HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >


cast iron pans are great - REALLY????

My husband bought me one since I'm a foodie/gourmet cook and was told I have to have one. I've seasoned it two different times using different methods (on cooktop and in oven) and it is absolutely the worst. Can you say "STICKING?" What now? It was bought a restaurant supply so I'm assuming it's not the pan, but me.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. have you fried something in it? I lucked out & got my grandmother's pans, but I do have newer smaller ones that I have seasoned . I'd suggest frying some chicken to really get a good "greasy" coating. I never use soap, just hot water. I also put the pan on a low burner after washing to dry completely. Once it is dry & hot I wipe w/ an oiled paper towel & heat another 5 minutes or so. Good luck!

    1. You have to use more oil than you're used to with cast iron to start off with. Don't try cooking "sticky" foods with it for now (e.g. eggs, fish, potato), stick to things such as bacon, sausages, steak, pork chops etc...

      Read some more info on maintenance to get you started. I've got a cast iron griddle that I've only had for a few months, and I've only used it for bacon and steaks a couple of times. The rest of the time I make pancakes in it, and it is already non-stick to the point of me not needing to put any oil in it for making pancakes.

      It also helps to preheat the pan first, then add the oil just before cooking.

      1. I find using ghee as the seasoning and for cooking makes cast-irons pretty slippery, as well as adding a real nice butter flavor to food. It's a tad pricey, but IMO, worth it.

        3 Replies
        1. re: David11238

          Will have to try this since I have had some pans close to 10 years, and they still tend to stick.

          I don't wash them with soap until I just can't clean them with my scraper or salt. But then I reseason them with either soybean oil, shortening, or bacon fat. Still sticks really bad when I make scramble eggs.

          1. re: Crockett67

            commercial bacon has so much sugar in it, it sticks and is the devil to get off. Ghee is a much cleaner oil.

            1. re: toodie jane

              If the bacon is fried, baked, or nuked properly, the sugar doesn't wind up in rendered fat. Not at all. I save rendered bacon fat all the time and it performs exactly the way ghee does.

        2. New cast iron is not very good in the beginning. You can give up, or you can keep going. Fry some bacon very slowly, drain and wipe the pan out, then fry some more bacon. Do this once or twice a week between other uses, such as searing steaks and chops. Avoid anything saucy at this point.

          1. What are you used to cooking with? Nonstick? Clad Stainless? Copper?

            Your sticking problem can be due to a variety of things. Not allowing the pan to preheat enough before adding the food. Trying to move food around before it's ready to be moved, especially low fat foods. If it's sticking, leave it. Once it's cooked enough it should release. With new cast iron cook a lot of fatty foods for awhile in it to help season the pan. Bacon and any fried foods are good for this. I usually just put a new pan on breakfast duty for a couple weeks and use it for bacon before I try eggs or fish in it.

            Once it's seasoned well and you are familiar with cooking in it cast iron is great. I cook eggs including omelets in my cast iron all the time without adding fats.

            detergent and soap is perfectly fine. I have always cleaned mine with detergent and water after use, I just dry them in the oven or on the stove after cleaning.

            14 Replies
            1. re: rasputina

              Glad I'm not the only one who washes them!

              I just cook fatty things like bacon, sausage, fried anything for at least a few months. I can't bring myself not to use soap- just my own mental block. When I wash it, I heat it on stove top then oil it good and leave on low temp (I can't give a time because I heat it 'till I remember it- 30 min to 4 hrs. Awful, I know :) I don't cook eggs (they are glue!) in mine or anything acidic. I use stainless steel for those. Recently I bought one of those green pans (orgreenic or some goofy word combo like that)you see on TV. The jury is still out on that- great for fried eggs and pancakes but not sure it was worth $20.

              Just keep seasoning your cast iron by cooking nothing but fatty foods in it and no acid. You'll probably get best results if you don't wash it.

              1. re: PandaCat

                Eggs were a glue at the very beginning of using my CI, not any longer, It just happened to my surprise. Before turning to CI three years ago, I tried several varieties of non-stick pans - no one lasted longer than a year. I am in a skillet heaven right now - I would never buy another piece, and nothing sticks any longer to anything.
                I don't use soap, my main oils are coconut, bacon grease, beef tallow. Some people are just more relaxed about not keeping everything super clean.

                1. re: GalinaL

                  Since CI has to be preheated before each use, it gets sterilized every time just before use - probably cleaner than other pans!

                  1. re: sandylc

                    I guess some people just compulsively have to process every kitchen item through a soapy water without any logical thinking - it gives them a sensation that they did the right thing and everything is in order. I hope no one in a right set of mind is aiming for their skillets to be a germ-free, from my perspective an un-natural for a human body chemicals which are present in a detergents have more harming potential even in a very small quantities . I stay away from everything anty-bacterial myself.Of course, I like silverware, china and glass to be completely oil-free, but try to choose me cleaning solutions wisely. The amount of a rancid oil on a not super-clean pan should be really negligent.

                    1. re: GalinaL

                      You and I are REALLY on the same page! Well said.

                      1. re: sandylc

                        I use baking soda and a scrubby sponge never, ever, detergent1

                        1. re: OCEllen

                          While I respect the conventional thoughts...rest assured that a little detergent is not going to strip the seasoning of your pan.

                          If my pans only need a short swipe to get some oil out, I don't take the time to squeeze all the soap out of my sponge. I wash it and rinse it and it's no worse for the wear.

                          I have never used baking soda or salt for any cleaning. I use a steel scrubber if it needs scouring. Again, no worse for the wear. Otherwise, a quick rubbing with the sponge and I'm done.

                    2. re: sandylc

                      Exactly my thoughts about carbon steel. If folks can cook on a gas or charcoal grill with a simple reheat and brush off for cleaning - than going soap-free for cleaning cast iron or carbon steel should be fine too.

                    3. re: GalinaL

                      Congrats on your CI success...you'e better off without those toxic non-stick pans anyway (when the manufacturers warn against using the pans on high heat, one really has to wonder!).

                      I wouldn't do eggs on anything but my CI pans. I actually get better non-stick results on those than I did with the non-stck coated pans I used years ago. Even slowly cooked soft-scrambled eggs present no sticking problems at all on the CI.

                      CI most definitely rules.

                      1. re: The Professor

                        Actually, my turning point came when the time came to choose what to give to my son to cook with at college. He totally killed a good quality ceramic coated thick aluminum pan (pieces of material was falling out of cooking surface) during his first semester, so I got for him completely rusted Griswold #8 for $10 which was sitting perfectly flat from eBay, and an un-coated Aluminum Adcraft from a restaurant supply store. After rust removing and seasoning the cast iron pan turned into a perfect cooking vessel despite some pits, and I got myself some good vintage CI as well. Adcraft is working well too - the seasoning on a naked aluminum pan is much less prone to a damage that on CI,even though cast iron is superior for cooking, aluminum is more care-free after initial seasoning - the perfect pan for a college kid. It looks like all that scare about aluminum causing Alzheimer turn out to be the usual media hysteria about completely weak hypothesis which never got proven.

                        1. re: GalinaL

                          <He totally killed a good quality ceramic coated thick aluminum pan>

                          I don't know what ceramic coated pan you are talking about. If you are talking about those nonstick ceramic pan, then I think the pan just died on it own -- has little to do with your son.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            Yes, it was a nonstick ceramic pan which was overheated by my son. I still have couple of similar quality which are intact but lost the ability to be non-stick, however can function for cooking tomato-based sauces.

                            1. re: GalinaL

                              These nonstick ceramic pans have rather short lifetime -- shorter than typical Teflon nonstick pans. So, you son probably did not kill them.

                      2. re: GalinaL

                        I never use soap on my cast iron, would never scrub with anything other than paper towels, and I'm pretty relaxed about cleaning immediately after use. Maybe the oil remaining in contact with the cast iron does good things to it. I dunno. I will clean before use of course: heat just enough to loosen the oil, clean with paper towels as needed, swirl boiling water around inside the pan, dry with paper towels (and dry completely over a low flame if not using immediately). That's usually all I need to do. The surface should end up smooth and dry, suitable for either storing or for immediate use.

                        The vast majority of my cast iron is dedicated to vegetarian cooking, my wife does use an 8" wagner 1891 skillet as well as a recently acquired wagner 1891 chicken fryer which was an absolute steal on Ebay (about 30 dollars and it arrived well seasoned and in good condition). But for all of the other pieces it is either peanut oil or butter. Mostly peanut oil. If I am making cornbread for both of us, I use peanut oil - maybe 3 T. total for my 8" skillet, and I have never had any problems.

                        I was therefore a little surprised when I was making some duck fat cornbread for my wife, in her skillet (which still has a little ways to go after being recently stripped and reseasoned but she can fry eggs and potatoes it it with no problem), using about 5 T. of duck fat, and the darn duck fat cornbread stuck in the pan.... that was the first and ONLY time I have ever had cornbread stick in a cast iron pan!!!

                  2. Hi, bigmama:

                    No, the probability is that it's you.

                    You don't give much in the way of specifics about what is sticking so badly. As others have said, until the pan is seasoned pretty well, you should delay cooking stick-prone things. Also consider just scrubbing it out with oil and salt (no soap) for awhile.

                    It (I mean you) will come around eventually. There are reasons not to love CI, but sticking isn't one of them.


                    1. I am used to cooking with only ALL Clad. Thank you all for the comments. Maybe I was trying things that stick too soon.

                      15 Replies
                      1. re: bigmamafoodie

                        I've had my cast iron skillet for a year and a half and I still am not happy with the seasoning on it. Eggs are a nightmare in it. My cast iron double burner grill pan has an amazing seasoning on it though. That was from cooking lots of fatty skirt steak on it.

                        1. re: bigmamafoodie

                          It *might* be the pan. I bought a CI pan from a restaurant supply store and I just couldn't get it to hold a seasoning. I dunno if they make Chinese cast iron differently or what but it was terrible. I eventually smartened up and got a Lodge which was actually cheaper than the supply store one I got and I haven't looked back since. It's amazing.

                          1. re: bigmamafoodie

                            Maybe you are spoiled by the All Clad. I pretty much retired my cast iron pan for everything except browning baby reds, searing steak and baking cornbread after I started using the All Clad skillets. The cast iron is seasoned well but it took a couple of years before I was satisfied with it. My cast iron seems to have a hot spot; the All Clad does fantastic, evenly browning chicken and pork chops, paella, most everything.

                            1. re: bigmamafoodie

                              I find my cast iron much more non stick than my all-clad. Both should be preheated and any fats also preheated before adding food though, and both require having the patience to allow food to cook enough to release before turning.

                              1. re: bigmamafoodie

                                loaned my 3 1/2 qt saucepan to a once bestf riend she put macaroni sauce and meat balls in it and went to sleep the acid in the tomatoes ate tiny pits into the pan and of course my super shiny pan was now dark grey she gave me a money order for 150.00 because I wouldn't take a chance on her check ddi I say best friend I meant friend and neighbor I really don't need a friend like thatbut since she didn't want others to know what she did she paid me It was my beloved allclad

                                1. re: jahammer

                                  oh, bummer! I've had a saucepan ruined by a relative, and you'd almost rather wreck it yourself. Guess your neighbor now owns a pan, and no doubt was shocked at how expensive her carelessness was. The pot will still perform, but not to your standards, and maybe she'll learn something. Glad you got yourself a replacement--my relative told me she couldn't afford to pay for a replacement so every time I pick up that darned pan I get mad all over again. Better to have replaced it and moved on, which I may yet do, but darn it....!

                                  1. re: blaireso

                                    I learned a long time ago to never loan your good tools. Be it a wrench, knife or favorite cooking pot. I don't even take my favorite dishes to church dinners. I keep cheap tools just for loaning and taking places. I don't even shop with cards and cash in my wallet or purse. (Except for about 20.00 or 30.00$) that way if some one demands my purse or wallet. They can have it.

                                    1. re: dixiegal

                                      In some parts of the country, you'd better carry a $100 bill just to placate them!

                                      Ditto on lending tools of any kind! Once had a Le Creuset gratin pan go missing--turned out it was "borrowed" by my ex-husband's girlfriend! I'm still pissed about that LC gratin, nevermind the ex!

                                      Thank goodness there are portable/giveaway items available these days. Used to be you'd put your name on a piece of tape under your Corningware at a funeral or pot luck to make sure it got returned to you. Do any of you remember the jokes about the "casserole brigade" that would show up at the grieving widower's house with food in a receptacle that needed to be returned? Oy vey!

                                      1. re: blaireso

                                        Ok. I won't fight for $20.00, but they can't have $100. After all, I gotta have enough left to by me another purse to replace the one they took. :o). And true about the casserole dishes. A few years ago, no one would think of keeping someone's dish. But now days, even at my church, they some times disappear. Even with a name on it. And it seems if I ever loan stuff to people, I don't get it back. Or if I do get it back, it is NOT in the same shape as it was. People just don't have respect for others or their property any more. Maybe because we live in such a disposable world. The mindset seems to be that everything (and sometimes everyone) is disposable and replaceable). I keep my cell phone until it won't work any more. My computer has just now crashed, after 12 years. And we have a 1995 ford areostar that we still drive. It will be driven until it is ready for the scrap yard. I even have the same husband of 34 years. Lol.

                                        1. re: dixiegal

                                          oh baby, do I agree! Really pisses me off when I get a pyrex casserole or corningware dish back that requires me spending the next day soaking and scrubbing it---or somebody's scrubbed it with Comet or Brillo! I don't bother anymore. I don't lend things I value, and if I do I consider it a gift I'll probably never see again. I'd much rather wreck my own stuff than adjust my attitude toward a friend who just doesn't share my love and respect for my stuff. When I borrow something, I try to give it back in better condition, not worse! Oh well, are we just old fogies? And my all-time favorite car was my 1995 Ford Explorer, which we sold when it was 13 years old and I still wish I had it.

                                          It's interesting, as I look around our house, I realize that everything in it is old(er, lol), including us! It's a bit shocking to realize that your favorite knife is nearly 45 years old. Yikes!

                                          1. re: dixiegal

                                            People live in places where they EXPECT to be violated and actually PLAN for it??? How sad.

                                            I carry just in case, and no one is taking my wallet or my Le Creuset without a bloody fight. One of my favorite pieces is a large tarte tatin dish my mother gave me. Sometime I use it to do a gratin potatoes recipe from Saveur I adore, and I’ll bring it to a dinner party.

                                            It’s kind of funny to think about a scum-bag laying on the ground with a face full of hot, melted cheesy potatoes and a few bullets in his chest.

                                            What people put up with these days is beyond me.

                                            Yes, the Le Creuset tarte tatin dish is designed for foods which need to be inverted after cooked (because of the handle design), but it also works perfectly as a casserole.

                                            Here is the recipe. I modify it a bit by mixing in some of the gruyere (and maybe adding another grated cheese) with the par-cooked potato mix before it goes into the dish. It’s super-delicious.


                                            But to the raw cast iron skillets, I have a large Lodge (12 or 14”, the one with the “helper handle”) which sits permanently on my stovetop, and it is probably my most-used piece of cookware. For some reason I never feel the need to “wash” it. After cooking, if it needs a scrub, while still hot I use a paper towel soaked with olive oil and use tongs to wipe the paper towel around the inside.

                                            That pan is always black, shiny and stick-free. But never use it to cook anything acidic, such as tomato dishes or anything with vinegar in it.

                                            Cast iron cookware is great stuff, whether enameled or not.

                                            1. re: Dave B

                                              I actually prefer CI to Le Creuset. And, despite my CCW, I'm not about to shoot someone over one of my pans.

                                              Aside from that conversation, which is not germane to Chow, I agree that the best pans are those that are used frequently, cleaned properly, and to those who have newly seasoned pans, careful about sugary items like sugar cured bacon, marinades, etc. There are so many of us who love our CI, you can't go wrong even if you burn it and need to boil out the sugar. You'll do fine!

                                              1. re: Dave B

                                                Hi, Dave: "It’s kind of funny to think about a scum-bag laying on the ground with a face full of hot, melted cheesy potatoes and a few bullets in his chest."

                                                Yeah, about as funny as life in prison and a family of orphans.


                                                1. re: Dave B

                                                  Just checked that recipe, omg it looks great. I have a Le Creuset gratin that might work just perfectly, and if it comes out as great as it looks I might have to reconsider defending my LC.

                                                  I grew up in LA, my DH in the Bronx, so trust me, there are places where you need to be prepared. Here in Las Vegas, you just need a firm grip on your wallet and a couple of large dogs.

                                        2. re: jahammer

                                          Personally I have learned to be generous and forgiving and share recklessly in any and every effort to support my friends neighbors and co-workers in their cooking.

                                          If one of them ruins a pan, well (1) I have ruined lots of things and (2) I am the mother-loving KING of thrift shops and flea markets & factory second sales - anything I have ever lost or ruined I have utterly recovered in spades to the point that I now gift pre-1968 Revere Ware, Farberware to beat the band and Corning Ware till next week - I have too much of it, and paid very little for most of it.

                                          I'd say when I average out my per-piece cost, I don't think my All-Clad, Revere Ware, Calphalon, Corning Ware, and various and sundry other pieces were more than $8 on average. Sure my priciest pan was $40 - All-Clad factory second 9" French Skillet, but my three Griswalds #8 pans were $14 for all three. It averages out.

                                          Good pots and pans come and go - neighbors and friends who actually cook are increasingly rarer and rarer.

                                      2. Once properly seasoned cast iron is pretty non stick, however it can take while to get it to that point and it can be a little temperamental.

                                        Just put it on bacon duty for a few weeks, clean it only with salt & oil. The idea is to build up layers of fat that impregnate and bond with the metal as they polymerize. Once you have this seasoning you can use some dish soap if something is being stubborn.

                                        Once you have it well seasoned and learn to control its temp right you can get eggs sliding around like hockey pucks.

                                        6 Replies
                                          1. re: wekick

                                            Jst what I was going to recommend. I had a sitter a few year back that ran my oversized cast iron pan thru the dishwasher, after scrubbing it with comet. After a light re-seasoning in the oven I just fried up a pound of bacon a couple of times and used it cook high fat meats etc and within a week or two is was as good as new.

                                            Agree that once you get it seasoned and have figured out your stove top's idiosyncrasies you will be able to cook pretty much anything without sticking. My eggs slight right out.

                                            1. re: foodieX2

                                              "ran my oversized cast iron pan thru the dishwasher, after scrubbing it with comet"

                                              Where did you bury her body? (No one would ever convict you.)

                                              "as good as new"

                                              ...or as good as old....

                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                Ha! Good as old is exactly right.

                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                  My 80 year old mom used to run her cast iron in the dishwasher .,,

                                                  I corrected her.

                                                  I hope to inherit that slick stuff!

                                                  1. re: C. Hamster

                                                    did it work for her? heck, she's 80 and must know a thing or two about cast iron!

                                          2. I don't have a lot to add to the suggestions you've received, but I just want to say: yes, they are worth it. Don't try to fry eggs, but anything else will be great in it once it's fully seasoned. You can't rush the seasoning of the pan. Good luck.

                                            11 Replies
                                            1. re: EarlyBird

                                              I easily fry eggs in my cast iron. I grew up with fried eggs fried in CI.

                                              1. re: dixiegal

                                                I do know some CI pans are so slick and smooth this can be done. Not a lot of them, though. Sounds like you have some great pans.

                                                1. re: EarlyBird

                                                  Yep, they are good pans. Just plan ole Lodge skillets that are not but 2 to 5 years old. I have some vintage ones too, but use my newer ones the most.

                                                  1. re: dixiegal

                                                    Oh, I should add that I just got my grandmother's deep cast iron skillet, about a 12" diameter and 6" deep. It is about 100 years old and slick as oil on wet ice. Just amazing.

                                                    1. re: EarlyBird

                                                      Hi, EB:

                                                      I call this the Chicken Fryer, and it is a classic piece, very versatile. Does it have its cover?

                                                      You're very lucky.


                                                      1. re: kaleokahu

                                                        Thanks for the information.

                                                        She is now christened "Grandma's Chicken Fryer." Yes, I admit: I name my favorite pots and pans.

                                                        There is no lid, unfortunately. I'm not sure if it ever came with one. I do have another old CI skillet with a lid that fits it perfectly, however.

                                                        Aloha to you.

                                                        1. re: EarlyBird

                                                          Yes, that is a collector's piece.

                                                          EDIT: Holy Cow, over on EBay someone is selling a never opened Wagner chicken fryer with glass lid for 495 dollars! :-O

                                                          I wonder if anybody is going to buy it...

                                                          1. re: teukros

                                                            oh yeah, I remember the glass lids. Too bad so few lasted as long as the CI.

                                                        2. re: kaleokahu

                                                          I have a complete hammered finish Griswold chicken fryer. I don't use it much, but it is a thing of beauty.

                                                          1. re: kaleokahu


                                                            The cover! My mom's broke a few years ago.

                                                            That deep skillet and the cover were the bomb!!!!

                                                            1. re: C. Hamster

                                                              tough to replace, but the last time I was at the Corning outlet in town I noticed that they sell many sizes of glass lids, might be worth taking your skillet down there and checking. I got an extra lid, just in case. They're usually squareish, but Corningware also has been known to sell round ones.

                                                2. All I can say is that my carbon steel and cast iron cookware are fairly nonstick. Not quiet as nonstick as Teflon, but pretty much anything is nonstick with a bit of oil.

                                                  Good luck, and let us know specifically the problems.

                                                  8 Replies
                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                    Watch Julia Child demonstrate how nonstick "nonstick" really is....


                                                    (from 1:55 to 3:00)

                                                    1. re: teukros

                                                      Wow, that was a sticky mess. She must have picked up an old nonstick pan which has lost the nonstick property.

                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                        It actually looks exactly like the one she used in "The French Chef" in 1962... It could very well have been the very same pan.

                                                      2. re: teukros

                                                        It is so remarkable about how DIFFERENT Julia Child is compared with today's TV chefs like Guy, Gordon and all the others.

                                                        1. re: Tripeler

                                                          She wasn't the only one. I recall an episode of The Galloping Gourmet in which Kerr was demonstrating how easy it is to make fresh pasta. His wouldn't behave, so he pulled out a box of dried noodles from under the counter and went on with the demo, laughing all the while. He was likely drunk on his ass, but it was a fun show to watch.

                                                          1. re: Tripeler

                                                            Julia almost singlehandedly pulled America out of the casseroles-made-with-mushroom-soup-from-a-can era. I was born in 1966 and my mother (bless her heart) cooked in that style. Thank God for Julia Child.

                                                            I like to watch the recent episodes on TV where Jacques and Julia are cooking together. The mutual respect and affection between the two of them are obvious. It is almost like they were a married couple, despite the fact that she was 20 years his senior. And now in "Fast Food My Way" he talks about her sometimes and you can see how much he misses her.

                                                            1. re: teukros

                                                              <Julia almost singlehandedly pulled America out of the casseroles-made-with-mushroom-soup-from-a-can era. >

                                                              The Dude's family missed the transition; they still love their easy prep foods, and trot them out for all the special family meals.

                                                              Dude's twin brother's favorite homemade thing? Tater Tot casserole. Now do not mistake me, I love a good Tot, who doesn't? But the casserole as he makes it is just nasty. Canned soup, lots of seasoned salt and I don't know what else. Gack!

                                                              A few years ago Dude's sister was hosting Thanksgiving. When we arrived, there were such wonderful smells. Roasting bird, simmering neck/giblets, pure Tryptophan heaven. Soon it was halftime in the game and the final bits of prep work. I offered to make the gravy. "No need", says she, "I've got it covered!" as she pulls out a packet of Turkey Gravy Mix. I almost wept. :'-(

                                                              1. re: DuffyH

                                                                Grew up learning to make English gravy at my Gram's elbow--carefully, the last trace of fat was skimmed off the juices, pan scraped of yummy bits, simmered giblet broth added, and a flour/water mix shaken in a baby food jar was slowly drizzled into the juices. Gravy was clear, thin and concentrated goodness.

                                                                Alas, I have no children to pass this technique to.

                                                      3. Building a good n/s seasoning takes quite a while, and it usually works best with regular use of the pan. I've owned cast iron and carbon steel and found that about the same rate n/s coatings wear off is the same rate good carbon/seasoning builds up.

                                                        I don't wash my CI or CS pans with soap - ever. Just scalding hot water and salt or a nylon scrub to clean. Actually, I deglaze on the stove while the pans are hot to start the cleaning process and just leave the water in until after I eat. Clean and a quick wipe with oil before putting away.

                                                        If you don't like the pan, don't be afraid to retire it. People often nudge me about my aversion to stainless steel and copper, but I just don't care for them so I don't use them.

                                                        25 Replies
                                                        1. re: Rigmaster

                                                          this is the only correct way to clean the pans I use kosher salt to scrub off any cooked on gunk if you take food out of pan asap after cooking add water and put on a low flame to get stuck on food out only reoil w/ veg or canola espec if u don't use it every day do not use peanut oil or o/o as they can turn rancid when reseasoning and you don't need oven u can use elec grid on top on superlow

                                                          1. re: jahammer

                                                            Why would you say that peanut oil is likely to go rancid during re-seasoning? I get that it may not have the shelf life of Canola, but it will still last upwards of 6 months, opened. No food oil lasts indefinitely.

                                                            1. re: DuffyH

                                                              uffy read again pea oil will not go rancid in the bottle but if you use it to season ci and don't cook often enuf the oil will give a bad taste to your cooking because it can go rancid in the pan you do not use it to season a ci u shd only use veg oil that wont leach flavors onto delicate foods like eggs ive only been cooking in ci for 70 yrs and I wouldn't use any ci that is not made in America Canada or Britain that means china and most others are to pourous and might never season properly know what you are buying even at a flea ok abh

                                                              1. re: jahammer

                                                                fun fact: if you are anemic, cook your food in cast iron, that's all you need..

                                                                1. re: jag1111

                                                                  well... maybe not. It's non organic iron.

                                                                  The good news is that with a well seasoned cast iron pan the amount of non organic iron that gets into your food is negligible. But after initial seasoning of new CI kitchenware you might want to double up on the iron rich foods like chicken livers, oysters, beef liver, egg yolks, soybeans, tofu, lentils, beans, chickpeas, dried fruits, dark green leafy vegetables etc. just to be on the safe side. A word of warning though: for people who suffer with Crohn's Disease or IBS, non organic iron can exacerbate their conditions.

                                                                2. re: jahammer

                                                                  I have a 6" CI pan I inherited from an aunt that says "Made in Taiwan" on it. Smooth as glass, probably purchased in the 1940s or thereabouts. Seldom use it except to cook chicken livers in schmaltz as a special treat, which is when I break down a whole chicken.

                                                                  I tend to avoid coating my CI with anything that I think might go rancid if stored at room temperature for any length of time. USED peanut oil needs refrigeration, but the bottle can be kept on the shelf without harm. So, my guess would be pouring a teaspoonful of peanut oil into a clean, dry CI pan and wiping it out is just fine. Me, I have vegetable oil on the counter along with my EVOO and s/p, I just grab that.

                                                                  1. re: blaireso

                                                                    Trust me. Peanut oil goes rancid too. Even in the fridge. Takes longer, but it does go rancid. I can smell rancid oil immediately. Once walked in front of a booth at the flea market that was full of cast iron pieces. I smelled those rancid pans before I ever saw the booth. I could have found that booth in the dark.

                                                                    1. re: dixiegal

                                                                      But as you point out, using your CI and CS often pretty much assures we're not cooking in rancid oil.

                                                                      The only kitchen oil I know of that doesn't go rancid is mineral oil, but I'm not going to cook in it.

                                                                      1. re: DuffyH

                                                                        Coconut oil doesn't go rancid, beef fat is fine too.

                                                                        1. re: GalinaL

                                                                          Any fat that is solid at room temperature is fine for seasoning. Seasoning means coating the pan with a *thin* film of fat and baking it for quite a while at a fairly high temperature. It does not mean just rubbing the fat on and storing the pan ofr an extended period. I imagine most fats would cause issues in that scenario.

                                                                          1. re: DebinIndiana

                                                                            I started using peanut oil because of Wagner's seasoning instructions. When seasoning or reseasoning my cast iron (or my carbon steel woks) I only use peanut oil. When cooking I use peanut oil primarily, in the cast iron I might use butter for omelettes, or olive oil for this or that. But it is mostly peanut oil. I tried frying with coconut fat and it didn't seem to work very well...

                                                                          2. re: GalinaL

                                                                            Coconut oil lasts a very long time, but it can indeed go bad. So does beef fat. In time the fat molecules begin to break down. This happens to all the vegetable and animal fats.

                                                                            1. re: DuffyH

                                                                              I also use coconut to oil my cutting boards, which don't smell rancid after several years.

                                                                              1. re: GalinaL

                                                                                I'd be surprised if they smelled rancid no matter what oil you use. One presumes you clean them from time to time, yes? I clean mine every time I use them. If I didn't, they'd reek of onion and garlic.

                                                                                1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                  I rinse mine cutting boards with water and use a sponge without soap, so I guess some fat stays.

                                                                              2. re: DuffyH

                                                                                I think oils get rancid by oxidation, usually every oil is the mix of different types of fat, and unsaturated ones react with an oxygen. Coconut oil contains the most amount of saturated fat.

                                                                                1. re: GalinaL

                                                                                  Coconut oil is close to 90% saturated fat, so there is still a little unsaturated fat which could become rancid. The smell of rancid oil bothers me quite a bit but I gather that some people are super-sensitive.

                                                                            1. re: dixiegal

                                                                              Coconut doesn't get rancid, I even use it for my cutting boards and wooden utensils in my kitchen.

                                                                        2. re: DuffyH

                                                                          All oils will go rancid on the pan if you put it on the pan and don't either bake it in right away or use the pan for cooking very often. I never leave my pans coated in grease or oil that has not been baked on. Just like veg oil on wooden bowls and cutting boards go rancid. Not only does it go rancid, it turns into a sticky gummy mess that attracts dust. It is not necessary to oil a well seasoned cast iron pan. Inhave old cast iron pans in the back of my cabinet that has not been used in years. There is no rust. All they need is washing and they are ready to cook in. I have found peanut oil to work fine for baking on a pan for a seasoning layer. In fact it is the only veg oil outside of crisco shortening that I believe is sufficient. However, lard is what I prefer to use.

                                                                          1. re: dixiegal


                                                                            I'm with you on lard and peanut oil. They're my faves, along with Crisco, for seasoning pans. Cooking, too, for that matter.

                                                                            I don't always wipe my skillets bone dry and often leave a film of oil on them when I haven't rinsed them with hot water. But they get used almost weekly, which alleviates any problems with shelf life on the oils.

                                                                            On a side note, lard is really easy to use in my kitchen, because there's always a melted puddle in the tub, easy to spoon out a teaspoon or so.

                                                                            1. re: dixiegal

                                                                              The sticky gummy thing is familiar. And I had another thought: I have an aluminum skillet that I use almost exclusively for eggs that are routinely cooked with butter, and I then wipe it out while warm and put it away. I don't notice any issues with rancid or off flavors, but I also will heat it and wipe it out before I put in fresh butter to begin my omelet. My carbon steel skillet is also used mostly with butter or EVOO, then wiped out and put away. Again, heated and fresh fat put in. But my salad bowls? Forgeddaboutit. They get nasty! Maybe because I can't heat them so the pores open and then wipe out? Hmm.

                                                                              1. re: blaireso

                                                                                If you use your cast iron often, the oils won't have time to go rancid. I use my little 8 inch skillet everyday so oils do not have time to go rancid. Back when I cooked everyday foe my family, I too, would just wipe the crumbs out of my skillet, I used for cornbread. I never washed it, just wiped out the crumbs and spread the left over bacon grease. I find that the animal grease does not seem to go rancid as fast as the veg. oils. (Except coconut oil) But they do go rancid. All my oils, except the coconut oil, is kept in my fridge. And even then, I usually throw them out due to rancidity, before I use them up.

                                                                                1. re: dixiegal

                                                                                  I'm with you on the rancid thing. I can smell it a mile away. Canola oil and soybean oil are almost always rancid, and as a result don't come in my door. One of my main problems with jarred mayo is that I can smell the rancid soybean oil.

                                                                                  The rancidity thing saves me the arguments about whether they are bad for our health or not - (but sometimes I will get sucked into them, anyway!)

                                                                                  1. re: sandylc

                                                                                    That is just disgusting, now I'm going to have to go and sniff every single oil in my cupboard!

                                                                      2. Love love love my 4 CI pans. I season by using them for bacon duty and other high-fat dishes. Two of the pans, I've had for more than 20 years, flea market finds. Another was inherited and was already pretty non-stick. Recently I bought a 12" skillet at a thrift shop in not very good shape. I've been using it 4-5 times a week with plenty of fat and it is getting very nicely seasoned through use.

                                                                        I'd give your pan a chance. Cook with it.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: tcamp

                                                                          I think that's the main lesson here: use your CI and it will become your friend. I also have a lot, I think 6, plus one carbon steel that I use for crepes. I inherited two, and probably bought the others at least 20-30 years ago. (Old cooks unite.) I did reseason one last year, my double griddle/grill pan, as an experiment, and the stripping/oiling/baking process was lengthy but I learned a lot. So, as someone with some really well seasoned and one not-so-well seasoned pans, my suggestion is to use it as much as possible, preheat and add cold fat, and avoid sugary stuff like brines and marinades for awhile. Time and CI will be your interesting journey.

                                                                        2. I think if you can get one that is machined smooth, it will season a little quicker. They are most commonly found at flea markets, sales or thrift stores.

                                                                          1. Thanks for all the responses. I guess I don't eat nearly the amount of bacon that everyone else seems to! But I will be persistent with bacon and other fatty foods.

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: bigmamafoodie

                                                                              FYI we are vegetarians who use cast iron.
                                                                              Please don't "give up" just because you don't eat enough pig.
                                                                              Good luck and best wishes!

                                                                              1. re: bigmamafoodie

                                                                                Actually, I don't think that bacon is the best food to cook in a CI in order to season it, it would be pancakes, or a pre-cooked in a microwave potatoes. Raw potatoes could leave some starch residue, which is ok for a well-seasoned skillet, but not so for a pan in the process to get initial seasoning. It could sound like a heresy for many, but sometimes I precook a big russet potato in a microwave for 3 minutes while heating my skillet , remove skin from the potato, cut it in big chunks ind fry it in oil(I use coconut oil or beef tallow), serve with grated cheese. It is how my son likes it.

                                                                              2. What oil/fat (butter,olive oil,bacon grease etc) are you using in your cooking?

                                                                                1. I'm interested to see all the references to frying bacon for seasoning pans. Although slightly off topic, in that not dealing with cast iron, I've found that for carbon steel pans such as De Buyer, frying bacon is a terrible way to season. For me, it leaves dried crusts all over the pan's bottom surface that are quite hard to remove. Oil or butter seems to work much better.

                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: VitalForce

                                                                                    Hmmmm I have used bacon in mine.

                                                                                    1. re: wekick

                                                                                      Perhaps it's the type of bacon. But after cooking up bacon a dozen or so times in a standard-seasoned DB pan, I've found that it leaves a lot of dried-on crud on the bottom of the pan, which to remove also takes off any seasoning that might have occurred.

                                                                                      1. re: VitalForce

                                                                                        Weird. I fry bacon in mine ALL the time. I never have anything stick to the bottom of the pan. Sounds like your pan really isn't seasoned properly.

                                                                                    2. re: VitalForce

                                                                                      Hi, VF:

                                                                                      Yes, bacon can be counterproductive--the sugars in the cure aren't your friends when it comes to beginning seasoning.

                                                                                      I think an ideal method might be to *slooowly* render some really cheap fatty bacon or pork shoulder, and then use that clarified rendered fat in the pan with mushrooms, shallots, haricot verts, etc., until you get the seasoning established. Then bacon itself will be less sticky.


                                                                                      1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                        I agree, it's the sugar in the bacon. I re-season my carbon steel wok, steel skillet and CI pans from time to time with a bulk package of bacon ends and trimmings. You can get a 3 lb. package at the supermarket. Chop it up, and render it slowly. I also think in the beginning lard might be a great choice. There are many discussions about using flax oil to bake on the initial layers of seasoning.

                                                                                    3. Bacon will sometimes stick in the beginning. Especially if it is cured with sugar. I season my CI with lard, though I do not eat lard. I do ocassionally season with bacon grease. With that said, I recommend 4 or 5 layers of lard baked on. Then, I recommend baking cornbread in the pan. That would be southern style corn bread with lard or bacon grease and no sugar. If you don't eat cornbread, feed it to the birds. Baking bread in your skillet is a great way to season it. If the bread sticks, scrape out the crumbs or lightly scrub off all the stuck on food and cook bread until it does not stick any more. I seldom fry greasy foods anymore, so I periodically bake on a seasoning layer. I do roast veggies in the oven, and I always do it in a CI pan, just to have something oily cooking in the pan. Same for sautéing. I have also found peanut oil to be a good oil for seasoning CI with. Food taste so good cooked in CI. I just this morning, fried up a bunch of fresh corn in my CI skillet. Smelled wonderful cooking and tasted even better.

                                                                                      1. I am lucky to have my mom's cast iron pans (they were her mother's before her) and Grandma would sometimes leave the same bacon grease sitting in a pan on the back of the stove for a week, using it over and over until it got so full of crud she had to pour it off. (And she poured it into the canister with the built-in strainer that said 'grease' and then used that bacon grease for everything from beans to cookies). Her pans have never failed me. I try to leave them on the back burner once in a while, too. I don't tend to re-use the fat in them, but if I've fried bacon or sausage or chicken, I let the pan sit for a day or two with the grease in it before I clean it out. It helps, I think. And I DO use soap on mine, but not much, only once the pan has cooled completely, and no SCRAPING at the pan...and dry them really, really thoroughly, putting them upside-down back into a warm oven overnight is a good way to do it. And by the way, Grandma, who pretty much lived on bacon grease, aspirin, black coffee, and Ritz crackers, lived to be almost a hundred...I'm pretty sure all that grease did it, kept her nicely lubed her whole life, so none of her parts wore out bumpin' into one another...

                                                                                        1. Yes. Forget buying them new. Look for a well seasoned used skillet or pan. I love mine.It makes fried eggs over easy.And they don't stick.

                                                                                          1. Stick it out. I'm a better cook using a cast iron pan.

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: ellaf

                                                                                              <I'm a better cook using a cast iron pan.>

                                                                                              You are a better cook for selecting a cast iron pan.

                                                                                            2. No one one type of pan is best for everything. I have a cast iron skillet which I use often, but I use other types as well.

                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                I agree. However, I also believe that cast iron cookware are underrated by the general public -- just look around the lack of cast iron cookware in cookware stores. On the other hand, cast iron cookware are overrated by enthusiasts, and many claims are more emotional than factual. Aluminum cookware are probably the few cookware which the general population has a honest and balanced view.

                                                                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                  "Aluminum cookware are probably the few cookware which the general population has a honest and balanced view."

                                                                                                  I'm not sure I agree with this, since I meet many people who still believe that aluminum cookware is dangerous, supertoxic, causes Altzheimer's, etc.

                                                                                                  1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                    <I'm not sure I agree with this, since I meet many people who still believe that aluminum cookware is dangerous, supertoxic, causes Altzheimer's, etc.>

                                                                                                    Good point, good point. I guess that all cookware (materials) have some crazy haters and lovers. :)

                                                                                              2. I have 3 Cast Iron Stew pots with lids, and 5 fry pans from and estate sale... I have no idea how to clean them or clean the crust off the, "outside." They were used and I was told that the estate that had these many pans and stew pots, used them in the south to feed soldiers in the war. They went back at least 4 generations. SOOO IF this is true, and they are nice size and I have several, How do I clean off all the carbon and crust off the outside of these so I can use them? They said he used them in his fireplace often. The crust is like 1/8 of an inch thick, and I am worried to hurt the pots cleaning them with soap or what ever is needed to clean them off... I had someone say put them in a self cleaning oven and burn everything off, should I do this? Gail

                                                                                                13 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: sauers

                                                                                                  I restore old pans on the grill. I usually just wait until the next grill day and then put the pan on when we are done cooking leaving it until the fire burns out and it's completely cooled. That should burn off whatever is stuck. I will clean it before hand with soapy water and either a brush or sponge to remove any build up or crud.

                                                                                                  Then repeat the procedure on the grill but this time I very lightly coat the pan with lard to season it. It should be ready to use after that.

                                                                                                  1. re: sauers

                                                                                                    I picked up two horribly crusted cast iron pans at a thrift store for a few dollars. Tried oven cleaner in a plastic bag for a few days, hardly touched the crust. On the self cleaning cycle in the oven they came out perfectly, no crust. One turned out to be very, very old with pits, so it's wall art. The other was an older, very smooth, small #5 Lodge pan with only the SK marking. It's a great pan. Just seasoned it as normal after the cleaning, it's better than new! So, it works, but if your pans have historic value, that may be too hot/harsh for them.

                                                                                                    1. re: Cam14

                                                                                                      an open flame is the only way to burn off a 1/2 in build up on an iron pan. take it camping, it's easy. it glows red. the next morning, the crust is ash..

                                                                                                      1. re: jag1111

                                                                                                        ...the only way besides 15 minutes on a four-burner gas grill with all four burners set to high...

                                                                                                        For good measure you may want to have some uncoated ceramic tiles in/on grill to create heat sink after you turn all four burners off (without lifting lid) after 15 minutes.

                                                                                                        Sometimes you just don't have the time or resources for an open fire.

                                                                                                        1. re: jag1111

                                                                                                          Hi, Jag:

                                                                                                          1/2 inch of buildup? Wow, it's a wonder it cooked at all.


                                                                                                        2. re: Cam14

                                                                                                          I stripped a grill pan using the self-cleaning cycle. Take out the racks, put some ceramic cups upside down on the oven floor and put your pan on top of them like a trivet. I was really scared to do this and used some cups I didn't like, they were fine and the pan came out clean as a whistle. Let it cool down in the oven. It will immediately begin to rust again, so be prepared to scrub off the ash and put it back in the oven to dry, then completely cover with your seasoning oil of choice. There are some really good discussions on this website to clean up old CI.

                                                                                                        3. re: sauers

                                                                                                          My mother in law and grandmothers, put them in the edge of a fire to burn off the build up. You have to be careful not to get it too hot or you could warp the pot. Now days, a grill might be better to use.

                                                                                                          1. re: dixiegal

                                                                                                            yes, overheating can also make it crack or explode farther down the line. Why self-cleaning oven temps are TOO hot for cleaning cast iron.

                                                                                                            1. re: toodie jane

                                                                                                              My stove top burners aren't great, but they are gas and they are hot enough for some pretty good stir fries with round bottomed woks, with fairly decent wok hei (for two people). When I preheat my 10 1/2 inch Wagner skillet for a French omelette, I preheat it for five full minutes, until it is crazy hot. The room temperature butter browns instantly. The eggs, left out overnight and also room temperature, cook in about ten seconds... and it is a half hour before the skillet is cool enough to handle without mitts. I have never had any problems with cracking.

                                                                                                          2. re: sauers

                                                                                                            There are several cast iron cookware groups on social media networks like FB and such where you can find help on restoring older pieces. Some use lye baths. I don't recommend fire or such because the heat is difficult to manage. I use my self-cleaning oven and place the cast iron cooking pots & pans on racks and start the clean cycle. The gunk burns off and then I re-season using a quality cooking oil like avocado or grape seed.

                                                                                                            I don't use animal fat because I may not use the pan for a week or more, and the pots less frequently. The animal fat my mother and grandmother used was pretty much heated several times each day as the cast iron cookware was used for each meal. And it was also the only fat they had access to (my grandmother raised her family on a ranch in Wyoming at the turn of the last century ...)

                                                                                                            To clean cast iron after each use I boil water to loosen any gunk and even use dish soap on my cast iron. The conventional wisdom that dictates "NO SOAP" is based upon the fact that for years most soap had lye as a primary ingredient and lye removes the seasoning. Modern dish soap doesn't have lye in it and even LODGE cast iron suggests using soap to remove food bits, etc. in their cleaning video. I also use kosher salt as an abrasive in a cold pan to help smooth out the surface when a bit of grease/crud build-up occurs.

                                                                                                            1. re: BarryCBMartin

                                                                                                              hooray u are right on I would never use lard all ur reasons and suggestions are spot on I do not consider peanut oil a pure oil because it has a taste of its own unlike Crisco an oher veg ls like canola

                                                                                                            2. re: sauers

                                                                                                              If you look on youtube, there are lots of methods for taking off that gunk. easiest way is probably with a self-cleaning oven, but electrolysis works great as well (but you need all the equipment, or to find someone who has the setup). i just bought 2 pans from a guy at the flea that cleans them with electrolysis and they are amazing.

                                                                                                              you have quite a treasure! congratulations!

                                                                                                              1. re: sauers

                                                                                                                If you have that many to do, and especially if they are old enough to have some value, the best cleaning method is a lye tank. Mine is a food safe 5 gallon bucket (available for free from most food preparers, and old fashioned drain cleaner. Read the directions on the lye can and follow them, fashion a
                                                                                                                handle from a coat hanger, and add the pots. As many at a time as the bucket will hold. Cover the tank with an animal proof lid. I use a piece of plywood and a cement block. Let sit a couple of weeks. Your pots will be ready for seasoning, and any collectors value will have been preserved.

                                                                                                              2. Hey there,
                                                                                                                I also use it almost a roasting pan for chicken pieces. Cut up a whole chicken, oil the bottom of the pan and heat the oil over medium/high heat. Put the chicken in the pan and stick the whole thing in the oven to roast. I find that by repeatedly using the cast iron pan almost as I would a roasting pan, the seasoning will take more quickly. Best of luck!

                                                                                                                1. TOO much oil in each seasoning can create a sticky mess. Try starting over and take time to season with just a bit of oil each time. Put the cast iron in a cold oven and set for self-cleaning. At the end of the cycle after the pans have cooled - use grape seed or avocado or peanut oil to lightly season and keep warm for a few hours, repeat. But don't over do the oil - more is not better. By the way - I shared some tips on cleaning and seasoning in another comment in this thread.

                                                                                                                  Modern soap does not contain lye - which strips seasoning (dipping old cast iron in a lye bath is one way some collectors recommend stripping away gunk and rust) - so even LODGE cast iron says it's OK to use a little soapy water in your cast iron to help loosen burned on food bits and gunk. Season a bit each time you cook and you will find the stickiness isn't there.

                                                                                                                  I recommend neutral oils and not animal fats because IMHO animal fats tend to be smelly between uses. My grandmother had only cast iron and animal fat on the Wyoming ranch where she raised her 13 kids - at the turn of the last century - and the cast iron was used at least 3 times a day, animal fats were not a problem. Today I might use my cast iron fry pan a couple times a week and my Dutch Ovens only a few times each winter season....so my preference is for vegetable cooking oils.

                                                                                                                  1. There's bacon and there's bacon, a situation that did not exist 100 years ago when the rules were laid down. At least 99% of the bacon on the market now is "cured" in a water solution with sugar and stuff, as opposed to the dry-cured bacon that was once the norm. What you need for seasoning ferrous metal pans is saturated fats: lard, dry-cured bacon grease, even Crisco. Get the bare pan hot first and then introduce the fat. Don't burn it, don't get it all smoky. Colman Andrews, writing in Saveur magazine several years ago, swore that the best way to season a skillet is to fry a lot of chicken. In lard, he meant, though again Crisco would do the trick. There are less interesting ways of caring for one's cookware …

                                                                                                                    1. I agree with Will Owen and the many others who mention the difference in bacon from 40-100 years ago and now. With the changes in food production and packaging, i.e. 12-18% saltwater "ADDED FOR JUICINESS AND FLAVOR ENHANCEMENT", packaged meat has changed. My grandma's bacon fat she poured into a metal grease can and used to re-season a pan or fry supper was a different breed. I season a new or fire-cleaned pan with either " shortnin' " or lard with 2-3 coats inside and 1 thin coat outside with the oven method. I fry bacon in them at times, but I save bacon fat to re-season later. I also save fat rendered from salt pork since it usually has no added sugars at all. To clean I will deglaze with hot water in a hot pan and wipe dry. I will use dish soap when it is necessary and re-season if needed.

                                                                                                                      1. We had the same issue and we finally did what we should have done in the first place. Season it *correctly.*

                                                                                                                        We bought a bottle of flaxseed (the food-grade equivalent of linseed) oil (about $24, must be refrigerated). There is actually a reason it works better than other oils. To season a pan, you need polymerization - a chemical reaction that results in long chains or networks of molecules. To get to polymerization, you need a drying oil. Drying oils, which produce the hardest polymers, are characterized by high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids, especially the omega-3 fatty acid ALA. For this purpose, the only oil that meets that criterion is flaxseed.

                                                                                                                        Well the rest is better as described in the blog post I read before going to this effort:


                                                                                                                        And yes, it was effort. And yes, it absolutely did work.

                                                                                                                        13 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: Just Visiting

                                                                                                                          I also used flaxseed oil, about 4-5 super thin layers baked on and cooled in between layers. Took a day. I read all the threads until my eyes bled, crossed my fingers and did it. I continue to use my pans, and the only thing I'd suggest is to be careful with sugary marinades/ingredients until you've got a good seasoning base going, at which point hot water and a green scrubbie should be all you need, followed by drying and wiping out with a little vegetable oil.

                                                                                                                          Would I do it again? Probably, especially if I was trying to restore antique CI. They deserve the extra care!

                                                                                                                          1. re: Just Visiting

                                                                                                                            I am mid-way through the FLAX OIL reseasoning protocol, and am impressed. Thin layers, the right oil, and the right temperature all all important.

                                                                                                                            Now I'm thinking about sanding down our 2-yr old lodge (to make the inside flat), and reseasoning with FLAX.

                                                                                                                            I love my old Wagner-ware, but might put it away until the teenagers are out of the house.

                                                                                                                            1. re: lazy_lurker

                                                                                                                              Even though it's time consuming, I'd try stripping and seasoning without the sanding step. Might work????

                                                                                                                              I don't think the Wagner skillets will suffer with your teenagers, as long as whatever they burn or superheat doesn't then get doused with cold water. Just tell them how to handle that and you'll be fine. (Maybe put it away when they have friends over to distract them, lol. My 43 year old stepdaughter was "helping" me to cook Thanksgiving dinner when she boiled dry my new 3 qt. saucepan, promptly stuck it in the sink and hit it with cold water, thereby delaminating it. Sigh. All you can do is try, somebody will figure out a new mistake to make (me included).

                                                                                                                              1. re: lazy_lurker

                                                                                                                                I should really sand my Lodge stuff -- I miss my old hand-me-down egg pan (that a dormmate left soaking over night, and when I got it back it was so rusted that I pitched it, alas). My new pans have acquired a good seasoning, but are still so textured that I don't like cooking in them as much as older ones.

                                                                                                                                1. re: antimony

                                                                                                                                  < and when I got it back it was so rusted that I pitched it, alas>

                                                                                                                                  You didn't have to pitch it... but alas what's done, is done.

                                                                                                                                  <My new pans have acquired a good seasoning, but are still so textured that I don't like cooking in them as much as older ones.>

                                                                                                                                  You can sand it down a bit, or you can get a smoother cast iron pan or simply get a carbon steel pan. You cannot get smoother than a typical carbon steel pan.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                    Yeah, I just have not been wanting to remove a decade's worth of seasoning, and for some reason cast iron cookware is where my fussy-frugal side comes out, and I feel like since I own this stuff I should make it work. But I should really bite the bullet and just buy some good smooth stuff the next time I'm out in the country and near an antique store.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: antimony

                                                                                                                                      Estate sales can sometimes yield CI.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: antimony

                                                                                                                                        Well, you can try stripping and re-seasoning to see what happens. That's only a day's worth of time and you're no worse than before. If you don't like the results, sanding is a good Plan B. Just remember, it's pretty hard to do anything irreversible short of superheating and pouring cold water in it and cracking or warping it. And even then, my mom's CI pan doesn't sit flat but it's still mirror smooth and killer on a gas cooktop.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: antimony

                                                                                                                                          My dad had a beautiful old miniature bean pot sitting on the potbelly stove in his shop. It held hide glue. For this reason, I always strip old CI I find. You never know what the last use was.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: lazy_lurker

                                                                                                                                      I was subscribed to Cook's Illustrated Magazine for two years, and I watch their program nearly every week, but I still take them with a very large grain of salt. To me, they are kind of like Star Trek's Mirror Universe: pretty familiar, but kind of... wrong.

                                                                                                                                      I would never waste time, money, flax seed oil, and natural gas to heat up my apartment with some sort of a regimen to create layers of seasoning on my cast iron pans. I tried something similar with my first two woks and IT DIDN'T WORK (OK they're carbon steel and not cast iron but a lot of the principles are the same. When I finally figured out that the principles are the same, I started to have success with my woks).

                                                                                                                                      I started with a Wagner 1891 set in the 1990s, and maybe it is not collectible, but it came with seasoning instructions which I have used for all of my cast iron (12 pieces and counting) to the present day: Scour thouroughly. Coat inside and out, top and bottom with a thin layer of peanut oil. Place in a preheated 300 degree Fahrenheit oven for one hour. Wipe out excess oil. Ready for USE.

                                                                                                                                      USE it. Cook with it! Make pancakes! Fried eggs! Omelettes! Corn bread! Fried zucchini. Tortillas. Chiles rellenos. Pies. Irish quickbread. Saganaki, if you dare (but only if you have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and I am speaking from experience). Saute with it! Braise with it! Deep fry with it! USE IT!

                                                                                                                                      And it will be perfect.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: teukros

                                                                                                                                        <I would never waste time, money, flax seed oil, and natural gas to heat up my apartment with some sort of a regimen to create layers of seasoning >

                                                                                                                                        I think the flax seed oil works. I just don't think it worth the trouble. To be fair, some people have great successes in seasoning their cookware, but many more have horrible experience, and many more simply get by and do not have a deeper understanding of the seasoning process.

                                                                                                                                        As such, this creates a "space" for Cook Illustrated to write articles after articles. Imagine, if seasoning is simple and easy to do, then no one will need to write articles about it.

                                                                                                                                        I suppose I am very lucky because I have a good handle of the seasoning process.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                          < ...some people have great successes in seasoning their cookware, but many more have horrible experience,... if seasoning is simple and easy to do, then no one will need to write articles about it.>

                                                                                                                                          Just so. IME, publications like Cooks Illustrated provide a wealth of knowledge to people in search of cooking skills that work. Even simple things like frying or boiling an egg are not innate skills that are programmed into our genetic code, nor are they skills that every child learns from our elders. Enter CI and now, the Google Machine.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: lazy_lurker

                                                                                                                                        I bought completely rusted Griswold #8 with a big logo very cheap on ebay in order to give it to my son to college after cleaning and seasoning. It worked great, we did restoration together, and the seasoning just immediately adhered to the imperfect surface with several pits. It looks sort-of ugly inside, but sits perfectly flat, totally non-stick from the very beginning, seasoning stays intact no matter the abuse it takes, cooks really well, pits are filling up, and the best part - my son got really hooked on cooking and using cast iron. I suspect the rusting created the perfect surface for the seasoning to adhere. It is a not mirror-smooth surface, and not rough like a new Lodge, but more like a smooth orange peal.
                                                                                                                                        It looks like it could be not a bed idea to give a second chance to almost ruined piece of an old vintage CI - there is no more being made. When they gone, it would be no more.

                                                                                                                                    3. I have two well seasoned carbon steel woks, which I love. But for REAL nonstick, it's got to be cast iron. I also have eleven cast iron pieces, they are all well seasoned, they are all a joy to work with. They are all heavy, too. I think this is the real reason that cast iron fell out of favor.

                                                                                                                                      Seven of my cast iron pieces are by Wagner and they all say coat with peanut oil and cure at 300 degrees fahrenheit. I have never done anything other.

                                                                                                                                      Two or three times DURING seasoning you should reach in with a paper towel and wipe up any "loose" peanut oil (or you can just place the pieces upside down on your oven racks). A puddle of oil in your cast iron will create a sticky mess!

                                                                                                                                      The thing about cast iron (and carbon steel) is that the more you use it, the better it gets. No one could have said this better than Jacques Pepin:

                                                                                                                                      "I actually have on the wall of my kitchen (in some part) an omelette pan which is in steel. It has a beautiful sway like this - in steel. And the heat transfer is very very fast. It is on the wall of my kitchen and I don't use it. Why don't I use it? Because it sticks. Why does it stick? Because I don't use it. So it's a vicious circle."


                                                                                                                                      I routinely use my 10 1/2 inch Wagner skillet to make two egg omelettes (swirled or rotated aka Julia Child). I overheat the skillet so that the butter browns immediately; I pour the beaten egg into the very hot skillet and I plate the omelette after eight to ten seconds. I never use any spatula or spoon, it slides right out onto my plate and nothing ever sticks, ever.

                                                                                                                                      But it IS heavy.

                                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: teukros

                                                                                                                                        Um, isn't Pepin using a cheap non-stick aluminum pan in this omelet video?

                                                                                                                                        1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                                                                          To make his life easier, he says. Because his omelette pan sticks. Why does it stick? Because he doesn't use it. Why doesn't he use it? Because it sticks. Why does it stick? Because he doesn't use it...

                                                                                                                                          1. re: teukros

                                                                                                                                            Oh, I get that schtick. He uses aluminum, and he jokes about steel. What's that got to do with cast iron?

                                                                                                                                            1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                                                                              Hey Kaleo,

                                                                                                                                              <Oh, I get that schtick.> made me spit tea through my nose. Thanks bunches! ;)

                                                                                                                                      2. Sorry to double post, but I've got to disagree with what Sirrith said. Bacon and sausage can be the death of a newly seasoned cast iron pan. This fat is very unpleasant to touch, e.g. when washing dishes. I think of it as being like "greasy glue".

                                                                                                                                        Frying eggs in butter (over medium to HIGH heat) is the way to go. One or two for breakfast every morning until you have a perfect nonstick surface.

                                                                                                                                        I have made Southern style cornbread (buttermilk, minimal flour, no sugar) a number of times with peanut oil and it seems to be an excellent way to season a skillet.

                                                                                                                                        And of course you don't ever use any kind of soap or detergent. Heat and wipe with a paper tower, if that alone doesn't do the trick, heat and then pour in a lot of hot water, swirl around, pour out and then wipe with a paper towel. Heat over a LOW flame until dry.

                                                                                                                                        29 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: teukros

                                                                                                                                          My pans were pretty much only used for sausages & bacon at first, they have not suffered any ill effects whatsoever. I tried a fried egg once, in a 6-month old, pretty well seasoned (for its age) CI skillet, it ruined it. I had to use steel wool to get everything off and restart the whole seasoning process from scratch. I would never recommend trying eggs in new CI based on my experience.

                                                                                                                                          I agree about the cornbread though, that stuff is great for seasoning. But not being American nor having grown up around American food, I'm never sure what to eat it with...

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Sirrith


                                                                                                                                            <I'm never sure what to eat it with...>

                                                                                                                                            Lots of things! But for starters, you can't go wrong with bean soup or chili. Try it paired with a salad that's got a sweet dressing. The tang of southern style cornbread goes really well with sweet things.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Sirrith

                                                                                                                                              Duffy is right about the chili, that would be my first suggestion. Beans and even chicken and dumplin's work. The other great use for cornbread is to let it dry and get pretty stale then crumble it to make the best dressing or stuffing you've ever had.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: TsqdSF

                                                                                                                                                I love it by itself with butter. I generally chop up a few jalapenos. But I certainly agree that having it with chili or a salad would make a wonderful meal.

                                                                                                                                                This is the recipe I use:

                                                                                                                                                Southern Cornbread
                                                                                                                                                (For 8” cast iron skillet)

                                                                                                                                                1 cup stone ground cornmeal
                                                                                                                                                2 Tbsp. flour
                                                                                                                                                1 tsp. salt
                                                                                                                                                ¼ tsp. baking soda
                                                                                                                                                1 beaten egg
                                                                                                                                                1 ¼ cup buttermilk (approximate)
                                                                                                                                                3 Tbsp. peanut oil

                                                                                                                                                1. Preheat oven to 425º F.
                                                                                                                                                2. Start to heat a well-seasoned 8" cast iron skillet over a low flame, adding one Tbsp. of oil and rotating the pan so that it coats the sides.
                                                                                                                                                3. Mix the dry ingredients with a wisk, then add the egg and the buttermilk, adding a little more (or less) buttermilk as necessary to achieve a thin consistency (like pancake batter). Add the rest of the oil to the mixture.
                                                                                                                                                4. When the oven finishes pre-heating, increase the flame under the skillet to high until the oil is shimmering, then pour the mixture directly into the hot skillet. Place the skillet in the oven for 30 minutes or so (depending on your oven) until the cornbread is a light golden-brown (perform the knife test before taking it out).

                                                                                                                                                1. Add one to three coarsely chopped jalapenos to the mix. Veins, seeds and all!
                                                                                                                                                2. Or, add a tsp. of pepper flakes to the mix.
                                                                                                                                                3. A dash of smoked Spanish paprika or Aleppo flakes added to 1. or 2. can also be good.

                                                                                                                                              2. re: Sirrith

                                                                                                                                                Hi Sirrith,

                                                                                                                                                I guess we have different approaches. I'm vegetarian so I never used bacon or sausage in my cast iron, and it all turned out great. I started out with the classic three piece Wagner 1891 set, bought new and completely unseasoned (yes I am an old fart). I remember years ago when I was still getting used to cast iron, just gazing in wonder at the single egg in my 10 1/2 inch Wagner skillet gliding frictionlessly on the tiniest drop of peanut oil. It was a revelation.

                                                                                                                                                Fast forwarding, I got married and I devoted a used (bought on EBay, probably) 8" Wagner skillet to my flexitarian wife's carnal pleasures. I cleaned it as completely as I could and seasoned it for her and she never had any good experiences cooking bacon, sausages, or chops in it. Everything stuck to the iron and the sticky gloppy grease was a nightmare to clean out. I recently (lightly) cleaned and reseasoned it for her, and immediately chopped up an onion and "stir fried" it to remove any metallic taste (just like you would do with a newly seasoned wok). Then I (re)presented it to her but this time I insisted that she only use it for fried eggs for breakfast until the seasoning was really built up (in the meantime she makes do with a Le Creuset saucier). That was only a month or two ago actually... since then she has fried eggs in it with no problem, veggie(!) bacon from Chinatown twice, and once she fried some potatoes in a little bit of duck fat. It is looking better and better. Sometime in the next few days (maybe in the Labor Day weekend coming up), I have GOT to make her some duck fat cornbread...

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Sirrith

                                                                                                                                                  Thanks for the suggestions and the recipe, I appreciate it :) I may start making cornbread a bit more often now. I do quite like the taste of it!

                                                                                                                                                  And as for the eggs not sticking, perhaps that has something to do with the smoothness of the older skillets compared to the pebbly finish of the Lodges? Although I have no idea why bacon etc... would stick to yours and not mine.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Sirrith


                                                                                                                                                    As with all other foods, if you bring the eggs to room temp, you'll have less sticking. Be generous with fat, too, until your pan becomes more seasoned.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Sirrith

                                                                                                                                                      I figured out the cornbread trick with an 8" Lodge. I remember the "pebbly" surface very well (I was shocked). Eventually though, the surface was glass smooth and completely non stick...

                                                                                                                                                      I don't know about the bacon etc... either. The overwhelming weight of my experience is with lacto-ovo-vegetarian cooking. It's what I'm used to and my wife's problems with her chops etc. puzzled me. So we're trying to reclaim her skillet... and I'm sticking to what I know.

                                                                                                                                                      And just speaking generally, I wonder whether some people are having trouble with cast iron because their experiences with Teflon have trained them to cook at low heat... the cast iron pan DOES need to be hot enough...

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: teukros

                                                                                                                                                        I heat my CI on medium for quite awhile before adding fat, usually turn on the burner and then start chopping, so I guess it might be 5+ minutes??? Ditto for cornbread, heat in oven thoroughly before adding fat and batter. I still think newly seasoned pans need caution with sugary ingredients or marinades at first. I have a friend who used to reseason her skillets by making tortillas, which is basically heating oil in a pan until it's about 350.

                                                                                                                                                        No matter what ingredients you use for seasoning and cooking, the methodology seems to be the same: heat the pan, then add cold oil. After cleaning, wipe warm, dry pan with a small amount of oil before putting away. My preferred method of cleaning is to rinse out the pan, then reheat and add a small amount of vegetable oil and coarse kosher salt and scour with a paper towel, wipe out and store. I use a wire brush for my grill pan. I rarely have anything stick. That pebbly surface is weird but eventually seems to release as well as long as the CI is pre-heated.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: blaireso

                                                                                                                                                          Your friend makes tortillas in oil?

                                                                                                                                                          I never use salt (or detergent) and I never use anything other than paper towels. Just heating and wiping with the paper towel is often enough, if a little oil is left behind, I let it be. But if there is still a lot of food stuck to the pan I put a sturdy oven mitt on my non dominant hand, heat the pan JUST to the smoking point and then put it under the (hot) water tap, swirling the boiling water around and then dumping it out. I will then attack with a wad of two paper towels.... there might be some paper particles left in the pan, no biggie, just rinse with cold water, chances are the pan will still be warm enough to dry out after a minute or so. I will repeat the smoking and rinsing procedure a second time if really necessary. The pan will appear black, smooth and dry. I never coat with oil after use.

                                                                                                                                                          I'm not a big fan of sugar, but recently I had a Roman feast and I used one of Apicius's dessert recipes for squares of polenta (made with semolina farina and goat's milk) fried in olive oil and honey. The dessert was sublime and the pan was not bothered (even though I burned the honey shhh don't tell my guests).

                                                                                                                                                          One Big Important thing is this: Do not neglect the bottom of the pan!!! Try not to scrape it against metal, but it does happen of course. After use, after wiping your pan the first time, still holding onto an oily paper towel, turn your pan over.... see any reddish scrapes or scratches? Rub the oily paper towel into them!!!

                                                                                                                                                          Another random tip: if you have a cast iron dutch oven, rice pilaf is a really nice thing to cook in it. Be liberal with the butter.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: teukros

                                                                                                                                                            Ah, Apicius. The founder of Modernist Cuisine! I'm waiting for him to endorse a sous vide machine...


                                                                                                                                                            1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                                                                                              There were at least three Apiciuses, maybe soon there will be a fourth to endorse the machine.

                                                                                                                                                              Sous vide, hmm, that's pretty Iron Chefish. I'd bet that Apicius (etc.) would have enjoyed The Iron Chef...

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: teukros

                                                                                                                                                              I misspoke. She makes tortilla CHIPS in oil! Nothing like frying up just about anything in a high smoking point fat to tune up CI.

                                                                                                                                                              I tend to deglaze the pan with hot water and a fish spatula, then dry on burner, then wipe out with oil and a paper towel. If there is anything stuck, a green scrubbie and hot water, or the salt and oil method works for me. I agree, crud can collect on the outside of these pans so it pays to pay attention to keeping them clean and oiled. I've been working on my mother's 8" Wagner and it's slowly losing the bumpy esterior surface. Inside like glass, thank goodness.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Sirrith


                                                                                                                                                          With football season starting, here's another great cornbread combo - Pulled pork.

                                                                                                                                                          But don't be conventional! Bake the sauced pulled pork inside the cornbread. Muffins work, of course, and are easy, but easier yet is to pour half your batter into a skillet or pan of choice, put the pork on the batter, top it all with the rest of the batter and bake as usual. So good!

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                                                            that sounds delicious! Oh, also good with baked beans and grilled chicken.

                                                                                                                                                            Sirrith, are you vegetarian? If not, there's nothing better than some sort of pork and cornbread. Use bacon grease in the CI pan, preheat and bake the batter. Use some bacon in the greens or beans.

                                                                                                                                                            Shades of my southern roots!

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: blaireso

                                                                                                                                                              Thanks Duffy, that sounds interesting!
                                                                                                                                                              blairso, no, I'm definitely not a vegetarian, I love my meat :P I don't keep bacon grease though.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Sirrith

                                                                                                                                                                Well, then, just get yourself a pound of cheap bacon (or if you want to eat it, good bacon, lol) and cut it into 1" pieces, dump it in your CI skillet and render it slowly. You can use the bacon bits wherever you like, they will keep in a jar in the refrig. for quite awhile (ours never lasts that long, but I'd say more than a week). The bacon grease in our house is usually poured into a tin can from the recycle bin, frozen and thrown out. I save a little bit in a jar, strained, for seasoning, but not much. So you get a double whammy, 1st seasoning with bacon, 2nd seasoning with cornbread. But, butter works just fine for cornbread. Oil, not so much IME.

                                                                                                                                                        3. re: Sirrith

                                                                                                                                                          My grandpa was from the south. They had cornbread with a lot of their meals, fried fish, trout especially. He would eat leftover cornbread the next morning for breakfast, crumbled in a glass with milk, eat with a spoon. It's not that bad.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Cam14

                                                                                                                                                            I like to fry leftover cornbread. Cut a slice in half, cook the bottom and top first, then flip to the cut middle sides. Top with butter. Yum!

                                                                                                                                                            Why do so many leftovers taste so good when we fry 'em? Meat loaf, cornbread, spaghetti, potatoes, even risotto.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Cam14

                                                                                                                                                              My dad, born in 1899, loved what he called "fried cornmeal mush." I think the closest thing is hushpuppies. He would make something like polenta, let it set up in a casserole, cut it into fingers and fry them. I guess anything is good when doused with butter and syrup!

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: blaireso

                                                                                                                                                                <I guess anything is good when doused with butter and syrup!>

                                                                                                                                                                That's the truth! I think I'd love your dad's cornmeal mush. It sounds divine. :)

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                                                                  Wish I'd paid more attention. Kids, go figure!

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: blaireso

                                                                                                                                                                  That would have to be fried in a cast iron pan to taste right! The original gluten free pancake. I'll have to try it.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Cam14

                                                                                                                                                                    You're right, fried in my mom's CI skillet, probably purchased as a young woman during the war days, or as a new bride in 1947. When I got it, it was perfect. Now you've reminded me of my father cooking with it, thanks for a lovely memory that I hadn't had in many years.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: blaireso

                                                                                                                                                                    My mother's family ate fried cornmeal mush. It is indeed fried polenta, but when an Italian friend heard me say this once, she almost had a heart attack.

                                                                                                                                                                    The main difference is that one is treated with sweet flavors, the other with savory.

                                                                                                                                                                3. re: Sirrith

                                                                                                                                                                  Everything goes good with cornbread :o). Well, everything southern. Bar-b-q, dried beans, turnip greens, tomatoes, Mexican food, steak and gravy, fried fish, etc. My parents generation would put left over cornbread in buttermilk and eat as a late snack. When I wanted dessert, but we didn't have any. My dad would crumble up warm cornbread on my plate, add butter and pour corn syrup over it, then mix it all up. It was wonderful. I guess it would be like a cornbread pancake. Fry cornbread in a CI skillet (like a pancake) and you get hoe cakes. They are great for topping with stuff or making a sandwich with. Cornbread is wonderful with soups and beef stew.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: dixiegal

                                                                                                                                                                    OMG you bring back such memories of my mom's family in New Orleans! Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Sirrith

                                                                                                                                                                    Just eat it by itself, a little butter and honey, mmm. Or, use it to stuff a chicken or turkey instead of bread. I like the chili idea, that's traditional. Cooked greens like collard, kale, mustard, bean soup, salad, barbecue! Anything you like to pair corn with will be great.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: blaireso

                                                                                                                                                                      Just got back from Hilton Head Island, SC. Southern folks sure can work magic with corn bread. YUM.

                                                                                                                                                                4. There is no doubt that modern cast iron ware is heavier and more roughly cast, and therefore not nearly as slick as the vintage stuff. I have a few vintage pieces and a couple of modern Lodge skillets, and though the all are very well seasoned, the Lodge are still much rougher than the old stuff.

                                                                                                                                                                  I am inclined to use a power sander on the new Lodge pans and then reseason them. I've seen it done on You Tube.

                                                                                                                                                                  26 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: EarlyBird


                                                                                                                                                                    < I am inclined to use a power sander on the new Lodge pans and then preseason them >

                                                                                                                                                                    That's what the Dude did for me. We seasoned it on the grill, since it was a hot day. My pan is pretty nice, even though it doesn't get used much. It could be better, I'm sure, but it makes me happy enough.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                                                                      The Dude rocks.

                                                                                                                                                                      I've got a buddy who has every tool under the sun, and I think I'm going to bring out my monster Lodge skillet and ask him to sand that puppy.

                                                                                                                                                                      This is The Beast, a 15" diameter with a lid that's like a man hole cover and the whole thing literally weighs over 25 lbs. It's ridiculous, but I love it. I've used it for many years and have done countless batches of fried chicken, burgers, steaks, fried potatoes, fish, and bacon, bacon, bacon. It's very well seasoned but still does not have that wonderfully slick surface that the old stuff has.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: EarlyBird

                                                                                                                                                                        Do you use a sharp metal spatula?

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: GalinaL

                                                                                                                                                                          Some times if I have some very stuck on stuff, but I'm pretty gentle with it.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: EarlyBird

                                                                                                                                                                            It is possible not being gentle with it and to use a sharp metal spatula liberally would make it slicker after so many years.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: EarlyBird

                                                                                                                                                                              A *flat* metal spatula will help develop a slick surface -- fills in the small pits with the seasoning, and keeps lumps of seasoning from sticking up above the surface. If it has a curve to it,m though, it will not work.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: DebinIndiana

                                                                                                                                                                                Here is one of mines - Dexter-Russell 4-by-2.5-Inch Stainless Steel and Walnut Pancake Turner - it is flat and sharp http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/16108917....

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                                    I've got one that looks similar, but with a black handle. It has a slight outward flare, and is stamped with a logo picturing 2 bulls, and sporting the name DUE BUOI. It's made in Italy. I hate it. It has no flex, hardly any at all. And it's kind of thick. Not the best design.

                                                                                                                                                                                    I may try a Dexter-Russel.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                                                                                      <It has no flex, hardly any at all. And it's kind of thick. >

                                                                                                                                                                                      I can promise you that the Dexter ones have flex. Not as flexible as say fish turners, but definitely has flex in them.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Your local restaurant supply store may carry them (mine do). If so, then you can test drive them.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                                        <Your local restaurant supply store may carry them (mine do). If so, then you can test drive them.>

                                                                                                                                                                                        Thanks, Chem. Good idea. I finally found a supply store locally that I'm planning to visit next week. They've got some of the Vollrath lines, Sitram, and a few others. I'll add Dexter-Russell to my list of things to look for.

                                                                                                                                                                                        I can't believe it took me 3 years of regular Googling to find this place! I had no trouble finding listings, but several have gone out of business, and some others are big equipment dealers who don't deal in smalls. At least I found it when I really need it. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                                                                                          <'ll add Dexter-Russell to my list of things to look for. >

                                                                                                                                                                                          Hey, if they don't have Dexter-Russell, then they will definitely have another brand. Victorinox also makes these hamburger turners too.


                                                                                                                                                                                          You will get to play around the turners at the store. Just buy whichever one seems to behave the best. Have fun.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                                            <Have fun.>

                                                                                                                                                                                            You know I will, like a kid at Disneyland. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: GalinaL

                                                                                                                                                                                    I use a fish turner with a nice flat edge. Some cheapo bargain turners would probably work quite well, too, as long as they have a nice straight edge.


                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: EarlyBird

                                                                                                                                                                          I don't know that making it smoother is actually better. I know some people believe that, but my experience does not necessary support this. It is just different. It is easier to season a smoother surface, but a rougher surface holds the seasoning better.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                            I believe smoother is better, and I have taken rough pans to the sander with good results.

                                                                                                                                                                            Non stick is non stick because the surface is slick. Correct seasoning produces a polymerized (plastic like) coating not unlike Teflon. Starting with a smooth surface makes a slicker finished surface.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Bigjim68

                                                                                                                                                                              I don't know. My experience is with modern Wagner 1891 (smooth) and modern Lodge (pebbly) pans. Now I prefer Wagner 1891 because of the ergonomic handles. As far as seasoning goes, I'm not sure there is a difference... for a while, one of my best 8" pans was a Lodge. Hated the handle, but the surface, originally pebbly, was glass smooth after I had made Southern style cornbread enough times...

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Bigjim68

                                                                                                                                                                                A smoother surface is easier to season. I admit to this. It takes much less time to get the cookware to have that nonstick ability. In fact, carbon steel cookware is easier to season than any cast iron cookware because carbon steel cookware is perfectly smooth -- not casted.

                                                                                                                                                                                However, if you are willing to wait, a rough cast iron will eventually smoothed out over time. The seasoning will fill in all the valleys. Once that happens, the original rough cast iron cookware actually hold onto more seasoning and is more stable.

                                                                                                                                                                                <Non stick is non stick because the surface is slick.>

                                                                                                                                                                                Non-stick Teflon is nonstick because of the Teflon not able to interacting with the food, not because of being smooth. Glass cookware is very very smooth, but very sticky.

                                                                                                                                                                                In fact, some of the very famous nonstick cookware are intentionally rough, such as Circulon:


                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics


                                                                                                                                                                                  I think you've got it right. When Dude smoothed out my CI, he ran out of sanding disks before it was completely smooth. The final texture was a bit like the Lodge carbon steel, if you've felt that. Not as rough as the Lodge CI, but nothing like European CS.

                                                                                                                                                                                  It wasn't at all nonstick before he treated it. After, it's been terrific. I don't fry eggs on it, that's what my Debuyer's are for, but it's wonderful for hash browns and all manner of shallow fried/sauteed potatoes, also for fish patties and fillets.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Side note - I've finally got a pair of DB frypans on order, the 8" and 10" from 125westelm.com. Although it's much smaller, I've got a feeling the 10" may replace the 12" Lodge, which is humongous for our small family. I might even add a 10.25" LC to the mix. Seems the new enamel is much better now, becoming more nonstick in time. It's not as smooth as the old interior enamel, it's kind of a matte, velvet finish. It seems to pick up seasoning as it goes.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                                                                                    <Side note - I've finally got a pair of DB frypans on order, the 8" and 10" >


                                                                                                                                                                                    <Although it's much smaller, I've got a feeling the 10" may replace the 12" Lodge>

                                                                                                                                                                                    Because of the sloped side, a 10" deBuyer probably will have a smaller cooking surface. The Lodge skillet has a relatively straighter side.

                                                                                                                                                                                    <It's not as smooth as the old interior enamel, it's kind of a matte>

                                                                                                                                                                                    Oh you got one of those matte finish LC. Let us know.


                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                                      <Because of the sloped side, a 10" deBuyer probably will have a smaller cooking surface. The Lodge skillet has a relatively straighter side.>

                                                                                                                                                                                      Yes, plus I don't think the Lyonnaise slope will lend itself to superior cornbread and biscuits. The DB will jump food, but sometimes I finish with an acidic glaze. I was flipping between SS and nonstick, but then it occurred to me that ECI would let me do that job and breads, too. It might be an excellent bridge pan, fitting right into the middle of my cooking spectrum.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                                                                                      If you're talking about enamelled cast iron, the enamel does erode with use, becoming less and less nonstick over time, eventually becoming unusable. I recently had to throw out a Le Creuset dutch oven (which I paid almost 300 dollars for). I am still using a saucier but it is only a matter of time before that goes, too.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: teukros

                                                                                                                                                                                        <the enamel does erode with use, becoming less and less nonstick over time, eventually becoming unusable.>

                                                                                                                                                                                        Less and less nonstick for sure, but I won't say unusable. You just have to use it like other cookware, like stainless steel surface cookware which is known to be sticky.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: teukros

                                                                                                                                                                                          LC recently changed the interior enamel on their skillets. It's said to become more nonstick over time, although there clearly hasn't been enough time to know how it will wear in the long run.

                                                                                                                                                                                          I agree with Chem here. The only pan I've ever tossed out was one in which the coating was peeling. I tossed it into the recycling bin. When my pans eventually (this takes years) get so scratched they're no longer nonstick, I recruit them into high heat frying, things like frozen snacks, taco shells and such. They work beautifully, clean up with hot water and last for many more years. My current 8" taco pan is 11 years old. It's ugly, with partially polymerized oil streaks all over the sides and bottom, and the nonstick is dark brown, but it works, every time.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                                        Kind of like the old adage, "Vote early and often!" The motto becomes use your CI a LOT, use sufficient fat, make sure you heat it before you add the oil, clean with coarse salt or a scrubbie (no soap or SOS type pads), and be patient. I don't think the turner is as important as the understanding that having a relatively new CI pan means taking the long view and being willing to just keep using the pan. And yes, you can reseason them (there are many Chow discussions about this) if you so desire. New, old, eventually all perform really well whether they have a smooth or pebbly finish.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. Hi bigmamafoodie, as a long time fan of cast iron pans/ pots/ wok, I am sorry to hear you are having so much trouble. I have used them both on the cooktop and in the oven; right after seasoning and a long time thereafter. I've never had any sticking - at least not a case in which the food stuck so much that I couldn't get it off the pan.
                                                                                                                                                                                  In most cases, I usually let them cool, then use very very very hot water and in most cases, the "dirt" will come right off (I usually don't even need to scrub). In rare cases, where it sticks somewhat, I use a scrubbing brush to remove the dirt, but don't have to work it very hard to do so.
                                                                                                                                                                                  In any case, I wish you good luck in the future, because in my experience, cooking with them is like no other (except Le Creuset which is just as good) and the food tastes so much better