It’s not as hard as you may have heard.
Just 3 simple steps, and you’re good!
The steamy combination of hot water and harsh soap will very effectively and very quickly strip the seasoning off of your cast iron cookware and most likely leave it quite rusty.
An hour is probably fine. Two hours, you might be pushing it. Overnight, you’ll be sad. Soaking cast iron cookware in water for long periods of time (even if it’s well seasoned) will make it rusty.
Dish soap is often advertised as being able to cut through grease and oil. While this is great for your plates, it’s not great for seasoned cast iron cookware. With proper care, you won’t need to use soap often, if at all.
Just 3 simple steps, and you’re good!
Gently scrape off any food bits with a spatula, and wipe out any excess oil with a rag or paper towel, then rinse under warm water.
Don’t be afraid to scrub if you need to. You can use coarse salt to help as well. If you’ve got a tough mess, it’s ok to use a dab of soap* along with a nylon brush, sponge, or scrubby cloth.
* Some people never use soap on cast iron, and that’s just fine!
After washing, make sure to dry your pan completely. Use a towel - don’t air dry (remember, rust is iron oxide. Wet cast iron plus air equals rust). You can heat your pan on medium-low over the stove to help it along if you like.
Immediately after your pan is dry, and while it’s still warm (not hot), add a few drops of oil and use a paper towel to lightly coat the entire interior. Work it in evenly, wipe off any excess, and let it cool before storing. This thin coat of oil protects your pan from rust and adds to its seasoning.
Seasoning refers to the baked on, hardened layers of oil that protect your cast iron from rusting, while simultaneously acting as a natural non-stick coating. Seasoning can also be the act of applying oil to your cast iron cookware and baking it on (resulting in the noun: seasoning).
In a nutshell, seasoning is what makes your cast iron cookware non-stick.
Seasoning works through a process of polymerization. When fats and oils are heated on cast iron to high enough temperatures, they break down at the molecular level and reorganize themselves into hardened, plasticized layers of oil which bond to the metal, becoming a type of sealed coating. This coating can become stronger and more resilient over time as more layers are added.
All of our cast iron cookware comes to you pre-seasoned with two layers of polymerized flaxseed oil. We take care to put our cookware through two rounds of seasoning so that it arrives to you ready to work with. Still, it will take some time for your cookware to behave like generations old cookware - your seasoning is new, and will take some time to build up.
The best thing to do is start cooking!
With a new pan, it’s advisable to use a little more oil while cooking than you usually would. Don’t be afraid of the fat in the oil. Remember - some of that is going to your pan.
Because cooking always involves the use of oils and fats, multiple interlocking layers of seasoning will build up over time on your cookware as you cook, further protecting it from rust, and improving performance. To that end, there is some amount of seasoning that is passive - it simply happens as you cook.
Frequent cooking adds to your seasoning, but you can spend dedicated time just seasoning your pan as well. Follow these steps:
1. Wash your pan and dry it completely.
2. Apply a very thin coat of oil to your pan (we recommend flaxseed or grape seed oil). Wipe up all of the excess oil and place the pan in your oven upside down.
3. Turn your oven on, and set the temperature to 400ºF, allowing the pan to slowly heat with the oven. When the oven reaches 400ºF, bake for 1 hour.
4. Turn your oven off, and let your pan cool down slowly and naturally inside.
Rust isn’t the end of the world. But it should be addressed with a good cleaning and a couple rounds of seasoning.
Cast iron is porous (even after seasoning), which means it can absorb moisture. If this happens with oil and you heat it, you’ll get seasoning. If this happens with water and you leave it, you’ll get rust…
Rust’s chemical name is iron oxide, which literally means iron+oxygen. Anytime cast iron is exposed to moisture in the air, there’s potential for rust to form. This is why seasoning is so important. The difference between rust on cast iron and rust on steel is that rust won’t destroy cast iron - it can always be saved.
First determine how much work is needed. Small spots can usually be remedied with a good cleaning and a light coat of oil in storage. If your pan is really rusty, it will be worth going through a few rounds of seasoning after cleaning.
Prevention is the best move here… Make sure to dry your pan completely after every washing. And a light coat of oil while the pan is still warm will prevent water and air from reacting with the cast iron to form rust.