**Comments and warnings against using the hot fire method of cleaning cast iron:**
Duke Gilleland, (1/13/06) of the Wagner and Griswold Society:
Cleaning iron by extreme fire can also permanently discolor your iron, giving it a
light orange spotted tint. I have an old Lodge skillet that has this tint and it seems that the inside surface iron is "broken down,"
giving it a scaling look. For just 1 or 2 pieces, take and spray entirely with Easy Off, put in a black trash sack, sealed and
set in direct sunlight. The hot sun will make the cleaner work better. Cleaning with fire would be my VERY LAST option.
Greg Stahl, (3/14/04) of the Wagner and Griswold Society:
I would not recommend to clean iron skillets in the fire, as they will crack and warp easily. The preferred way to clean is with lye or
even better, electrolysis. We have several setups listed on Wagner and Griswold Society web site. I'm afraid that if someone tries the
fire method, they may be very unhappy once they crack or warp their skillet.
Marty Zielke (3/15/04) of the Wagner and Griswold Society:
Linda, I wholeheartedly agree with Greg about cleaning cast iron in a
fire. I would use 20 Brillo pads before I would use that method. Years ago, I had a friend stick one of her skillets in a fire, and
when she pulled it out of the coals the next morning, there was a crack across the entire bottom, and up one side. As Greg said, lye
or electrolysis are the preferred methods for cleaning.
Mike DuBois from Missouri (8/24/06)
At a library I recently found an out of print book about the lives and personal experiences of people who
lived in the Ozark Mountains. Many people came to the Ozarks during
the Great Depression because of cheap land prices. These people had
ZERO money and had to make due with what was available. They
literally used squirrel skins to make their shoelaces!
Their cast iron, even back then,
was from previous generations and they commonly cleaned them in the fall. While raking and burning piles of fallen leaves, they would
kill two birds with one stone by putting their cast iron into the leaf piles before burning them. This method generated less
heat over a shorter period of time, so their cookware did not warp or crack as they would in a full blown wood fire. They swore there
was no better way to clean cast iron. The cookware came out clean as new!
Pati from Oklahoma (12/28/05):
I was searching for ways to clean my cast iron pans and I'm so glad I found your site. For generations, my family has always tossed our
skillets into the fire to clean. We have wood cook stoves, or even when the men are burning brush piles, we place them along the edge on hot
coals. All the crude and build up comes completely off. After that we re-season them. I have used cast iron all my life and love it. I'm told
I have way too many pieces. But I have a favorite store and every time I go there, there is always a piece I don't have yet. Thank you so much
for all the information you have on your website. I look forward to coming back soon.
Carolyn of Dallas, TX (11/02/05):
I just found your website on cleaning and seasoning cast iron cookware. I already had some items which I have used for many
years and I do love using them. Some years ago, my iron skillet needed cleaning and I had read this in a magazine. The lady was
telling the story about building a good fire in her fireplace and placing her caked iron skillet in the fire and watching it
as it burned the baked on material. I have done this twice and it has certainly worked for me and it came out very clean and
then needed to be re-seasoned. To me this was a good way to take care of this matter. I recently purchased a corn bread stick pan
at an estate sale. I will be giving it to my daughter in law, but I wanted to get it cleaned and seasoned before I give it to
Brady Allison (1/26/00):
I was perusing your hints and saw the question about cleaning coatings off cast iron. The method I always use for old cast iron (as in having
picked up a piece cheap at a yard sale or auction do to crud covering it) is to place it in a fire till the coating burns and turns to ash.
Then You can wipe the coating off and season after cool.