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How do I "de-bump" a cast iron grill pan?

We got a cast iron grill pan about 5 years ago and to be honest I think we seasoned it incorrectly when we first got it (because lots of burnt/charred pieces built up in between the grill grooves and made the new smooth pan kind of gross), but we kind of just ignored it after trying to scrape as much out of the grooves as we could and have just been using it for 5 years that way. Annoying, smoky and hard to clean every single time.

I've grown considerably as a home-cook over the years and now I'd like to start over with my gill pan and get it in good working condition. Any suggestions for how to do this? I first need to know how to get rid of all of the bumpy texture and then how to season it properly (although I can find that in plenty of other posts on this topic!).

So really - how do I get this pan into the shape it needs to be in to start the seasoning process properly?

And can I even season my pan properly if I live in an apartment building or is it going to get so smoky & smelly that my neighbors all hate me?

Thanks a million!
Suzanne
www.savorygirl.com

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  1. People have been talking about keeping the pan in the oven during a self-clean cycle or using spray-on oven cleaner. Then perhaps a brillo pad.

    1. yes ...if u have a self cleaning oven that would my first way to burn off the seasoning/crud/buildup u have...

      if u dont ...or dont have a way to burn it off...

      or if its horribly gunked up....
      u can try some local machine shops that do media blasting...this will clean the pan without damaging the metal...
      then u can re-season it

      1. srsone has the right idea of having it media blasted, but if you're up for a little DIY, take a trip to your local hardware store. Take your pan with you, ignore the strange looks....Find a wooden dowel that fits between the grooves of your pan...buy a couple of sheets of 80 grit sandpaper too. When you get home, wrap the sandpaper around the dowel, and voila, you've made a convex profiling tool. Rub that tool (:P) in the grooves to remove the gunk, and even on the ridges to start fresh, since you're going to reseason anyway. Wash the pan with soap and water, thoroughly dry, and use whatever seasoning technique you prefer

        1 Reply
        1. re: BiscuitBoy

          Great, thanks for all of the quick responses....I might actually try the DIY version first, sounds kind of like a fun way to get some tension out!

        2. Steel wool will be the easiest or there are also coarser steel mesh abrasive pads if you can find them.

          1. Like most said, the easiest method is to burn off the extra crust/crud using high temperature like in a self cleaning oven. So first, physically scrap off as much burned on crust as you can, then dry it, then put it in the self cleaning oven.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              Ok...so I still haven't tried any of these yet, BUT, I'm going camping this weekend and brought the pan with and was considering just putting the pan in the campfire for a while to get the "high temp burn" without the chemicals or elbow grease. Is this a crazy idea? If not , any tips for how much to actually put it IN the fire (vs. near) and for how long? Thoughts?

              1. re: Savory_Girl

                I have not personally done with a campfire, but it is definitely not a crazy idea. There is no exact time really. When the seasoning starts to degas from the cookware, it will start to smoke. When the seasoning is completely done, then it will stop smoking. So you want to do it until the smoke starts to slow down.

                1. re: Savory_Girl

                  Many years ago, long before self cleaning ovens and oven cleaner, putting the cast iron skillets into a fire was how they cleaned the built up crud off of the skillets. There is a bit of a risk of warping the pan if it gets too hot or left too long. Also, when you burn off the crud, I would think you might would need to immediately wash it up and start reseasoning it before it rust. I have used my grill with a top on it to burn mine off. I have not used the oven cleaner method, but am told it works well. Even in my time, I have known my mother in law to put her skillets into the edge of a brush fire that my husband and father in law were burning to burn off the build up on her skillets.