Techniques for Restoring an old Cast Iron Skillet
How To Use A Hot Fire For Curing and Cleaning Cast Iron
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 am 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 do not 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 her.
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.
Check out all my web pages on cast iron pots, kettles, and Dutch ovens: