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Feb 12, 2010 11:55 AM

Flaking Cast Iron Cookware... How to Fix?

I’ve had my cast iron set for about 10 years now and use it a few times a week. I just noticed this past weekend while sautéing some onions in my dutch oven that there were small black flakes mixing in with the food. I realized it was the bits flaking off from the bottom of the dutch oven. Are these pieces of the seasoning or coating? I’ve never officially seasoned the set and have always hand washed them. I’m not sure how to remedy this problem. Should I scour the bottom until I’ve gotten the whole peeling layer off? There are small circles of peeled areas all over the bottom.

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  1. This is what I do. Place the your dutch oven in a self-cleaning oven, set for two hours. When the cleaning cycle is over and the oven can be opened, the dutch oven can be removed, the ash can be removed with a damp sponge, the item dried and it is ready to season.
    Just make sure that your oven vents outside. Expect a lot of smoke and flames.

    Thanks to John Folse this is how to season or reseason a black cast iron pot.
    Directions: Seasoning a New Cast Iron Pot

    1. In order to start the process, wash, rinse and thoroughly dry the new skillet or dutch oven to remove the protective wax coating. I recommend drying the utensil over a low flame to remove all moisture from the porous metal, 2-3 minutes.
    2. Put two tablespoons of liquid vegetable oil in the utensil. Do not use saturated fat, such as butter or bacon fat, because this fat will become rancid during storage. Use a paper towel to coat the entire surface of the utensil with the oil, inside and out -- including all corners, edges and lids.
    3. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Line a large baking pan or cookie sheet with aluminum foil and turn the utensils upside down, including the lid, to prevent the oil building up on the inside of the pan.
    4. Bake the utensils for 1 hour, turn off the heat and allow the skillet or dutch oven to cool completely in the oven with the door closed, 4-6 hours.
    5. Remove from oven and wipe with a paper towel. This completes the seasoning process, and you are ready to use your nicely seasoned cast iron skillet.

    1 Reply
    1. re: State St.

      You may not need to go as high as 500. I've seasoned quite successfully at 450, as well...AND if you're picky about your finish, you should remove the items (carefully! I have super duper Ove Gloves for this task) after the first 10-15 minutes and wipe well (I use locking tongs to hold a wad of paper towels) to prevent baked on dribbles and streaks. Also, before you ever put the cast iron in the oven, wipe wipe and wipe again, till there's no excess oil to streak, in the first place.

    2. everytime you use it scrub it out with coarse salt and paper towel

      1. Lauren,

        I had this happened to my carbon steel wok, but has not happened to my cast iron cookware. Yes, it is just flaking from you existing seasoning surface (most likely explanation). Depending on the severity, you may ignore it or you may have to scour the entire pan and restart the seasoning.

        1. I have had excellent results with the self-cleaning oven method.