How to Clean and Season a Cast Iron Skillet

How to clean cast iron doesn’t have to be difficult. I recently had to clean our cast iron frying pan so that we could take it camping with us.

cast iron pan

Restoring old skillets or any cast iron cookware can be achievable in just a few steps.

I will show you how I was able to clean my rusty cast frying pan along with how to season after removing the rust.

Caring for old rusty skillets or any cast iron cookware can be a little time consuming but in the end it’s well worth the time.

There are many Ways to Clean and Season Cast Iron Cookware

This is the way that I used to clean and season my cast iron frying pan, okay I didn’t do the cleaning my hubby did

Supplies You’ll Need for Cleaning

I was able to purchase all of these at my local supermarket

These are all your going to need to restore your cast iron frying pan or cookware, everything was easy to get and reasonably priced and was well worth the cost to help save my cast iron frying pan

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  • White Vinegar
  • Steel Wool – (make sure it’s soapless)
  • Copper Scrubby – (my husband preferred the copper scrubby)
  • Vegetable Shortening (my husband used the Crisco shortening instead of Crisco oil)
  • Paper Towel

Step One – Restoring the Cookware

This is the easy step in the restoring process

My cast iron skillet was stored in our garage for two years and in that time the roof leaked. So needless to say it became rusty, now we want to go camping and because this is our camping fry pan I had to get it cleaned. You can see from the picture that the last two years weren’t good for my frying pan – so here’s what I did.

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1. I filled the sink with straight hot water making sure there was enough to cover the entire frying pan…

2. I put a half a cup of white vinegar into the hot water…

3. I put in the cast iron frying pan, like I said making sure it was completely covered with the vinegar water…

4. I left it soaking for twelve hours…

Did I mention this is the easiest step of the restoring project, not much to do here…

Step Two – The Cleaning

This can be the hardest step in cleaning cast iron skillets

This is the hardest part to the restoring of the cast iron cookware, I didn’t have the muscles to do this part so my husband took over this part. He had a choice of using steel wool or the copper scrubby I had bought. He didn’t like the feel of the steel wool so he choose to use the copper scrubby.

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It took my husband about a half an hour to get the frying pan completely free of the rust, he scrubbed, rinsed, scrubbed, rinsed and scrubbed again. That’s all he did was scrub and rinse, with every rinse he made sure that the loose rust was all washed out.

My husband did make this comment while he was doing all the scrubbing “This is a lot of work, it might just be easier to go buy a new one”. I had to remind him that we aren’t made of money and other than being rusty there wasn’t anything wrong with the frying pan.

Step Three – The Seasoning

I was going to do this step but the hubby stepped in to help

My husband decided that he wanted to finish the job of restoring the frying pan, who am I to argue. I spent my time taking the pictures from different angles, easy work for me.

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Anyway back to the seasoning step, this is where the paper towel comes in handy. You first have to make sure the cast iron is completely dry before applying the shortening. Once its totally dry put some shortening on a paper towel and start greasing.

Make sure you give it a generous amount of shortening along the bottom and around the sides. Once you’ve completed that it’s off to the oven.

Step Four – Baking the Seasoning to Stick

Now were going to bake it in the oven

I used a cold oven to start off with, we put the frying pan into the oven and turned it on to 350 degrees, this is where it’ll stay for anywhere’s from one hour to three hours. We left ours in the oven just over an hour, then we took it out to see if we needed to drain any access oil.

cast iron pan5

We put it back in the oven and let it cook for a total of two hours, you can see the difference it made from the beginning when we first started. The rust is completely gone and our cast iron frying pan is like brand new again.

We’re happy that we can now use it once again on all of our camping trips, it’s the best pan for cooking over those open fires and because it’s cast iron theres no need to worry about the handle melting from the heat of the flame.

Remove Rust from Cast-Iron Cookware

There are many ways to keep your cast iron looking like new

Did you Know: Cast Iron Cookware was Popular in the First Half of the 20th Century

Most households had at least one and it was usually the skillet or as we call them up here in Canada the frying pan

Cast iron pans are the best for camping they can be put directly on or in the fire, once you have your first skillet you’ll want to start a collection.


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