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Cleaning Cast Iron Skillets

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I have several of my Moms cast iron skillets but they are in bad shape. There is a lot of build up around the sides of the pans and the bottom is rough. Is there any way to clean them? I've tried to use them but everything sticks so I know I really have to do a good cleaning. Can anyone help me.

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  1. Do you mean cleaning as it scrapping everything things off? There are two easy ways. One is to apply a lot of oven cleaner solution and put the whole thing in a plastic bag and let it soaks for a day. The other is to burn off all the building. Put the skillet in an oven, and turn on the "self cleaning oven" mode. This will degas most of the build up. Beware, this may produce a lot of smoke in yoru kitchen depending the amount of build up you have.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      the oven cleaner in the bag works well for the "let's strip this down and start over" type cleaning which you may need (hard to really tell from your post). If you just need a slightly less drastic cleaning a lot of kosher salt and oil is a good abrasive to help with cleaning but may not be strong enough if they are really bad.

      1. re: thimes

        Oh, good point. I suppose I didn't understand the original poster's intention. If gapeeach59 wants to remove bits and pieces of build-up, then using salt and oil with a papertowel is a good choice. I think a plastic scrapper also help.

        Good catch.

        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          Thank you all. I will start by using the kosher salt and oil and if that doesn't work will go on to the oven cleaner.

          1. re: gapeach59

            If Kosher salt and a lot of elbow grease dont make a dent in it you might need to use a more drastic method, but see how far you get with the salt first. Youll know youre close when you reach a smooth surface often a lighter shade than the gunk you scrape off,. At that point you sort of just chip away. Use a rigid scraper, even an old metal spatula.

            1. re: chuckl

              I learned to clean my skillets with Kosher salt and a paper towel on this forum. It works so well. I love the way it leaves the surface of the pan. But for me it works best in a slightly greasy skillet shortly after use.

              I have a skillet that I scoured down over a period of 2 weeks or so. Really hard work. But I don't want to mess with lye-based oven cleaner, and I am leery of running a pan through my self clean cycle. So I chose elbow grease. To the OP, good luck! It is wonderful that you value and are rescuing your mom's CI.

    2. I use a short handled outdoor grill brush with a scraper when I have stuff that won't come off easily with a nylon brush or Kosher salt and oil. I primarily use the scraper.

      I have a Lodge round griddle that rarely comes off the stove top. The thing the grill brush has done is make it smoother.

      1. Do you mean on the inside or the outside? My old skillet looks terrible on the outside, but is in fine condition on the inside. I just don't worry about the outside.