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Keep Cast Iron Pans In Good Condition Season Cast Iron Pan

Updated on November 15, 2013

Iron skillets can last a lifetime giving your family and your descendents cookware that never wears out if properly treated. First you must season your cast iron skillet. I is easy and only takes a few minutes.

Some stainless steel cookware salesmen will tell you their pans are better because they don’t leave a residue on your food. That residue they are talking about is iron, the same iron we have in our blood.

Iron cookware is a healthy choice especially for women who need more iron in our diet.

Cast iron skillets are not really hard to maintain once you know how to care for them. I personally think they are easier and they last forever if you don’t let them rust.

Here are the basic rules to season a cast iron skillet:


How to season an iron skillet

To season cast iron skillet it will need to be prepared. If your pan was owned by your mom, grandmother or other relative that knew the proper care procedures, you may not need to do this depending on where it was stored before you inherited it.

I've seen some that came out of a shed and looked pretty nasty. They can still be saved you'll just have to clean them up.

1) Clean with dish soap like you would any other new piece of cookware. This is the only time you will ever use soap on your pan. Do not air dry.

2) Dry with a paper towel and then grease with shortening, oil or lard inside and out. Animal fat works best but vegetable shortening or oil will do. You don’t want to use your dishtowel to dry your pan because of the dark residue that will stain your cloth. If you don’t want to use paper towel, use an old clean rag you don’t mind getting spots on.

3) Place on a baking pan with sides to catch the drippings and put in oven on low heat, about 250 degrees Fahrenheit for about fifteen minutes. You are only drying the moisture; the shine from the oil will still be there.

Let cool and then wipe excess grease from pan and store in cupboard

Cleaning your cast iron skillet

After you’ve used your cast iron skillet only use hot water and steel wool to clean it. Do not use soap, as this will remove seasoning. The steel wool will clean away any food debris giving a smooth surface. Put on stovetop burner on medium heat until thoroughly dry. No need to use a cloth, just put on the stove top wet and the fire will dry the pan. The heat from the stove will kill any germs so disinfectant detergents are not necessary.

Never put your iron skillet in the dishwasher.

The humidity and harsh detergents will cause your pan to rust.

Don’t air dry.

This will also cause your pan to rust. You want to dry it as quickly as possible. Drying with a towel won’t get all the water. Iron has tiny pockets you can’t see with the naked eye and moisture can sit in those areas causing rust which will eat away your pan.

Rust on iron skillet

If you or someone else has let moisture sit on your pan and rust has developed you can still remedy this problem. Take steel wool and clean under hot water scrubbing away any orange residue. If it’s just a small spot on the inside of the pan you can dry on the stovetop as usual then rub the inside down well with shortening or oil. You still may get a bit of rust on your paper towel as you condition with grease, this is okay; the shortening will protect it much like lotion protects your skin.

Occasional touch ups

If you cook meats that have fat like hamburger meat or sausage your pan will retain the seasoning but if you cook food that isn’t greasy you will occasionally need to give it a rub down with shortening to condition the metal.

If you live in a humid climate this will need to be done more frequently, inside and out. Moisture in the air will cause rust to develop. Look for signs of rust occasionally especially if you haven’t used your cookware for a while. Just sitting in a cupboard in a humid home can cause your cookware to tarnish. Iron loves to be cooked with so the more you use it the better it gets.


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    • Pamela N Red profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela N Red 

      6 years ago from Oklahoma

      Bedgugabscond, it's easy once you know the process. Glad you are having good luck. They are wonderful pans.

    • Bedbugabscond profile image

      Melody Trent 

      6 years ago from United States

      Hey, I re-seasoned my pans and have been cleaning them like you suggested. I am happy to report it works great! I don't know why I was over complicating my pans!

    • Pamela N Red profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela N Red 

      6 years ago from Oklahoma

      Glad to hear it, Joaniebaby. They last forever if you take care of them.

    • joaniebaby profile image


      6 years ago

      Guess what? I just used my old cast iron skillet and it worked fine! Thanks again for the Hub.

    • Pamela N Red profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela N Red 

      6 years ago from Oklahoma

      Joanie, gas or electric should work. The trick is making sure you have enough grease on the pan to soak in. If you don't cook meat or foods with oil you will need to wipe it down with more shortening after cleaning.

    • joaniebaby profile image


      6 years ago

      Thanks for the great Hub on cast iron skillets. I found an old small skillet and tried to "restore" it but have not been able to. My son uses cast iron all of the time and loves it. I have always found that food sticks in them. Must be something I am doing wrong. Will try once again to restore the one I have. Wish me luck. Does it make a difference if you have a gas or electric stove? :)

    • Pamela N Red profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela N Red 

      6 years ago from Oklahoma

      Bedbugascond, Teflon is really bad. I am equally skeptical about the new coatings they have on pans today. I prefer either iron or stainless steel.

      Soap clean away the oils that protect your pan so just re-season and they will be fine.

    • Bedbugabscond profile image

      Melody Trent 

      6 years ago from United States

      I switched to cast iron after reading a few horrific research studies on Teflon. I am sad to say, I have not been caring for them correctly. Until I read this I had no idea I was not supposed to use soap! I won't be using it anymore, steel wool and hot water for me!

    • Pamela N Red profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela N Red 

      6 years ago from Oklahoma

      Alocsin, drying them on a stove top is the best way.

    • alocsin profile image

      Aurelio Locsin 

      6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      We own one of these and I didn't know you needed to maintain the pan in this manner. Will try this out -- don't want it to start getting rusty. Voting this Useful.

    • Jeff Gamble profile image

      Jeff Gamble 

      6 years ago from Denton, Texas

      This is a great hub! I have an old cast iron pan that I use only for making my grandmother's pork stuffing at Christmas - I've heard a bunch of different cleaning tips and have only used steel wool and hot water in the past - Getting a new pan soon and this will come in handy for the seasoning!

    • Pamela N Red profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela N Red 

      6 years ago from Oklahoma

      KJ, if they get hot enough it kills the germs. We used to use cast iron all the time when we went camping. Any other cookware would melt on an open fire.

      JamaGenee, they are great and never wear out.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 

      6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      My mother's cast iron skillet got washed right along with the rest of the dishes, and I never once saw her season it. Yet it was in great shape when she died, after which I inherited it, used it for years, and "cared" for it the same way she did. Same as my aunts "cared" for their cast iron cookware.

      Alas, I was gifted with a set of new cookware and - silly me - got rid of it AND a cast iron Dutch oven with lid, both of which I'd dearly love to have now.

      Great hub! Voted up, useful and awesome! ;D

    • kj force profile image


      6 years ago from Florida

      Awesome and informative hub as never cease to amaze me.I too grew up with " cast iron skillet syndrome"

      introduced to me by my Dad, who was a hunter/camper and used totally for camp-fire cooking. What other fry pan could you get a steak to sizzle as on a grill? crispy on the outside and tender inside( I don't eat meat,but everyone else does)I always just scrape down with metal spatula and wipe with paper towels. I have never even used water..per my Dad. My set is over 90 years old and I cherish them.Thanks for intoducing them to the world again ....

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      6 years ago

      This is good information to know -- I have been doing it all wrong! Have to start doing this right. Thanks for posting this hub topic.

    • kkflowers profile image


      6 years ago

      Thanks for some new tips! I absolutely LOVE my cast iron skillet. It is my quintessential kitchen tool and cooks food with such great flavor.

    • Curiad profile image

      Mark G Weller 

      6 years ago from Lake Charles, LA.

      These are great tips Pamela! Thank you.

      Voted Up!

    • The Frog Prince profile image

      The Frog Prince 

      6 years ago from Arlington, TX

      Nice kitchen work. Mine are seasoned and used frequently.

      The Frog

    • Pamela N Red profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela N Red 

      6 years ago from Oklahoma

      You don't need to use soap on a cast iron skillet and if you do it will wash away the seasoning and you'll have to do this process all over again.

      You also don't need to dry them with a towel, just put them on the stove top with the burner on about medium. It only takes a couple minutes so I usually just stay in the kitchen until they are dry. If you leave them too long the seasoning will burn off.

      I have about four iron skillets. Two round ones, one deep, one shallow, a large square one and a flat one with no sides. I believe they call that one a pancake griddle.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

      6 years ago from United Kingdom

      I remember my mother doing this to her pans and skillets. And they did last for ages.

      Good hub especially for young cooks. I'll be sending this link to my daughter who is in the process of moving to her own place.

      Voted up and useful.

    • ytsenoh profile image


      6 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

      Good hub for young beginner cooks and people who aren't aware of what goes into caring for cast iron cookware. I've been told both ways as far as using soap on cast iron, that you should or you shouldn't. Keeping the cast ironed oiled is definitely great advice. Thanks much.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 

      6 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      I actually knew all of this, I cook with cast iron all the time, but seeing this hub inspired me to bring in an old dutch oven that has been left out in the garage and clean and oil it up. Thanks for the reminder.

      Up and useful.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      We have a couple of cast iron pans and my husband seasoned them exactly as you described, as he learned how when he was growing up. One of them didn't look good and it the seasoning totally restored the pan. Up and useful.

    • Marsei profile image

      Sue Pratt 

      6 years ago from New Orleans

      I enjoyed this hub. I don't cook but my husband uses several cast iron skillets of different sizes. I read him your article and he says he cured them exactly the way you recommended.

      HOWEVER, because he doesn't like to use towels on them, he puts them on a burner on top the range to dry. He then walks off and forgets all about them, they start to smoke, and we have smoke throughout the house for hours. I have asked him to set a timer when he starts drying one in the future. We'll see how that works.

      Very nice hub. Voted up.


    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      6 years ago from southern USA

      I do love my cast iron skillet. What else would one use in which to make the best cornbread? Very informative hub here. Thanks for writing it, as it is very important to care for the cast iron skillets properly, so we can have them our whole lifetime. In His Love, Faith Reaper

    • Jenna Pope profile image

      Jenna Pope 

      6 years ago from Southern California

      Wow, I never knew any of this!Thanks for the great information! Voted up.

    • onegreenparachute profile image


      6 years ago from Greenwood, B.C., Canada

      Well shoot! Is that what happened to my skillet?? Dang and I threw it away too. Thanks Pamela - if I happen to find another one I'll now know what to do! Voted up!

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Pamela, I love these cast iron skillet and have three of them, and have seasoned them just like you said to in this hub. But about three years ago i had a girlfriend over and after we ate she offered to do the dishes while i took out my dog, when i came back in she had scrubbed all the seasoning of my skillet because she thought the skillet was just dirty. So i show her how to season it so she could do her cast iron skillet the right way .

      Vote up and more !!! SHARING

      Have a great week my friend !


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