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Feb 23, 2013 06:37 PM

Cast iron skillet smoking and smells like chemicals

I have a cast iron skillet that's a hand-me-down from my husband's grandmother, and I've probably never properly taken care of it. I do use soap, and I think I've only seasoned it once, and even with that I'm not sure if I did it correctly.

Anyways, I never really had issue with it until recently when I heat it up it starts smoking a ton and it smells like horrible chemicals. Does anyone know what this means, and why it smells like chemicals? Do I need to start over and season it? Also, since we got it, the inner surface has never been smooth, it has some, for lack of a better description, raised areas that I've never been able to get rid of (photo attached). Any ideas on what I can do to make this workable?

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  1. The important question here is whether it has ever been used for some nonfood substance, and if so, what.

    What did you season it with? Can you be more precise about the smell?

    2 Replies
    1. re: GH1618

      No, I haven't used it for anything non-food. I seasoned it with Crisco, but that was a LONG time ago, and I'm wondering if since I've used soap, if I need to season it more often. Can I season it with coconut oil?

      The smell almost smells like burnt plastic.

      1. re: OctoberOrchid

        I'm sure you didn't, but do you know the history? Did it come out of her kitchen or her garage?

        Did you use it for cooking after seasoning? Did you store it with oil in it or dry?

    2. Assuming that it has only been used for food, and that the roughness is built up crud, I would clean it thoroughly according to these instructions:

      1. The bottom looks unseaseasoned.

        I'd put in in the oven for a few hours at 450 and burn off whatever crap is on there and then reseason.

        1. < smells like horrible chemicals>

          Not sure what does "smell like chemicals" mean, since all smells are from chemicals. I will assume you mean a repulsive kind of smell. This can be many things. If it smells metallic, then it is probably that you can a rustic pan. If it smells rotten, then you probably have rancid oil. If it smells like chemical solvents (like those household cleaner), then I have absolutely no idea.

          Based on the photo, the pan can use a bit better seasoning. If you have food residue and build on crud, then you can scarp it off with a metal tool .

          All in all, I cannot tell the damage done to the pan. I may opt for a complete reseasoning. You can find many articles on CHOWHOUND and other sites for complete re-seasoning. If you have specific questions, please let us know.

          1. Just a note. The polymerization of oils can have a nasty chemical smell