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Old 06-16-2013, 08:50 AM   #1
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How "clean" is your cast iron?

I recently got a few cast iron pans (two skillets and a grill pan) and love how they cook, but the whole cleaning situation I can't quite get because of the instructions to not use soap. I have a dedicated brush for scraping clean the cast iron, but no matter how clean it looks, when I dry it with paper towels, I always get brown residue on the paper towels. This is especially the case for the grill pan.

Is your cast iron as clean as your other cookware like non-stick pans and stainless steel pans? I just don't see how it's possible without scrubbing with soapy water... Especially when there isn't visible dirtiness on it, it's like that brown/food residue is cooked onto the cast iron. I suppose it shouldn't be an issue since I pre-heat my cast iron to very high temperatures whenever I use it for searing meats, but it's just a little disheartening to feel like my cookware isn't clean.

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Old 06-16-2013, 09:48 AM   #2
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There is a wonderful group page on Facebook called
Cast Iron Cooking that has LOTS of information about cooking with cast iron. Great people who are diehard CI users.
If you are not on Facebook I'm sure there are others websites where you can get answers.
I suspect your cast iron just isn't seasoned correctly. I don't know much about it but this facebook page will guide you.
As you said it is not recommended to wash your CI in soapy water but a good food scraper and hot water you should be able to get it pretty clean. I think the next step is to put your cleaned CI piece in the oven maybe 300 deg. for twenty minutes or until nice and hot. This will open up the pores and then you take a papertowel with some kind of cooking oil. There are many opinions out there on what is best but I have heard people say lard is the best. Wipe your cast iron thoroughly with this lard and then wipe out any excess with a clean paper towel till your cast iron has a shiny black sheen. Once you have used your CI a few times it will automatically be seasoned. Cooking bacon often in your CI also keeps your CI seasoned well so I've been told.
If I have mis-spoken anyone, please chime in and correct me
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Old 06-16-2013, 09:53 AM   #3
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I think you got it, Foodie.
She who dies with the most toys, wins.
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Old 06-16-2013, 10:27 AM   #4
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After using my CI, I rinse it out and sometimes use a soapy blue scrubber sponge to get out any stubborn bits. Then I rinse it out and put it on a burner turned up high. When it's all dry and starts smoking, I wipe in a few drops of oil with a folded paper towel and let it smoke for a few minutes. Then I wipe it again. Sometimes the paper towel has a little brown on it. That's just some of the smoking oil residue. I don't see that as a problem.

Properly seasoned CI is tougher than you think. That black surface on your CI is hard and durable. Don't worry.
"If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." -Carl Sagan
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Old 06-16-2013, 02:41 PM   #5
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Once it's seasoned dish soap and hot water can be used on it.
Less is not more. More is more and more is fabulous.
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Old 06-16-2013, 07:09 PM   #6
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Contrary to the instructions I use dishwashing detergent on mine all the time, no problem.
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Old 06-16-2013, 07:25 PM   #7
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Add water to the pan and bring to a hard boil, then scrub with a stiff brush. Oil and store. Don't use animal fat to store as it can turn rancid.
You can also use berlap to scrub & oil , instead of papper towels.
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Old 06-16-2013, 11:14 PM   #8
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I've washed my cast iron skillet with hot soapy water for over 55 years with no problem. However, I do not let it soak in that hot soapy water and dry it immediately over a flame on top of the stove. Cast iron like to fry bacon.
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Old 06-16-2013, 11:42 PM   #9
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If I wipe with a paper towel I still get a bit of brown coming up on mine. never thought much of it, figure it's some oil residue from the seasoning.
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