How To Season and Restore A New or Rusty Cast Iron Skillet

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I’ve had an unused cast iron skillet in the bottom drawer of my kitchen for years. If I’m being transparent here, I’m not even sure how it got there.

Why haven’t I used the sad, lonely cast iron skillet?

I was scared friends.

There was rust on it.

Ick.

Seasoning a cast iron skillet is easier than you'd think! In a few simple steps you'll have a chemical free, non-stick skillet ready for all the amazing dishes you'll whip up! #castiron #seasoningcastiron

I’d been told you could season it, but that sounded like a lot of work. Until today. For some reason I got all crazy up in here and decided no more. I wanted to try it. Maybe it’s this whole quarantine thing. Getting us to do things like feeding sourdough starter, make artisan bread, baking pies, getting crazy with homemade pizza, and on and on.

And so I decided to season a skillet today. If you don’t have a skillet don’t fear my friends, this one is a great price and I’m told if you take care of them, (and even if you don’t) they’ll last long enough to be passed down to your children, and your children’s children. So it’s apparently a worth while purchase.

One more reason I decided to give it a try: cast Iron, when seasoned correctly, is a chemical free non-stick surface. I’m all about reduced chemicals in my home.

I’m here to tell you, I’ve successfully seasoned a cast iron skillet. It’s done! And friends, it wasn’t that bad. In fact, it was kind of satisfying. But then I’m such a sucker for before and afters.

Seasoning a cast iron skillet is easier than you'd think! In a few simple steps you'll have a chemical free, non-stick skillet ready for all the amazing dishes you'll whip up! #castiron #seasoningcastiron

Seasoning a Cast Iron Skillet

The good thing about seasoning cast iron, is you really only need to do it if your pan is new, or if you’re restoring it. As long as you clean it properly after each use (We’ll cover that below) it’s not something you should have to do again.

To begin the process:

1 . Grab some mild dish soap (the only time you’ll ever use soap on your cast iron) and scrub with steal wool. Work really hard at the rust spots. You’ll scrub the entire pan, inside and out. Since cast iron is porous, you want to make sure that ever inch of the pan is clean.

Seasoning a cast iron skillet is easier than you'd think! In a few simple steps you'll have a chemical free, non-stick skillet ready for all the amazing dishes you'll whip up! #castiron #seasoningcastiron

2 . Rinse well, removing all soap residue. If needed, scrub the difficult areas again, rinsing thoroughly.

3 . Once clean, wipe down with a clean dry cloth and set on the stove on a hot burner to dry completely. Heating is the only way to make sure all water is removed from the pan. Any water left over, however small, will start the process of rusting again.

4 . Once pan is dry, remove from stove and when it’s cooled down enough to touch, pour about 1 Tbsp of oil into the pan. Flax oil is best from everything I’ve researched, but it’s also expensive. Canola oil is the second recommended oil, and that’s what I have so we went with it. Rub oil over entire skillet, front and back again, and handle. Once oiled, take a paper towel and rub to get as much excess oil off as possible. Too thick a layer of oil will leave a thick, sticky film on your skillet after the baking process is complete.

Seasoning a cast iron skillet is easier than you'd think! In a few simple steps you'll have a chemical free, non-stick skillet ready for all the amazing dishes you'll whip up! #castiron #seasoningcastiron
Seasoning a cast iron skillet is easier than you'd think! In a few simple steps you'll have a chemical free, non-stick skillet ready for all the amazing dishes you'll whip up! #castiron #seasoningcastiron

5 . Bake in a 500 degree oven for one hour. The hight heat and amount of time in the oven puts the oil past smoking point, so the oil breaks down and bonds with the cast iron. How cool right?

Seasoning a cast iron skillet is easier than you'd think! In a few simple steps you'll have a chemical free, non-stick skillet ready for all the amazing dishes you'll whip up! #castiron #seasoningcastiron

6 . Turn off oven and let cast iron cool in place.

You’re now ready to use your pan guys!!!

How to clean your skillet

How to season a rusty cast iron skillet

How to season a rusty cast iron skillet

Have a rusty cast iron skillet or a new skilled that needs seasoned? Here are the simple steps to get your stillet ready to use.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Difficulty Beginner

Materials

  • Canola or flax seed oil
  • Steel wool
  • Paper towels
  • Mild soap

Instructions

  1. Take new or cast iron skillet that needs restored and using hot water and mild dish soap, scrub skillet throughouly, making sure to concentrate on the rusty spots. Scrub the entire skillet, inside and out.
  2. Rinse and remove all soap.
  3. Place on a warm stovetop to dry the water from the skillet thoroughly, otherwise it will rust.
  4. Once completly dry, take 1 Tbsp oil, either flax or canola. Flax is better to use but also pricy. Canola oil works fine too. Wipe oil over entire surface of skillet, inside and out.
  5. Wipe oil off completely. To thick of a layer of oil will cause the skilled to "bake" with a sticky residue.
  6. Once skilled is oiled, bake in oven at 500 degrees for 1 hour. You want to cook the oil past the smokig point, so oil breaks down and bonds wiht cast iron.
  7. Turn off oven and let cool in place.

Using Cast Iron correctly

To help prevent sticking, you should always pre-heat your cast iron for 5 to 10 minutes before adding food. Also, you should add a small amount of oil to coat the surface of the pan again before placing items in to cook. This is what helps create and maintain a non-stick barrier.

Maintaining your Cast Iron

To make cleaning easier, you’ll want to start before your cast iron cools completely from cooking. Otherwise, food will become stuck like glue to the bottom. To remove stubborn bits of food, pour a few tablespoons of coarse kosher salt into the still-warm skillet. Use a sponge to scrub. Rinse off salt with warm water. To dry heat skillet over a medium-low heat to evaporate the moisture.

First recipe I’m making in my newly seasoned pan? Cast Iron pear cobbler! Wish me luck. Make sure you’re following along on Instagram for all my most recent recipe creations and home DIY!

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