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Grinding and Sanding and Reseasoning New Lodge Cast Iron Pieces

Here I am, yet again, grinding the mold marks away and sanding (with non-aluminum-oxide sandpaper) the entirety of a new Lodge cast iron piece. Then I'll have to reseason with Crisco at 430F for 1.5 hrs, cool in oven, and season again a second time. Ugh. Such a long job.

I just don't like how Lodge's pieces are when bought. Very rough, in my opinion, being an ex grinder and machinist. But I am willing to do all this work for the price and quality they are sold for, especially for American made. I realize Lodge would have to up the selling price if they were to machine or sand them, etc. Although I do believe the grinder person could get the mold marks smoother and unnoticeable. Just my opinion.

Am I obsessive compulsive (I already know that answer, lol) or do any others do this?

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  1. i stopped using my lodge CI skillet for this reason. very rough texture. i don't like it.

    i don't have the skill or will to smooth them out, but it's cool that you are doing it.

    i went back to using t-fal non-stick for eggs and all-clad stainless for just about everything else. very happy with that.

    1. I did the same. Was it worth it? Honestly, I'm not sure. According to many reports, the pan eventually gets just about as smooth once it's seasoned enough. It might take longer for the rougher surface to get there, but I don't have an un-sanded Lodge CI pan to compare.

      1. Hmm... I've recently been thinking that I want to get a new Lodge skillet. I'm not a machinist, but this would be work I am willing to do if necessary. What's needed - angle grinder with sanding disk? Something else? Starting and ending with what grits? Why the non-aluminum-oxide sandpaper?

        6 Replies
        1. re: Cheez62

          I just use a Dremel and a Dremel cone bit to remove the mold line. Then I sand by hand with 60 grit automotive wet/dry sandpaper, then 100, then 150. I don't get too carried away with the sanding. Just enough to knock down the surface some inside and out, and smooth out the Dremeling of the mold line. A little sanding goes a long way. About 2-3 hours worth on an average fry pan. The combo cooker was bad, and took about 8 hours. I don't use aluminum oxide sandpaper for fear that the aluminum will leach into the iron... Not good, after reading what aluminum can do to one's health.

          1. re: Cheez62

            I used a handheld orbital floor sander, and a little extra elbow grease with wet-dry automotive sandpaper to get the corners of the pan. I suspect there are better tools for the job, but that's what I had on hand. Probably took me half an hour, though my pan wasn't quite marble-smooth afterwards.

            1. re: cowboyardee

              That's how the Dude did it for me, cowboyardee. I've no idea what kind or grit sandpaper he used, but it took about 30 minutes.

              He only worked on the inside of the pan, since that's the part I wanted to cook on. :)

            2. re: Cheez62

              Considering that aluminum is the most common metal in the earth's crust, humans have been exposed to aluminum oxide forever. There is no good reason not to use aluminum oxide to sand a pan.

              1. re: Cheez62

                I don't think you're OC, but I wouldn't go to that trouble. I've seen new Lodge pans and don't understand why people want them. I'm waiting to get my mother's Griswold, which is a fine piece of craftsmanship.

                1. re: GH1618

                  The quality is decent, the price is right, and they're widely available. Also heavier/thicker than Griswolds. Not that there's anything wrong with a Griswold or other vintage CI.

                  I sanded mine, but many other people didn't bother and still seemed to like lodge pans.

              2. I haven't found the need. At first I thought the rough texture was causing sticking, but it turns out it was my inexperience cooking in CI. I can cook an egg with very little butter on newly seasoned (stripped then re-seasoned) lodge CI with no sticking.

                1. This may be your first time working with cast iron cookware. In time, you will find out that this is not necessary. The pan will eventually even out anyway.

                  Regardless, whatever works for you is fine.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    It has been a couple years since I started using cast iron. My 10" and 12" skillets are still bone stock with original Lodge seasoning under all my seasoning. There's still one or two tiny high spots on the cooking surfaces that aren't knocked down or filled over yet, and the Lodge seasoning keeps flaking away. And I just find it easier to get gunk off the entirety of the pan when smoothed out. And I don't get any paper towel or lint flakes as much when wiping down the reworked pieces as I do the 10" and 12" skillets. Plus, the reworked ones look way better :)

                    I think the least that a new owner could do is sand with 60 grit for 15 minutes the whole piece and reseason (I prefer Crisco vegetable shortening... Works like a darn charm).

                    1. re: Muddirtt

                      <And I just find it easier to get gunk off the entirety of the pan when smoothed out.>

                      Ah. It makes sense. Sometime there are instead a couple really high spot. it seems everything is working out for you which is great.

                  2. I ground mine as well. I wouldn't mind hearing from Lodge the logic behind the grainy texture. Is it the way they cast? The mold media? Quality if the material? They just don't care? I've seen new manhole covers with a better finish

                    4 Replies
                      1. re: BiscuitBoy

                        The grainy texture is how all poured raw iron turns out after casting. It's the texture from the sand in the molds. The next step would be machining the surface like Griswold and Wagner did but, then costs go up, then people won't buy as much, then the company suffers, then they go under like the oldies and we're stuck with limited Paula Deen iron pieces on the shelves for the next 100 years.

                        1. re: BiscuitBoy

                          Its deliberate, it allows them to season at the factory in a cost effective manner. They actually go out of their way to roughen it up after its out of the mold.

                        2. in all my cast iron, i have a lodge i won't part with: it is the perfect size for my biscuit recipe, and biscuits cooked in CI cannot be better! otherwise, i tend to choose one of my old cast iron pans over the lodge.

                          also, there is a guy online (http://www.richsoil.com/cast-iron.jsp) who recommends using ONLY a stainless steel spatula when cooking - this helps to even out the pan. it's not as efficient as grinding, but it is helpful. i've used his method for awhile and i really like it.

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: rmarisco

                            I ran across a funny comment on another site last night. A guy who says he's been cooking on CI for years says to never, ever use metal utensils on CI. I gently reminded him that our ancestors mostly used metal tools, and the most prized CI is old stuff.

                            I admitted that I scratched the seasoning on a newly-seasoned CS pan the first time I used it, but that the line filled in quickly and didn't affect nonstick at all.

                            It was hard to type a response, as I was laughing the whole time. ;)

                            1. re: DuffyH

                              Just depends on what you want out of a skillet. I probably was "that guy".

                              I see so many folks trying 50,000 ways to put on a seasoning so it's perfectly "Cantor-like" only to scrape it off and scar up their iron. Or worse when folks say after they have finally got the perfect seasoning on their skillet and they are going to smooth out the rough spots in the pan by flipping a billion eggs with their bumper metal spatula from China. Not gonna happen.

                              Also, most of the cooking utensils tools in my ancestors house weren't metal. They were mostly made of wood - only the knives were carbon steel. Not sure why folks use metal to metal. Seasoning is just a plastic so it scrapes off pretty easily. Sure it's easy to fill back in... But why bother scraping it off in the first place?

                              1. re: slowshooter

                                For my part, I use metal utensils because they are thin. Extremely thin compared to wood, and still very thin compared to plastic. They are also perfectly fine being left in a pan while the heat is on unlike plastic (and even heat resistant silicone and other such things), are more durable (they won't get nicks from being shoved into a drying rack with cutlery for example), and won't go mouldy like wooden ones do (although to be fair my metal utensils have wooden handles because I like the look, so that part may still get mouldy).

                                I have not noticed any seasoning being scraped off my CI cookware when using metal utensils. I have noticed scratches in the seasoning on my carbon steel cookware when using metal utensils.

                                1. re: Sirrith

                                  This is sort of a non-win argument, because everyone is going to do their own thing when it comes to using their cast iron. But like global warming, a few will look at what's happening to them directly and say "it's not happening to me - must not be happening at all".

                                  Again, I use predominately use wood, bamboo and plastic/silicon because I don't want to scrape off seasoning... Granted I used my skillets at least a couple times a day and over time have observed the balding of the seasoning (and scratches) when using steel. Maybe most folks never see it or don't care. It's cast iron after all and will certainly survive scratching. Do those steel spatulas work? Of course they do.

                                  Here's why I recommend using something else though.

                                  1. No one is going to wear down a cast iron pan to a smooth cooking surface with a metal spatula unless they lean into it. That means that long before the iron is ground down, the seasoning is removed. So over time, if the cook really is trying to flatten the iron surface with a spatula their skillet will demand reasoning after every meal cooked.

                                  2. If you are concerned about trying to achieve seasoning perfection, why would you use a spatula that will scrape off what you so diligently worked to apply? Polymers aren't that durable when hit with a metal edge.

                                  3. For folks that collect (which I really don't understand) and expect to see a return on their investment (which I do understand) why would they risk scarring?

                                  That said, iron is iron. If you don't give a hoot about scratches, reasoning regularly, using steel to flip a pancake, or just scraping the surface clean with steel… No one is going to say you are doing it wrong. If you are enjoying cooking and using the stuff you like to use - I would say you are doing it exactly right.

                                  1. re: slowshooter

                                    I think your objection is largely hypothetical. I mostly use a short, stiff metal turner in my old cast iron pan with well-developed seasoning. I ignore the superficial scratches and I never reseason. A pan is just a tool, not a work of art, and it works fine with an imperfect cooking surface.

                                    1. re: GH1618

                                      >A pan is just a tool, not a work of art, and it works fine with an imperfect cooking surface.<

                                      And I would add that if it is working fine, then the surface is perfect.
                                      Just to point out. That the success of bare CI cooking is not only in the seasoning layers. The success is also determined by "how" you are cooking in the pan. For it is very different than cooking in Teflon pans.
                                      I do believe that using metal utensils and metal scrubbing, will over time put some wear on the pan, along with the seasoning layers. After all, something has worn down my once rough Lodge skillets. For I sure have not sanded them. I also believe that the constant seasoning and reseasoning of the worn off layers, likely has a lot to do with smoothing it out too. Especially the regular burning off of seasoning layers, scrubbing and starting again. I would say high heat cooking, baking on seasoning layers and burning off seasoning layers, would slowly melt those rough layers down.
                                      Whatever causes it, mine are smooth. Not as smooth as machine sanding of the metal, but smooth and as nonstick as bare CI can be.
                                      Some seem to want to look at ci seasoning layers as if it is like enamel or some other kind of man made coating. It isn't. The seasoning layers on CI is always changing with every use. No matter how you use it. It is an ever changing process. Much like our environment. Global warming or not. Our world and all that is in it, is in constant change and always has been.
                                      To me, that is what makes it exciting. I hated the cold weather of the polar vortex. Frozen pipes and extreme heat bill. But I was fascinated by it too. I just love our 4 seasons that we experience in TN. Especially when they all happen in the same week. LOL

                                      1. re: GH1618

                                        GH, I guess your opinion is that experience is hypothetical, okay.

                                        I do have some cast iron from the 1800s and 1900s that are terrific examples of artisanal craftsmanship. Finely made sand cast iron that didn't need to be ground down, because it was cast so smoothly. They're just gorgeous - if you owned them, you might not mind them scraped up... But it would bother me. And so, when they are used, steel is not applied to the interior.

                                        On the other hand, I consider many of the skillets and dutch ovens that I own, from the latter part of the last century, regular old cookware - they are just tools and I treat them accordingly. They take a beating. I've restored some that have knife marks, rust pits and gouges. They all work just fine. If I grab some steel tongs and use them to flip a steak - no one at my house is going to burst into tears.

                                        Since the original comment that I made was on a site that was for folks that collected (as well as use) cast iron it's pretty easy to see where folks seem to be getting confused around applicability. Some folks that are collectors don't use some of their cast iron, because they spent so much time restoring the stuff that it's tough to scuff it up. Some want to use it but not see it scarred... Again, I don't understand collecting - but I do understand keeping things just the way you might want them.

                                        If you use steel on iron expect your seasoning to wear. If you use steel on vintage pieces that aren't marked up today - eventually they will be. If you are anal retentive about seasoning, it's up to you to balance how much of your time you want to spend keeping your seasoning applied.

                                        I have zero stake in what anyone else does in their kitchen so if folks want to worry about seasoning, spend hours applying it then use spatulas to scrape it off. I don't mind at all. My pancakes will still be awesome.


                            2. Why not just buy some old Griswold or Wagner? Unless you want a project to do. I have both Griswold and Lodge. And yes they aren't the same, but I use them both.

                              10 Replies
                              1. re: rasputina

                                We have my mother-in-laws 70 year old Griswold #8 skillet. I bought a #6 & #10 skillet to go with it, along with a round Griswold griddle, all from Ebay. We use those pans daily. They don't make that quality anymore. They haven't since Griswold closed in 1957.

                                1. re: Antilope

                                  I have Griswold #12 with the heat ring that is a pre Griswold Erie pan, and #6 skillets along with a #9 griddle and a high base waffle iron. I love that waffle iron. I use my skillets daily. I have another tiny skillet, I think it's a 3 or 4 but I never use it. I'd like to add an 8 skillet to have something in the middle. The 6 is my go to omelet pan, although I do not reserve it just for eggs.

                                2. re: rasputina

                                  Cost? A new pan will cost less than a nice flat vintage pan. And with only a half hour of light labor, it's not a bad trade-off.

                                  1. re: rasputina

                                    Griswold and Wagner are for the wall, in my opinion... Unless they are inherited, and known for a fact that they weren't used for making bullets or draining motor oil or who knows what, I'll be glad just to use my 7 pieces of Lodge. With Lodge, I can buy fitting lids, etc, and I'm supporting the oldest running American cast iron cookware company.

                                    They work flawless if one knows how to cook on them and take care of them. I just wish they came smoother and without the mold marks with the looks of a cheap plastic toy.

                                    1. re: Muddirtt

                                      Yes! "...who knows what..." I totally schkeeve someone else's crud

                                      1. re: Muddirtt

                                        More for the rest of us. I do not waste my money cookware just to hang it on the wall.

                                        1. re: Muddirtt

                                          "and known for a fact that they weren't used for making bullets or draining motor oil or who knows what"

                                          I have no idea whether or not such uses soak into the iron but this is the first thing I always think of when people talk about vintage cast iron.

                                          My uncle ran a garage out of his shed and I remember as a kid, he used old cast iron dutch ovens and large fry pans to soak machine parts.

                                          We bought a cabin years back, contents included and the prior owner told us about the chamber "pots" in the closets. One was a huge dutch oven. We use it as a flower pot now.

                                          Some day after those old sheds and barns are cleaned out, someone will be so happy to have those old pieces in their kitchen (shudder....)

                                          1. re: cleobeach

                                            raspy....seems like there's a large vintage dutch oven waiting for you to buy

                                            1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                              And I will throw in the half dead pine tree for free!

                                          2. re: Muddirtt

                                            so... is there some reason to believe that electrolysis or lye cleaning will not clean this off?

                                        2. I buy used and am perfectly happy. While it may take a little time to reseason, for me it is far easier than grinding and polishing and then seasoning.

                                          Plus I am lazy and cheap when it comes to maintenance of cookware.

                                          1. I don't sand my new Lodge skillets. I have not found it necessary. However, I do bake off that seasoning that comes on it, because it never holds up for me. I also put 4 or 5 seasoning layers on before I try to cook in it. Then I will scrub with a stainless steel pad and re-season. Often when the pan is new, then only scrub as needed as time goes on. I can slide an egg out of my brand new Lodge skillet after about 4 seasoning layers, a good scrub and a couple of bakings of cornbread. Then take off from there. The extreme roughness will be gone by then and I am just left with a few smooth bumps that continues to get smoother. Christmas morning I fried hashbrown potatoes in two big Lodge skillets at the same time. One skillet was about 35 years old, the other about 4 years old. Potatoes turned out exactly the same in both skillets. Same for the milk gravy I made for the biscuits. Yep, same results for the eggs I cooked too. I get the same results using a very old unmarked, very smooth, lighter weight skillet and my 4 year old lodge skillet. The non stick quality is the same on both. Food turns out just the same. That is, as long as I remember that the antique skillet is thinner and adjust my heat and cooking accordingly.
                                            With new Lodge skillets, the roughness is very rough and sorta sharp. The seasoning layer from the factory is very thin and of little use on its own. I think it is just there to keep the pan from rusting. The sharpness and super roughness, goes away very quickly with more seasoning layers and a good scrubbing ever now and then. I also use metal spatulas when I cook too. Just like my mother and grandmother did. I do NOT baby my bare cast iron. They all get SS scrub pad scrubbing from time to time. Helps to keep the seasoning layer uneven build up to a minimum. But even at that, all my bare cast iron will go through periodic baking off of the seasoning layers (when needed), and starting over with brand new ones.

                                            1. The only Lodge pan I have in the house is the big grill pan. And except for my first Dutch oven, bought forty years ago from a Sonora CA hardware store, it's the only iron I've bought new. The pans that were made in this country up through the Fifties were thinner, lighter, well-finished and easy to handle; tap one right and it rings, whereas a Lodge will just go Clank. And I've never paid over $25 for any of them. Flea markets, antique malls, yard sales … they're out there. Besides, the hunt is fun.