Before you pitch that cast iron skillet that’s caked with crud into the trash or recycle bin try this Hot Fire Method for cleaning it. I know this works because I had that gunky cast iron pan. It was nice and clean on the inside but the outside had years of scale built up on it and no matter how much scraping and scrubbing I did it just wouldn’t budge. It didn’t affect how it cooked it just looked nasty.
I’d had the pan forever and I actually have no idea where it came from, if I had to take a guess I would say it was a hand me down from hubby’s grandmother. Cast iron never goes out of style and is seldom unsaveable. I know sometimes it can crack but other than that I believe it can always be cleaned, re-seasoned, and put back into use. So if you find these type of pieces at garage sales or thrift shops I say pick them up and give this method a try. You’ll end up with a like new pan for just a few bucks.
So here’s what I did: got a good bonfire going in our fire-pit, waited until it had a nice bed of hot coals (about 30 minutes) in the bottom then added the skillet to the coals. I forgot about it for the rest of the night, we continued to add firewood to the fire for the next couple of hours, let it burn down and went to bed. In the morning I went out to retrieve my no longer smoking hot pan, cleaned it up with a little hot water and a brush, re-seasoned it and put it to use again. It’s jut like new; no more gunky bottom of the pan!
I’ve read that this method can sometimes crack the skillet but for me it was worth a try, I was no longer using it in it’s current condition.. I had planned on sending it to the recycle center so I figured the outcome couldn’t be worse than what I already had, so I went for it and I’m overjoyed that I did. I sure didn’t want to toss one of my favorite pans if I didn’t have to.
Here’s how I re-seasoned that cast iron pan:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Coat the inside and outside of the skillet with a high quality oil (my go to is avocado oil) (once the pan has been cleaned)
- Place skillet on a baking sheet with the inside facing down (this will drain any oil out once it’s heated)
- Bake in oven for 1 hour
- Turn oven off but leave the skillet inside until oven is completely cooled.
Continue using your newly seasoned cast iron pan. It’s as easy as that!