My cast iron is single handedly the most used piece of cookware that lives in my kitchen. We use it every night and sometimes for lunch. It stays displayed on our stove as our glistening pride and joy.
Though a cast iron has many perks, one that makes a cast irons so loved are that they can withstand the high heat that your other cookware wasn’t cut out for. Whether you’re using it on an electric stove, gas stove or even over a camp fire it will get the job done without melting into soup.
But because of it’s high heat durability, people have asked, can you burn the seasoning off of cast iron? Yes! However, it’s not unusual and it won’t be ruined from burning the seasoning off. It just means your cast iron has been loved. Here’s what you can do to fix your cast iron back to normal!
Why do we season our cast irons?
Majority of cast irons come preseasoned and are ready to use if you buy a new one from the store. Cast iron is a porous material and the seasoning is its protective coat. Think of it as getting your nails done with gel. You cure your nails under a UV lamp to make sure the gel sets, well the same goes for your cast iron! It’s coated with oil and baked in an oven to cure to the pan.
The seasoning layer creates a perfect non-stick cooking surface for your cast iron and when it’s seasoned well, you hardly have to use any oil while cooking!
However, if you’ve used your cast iron a ton without seasoning every once and a while or you’ve received a used on from a relative, your cast iron probably needs a little TLC.
Luckily, maintaining a well-seasoned cast iron doesn’t take a lot of work!
There’s a couple of ways to season your cast iron but the most common is in the oven. To prep for your seasoning session you’ll need a high heat oil, paper towels and about 2 hours of your time. For high heat oils I recommend grapeseed, flaxseed, vegetable, canola or melted shortening. You could use olive oil, but it’s not meant to withstand high heat so you may find yourself having to repeat the seasoning process a few times if you choose to use this oil.
To get started you will want to preheat your oven between 350°F – 450°F. Place a baking sheet on the bottom rack of your oven, this will make sense in a minute.
Then, simply pour some oil into the cast iron and bunch up a few paper towels to spread the oil around the cast iron. Feel free to spread generously, onto the handle and even on the outer parts of the pan as well as the bottom.
Once the oven is preheated you will place your cast iron upside down on the top rack of your oven. The baking sheet is to catch any oil that may drip off while it’s baking.
Set a timer for one hour and when the hour is up, leave the cast iron in the oven to cool inside of the oven.
After it has cooled off pull it out of the oven and it’s ready to go! If you still see a few spots that need more oil you can repeat this process or season it via stovetop.
This one may seem odd to ride-or-die oven seasoning fanatics but it does work! If you only see a few spots that have burnt off or are flaking, this can be a quick fix for you.
Put your cast iron on your favorite stove eye and turn the heat to medium-medium high. Using one of the high heat oils mentioned above, pour a little in the pan and grab a handful of paper towels.
Swipe the oil onto the spots that need seasoning and let it set into the pan. The heat from your stove will give it a quick cure if you don’t have time for the oven.
Repeat this process as many times as you need!
Also, I know a lot of people get nervous about the bits that flake off. You don’t have to throw your whole pan away if you see black flakes while cooking, it’s totally normal! All it is is burnt oil.
If you see flaking, it’s probably time to give your cast iron a good cleaning scrub before the seasoning process.
How do I clean my cast iron?
Now this might send some people into a tizzy but you can actually use soap and water. Your grandmother might tell you otherwise, but it won’t hurt your cast iron and sometimes, it needs it!
If you see flaking or have stingy food stuck to it simply pour a little water into the pan with a dash of soap and give it a good scrub with your sponge. However, don’t soak it. This is will make your grandmother scream at you. Remember how I mentioned cast iron is a porous material? Well if you soak it for too long it could retain that water and rust your pan.
You can also use a scour pad to help remove some of the flaking! Cast irons are really durable so don’t worry about scratches. I would actually suggest using a scour pad if you have flaking to remove it before coating it up with oil to season it. If you don’t scrub it well before seasoning it, then you’re just curing burnt oil into your beautiful new seasoning!
Otherwise, I usually just take a wad of paper towels and wipe it out for the next use.
Can I prevent future burns?