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Old 01-24-2010, 01:04 PM   #1
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Cast iron and germs

I had a guest for dinner. Chili was requested, I made it in my Lodge cast iron Dutch oven, as always. Corn bread prepared in my Lodge 12 inch cast iron skillet. While I was cleaning up, it was noted that I didn't use soap in my cookware, I never do. Scalding hot water and a stiff brush, as always. She broke into dry heaves. Has anyone ever heard of anyone getting sick from cast iron? I'm sure my moms cast iron hasn't seen soap in 70 years, and neither will mine.

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Old 01-24-2010, 02:09 PM   #2
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Except for the very first day, mine hasn't seen any detergent either. Either I use hot tap water or occasionally a 1/4 cup of damp salt to act as a scrubbing agent. Nothing else. It may be that your guest was just having a psychosomatic reaction to your cleaning method when she realized you don't use detergent on your CI skillet.

You may not have to worry about her ever returning for dinner again.
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Old 01-24-2010, 03:10 PM   #3
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Detergent, unless it is labeled as such, doesn't kill germs anyway. It loosens and lifts food residues.
I believe that the true mechanics of dish washing is actually to remove food residue and bacteria that might be present, ultimately creating an environment that is not conducive to bacteria and mold and other nasty growth.
Vigorous scrubbing and rinsing, regardless of the water temperature, is probably as effective as hot water and detergent.

Even "hot" water isn't hot enough to kill off the germs, unless you are using boiling water.

Have to admit that I often just use a good scrub and good rinse on lightly soiled items if I am quick cleaning.

And no, I don't use detergent on my cast iron anyway.

disclaimer: Im not a trained scientist, so my beliefs as stated above might not be accurate.
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Old 01-24-2010, 03:43 PM   #4
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It can be more difficult to remove unwanted grease/oil without using a surfactant.
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Old 01-24-2010, 04:30 PM   #5
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I think it is a sad commentary on our society that she thinks she got sick from our cookware! I don't know when I've seen so many germaphobes in the general population! Not all germs are bad! That said, I don't use soap on my CI either. Once in a great while I may put a bit on a sponge and wipe down the counters then use same on the pan when it's really greasy but for the most part just hot water and a good scrub.
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Old 01-24-2010, 05:19 PM   #6
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Thinking back, I cannot think of ever cooking anything in Cast iron that I didn't cook at a higher temperature, and a longer time, than any germ could survive. Using soap on the cast iron would not change the germ count. The heat and time, however, would.
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Old 01-24-2010, 05:26 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jabbur View Post
I think it is a sad commentary on our society that she thinks she got sick from our cookware! I don't know when I've seen so many germaphobes in the general population.
I agree completly. We have become so afraid of germs that I think sometimes we over-clean and over-disenfect.

I also think she was over reacting. I never use soap on my cast iron cookware or on my wok. HOT water and a stiff brush if it is needed and that is it. Neither myself nor anyone I have cooked for has ever gotten sick.
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Old 01-24-2010, 05:43 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Bigjim68 View Post
Thinking back, I cannot think of ever cooking anything in Cast iron that I didn't cook at a higher temperature, and a longer time, than any germ could survive. Using soap on the cast iron would not change the germ count. The heat and time, however, would.

I also put my pans back on the burner to heat dry it.
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Old 01-24-2010, 08:08 PM   #9
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She wasn't actually sick, but it clearly grossed her out. I'd always understood germs like the same temperatures we do. Any heat that will cooking something in a skillet is pretty hot, so I never worried. Also, they say the constant use of those little hand sanitizers also kills the good germs, the ones that build up our immunities. I use antibacterial when handling raw pork or poultry, and after using the Porta-Crappers people in my line of work use.
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Old 01-24-2010, 08:17 PM   #10
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She's definitely too prissy to be a guest at MY house.

I had a guest once, back when I was doing a lot of canning, who wouldn't eat or let her children eat anything she thought I had canned. She was the wife of my ex's cousin, or she wouldn't have been there in the first place.
Cousin ate everything he could get his hands on, and went back for seconds.
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