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Old 07-14-2005, 11:12 AM   #11
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VEDDY INTERESTING Goodweed.

I haven't used ammonia in many years but it's good to know in case I really gunk my pans up.
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Old 07-14-2005, 11:20 AM   #12
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Ammonia to clean grill grates

The ammonia trick is really good for grill grates and such. With mask and gloves on you place a thick layer of paper towels saturated with ammonia in a big black trash bag then place the grates on top - place another thick layer of ammonia saturated paper towels on top. Let sit overnight. Next day (with mask and gloves on again) you cut open the trash bag and use the paper towels to wipe off the "gunk".

What also works to remove baked on stuff on stovetops (under burners and on burners) is an oven cleaner that has a cold oven method option. I let mine work for more than 24 hours and it worked beautifully!!!!! I also did this on the iinside of my smoker and the grills (I was out of ammonia so I tried this).

Ammonia is also good to add to your dishwater when washing glasses - they come out sparkling clean. Be sure and wear gloves!!
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Old 08-07-2005, 12:16 PM   #13
 
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I seasoned a cast iron Dutch oven by coating it with veggie shortening and tossing it in a campfire -- covered with coals, most of the night. Dug it out in the morning, scrubbed it with a stainless steel pad, applied cooking oil. Its' gorgeous.

The "black" in a cast iron pan is FeO3. Rust (orange/brown) is FeO2. What turns orange/brown FeO2 rust into black is hot water. You can cook in the pan or boil it. The orange rust will turn black. FeO2 --> FeO3.

Oil "sets" the FeO3, it's an oxide coating and oil stabilizes it. So, cooking oil and heat . . . good.

Soap and water will remove grease. The oil that sets the oxide in the cast-iron will be removed. Then you expose the surface to rusting -- and you get FeO2, the orange stuff.

Ammonia REMOVES FeO3, along with the grease. We often clean corrosive priming out of gun barrels with ammonia. The ammonia neutralizes the corrosive primer, a mercury compound, but in non diluted strength, it will remove gun blue -- which is a ferrous oxide process (rust).

Alton Brown, on "Good Eats" suggests heating kosher salt in a cast iron skillet, letting it cool and scrubbing the salt with a paper towel -- chemistry and mechanics. The salt removes the water and provides an abrasive for scrubbing the particles out of the pan.

The nice thing about cast iron is that you can burn food particles into carbon and then apply oil. Carbon and oil complement the FeO3 black surface in the pan. Don't ask me about then chemical bond between the carbon and the FeO3. I'm sure there is one, but my chemistry doesn't go that far.

You don't need to clean a rusted cast iron pan in water and lye. It's dangerous, toxic, and a lot of work. Easier to just wash the pan in soap/water, scrub with steel wool to remove the flaking rust (FeO2), oil and heat to a high temp.

I like to season cast iron outside where I can heat the pan way beyond the smoke point of the oil, create a cloud of smoke . . . and not set off the smoke alarms. A gas grill, charcoal grill, or campfire work well for this.
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Old 08-07-2005, 04:56 PM   #14
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Daphe; Good stuff! I always though that the black came from cabon deposits on the iron. Also, when you first get a Lodge brand cast iron pan, the cooking surface is very rough. AFter seasoning, and cooking in it for a bout a year, it becomes smooth, like my old Wagner pans. I again thought that this was caused by carbon deposition in the pits. Am I wrong in this supposition? Is it mearly that the scraping action wears down the peaks?

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Old 08-08-2005, 12:44 PM   #15
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Coating ferrous metals (iron, steel) with oil is the industry-wide accepted method to prevent the oxidation of the metal. The oil prevents the oxygen in air from reacing the iron - it's just that simple.
If cast iron is not so oiled, it will rust even if simply sitting around. Heating raw cast iron simply accellerates that process. As does moisture.

It is not necessary to heat the cast iron to an extreme temperature, thus literally burning the oil. Burning the oil destroys its film-forming capacity, resulting in rusting of the iron.

Raw cast iron is a silvery gray color. Coating it with oil - even without heat - causes light to be reflected differently, resulting in the black color.

Cast iron consists of crystals of iron, between which are empty spaces or "pores". Heating causes metals to expand, and in the case of cast iron, that results in larger "pores" which can more easily be filled with oil (or any fat).
When cooking, the heat causes the oil to expand and form a thin film over the surface, thereby having the same effect as adding oil to any dry cooking surface: non-stick.

This is basically a purely physical (mechanical) action - little or no chemistry is involved.

By the way, there are 3 oxides of iron: ferrous oxide: FeO; ferric oxide: Fe2O3; and feeeous-ferric oxide: Fe3O4.
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Old 08-11-2005, 07:36 PM   #16
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Okay - I would really need to get my hands on a CRC Chemistry Handbook to address all of the things I've been reading ... but, here's the 25-cent tour of what is going on when you season cast iron or carbon steel.

The oil penetrates into the pores and fissures of the metal ... sealing them against air and water. The heat causes the fatty acid chains to oxidize and bond together (polymerize) and form a dense, hard, dry layer (polymer). If the oil is applied too thick, heated too low, or for too short of a time the polymer layer may be soft and slightly tacky to the touch ... but it will harden up with use. Over time, and as more oil and heat is used, the fresh oil will continue to polymerize and bond to the initial "seasoning" layer until it forms a hard, slick, flat surface.

This is basically what goes on in the cylinder walls of a cumbustion engine in a car during the "breaking in" period.

As far as the black color being from carbonization of the metal ... I really doubt it. I feel safely sure that cooking will not subject a base element to a high enough temperature to turn it into another base element ... iron into carbon .... Fe --> C. I have run seasoned cast iron thru a "self cleaning" cycle in my oven to remove the old seasoning so I could do it over and it came out gray, not black. I have also done this with anodyzed aluminum and had the same results ... the metal wasn't noticeably darker than it was originally.

Just one more thought to throw into the discussion ...
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Old 08-11-2005, 08:33 PM   #17
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This button I have for a head can barely follow some of the things I am reading here but I will throw a tip in. I have a 78 year old CI skillet that I bought many years ago at a yard sale. I never use soap in it, I just deglaze, hit it with a light scrubby pad and re-oilo it. I keep it in the oven and whenever I pre-heat...I leave it there. You can literally fry an egg without oil in it.
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Old 08-12-2005, 07:17 PM   #18
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Michael in FTW; If it was I you were referring to when it carbon was mentioned, I did not mean to infer that the metal changed into something else. What I meant was that the fat, which if memory serves me correct, is reduced to a carbon layer as the other matter in it oxidises and either burns away, or vaporizes. And I agree with everything you said, as usual. I too have noticed rough surfaces become noticeably smoother with use. And my eggs, like BubbaGourmet's, slide around quite nicely in my cast iron pans. The only time anything sticks anymore, is if it is sugar based, which may be because the carbon in the sugar molecule bonds to the pan's carbon layer. But that's just a guess. And even then, a bit of hot water removes it easily.

In any case, the physics behind the result is interesting, but not really necessary to us. We only need to know that a properly seasoned cast-iron pan is a truly wonderful cooking utensil when used correctly.

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Old 08-12-2005, 07:41 PM   #19
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Naw Goodweed - my comment wasn't directed towards you or anyone in particular ... just a comment on a compilation of comments in general. I could NEVER compete with the guru of cast iron!

As for the sugar sticking problem - I totally agree - it's probably because of the carbon atoms in the sugar attempting to chemically bond to the oil polymer molecules. Kind of like why you can't whip egg whites in a plastic bowl - because the molecular structure of plastic is so akin to oil that the poor egg whites can't tell the difference.
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Old 08-12-2005, 10:26 PM   #20
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OK, question for all you CI guys. My husband put my frying pan in the dishwasher. It looks ok, but I am not sure if I need to do anything to it.

I should mention here, this is a serious piece of CI. It was my great grammas, and then my Mom's for a zillion years and I have only had it since Christmas.

Do I need to reseason it?
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