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Old 08-16-2011, 05:07 AM   #1
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Cast iron cleaning safety?

All the sources I've read say to just wipe a pan out and dry it. Won't this leave a danger of food poisoning the next time you cook?

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Old 08-16-2011, 06:02 AM   #2
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the cooking process seems to take care of that. I use hot water and a stiff brush (no soap) if the pan is cruddy, but that is rare.
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Old 08-16-2011, 06:31 AM   #3
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You bring up an interesting point, dan.
I have always wondered why it is that we say a wipe is all that is necessary to "clean" CI, but everything else we wash. A glass casserole dish probably has less porosity than CI, but we would never think of simply wiping it out and putting it away.
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Old 08-16-2011, 06:40 AM   #4
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A glass casserole dish normally doesn't reach even one third the working temperature that a C.I. skillet does, which it far above the survival level for any bacteria! They are two different "utensils" used in two different environments.
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Old 08-16-2011, 07:09 AM   #5
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All the sources I've read say to just wipe a pan out and dry it. Won't this leave a danger of food poisoning the next time you cook?
If your pan is already well-seasoned it's perfectly fine to use dish soap and hot water. Make sure you dry it completely.

I never ever just wipe it. There's too much gunk in it.

I use hot water and a scrungie or hot water, soap and a scrungie.
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Old 08-16-2011, 07:14 AM   #6
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A glass casserole dish normally doesn't reach even one third the working temperature that a C.I. skillet does, which it far above the survival level for any bacteria! They are two different "utensils" used in two different environments.
That was just one example, but it really depends on what you are cooking with each one, doesn't it? Just because you are using a CI pan doesn't mean you are getting it screaming hot.
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Old 08-16-2011, 07:31 AM   #7
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I think if you did a google for 'cast iron cleaning' you would find fifty zillion answers, pretty evenly divided between 'you will suffer the fires of eternal damnation if ever a particle of soap touches your cast iron' and 'meh--wash it, scrub it, whatever, just make it sure it is dry and has a very slight film of oil on it before you put it away'.

I use soap on mine, and a nylon scrubby if necessary. After washing, I put them on the burner until they are hot, and put a teeny bit of oil in the pan, which I spread around with a paper towel.

I think safety is really not an issue--the pan should be hot before you put food in it, generally, and bacteria won't survive. Onion and garlic flavors, however, do survive if you don't scrub the pan. Nothing like a pineapple upside down cake cooked in garlicky cast iron. Ask me how I know!
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Old 08-16-2011, 07:39 AM   #8
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I agree with jennyema and sparrowgrass. If you are more comfortable washing your CI pan, by all means, do.
Be sure and dry it well, I use heat to dry mine and a light wipe of oil to keep the rust at bay if I am not going to be home to use the pan for a day or so.
I have some pans that have seen nearly daily use for a century or more. I believe it would take much more than a single washing with soap to remove the seasoning from those pans.
Remember, there isn't much you can do to really damage your cast iron pans short of cracking them or taking a torch to it.
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Old 08-16-2011, 07:52 AM   #9
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I think if you did a google for 'cast iron cleaning' you would find fifty zillion answers, pretty evenly divided between 'you will suffer the fires of eternal damnation if ever a particle of soap touches your cast iron' and 'meh--wash it, scrub it, whatever, just make it sure it is dry and has a very slight film of oil on it before you put it away'.

I use soap on mine, and a nylon scrubby if necessary. After washing, I put them on the burner until they are hot, and put a teeny bit of oil in the pan, which I spread around with a paper towel.

I think safety is really not an issue--the pan should be hot before you put food in it, generally, and bacteria won't survive. Onion and garlic flavors, however, do survive if you don't scrub the pan. Nothing like a pineapple upside down cake cooked in garlicky cast iron. Ask me how I know!

Exactly!!
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Old 08-16-2011, 07:54 AM   #10
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For a cooking utensil that has changed so little in over 100 years, I would think that if there were a big problem with bacteria, we would have heard about it. There are many food safety recommendations now that our grandmothers would scoff at! So I think you can be pretty comfortable with the CI pan since that hasn't changed in over 100 years.

I do use a bit of soap on my pans along with using the yellow sponge with green scrubber side to get off the stuck gunk. Never had a problem.
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Old 08-16-2011, 07:54 AM   #11
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My mom would put hers in the dishwasher ocassionally. No worse for it.

Note that I am talking about well seasoned pans.
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Old 08-16-2011, 08:44 AM   #12
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Jennyema and Sparrowgrass are right on. You work to get a great seasoning on a pan, enjoy it. The seasoning is a protective coating that's hard to damage.

I clean my CI with a soapy scrubber sponge (safe for non-stick) and rinse. Then I heat it empty to dry it.
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Old 08-16-2011, 08:44 AM   #13
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I think if you did a google for 'cast iron cleaning' you would find fifty zillion answers, pretty evenly divided between 'you will suffer the fires of eternal damnation if ever a particle of soap touches your cast iron' and 'meh--wash it, scrub it, whatever, just make it sure it is dry and has a very slight film of oil on it before you put it away'.

I use soap on mine, and a nylon scrubby if necessary. After washing, I put them on the burner until they are hot, and put a teeny bit of oil in the pan, which I spread around with a paper towel.

I think safety is really not an issue--the pan should be hot before you put food in it, generally, and bacteria won't survive. Onion and garlic flavors, however, do survive if you don't scrub the pan. Nothing like a pineapple upside down cake cooked in garlicky cast iron. Ask me how I know!
I would go for this method Living in SA we use cast iron pots all the time and that's what we do to clean them
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Old 08-16-2011, 08:57 AM   #14
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I usually use a little soap as well, dry, then spray with oil before putting away.
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Old 08-16-2011, 09:22 AM   #15
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P.S If you don't use it for a while just remember to clean out the oil layer, it can go rancid.
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Old 08-16-2011, 09:26 AM   #16
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Mine doesn't ever go that long. I use it at least every other day. Heating it to soften any grease, and then wiping it clean with a paper towel serves for most maintenance. Washing with very hot water and a plastic scrub brush works for most other cleaning.
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Old 08-16-2011, 09:41 AM   #17
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Mine doesn't ever go that long. I use it at least every other day. Heating it to soften any grease, and then wiping it clean with a paper towel serves for most maintenance. Washing with very hot water and a plastic scrub brush works for most other cleaning.
I use mine often too. We have a potjie pot that gets used on the grill, that doesn't get used as often though and we ended up with a whole pot full of food that had to get thrown out because we didn't check first
I do the sniff test now since we have lots of cast iron pots and I forget which ones were used last!
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Old 08-16-2011, 10:31 AM   #18
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Not only if you Google you'd find a lot of sugetions. If you search here, you'll too will find quite few threads about that very subject.
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Old 08-16-2011, 10:34 AM   #19
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I use my CI almost daily. It rarely needs anything more than washing with hot water, and a little soap to remove excess grease or oil. Once in a blue moon I will need to scrub it. Then I use a stiff nylon brush, again with a little soap, mainly to keep the brush from getting gunky. I have even been known to use a stainless steel scrubby when I'd used up a plastic brush, without harming the patina. Just don't do that often as it will eventually remove all of your patina and you will have to re-season your pan. After years of use, like the others here, my CI pans are virtually as stick-free as the best non-stick pans.

Tip, if you use your CI to cook highly spiced, or herb flavored foods, or in use it in a smokey environment, you will need to scrub with soap to bring the pan surface back to a neutral flavor, so as to not impart unwanted flavors in your recipes.

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Old 08-16-2011, 10:40 AM   #20
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Whatever you do, make sure it is dry when you done with it.
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