How to Season and Maintain a Cast Iron Skillet

3 Materials
5 Minutes

We got these lovely second hand cast iron skillets and I was totally at a lost as to what to do for cast iron skillet care. I wasn’t sure how to clean it, and -- seasoning cast iron?? I had no idea what that even meant. A good friend came to the rescue and showed me how easy it can be to show some love to my cast iron pan. Now we use it all the time and it’s the best way to make eggs, mac & cheese, cornbread and about a billion other things. You should season your cast iron when you first get it, after every use, and if you haven’t used your pan in a long time. All you need to season your pan is cooking oil...

Here’s a dirty pan after I made cornbread in it.
how to season and maintain a cast iron skillet
Step 1: Rinse the Pan
how to season and maintain a cast iron skillet
I ran some water over my skillet. With many things just water will be enough to get everything off, but I made cornbread, which is a little sticky. I used a scrub brush to brush off the sticky parts -- they come off so easily, because a properly seasoned pan is basically non stick.
how to season and maintain a cast iron skillet
With any cast iron, it’s important not to use soap unless you absolutely need to. The pan heats up to enough during seasoning that you don’t need soap to sanitize it. Step 2: Heat up the Pan
how to season and maintain a cast iron skillet
The first part of seasoning a cast iron pan is to let it heat up. This is not only for cleanliness reasons, but because the hot iron will absorb the oil better. Step 3: Add Oil
how to season and maintain a cast iron skillet
The second part of seasoning a cast iron pan adding oil. I poured a bit of cooking oil on the pan. Step 4: Spread Oil with Cloth
how to season and maintain a cast iron skillet
I used a clean cloth to push it around (a paper towel works just as well). Make sure to coat the sides as well. Give it a minute til you see the oil absorbed into the pan.
how to season and maintain a cast iron skillet
And now your pan is seasoned! Look at that beautiful shine.

Suggested materials:

  • Cooking oil
  • Heat
  • Cloth

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Have a question about this project?

3 of 5 questions
  • Mary Ann Kay
    on Jul 17, 2016

    My pan now has some rust! Help#

  • Terry G
    on Jul 18, 2016

    This is a question for those who use self-cleaning ovens to clean their cast iron pans. My oven says to remove the shelves when cleaning. Do you leave a shelf in when cleaning your cast iron or what do you do?

    • 27524803
      on Nov 12, 2017

      Using a self-cleaning oven is the easiest way to clean cast iron that has a built up residue of baked on caked on stuff (usually pans that you find a swap meets or thrift stores or stored in the somebody's basement) The old fashioned way to do this is to set it on top of the logs in a fireplace when you have a fire going... the high heat makes the cast iron expand and the baked on caked on stuff literally pops off. The self cleaning cycle does this too. due to the higher heat needed to clean the oven....
      by the way... most oven manufacturers recommend removing the oven racks during the cleaning cycle (they recommend removing the bottom drawer too) .. and they say that leaving the racks in the oven during the cleaning cycle can cause them to "dis-color".
      It is not practical to use the oven's self cleaning cycle just to clean the cast iron after a meal.. a stiff brush and very hot tap water will get this done quite well.
      The pans will need to be re-seasoned after a full cleaning and I have found that Crisco shortening works better for me than oil... which for me... leaves the pan with a sticky feel. has some really good information on cleaning and re-seasoning cast iron.

      I cook with my cast iron on my glass top stove.. I am just careful not to scoot or slide the pans around and am really careful not to drop it.

  • Michelle Collins
    on Jul 19, 2016

    Our new glass stovetop instructions say not to use cast iron on it. Anybody have any experience with this? I sure do miss my cast iron.

    • William Kreeger
      on Mar 29, 2017

      I have many cast iron pans which I use regularly. My white glass top does get discolored from using the cast iron but cleaning is relatively easy. After your stove has cooled, simply moisten it with a little water, sprinkle some baking powder on it, let it set for a minute or two then simply rub the baking soda on the darkened areas using a little elbow grease and they will be clean again.

Join the conversation

2 of 65 comments
  • Marla Bales
    on Sep 3, 2016

    I just spray Pam in mine and wipe it out.

  • 1ir9927391
    on May 20, 2017

    I bought an old rusty pan. Cleaned it with a wire spinning brush in my drill used steel wool too. Got all the rust off and then spread a layer of "Lard" yes lard they still sell it on both sides. Turned it upside down in my oven. Turned it on self cleaning. The pan came out with a patina and a shine that made it look brand new. I love this pan. Nothing ever sticks to it. I season it with peanut oil after each use.. I think it will outlast me,

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