wikiHow to Care For Cast Iron

Well cared for cast iron cooking vessels are a joy to use and own. They are versatile, heat evenly, and despite "common wisdom", relatively easy to clean and will last for decades. A little bit of maintenance and tender loving care is all you need.


  1. Image titled Care For Cast Iron Step 1
    Clean the pan as well as possible.
    • Rust is a common problem when cast iron pans without a seasoned surface are left exposed to liquids. Steel wool or a "Brillo" pad is usually sufficient to remove surface rust. Severe rust with pits may require multiple scouring treatments or sanding.
    • Stuck on "gunk" (usually a long-forgotten meal) is another common problem. If you happen to have an anthill available, you can leave the pan near the critters and let them do the dirty work.
  2. Image titled Care For Cast Iron Step 2
    Heat the oven to 250 - 300 F (120 - 150 C).
  3. Image titled Care For Cast Iron Step 3
    Coat the pan with lard or bacon grease. Don't use a liquid vegetable oil because it will leave a sticky surface and the pan will not be properly seasoned.
  4. Image titled Care For Cast Iron Step 4
    Put the pan in the oven upside down. A layer of aluminum foil or a baking try underneath helps to catch any drips. In 15 minutes, remove the pan & pour out any excess grease.
  5. Image titled Care For Cast Iron Step 5
    Place the pan back in the oven and bake for 2 hours.
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    Repeating this process several times is recommended as it will help create a stronger "seasoning" bond. Also, when you put the pan into service, it is recommended that you use it initially for foods high in fat, such as bacon or foods cooked with fat, because the grease from these foods will help strengthen the seasoning.


  • Seasoning can be enhanced greatly by frying, sauteing, or otherwise using cooking methods high in fats. If you're making French fries, sauteed onions, or hush puppies, use your cast iron--it'll love you for it!
  • Remember to never leave it unprotected. When through cooking wipe it with a thin layer of your oil of choice.
  • To reseason a pan: just clean, dry and follow the steps above again.
  • For vegetarians, a vegetarian margarine or hard fat can be used as a substitute for the lard or bacon grease. Alternatively, seasoning will occur with repeated use over time of olive or peanut oils and cleaning out after use with a brown paper towel or similar wiping cloth.
  • To remove rust, use "Naval Jelly", available at most hardware stores or home depot-type places. Follow the instructions on the bottle, they're pretty straightforward.
  • Store in a dry place - in the oven or the bottom stove drawer to keep it dry.


  • Read the warnings on Naval Jelly, it's NOT a good thing to ingest, but it does remove rust like crazy. If in doubt as to its suitability for your food dishes, don't use it.
  • That dark layer that builds up is a good thing, don't scrub your seasoning off with anti-grease soap and abrasive materials.
  • Always keep your cast iron pans clean and dry when not in use.

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Categories: Cast Iron Cookware