of Louisiana (5/15/2006):
I just got an old deep
cast-iron skillet with a lid. It was very gummed-up. I used a propane
torch to clean it, and that was the best method I have ever used. I was
very careful not to heat it too fast so that it wouldn't crack. The
grease flaked up and I just wiped it off. It worked so well and in only
about ten minutes. No soot either.
The propane torch
I use is not a small blow torch but one that connects by a hose to a
propane tank. It is available by catalog (I think mine came from
Northern Tools). It is very powerful, and we use it to light large
piles of branches and tree trunks (debris from Hurricane Katrina). My
favorite use, however, is burning gunk off of pots!