Hot Fire for Curing and Cleaning Cast Iron

Techniques for Restoring an old Cast Iron Skillet

How To Use A Hot Fire For Curing And Cleaning Cast Iron

**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.

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 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:

Main Page:

The Irreplaceable Cast Iron Skillet

Question & Answer Pages:

Ceramic Top (Flat Top) Electric Range and Cast Iron Pots

Hot Fire for Curing & Cleaning

Iron and Carcinogens in Cast Iron

Misc. Questions & Answers

Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Pots

Salt for Cleaning Cast Iron

Sanding Cast Iron Pots

Self-Cleaning Oven for Cleaning & Seasoning

Warped or Cracked Cast Iron Pots

Washing Cast Iron Pots


Cast-Iron Pans    Cooking Hints & Tips   

Comments and Reviews

One Response to “Hot Fire for Curing and Cleaning Cast Iron”

  1. Tyron Anderson

    I was around my grandparents in almost every aspect of older country living methods as a small boy, I watched with attention to all that was done , from hog killings, cane syrup , garden veggie preservation, washing clothes in a hand ringer washer to cast iron. Almost everything was cooked using some type of cast iron , with the exception of a few aluminum boilers and some tin pie pans. My grandmother, about every 2 yrs would gather all the cast iron , build a small fire 3-4 ft diameter with dried twigs and limbs from the spring yard clean up. She let the fire catch up well and placed all the cookware in the fire and usually it was late evening, she usually put 1 layer of small wood atop the iron ware , went to the house and retired. Next day about dinner , she’d go to the ashes with a few coals remaining and remove the iron, set aside to cool off on its on. Then she took a wire brush , scrubbed the ash and carbon residue from all the handles and open eyelets, rinsed in a washtub with warm soapy water , allowed to dry and coated with lard or vegetable oil, Her stove was gas in my boyhood times, she would put all she could in oven on about 275 or 300 and bake for and hour, then flip over an hour, , turn off oven , let cool . We’d have biscuits that night , I never remember any damaged cookware or her griping of any sticking. Normally if Ma put anything in skillets , it flopped out with ease every time. I still clean my own this way with no issues.


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