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Cast Iron Pans

Q: What is the best way to season and care for cast iron? How should I wash it without removing the seasoning?
--Monica Ng,
Davis, California

Seasoning a cast-iron pan gives it a smooth, nonstick surface that actually improves with age. When you buy a new cast-iron pan, the first thing you should do is wash it in hot, soapy water. Dry the pan thoroughly, first with a dishcloth, and then in an oven heated to 300 degrees for several minutes. You must dry the pan completely to prevent rust. Then pour about a tablespoon of oil into the pan, and rub it over the surface with a paper towel. Be careful not to use too much oil or the coating will be too thick. Place the pan in a 300 degrees oven for about an hour, then remove it and let it cool. Wipe away the excess oil, and your pan will be ready to use.

To keep a seasoned cast-iron pan in good condition, simply wipe it with a paper towel and a little oil after each use to clean it. If there are stuck-on food particles, use hot water and a brush or nylon scouring pad to clean them away (never use soap). If necessary, pour some water into the pan, and boil it on top of the stove for a few minutes to eliminate stubborn food pieces. Dry and reseason the pan between washings.

Comments (11)

  • Mamsters 21 Sep, 2013

    Go to thrift shops. When you can get a pan that is not cracked, buy it! You can remove the buildup by using steel wool or putting it in the dishwasher and taking it out the moment the wash cycle and rinse are over. Dry it on the stove top for a minute or so, then cool it, season with oil again and re-heat as directed by Martha. Been doing this for 46 years and I still have my pans. I do not own any other frying pans except a couple of woks!

  • coco1101 16 Mar, 2013

    I have a grill pan with raised lines in it that we use for grilling meats, fish, panini's... Made in Italy, light handle that folds inward, low sides (which means there is more splatter on the stove;-( But I bought this pan in TJ Maxx; years later I found another just like it and bought it for a back-up... Lodge brand is often in Hardware stores and they are reasonably priced. We make all our meat in this pan for excellent flavor.

  • mdors01 1 Mar, 2013

    The best places I've found to buy cast iron cookware are hardware stores and discount stores where the camping gear is found.

  • Mityay Luchkin 9 Aug, 2012

    To clean the surface 100% the salt is the best helper/ Put some of it on the surface, heat it and remove after a while, when the temperature is safe enought with a cloth. Then again put some (very little) oil. 70 yaers old pan of my granddady still works well with such a care when needed.
    Concerning the price of 20 USD for a pan - that is true price for the chineese cast-iron made with bad sand; best sand = best cast-iron (France, Denmark, Germany), prices you may understand (space).

  • Helenvdw 16 Mar, 2012

    On the television show, the man from Lodge Cast Iron said to use soap and hot water to clean the pans. There seems to be a discrepancy with what is written on the website.

  • JoniBeigh 22 May, 2011

    What kind of oil do you suppose she recommends?

  • Jeanah215 10 Mar, 2011

    Try Cost Plus World Market. I'm in So. California but they have an online store as well. Problem with online is shipping for something this heavy will cost you more than your savings. For a good Cast Iron skillet of reasonable size, try Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Emeril's will cost you around $29

  • Sheryll 4 Feb, 2011

    Yes, I agree with jestin grace. Where do you find a cast iron pan for $20.00???? I really want one with the ridges to cook a steak on top of the stove.

  • pezhuston 25 Jan, 2011

    I have several cast iron pans. frustrated that bottom or back of the pans are still rust dirt... I did scrap dirt off with steel pad and put little oil... Potholders and counter get dirty from that damn dirt pans.. What do I do cleaning the bottom of the pans.

  • mountainrain 21 Jan, 2011

    look at: to buy cast iron or go to a Lodge outlet store. I've used cast iron all my life, have many pieces

  • jestingrace 2 Jul, 2010

    Cast-iron pan for twenty dollars? where?