How to Restore, Clean and Season Your Cast Iron Pan on a Stove

In this article, I will share how I:

  1. Restore an old cast iron pan
  2. How to season it 
  3. How to re-season after each use

Before continuing, let’s define ‘seasoning’ in the context of a cast iron pan:

All About Cast Iron Seasoning

Using vegetable oil to season a cast iron pan

Cast iron pans don’t have the typical non-stick coating. Meaning, if you use the pan to fry an egg, it will stick. That is why you have to ‘season’ your cast iron pan to build a layer of non-stick coating over time.

Seasoning a cast iron pan means baking fat into the pan’s metal surface to form a layer of non-stick coating.

The More You Cook: Theoretically, the more you use the pan for cooking, the more fat will be baked into the metal surface of the pan over time, resulting in a better non-stick coating.

Washing: But should you use soap to clean the pan after cooking then? Because soap dissolves fat, which is the main component of the seasoning.

Washing with soap is OK!

This is often a heated debate all over the internet. Although this makes sense, but are you telling me not to wash my pans with soap after each use? I think that’s gross!

Lodge Cast Iron, who has been selling cast iron pans for years. They’ve mentioned on their website that you can use soap if you want to. You’ll be re-seasoning the pan with a layer of oil each time you use the pan anyway, so you shouldn’t be afraid of losing the non-stick characteristics of your cast iron pan.

Getting Rid of Rust & Cleaning an Old Pan

Cast iron cookware lasts forever. before you fork out money to buy a brand new one, why not contact your family members to ask them if they have one that they don’t use anymore.

If the cast iron has been stored for a long time, chances are that it could develop some rust and gunk in storage.

From my experience, most dirt and mild rust can be removed with regular soap and a scouring pad. If there is still hard to get rid of rust after this step, then you can use a steel wool sponge.

Drying the Pan Off

After the pan is all clean and rust-free, wipe the pan down and either let it air dry or heat it up on a stove to quicken the drying process.

Coat With a Layer of Oil

Use a kitchen towel and vegetable oil to coat the entire pan: top, bottom, and even the handle. Wipe off any excess oil before continuing.

Heating the Seasoning on a Stove Top

Now we want to infuse that layer of oil into the metal surface of the cast iron pan by heating it past the oil’s smoking point.

Place the oiled cast iron pan on your stove and put the heating to full whack until the pan starts to smoke. Let it smoke out for a few seconds, then lower the heat down.

When the smoking is reduced, add another layer of oil with a kitchen towel and leave it on low heat for around 15 minutes. Then, turn the heat off and let the pan cool down.

Blast the heat back on until it starts to smoke again and repeat the above process 2 to 3 times to ‘season’ your cast iron pan.

I only do this stove heating step when:

  • I just got a brand new cast iron pan.
  • I just got it out of prolonged storage, and it developed gunk and rust.

If you regularly use your cast iron pan, you don’t have to do the above process all the time. I reapply a new layer of oil before you store the pan away:

Seasoned cast iron pan

Cleaning & Re-seasoning Each Time After Use

As you get a hang of using your cast iron pan, here’s how I re-season the pan after each time I use it for cooking:-

  1. Scrape the food residue off while the pan is still hot.
  2. I use soap and water to clean the pan.
  3. Wipe dry with a kitchen towel.
  4. Reapply a layer of oil with a kitchen towel without heating it up.
  5. Store away.

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