might still work out and take that perma-gunk off.

                  Cast Iron is similar to steel since they are both a Iron-Carbon composite. The difference between cast iron and steel are its other alloy additions and microscopic structure that would change their material characteristics and the way they physically behave.