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Thread: A couple cast iron cookware questions

  1. #1

    Default A couple cast iron cookware questions

    When I clean a CI pan down to bare metal I notice a very distinct smell, like it must be the smell of bare iron. Does iron have a smell? I also notice that when I wash a bare iron pan it has a constant black "discharge". Is iron so soft that washing removes enough iron that it makes the water black?
    When I oil a pan and heat it and then wipe it out I also get a black residue on the paper towel. Is this soot? Is it from the cooked oil? Am I not getting my pans properly clean?


  2. #2
    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    Cast iron is a very porous material. When you initially treat cast iron you are heating it to open the pores in the metal so the oil you wipe it down with can penetrate. Once the metal cools it traps the oil in the microscopic pores and that prevents food from sticking. The only smell I've noticed on new or retreated cast iron is the metal but only when it has been heated.

    I have to ask why you are cleaning the cast iron to bare metal? That removes all the seasoning that you want to have build up in the pan. Simply rinse it out and wipe dry. If you have any residual food that adheres then use a nylon/plastic scraper to lightly work the food loose. Then wipe the pan down with oil before putting it away. The black residue that you are wiping out is the seasoning. That's what is making your water and your paper towels black. You WANT that to remain in the pan. That's what makes cast iron work.

  3. #3

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    I only take them down to bare metal when I first acquire them. And one of them then got left in a damp area and started to rust a little so I had to start from scratch again.

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    Senior Member Wise Old Owl's Avatar
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    Nobody dies of rust. Stop the worry.
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  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wise Old Owl View Post
    Nobody dies of rust. Stop the worry.
    I agree, but I figured that rust would not allow for a smooth no-stick surface, right? I was wondering, though, if repeated seasonings wouldn't actually remove rust, but I didn't really think so.

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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    If they are new then you are probably seeing manufacturing dust on the metal. Clean it, season it and it should be fine. If the rust is very light you can use vinegar and a scotch bright pad to remove it. If it's heave then use a brillo pad. Reseason and enjoy.

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    Senior Member natertot's Avatar
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    If rust is super bad on cast iron, I will actually place a wire bit into a drill and go to town. I then follow up with a sanding disk bit in the drill and work from 180 grit up to 400 grit. After that, I will place it in the oven using the "self cleaning mode" to get all the other stuff out. Next, I pour boiling water over it to "flush" any remaining crud out. Finally I rub shortening all over the cast iron, place a small "heap" to the inside, and bake it in the oven at 250-300 for 2-3 hours.

    Once all that is done, you are ready to go. The first few times, I will cook something like sausage or bacon in it because that will speed up the process of "packing" the pours with grease and create the basis of fantastic non-stick. I have a round 7" cast iron griddle that eggs will literally slide off that was brought about using this method. Takes a lot of time, but really isn't a lot of work. Most of it is waiting while it is in the oven. I usually do them while doing other stuff around the house. I find that doing these projects in the winter help heat the house while not being so hot for myself.
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  8. #8

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    I tried the wire wheel in the drill motor once. I could not believe the damage. I though cast iron was really hard. Those wire brissles ruined that pan.

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    Senior Member natertot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sofasurfer View Post
    I tried the wire wheel in the drill motor once. I could not believe the damage. I though cast iron was really hard. Those wire brissles ruined that pan.
    Don't use the course wire, look for the finer wire. Also, don't use the wheels, use the brush like this one. http://www.amazon.com/Century-Drill-...QWFZV0GKGMHAY5 Finally, don't press down and just let the brush do the work. It will still leave scratches, but that is why you follow up with the sanding of 180-400 grit. After that, nice surface.
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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    Use a brass brush in your drill, not a steel one.
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    Woodsman Adventure Wolf's Avatar
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    A few years ago, I found some rusted cast iron skillets out in an old barn on a property I was working at. I ended up buying them from the owner for a dollar each (owner didn't know they existed) and I sand blasted the rust and corrosion off of them. Then I washed them by hand in the sink, and seasoned them in the oven with canola oil for about two hours. All in all, it was a great find.

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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    Good to see you back AW. You've been gone a few months.

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    Woodsman Adventure Wolf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    Good to see you back AW. You've been gone a few months.
    Been busy. I've been working on a lot of projects.

  14. #14

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    First off, folks, be gentle; this is my first post on this forum!

    I can't argue with any of the information about seasoning a cast iron pan, the methods suggested, avoiding any heavy scrubbing or use of soaps/detergents, etc. are great.

    I didn't notice any discussion here about dutch ovens. To me, this is where cast iron shines. If you haven't tried them -- especially the "camp" dutch ovens with the rimmed lid and the little tripod legs for charcoal -- you should really do so. When you combine the dutch oven with a good charcoal b riquette, you can, using a basic formula adjust your temperature up or down from 360 deg F to within ten degrees, simply by adjusting the number of briquettes above or below the dutch oven.

    And by using a Volcano or similar stove, you can cook for a family for almost a month on a single bag of charcoal (which you can store indefinitely).

    You're not going to put a dutch oven (or any other cast iron utensil) in your bug-out bag; but for home or homestead use, I consider it one of the best tools for families going through Hard Times.

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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    Lots of people here use Dutch Ovens. The thread was not about the type of CI to use, but rather cleaning and preserving. Hope that was gentle enough.
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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    DuncanK
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    Senior Member natertot's Avatar
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    yep, I use all kinds of cast iron. Skillets, pots, dutch ovens, some are round, some are square. Even got one for corn bread that makes it into triangles and the wife has one that is enamel covered for use in her oven. Makes a pretty good roast if you ask me.

    Kyrat and Hunter have done a lot of reenactment type of stuff so they could provide a historical aspect of cast iron themselves. Those two have probably forgotten more about cast iron than I have learned.

    By the way, welcome Duncan. I hope to see you around the forum.
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  18. #18
    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Cast iron is heavy......to bring out and use..... need pack mules....(or F250 PU)
    Bring a shovel
    You can get two apple pies and a pan of corn bread out of a load of coals on /under DO.
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  19. #19
    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by natertot
    Those two have probably forgotten more about cast iron than I have learned.


    Most folks have forgotten more than you have learned but that's for another thread.


  20. #20

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    You can remove rust from cast arn over an open flame. For some reason rust hates fire.
    (Do not overheat CI)

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