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Tips to Make Your Cast Iron Skillet Last Forever

cast iron skillet with basil, napkin, garlic, and wooden spoon

Cast iron skillets are perhaps the most versatile of kitchen tools. They can be used for frying, searing, broiling, and even baking. With the ability to develop flavor over time and make food better and better the longer they’re in use, they can also make great keepsakes if well-maintained. However, with all that utility and versatility comes a little bit of upkeep. Read on to learn how to take care of a cast iron skillet so it lasts for generations to come!  

Tip #1: Clean Your Cast Iron Skillet Regularly

It goes without saying that cast iron skillets shouldn’t be put in your dishwasher, but there are specific ways that you can wash them effectively without ruining them.  Most cooking sources recommend never using dish soap on cast iron. However, if you have something baked into your pan that only soap can tackle, use just a small amount, as you may strip the seasoning from your skillet.  

How to Clean Your Cast Iron Skillet with Hot Water and Salt 

If you need some form of solvent to remove food or detritus, coarse salt and water can get rid of leftover food on your skillet. Here’s what to do:  

Step 1: Cover the surface of your skillet with kosher salt. 

Step 2: Add hot water. 

Step 3: Scrub the salt around the skillet with a sponge. 

Step 4: Rinse the pan with hot water to remove the salt. 

Step 5: Thoroughly dry the skillet with a towel or on the stove over low heat.  

How to Clean Your Cast Iron Skillet with Baking Soda 

Baking soda is a lifesaver when dealing with a cast-iron pan coated with enamel. Here’s how to use it: 

Step 1: Fill the pan with enough water to fully submerge the burnt or affected parts.  

Step 2: Turn the stove burner on high and wait for the water to boil.  

Step 3: Add two tablespoons of baking soda to the boiling water and gently stir the mixture with a wooden spoon.  

Step 4: Allow the solution to simmer for a few minutes before turning off the burner and pouring out the water. Immediately proceed to scrub the bottom and sides of the pan with a sponge. Repeat this entire process as needed until your pan is completely clean. 

Step 5: Dry the skillet with a towel or on the stove over low heat. 

Whichever method you use, once your skillet is dry, rubbing ½ teaspoon (or more, depending on the size of your cast iron pans) of oil into the pan with a paper towel will preserve your seasoning layer. Speaking of seasoning, let’s get more into that below!  

Read More: Baking soda should be a staple in every pantry. Here are six unique ways to use baking soda 

Tip #2: Season Your Cast Iron Skillet 

Cast iron skillets become more valuable as they age, maintaining years of flavor if you treat them properly. “Seasoning” your skillet refers to the process of baking oil into your skillet to create a protective coating between the cast iron and your food.  

How to Season Your Cast Iron Skillet 

Wash your pan before you begin seasoning. Once it’s dry, rub your preferred cooking oil (vegetable, canola, or corn) all over the pan, including the handle and the bottom. Double-check that you don’t have puddles of oil resting anywhere on the surface, and then pop your skillet in the oven for one hour to bake the oil into the skillet.  

Most experts seem to find that a temperature around 450 degrees Fahrenheit works best. If you have a kitchen that gets smoky easily, appropriately ventilate before beginning the seasoning process in the oven.  

Completing the process of seasoning (rubbing oil into the skillet and baking it off) three to four more times a year will keep your skillet at its optimal use for a long time.

Tip #3: Store Your Cast Iron Skillet Properly 

As with any item you plan on keeping for a while, storage will prolong your cast iron skillet’s life and help you make delicious food. Store your skillet in a warm, dry location to prevent rust. If you plan to stack other pans into or on top of it, lay a paper towel down between your skillet and other items to protect its seasoning layer.  

Bonus: Cast Iron Skillet Recipe 

Now that you know how to care for your skillet, you’re ready to put it to use. Check out this jalapeño popper bread dip recipe! 

Make Your Cast Iron Skillet Last Forever! 

Taking the right steps and knowing how to care for your cast iron skillet will reward you with many years of fantastic meals. From washing it regularly to seasoning and storing it properly, following these three vital tips will help you continue bringing home-cooked meals to the table!