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Mar 3, 2012 07:08 PM

Care for Cast Iron (I need to get rid of the fish smell)

I made salmon in my cast iron pan (not enamel) the other night. I'm still new at this, but wiped it with a wet paper towel, then dried it. Then I rubbed some veggie oil on it. A few days later, it smells of fish. What to do? And please don't say reseason.


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  1. Table salt and Lemon will do the trick.

    Pour a few T of salt into the pan. Cut a lemon in half and use the halved lemon to scrub the pan while squeezing the juice out of the lemon. Use both halves, then let it sit for about 5 mins. Dont let it sit too long, it will draw too much of the oils used when it was seasoned.

    If you are not up to re-seasoning again, wipe the salt and lemon with a paper towel and follow with a coat of oil.

    Hope this helps. Take care

    1. I never add oil to my cast iron pan after use and cleaning. If it is actually seasoned, it doesn't need it. Too much oil will cause stickiness and will hold smells, including the rancidity of the oil itself. I put my pan away clean and dry.

      2 Replies
      1. re: GH1618

        I don't add oil to my cast iron skillets after use and cleaning, either.

        The OP wanted to get rid of a smell and because my method of cleaning was abrasive, oil as a last step is called for.

        If this is a well seasoned skillet to begin with, the salt and lemon trick will work, and wiping the skillet with a bit of oil won't stand on the top coat and leave a sticky substance.

        1. re: Robinez

          Leaving a skillet clean and dry will avoid lingering odors. Everything in the pan which is not hardened seasoning should be washed out.

      2. If it is a well-seasoned pan, wash it with soap and water - yes I said soap!!, rinse and dry well. Put on stove top at medium heat for 5 minutes, until hot, but not screaming hot, remove from heat and wipe with a teaspoon or so of vegetable oil, using a paper towel. Let cool completely and wipe away any excess. I "condition" my cast iron this way just about every time I use it. The thought of only using salt or just wiping "skeeves" me. However, my pans are over 50 yrs. old and really well-seasoned.

        2 Replies
        1. re: jacquelyncoffey

          it skeeves me too, I always use detergent on mine if I've cooked anything greasy or smelly. Which means basically, almost every time I use it. LOL.

          1. re: jacquelyncoffey

            The OP asked how to remove an odor from her cast iron skillet. I answered with a solution that has worked many times in my experience. I never suggested that this is a way to put up a cast iron skillet on a regular basis.

            Just wiping with a paper towel and putting it up would "skeeve?" me too.

          2. The seasoning surface of cast iron is very absorptive. In other words, it is difficult to completely remove flavor and smell. Personally, I don't care, but if this really brother you, then there are a few ways to remove the taste and smell.

            You can repeatedly wash it with detergent
            You can repeatedly wash it with acidic and/or basic solutions
            You can heat the pan up at low heat to burn off the smell.

            All of them have the problem of weaken your seasoning surface. So I do not recommend doing this if you don't have to. If carry-over smell and taste is unacceptable for you, then you probably need to switch out of bare cast iron cookware -- what a shame though.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              That is why I have 3 cast iron skillets, pots. A deep chicken fryer, reg old bacon and egg, sausauge gravy and biscuit skillet, and a 10 inch skillet for baked corn bread.

            2. When I cook fish in my bare cast iron I always wash it with dish detergent once it's cooled. I don't have any lingering smell issues.