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Old 05-27-2013, 03:58 AM   #1
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Cast Iron Pan - Is it wrecked?

So my flatmate was cooking steak (I don't know how she did it) but she turned it on high and probably left it on high for ages. The steak was burnt on both sides...

Anyway now the cast iron pan has this black stuff coming off it. It seems like the actual coating is coming off. (It's been washed many times and black stuff keeps coming off).
Can that happen?
I thought the coating was supposed to be able to with stand really high temperatures?
Can we still use it?

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Old 05-27-2013, 04:45 AM   #2
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Welcome to DC. A really fun place to find an answer.

Now for your problem. If your pan has been used for years, it has built up a crust from dripping grease and other foods as you pour them over the side of the pan. This black "stuff" is just the grease falling off.

If you would like to get more of it off, and you have a charcoal grill, I would suggest that when you finish grilling and there is still some heat and fire left in the grill, place the pan directly on the hot coals and place the cover on. More of that burnt on grease will soften and you can then scrape it off.

No, your pan is not ruined. And you can continue to use it. Just scrape the outside with a screwdriver or other tool with a sharp flat edge until no more black flakes come off easily.

So did she share any of the steak with you?
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Old 05-27-2013, 05:58 AM   #3
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Thanks for the welcome

I hope it's not broken, there has been a bit of drama at the flat. The owner of the cast iron pan is demanding that the person that wrecked it pay her back. But she keeps saying she doesn't the money to buy another one.

Would it work on an element stove - maybe after cooking, just put the cast iron pan on the stove and maybe leave it there til it's hot, and then scrape it off with a screwdriver?

Wouldn't that ruin it though, using a screwdriver to scrape it off? Like would it not get scratches?
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Old 05-27-2013, 06:23 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Cogswell View Post
Thanks for the welcome

I hope it's not broken, there has been a bit of drama at the flat. The owner of the cast iron pan is demanding that the person that wrecked it pay her back. But she keeps saying she doesn't the money to buy another one.

Would it work on an element stove - maybe after cooking, just put the cast iron pan on the stove and maybe leave it there til it's hot, and then scrape it off with a screwdriver?

Wouldn't that ruin it though, using a screwdriver to scrape it off? Like would it not get scratches?
Are we talking about a black cast iron pan? If so, you can heat it up on an element, but not leave it there too long. You don't want the black grease to catch on fire. Try to find a wide blade like one for plaster or other tool that has a sharp edge. You don't want to dig into the grease, just scrape it off until there are no more flakes coming off. There is no need to get it all off. And don't forget that the handle will get hot also. Fill the sink with tepid water incase there are any flames on the grease. just drop the whole pan in. Do not use cold. As long as there is no flames, just let the pan cool down on its own.

If you choose to use this method inside, open the windows and use caution. I have never done it inside. Always on a charcoal grill.

If these flakes are on the outside, I would personally just leave the pan alone. Eventually the flakes will stop falling off. New grease will fall over the sides and bake the flakes back on.

My mother had her mother's CI pan that had two generations of baked on grease. It is one of the reasons CI hold the heat. All the black baked on grease on the outside. It gives the pan character.
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Old 05-27-2013, 07:58 AM   #5
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CAST IRON you can't ruin. Just clean it up with a little sandpaper to get the flaky parts off and re season it.

I picked up pieces at garage sales and they are nasty.
I take sand paper or a wire brush bit on a drill and clean them all getting all the bits and pieces off, then give it a good washing. I heat up my gas grill real hot , then re season it. Just like new. and I have saved a ton of money.
I do outside seasoning so I don't set my smoke detectors off.

I just pickup a 2 qt dutch oven w/ lid for $2.50 a garage sale this weekend. It wasn't to nasty just grimy and dusty. Took about an hour to get it cleaned up - just have to season now.
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Old 05-27-2013, 07:58 AM   #6
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Oh sorry I forgot it's not a flat cast iron pan, it's got a ribbed surface, which I guess makes things harder. I didn't realise there were so many varieties of cast iron pans.

I think our flatmate has hidden it away (which is fair enough to be honest), I can't find it in the kitchen to take a photo of it.

But here's one that's pretty similar to the one she has:
Briscoes - Cast Iron Pan, Red

The colours on her one is different though, instead of Red and White, it's Black in the middle and cream coloured around the outer edges. Maybe the enamel has worn off?
The flakes are in the middle. You see how it's sort of shiny in the picture there? Well, with her one, it's still half shiny on the sides (of the inside) but in the middle (middle middle where the steak sits) the shine has gone and it's just black. (Sorry my description may not be that great, I'll see if I can get a picture tomorrow or another day)


The black grease can catch on fire? Sounds dangerous...

But yea I'll let my flatmate know and we'll try that next time

My flatmate set off 2 smoke alarms in our flat trying to cook the steak and we had to take the batteries out for a while to stop the beeping
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Old 05-27-2013, 08:13 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by letscook View Post
CAST IRON you can't ruin. Just clean it up with a little sandpaper to get the flaky parts off and re season it.

I picked up pieces at garage sales and they are nasty.
I take sand paper or a wire brush bit on a drill and clean them all getting all the bits and pieces off, then give it a good washing. I heat up my gas grill real hot , then re season it. Just like new. and I have saved a ton of money.
I do outside seasoning so I don't set my smoke detectors off.

I just pickup a 2 qt dutch oven w/ lid for $2.50 a garage sale this weekend. It wasn't to nasty just grimy and dusty. Took about an hour to get it cleaned up - just have to season now.
Lol, you make it sound like they're indestructible!
Are they really that tough?

I'm really not good with this sort of stuff lol, I only started flatting this year and we're all learning to cook things and stuff.

Is it bad to put it in cold water when it's hot? Like right after cooking the steak, would it be alright to put cold water in it, or would it harden it and maybe turn it to steel (if I do it lots of times)?
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Old 05-27-2013, 08:45 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Cogswell View Post
Lol, you make it sound like they're indestructible!
Are they really that tough?

I'm really not good with this sort of stuff lol, I only started flatting this year and we're all learning to cook things and stuff.

Is it bad to put it in cold water when it's hot? Like right after cooking the steak, would it be alright to put cold water in it, or would it harden it and maybe turn it to steel (if I do it lots of times)?
Plain cast iron really is practically indestructible. Your flat mate's pan is an enameled cast iron grill pan, from the look of it and your description. I think it actually might be ruined, if the enamel has come off in the middle. It would really help to have a photo of the pan.

Never put cold water in a hot pan, or a hot pan in cold water. It can cause thermal shock and crack the pan. You cannot turn iron into steel or anything else.
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Old 05-27-2013, 09:09 AM   #9
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You have an enameled cast iron pan if your's is like the one in the photo. No scraping with steel tools!

That's a ceramic coating over the cast iron. Unless large pieces of the enamel coating broke off (not likely) the black stuff is meat drippings burned onto the surface. You should be able to determine that by running fingernail over the black spots. they will either be raised or be a depression lower than the white surface.

Put the pan in a trash bag with a bowl of plain ammonia and close the bag. Do this outdoors and leave it for 24 hours. then bring it in and clean it with a scouring pad. Repeat if necessary.
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Old 05-27-2013, 09:10 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by GotGarlic View Post
Plain cast iron really is practically indestructible. Your flat mate's pan is an enameled cast iron grill pan, from the look of it and your description. I think it actually might be ruined, if the enamel has come off in the middle. It would really help to have a photo of the pan.

Never put cold water in a hot pan, or a hot pan in cold water. It can cause thermal shock and crack the pan. You cannot turn iron into steel or anything else.
If you must put cold water into a hot pan, then make it tepid or room temperature water. Like GG said, never put it in cold water right off the stove.
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