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Please excuse another cast iron topic

comestible Jan 10, 2011 10:59 AM

I'm sure this is addressed elsewhere, but the search function isn't adequate to the task.

I have a Lodge skillet, bought new c. 20 years ago, and there is a buildup mostly on the interior sides of material that I think is carbonized food. Scaly black stuff, some adhering to the sides, and some that flakes off into the pan when cooking.

I suspect this may be due to using oil at high heat to soften batches of tortillas. But I don't know. (A second CI skillet, bought at the same time, never developed this problem, but was not used for this purpose.) Come to think of it, there's a similar crusty buildup near the edges of my carbon-steel wok.

Any ideas on how to remove it? Will re-season if necessary.

Thank you; any advice appreciated.

  1. Chemicalkinetics Jan 10, 2011 11:43 AM

    Try scraping it with plastic scraper or an old credit card. If it is too hard, then just scrap with a metal utensil.

    1. kaleokahu Jan 10, 2011 11:47 AM

      Run it through your self-cleaning oven cycle a few times.

      1. m
        mikie Jan 10, 2011 12:59 PM

        Someone addressed this a while back, I can't remember to give them credit. Something about oven cleaner and a black plastic bag and hot sun. I don't recall the details. It was one of the CI collectors on here. Hopefully they will come forward.

        1. SanityRemoved Jan 10, 2011 02:21 PM

          Kosher salt and a little oil makes a nice safe abrasive for keeping that build up at bay.

          1. j
            Johnny West Jan 10, 2011 02:36 PM

            You should see the carbon on the old wood handled Griswold that was my grandmother's. There is no getting it off except with a chipper. My father remembered her cooking with it when he was a child and he'd be 93 know. I like it the way it is.

            I had some carbon build up on the bottoms of some old skillets I'd bought and sautéing onions and mushrooms on the charcoal grill when grilling steaks did a nice job of burning it off.

            Siriusly, I've not seen it flake off like that in mine. How about using clean steel wool?

            1. Will Owen Jan 10, 2011 03:00 PM

              Oven cleaner is what all the cast-iron dealers I've talked to use, and these are the guys who sell vintage Griswold and Wagner Ware from $50 up. I've never done it myself, having not had anything worse than rust on the inside, and not really giving a hoot about crusty outsides …

              Re: what Johnny West says, I would much rather use a stainless steel Chore Girl than steel wool. A lot easier to handle and less likely to leave shreds of itself where you don't want them. After many years of ignoring those things I'm suddenly discovering what a help they can be with removing stuff I'd just given up on.

              1. l
                lowslowfresno Jan 10, 2011 03:11 PM

                I often use cast iron cookware outdoors and at home. A simple technique that I learned is simply a good scraping with a crumpled ball of aluminum foil followed by re-oiling.

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