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Can't clean my cast iron grill - I've tried everything!

Does anybody have any other ideas about how to get that hardened black stuff off a brand new, just used once, cast iron grill? I tried Kosher salt then scrubbing with steel wool, I rubbed it with oil then baked it in a 500 degree oven for an hour, even scraped at it with a steak knife which took off a lot more than the gunk. My new grill is now streaked with black crust and lighter colored streaks where the knife stripped off the outer coating.

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  1. On Cook's Country or America's Test Kitchen last week, Kimball cleaned a gunky cast iron skillet by heating it with oil on a stove, then scrubbing with a scouring pad. After the burn-on stuff was gone, he rinsed and dried it. You need to wear gloves. A wad of aluminum foil can be used as a scrubber, too.

    1. Oven cleaner and a bag. When you say grill, do you mean like a grill pan or grates from a grill?

      Rubbing it with oil and then baking it will just add another layer of seasoning over everything probably. Best to start over again. Oven cleaner and a bag. Or a lye solution?

      Then read this post which is the best cast iron seasoning instructions I've seen


      2 Replies
      1. re: deeznuts

        It's a two-burner stovetop grill pan. Thanks for your response - I'll look into using oven cleaner and a bag (I've never heard of that one)

        1. re: aforman

          Expanding on the "oven cleaner and a bag" method - Here is a wonderful how to:


          I've used this method on my own pans with great results, but like someone else mentioned, this will strip your grill of the gunk and seasoning. However he kindly includes instructions on how to reason as well.

          Good luck!

      2. I use coarse sea salt on my cast iron pans. It acts as an abrasive when you scrub it

        1. Light a big fire in your grill. Put the grates over the fire. Let the fire burn for an hour.

          Everything that was on the grill should be completely incinerated.

          1. This doesn't directly answer your question, but I wouldn't do anything. This is a common "problem" with grill pans and it is expected. You won't be able to get the black stuff completely out. Some of the cleaning techniques here will strip the seasoning away (oven cleaner) and then you have a whole new problem on your hands. You've already stripped off some of it with that knife.

            1 Reply
            1. you can put it through the self cleaning cycle of an oven, but you will need to reseason it again.

              1 Reply
              1. re: monocle

                I would insert "then cleaned with steel wool" in the middle.

              2. Spray with oven cleaner and toss them in the oven cleaning cycle.

                2 Replies
                1. re: JayL

                  That is strictly a no-no according to according to Easy-Off instructions. I have no idea what high temperatures would do to the chemicals in it. It specifically mentions a cold oven.

                  1. re: Paulustrious

                    I'm sorry.....mistype....should have been "or" not "and".

                    "Spray with oven cleaner or toss them in the oven cleaning cycle."

                    Oh the problems one word can cause! LOL

                2. I think folks here are missing the point.

                  Why would you go through the trouble of stripping the seasoning off with oven cleaner or the self cleaning cycle, re-season the pan, use it once... and then you have the problem all over again?

                  Will the oven cleaner get the gunk off? Most probably. Is it really a good idea when you're going to be using the pan over and over again? Hell no. It's a waste of time and caustic chemicals.

                  Of course everyone here is free to type what they want but I think every single post that suggests oven cleaner and self cleaning in the oven is ill-advised.

                  Grill pans won't look perfect. In this world of Food Network perfection, where bright and shiny new pans are used for every single dish on every single show, you have to understand that a pan with years of use will not look like it did the day it came out of the box.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Shaw Oliver

                    A forceful second to your point. PBS is re-running some of the French Chef programs, even the original black & white years. JC used her own, well-used pans, and there was plenty of gunk on sides. bottoms, and rims. Some appeared to be naked aluminum, complete with dents. And if you watch shows filmed in actual working restaurant kitchens, you see mostly carbon steel pans with plenty of discoloration. Those glorious high end meals are made in distinctly un-glamorous cookware. Some readers of this site seem more concerned about the appearance of their kitchens than the deliciousness of their food.