Seasoning Your Skillet
To restore an heirloom pan with rust: warm soapy water and an abrasive scrubbing pad or steel wool can be used to remove all rust spots.
For a well-seasoned pan with food stuck to it: use coarse salt and a bristle brush to scrub food remnants off. In toughest cases, simmer a little water in the pan to loosen up stuck debris, then scrub.
Thoroughly rinse off all food particles, and especially all soap if any was used.
Dry completely with a paper towel or lint-free dish towel; place on stove top and cook off any remaining water. This is one of the most important steps, as lingering water causes rust, and rust is the enemy of your ironware.
Apply a very thin layer of oil to every surface of the pan (bottom, interior sides, exterior, underside, handle). At this point, if your pan already has a sufficient seasoning, use a paper towel to wipe off any remaining oil and move on to storage.
If you’re restoring an heirloom pan or re-seasoning a new one, place the oiled cast iron into a 350 – 400° oven, upside down on the top rack. (Be sure to line the bottom rack with aluminum foil to catch drips.) Cook for at least 1 hour. Let cool, and repeat the seasoning process until a thin, smooth, dark glossy coat appears.
After applying a very thin protective layer of oil with a paper towel, wipe off excess oil and hang or place your cast iron pan in a cool, dry place.
Nothing maintains a healthy seasoning on a pan like cooking with it often. The more you cook in your cast iron, the stronger and better its seasoning will be.
Seasoning occurs when oil is heated past its smoking point to cause a chemical bond to the metal’s surface. “Seasoning” is actually polymerized oil. Because of this molecular-level bonding, common myths such as “never scrub your cast iron” and “never use soap” are actually irrelevant. It’s completely fine to scrub and use soap! Just be sure to dry completely to avoid rust and reapply a protective layer of oil before storing.
To keep your pan as non-stick as possible, keep your coat of seasoning well maintained, preheat your pan properly before every cooking session, and clean off all food debris when finished.
If the seasoning on your pan appears too thick or sticky, it likely wasn’t heated enough. Repeat the oven-baking process under the “4/Season” section until the oil has completely polymerized and is no