Easy Cast Iron Skillet Reconditioning


When a cast iron item from your kitchen becomes messy it doesn’t necessarily mean that it can’t be used anymore and has to be thrown out. As everything can be reconditioned in a more or less simple way, so are cast iron items too. So here is a great way of how to recondition cast iron, without using chemicals, special tools or making a huge effort. You will need: aerosol oven cleaner (one can), plastic bags, white vinegar, a scrub pad, olive oil. You will also need a lot of patience as you will have to keep on insisting and scrubing in order for thedirt to come off, but it will worth the time. To remove the first layer, use the plastic bag and the aerosol. Spray the cast iron skillet and them close the bag to prevent it from evaporating. This step can take even a week and you will need to apply more layers of spray each day. After that use the vinegar to help you remove rust and add some hot water too. You will then need to put the pan in the oven, to heat it up and rub it afterwards with olive oil. This will help you clean the skillet much better and you will have a pan that will look as if you just bought it from the store.


You will need:

  • 1 can of aerosol oven cleaner
  • plastic bags
  • ordinary white vinegar
  • a scrub pad or #0000 steel wool
  • olive oil and/or Pam cooking spray
  • patience









Read more here –> Easy Cast Iron Skillet Reconditioning – by Black Iron Blog


55 Responses to “Easy Cast Iron Skillet Reconditioning”

  1. Melissa Edwards says:

    I agree 100 percent!!! I don’t understand how in the world they think this method is chemical free. It’s one of the worst toxic things I can think of and would NEVER put it on cook ware. WHAT ARE THEY THINKING!!!

    • iiJeebz says:

      It’s the dumbest advice for cast iron pans I’ve ever seen. I’m assuming the author doesn’t actually use cast iron pans.

  2. Howard says:

    Why not just put in in the oven during a self cleaning cycle then rinse and reason. I hit mine with a green pad and nothing but water after I finish cooking . Then I wipe dry oil and place it on a warm burner for a few minutes but then my pan is over 100 years old lol plenty of seasoning frying eggs for 5 generations. Rotfl

  3. Randy says:

    How about posting the non-chemical way on here instead of just talking about it and bashing this way? Just saying. Thank you

    • paul says:

      clean with sand and water until smooth use lard from a hog rub down and put in cooker smoker for several hours @ least 375 or better when done it will be seasond this has been done for hundereds of years wipe out each time do not wash if bottom sticks boil water to remove then wipe with lard i am a colector an have some 200 year old stuff i love cast iron it works i hope this post helps

    • jay says:

      use the pan , cook in it and it will become almost teflon like use high heat no soap

    • jay says:

      use the pan , cook in it and it will become almost teflon like use high heat no soap.

    • Fred M Zarro says:

      Nonsense. I agree wholeheartedly with those who oppose the chemical method, it’s unhealthy, and it should be “bashed”. Not bashing the person who posted it, but criticizing the method as unhealthy, for the good of others. Spraying toxic chemicals onto something that is used to prepared food is just plain not a good idea, and worrying about hurting sensitive people’s feelings is less important than preventing people from poisoning themselves.Please get over your own ego- sounds like the one who is being personally critical is you!

    • Mark Thomson says:

      tie some good fencing wire to it then toss it in the hog waller. the hogs will rub dirt against it sanding it clean in just a few days.
      then drag it outta there and rensit of good and season regularly. . .

      no chemicals required ! “all by-God natural” !

    • Mama says:

      My mother had a set of cast iron that she got for her wedding. She’d had it and used it for over 60 years. It was well-seasoned, but had a lot of black carbon build-up. She took those pans, put the in a black garbage bag and poured in about a quart of ammonia and then sealed the bag. She left the pans in there and went on vacation for about a week. Came back, put the pans in a sinkful of hot sudsy water. Gunk came right off. Then she dried them, poured some regular vegetable oil in a small bowl. Dipped paper towel in the oil (not soaking, just wet) and applied the oil all over the pans- inside, outside, edges, handles. Then she set them in the oven on low- 200 degrees max. for a few hours. Perfect.

  4. Ken Green says:

    I agree…. chemicals?

    Here’s a great tip… throw it in a fire. Let it glow red hot. (It burns off any crap and junk). Take it out of the fire and let it cool.

    Now scrub off any rust with some 000-steel wool, then rinse it off. Throw it in the oven at 350 for an hour or so.. take it out… dump some peanut oil in it and spread it on all surfaces. POOF! It is brand new.

  5. ALF says:

    This is easier than putting the pan into a fire? I think not.

  6. Vicki says:

    I saw where coconut oil is the best thing to use to season cast iron. I am in the process of cleaning one now – lots of elbow grease and many coats of coconut oil.

  7. Huck sawyer says:

    DO NOT USE THIS METHOD TO CLEAN YOUR CAST IRON. Who wrote this article? It doesn’t even make sense. EasyOff Oven Cleaner (shown above) is only non-toxic when it can be completely cleaned of the surface it has been applied to, such as steel, or porcelain. Cast Iron has tons of tiny pores that will soak up the oven cleaner, and you will never really know if you have flushed it out of these pores. It isn’t even necessary to use, high heat, elbow grease, and vegetable oil will bring cast iron back to excellent condition. This is fairly common knowledge. As Ken Green mentioned above, peanut oil works well because of it’s high smoke point. This is the second time I have seen this site post an article where the definition of the word “chemical” seems to not be understood. Chemicals are chemicals, whether they are toxic or not.

  8. iiJeebz says:

    Agreed, this whole article is just ridiculous in so many ways.

  9. iiJeebz says:

    ” it doesn’t necessarily mean that it can’t be used anymore and has to be thrown out.”

    Who in their right mind would think to throw out a cast iron pan just because it needs cleaning??? Ditto with the oven cleaner… this author obviously doesn’t use cast iron cookware, anyone that does would know this article makes no sense. The whole article is ridiculous.

    • Susan says:

      unfortunately, I have come across many people who do not understand cast iron pans; I have seen plenty of people take them to the dump because they burned food in them, they rusted, etc — I also agree with not using chemical cleaners

  10. Weslea says:

    put water in the skillet on the stove top and bring it to a boil. pour out the boiling water and add a generous amount of kosher or sea salt to the pan. Add a tad of hot water for form a paste, then scrub with a nylon scrubbie or brush. Add more salt for more scrubbing grit. Rinse with lots of very hot water. Dry thoroughly with a clean dry towel or lots of paper towels. Put in to a warm oven for a few minutes. Take it out and coat it with a thin coating of oil and buff it well with more paper towels. Put it back in the warm oven for a bit. Store in a dry place between uses.

  11. eric says:

    I have always found it easy to put my cast iron stuff in the oven on broil for 30 minutes or so. Cooks all the goo to powder. Remove after cooled and wash well. Re season with oil and it good to go for years more.

  12. Carla Hauman says:

    I still go with my grandmothers way of cleaning up her cast iron. Whenever they built a fire outside she would throw in her “caked” cast iron skillet and out came a beautiful clean one ready to season again. No Chemicals, all natural!

  13. dburrygab says:

    None of that needed, I used sand and a piece of steel wool. Mine turned out beautiful, and were in horrible shape.

  14. Chef Bryce says:

    The shiny black stuff is almost pure carbon–it’s extremely hard and durable and it’s what needs to build up to make an iron skillet non-stick. This procedure makes a cast iron pan like new alright, but it’s gonna take years of use to get it to that point again. Unless it has rusted badly, I wouldn’t do this to a skillet. Better to just clean and scrub as much off as possible and re-season the pan. I have found the best option is to wipe it down with a thin coat of bacon grease THEN put it in an oven or your gas grill @ 350F for about 3 hours. Do this a couple more times, re-coating with bacon fat each time before you put it back in. Use the pan only for frying bacon for the first few months. Never wash it with anything besides hot water at least until it has turned black again. Dry it completely (you can just put it on a low burner for a few minutes to drive all water out of the pores of the metal) then re-coat with more bacon fat or oil between each use. Depending on how often you use it, it may take a year or more for it to build up that beautiful shiny black surface. Be patient and ALWAYS use the lowest heat possible under your pan to keep it from warping. Until the surface has blackened completely and become fairly non-stick again, avoid cooking stuff high in acids (tomatoes, vinegar, etc.). Never leave anything acidic in a cast iron pan or dutch oven overnight.

  15. Kristi says:

    I don’t see that is an “easy” or “chemical-free” method by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t know how, but an e-tank (electrolysis) sounds like the best way to me…I just have to figure out how to do it. Very non-informative and misleading article. Not bashing…just my opinion from years of cooking with cast iron and lots of research into best methods of cleaning.

  16. Brad says:

    You have to be kidding me, Easy Off = “without using chemicals?” Doh and big. stupid miss….Try writing articles that are accurate…

  17. Fred M Zarro says:

    The ridiculousness of this article, which many have commented on, may be why the writer was embarrassed to put their name on it )or, didn’t want to be liable for poisoning people). Hate to be cynical, but since they not only recommend the use of “oven cleaner”, but specifically mentioned Easy-Off, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they article was generated by Easy-Off sales people, and/or written by someone who has a financial interest in Easy-Off (or received a kick back from them). Then again, maybe not… it’s possible that they’re just idiots.

  18. Claude says:

    To clean cast iron use a stainless chain male scrubber with hot water, no dish soap, if it neads to be re seasond do the old fashioned way, oh by the way olive oil should not be used if you don’t use it often because if it sites for a while it will start to turn color because it is an oil not a fat.

  19. Mark Osgatharp says:

    This is actually great advice. If used this basic method on dozens of pans and it works great. The main thing I do differently is use crystal lye in a tub of water which is a lot easier and less messy than the spray cleaner and plastic bag method.

    Aslo, I use flax seed oil to re-season. It makes a great finish on the pan.

    Spray oven cleaner is nothing but lye in a can. Lye is nothing but a by-product of burnt wood ashes. People use to, and some still do, make bath soap out of it. All it does is dissolve the baked on grease on a pan and if you clean it with vinegar it neutralizes the lye. Lye is “toxic” only if you consume it or breathe it in – but no more so than all that hairspray you suck in when you make your silly looking hairdos that you think look good. ;0)

  20. Donna says:

    Use baking soda paste to clean. Just add a limited water and baking soda to make a paste. Scrub pan with paste and rinse with water. Rub oil in pan. Does a great job of cleaning

  21. Donna says:

    Meant to say a little water. I think spell check changed what I wrote. Errrr

  22. DVL says:

    Course salt and veggie oil to take off the chunks, medium heat in an oven and shortening to create a new finish. If the pan is hurting hit it hard with sanding apparatus, starting course and working towards 220–then grease.

    Found my last 10 inch-er in the bush and had to bring it back from the brink.

    The chemical stew should be avoided because cast iron is porous and will hold onto chemicals.

  23. Moshe Ogutu says:

    Hi thank you for the posts together with the amount of time and work you need to have to investedI really required advice with this, its very much valued.

  24. Roger says:

    I like the Easy Off method. It is as mentioned above an aerosol can of lye, an active ingredient of home made soap, which by the way when added to oil, will turn to glycerine and neutralize it’s acidity. Lots of people use and make home made soap… so, why all the fuss about Easy Off oven cleaner. It works as designed and when finished it will rinse off. You can say what you will about reseasoning a skillet, but this method works and works well. It will not kill you, get you sick, or spread harmful bacteria… Lye is simply a leavening agent, and no matter what you use, it will get in those little pores in the cast iron but will be rinsed out in the scrubbing process. If anything is left it will be covered by the seasoning process…. I believe it is called the polymerization process. The only wrong ways to season cast iron, are the ways that do not work. Using Easy Off works well.

  25. Nicole Dominic says:

    I have such iron skillet at home and I don’t use it because it looks awful and I thought that I should throw it away. Thanks a lot for the useful advices in this article! I hope that I could bring to live my iron skillet!Eastcote Carpet Cleaners Ltd.

  26. Monika says:

    I have four cast iron frying pans – all different sizes and when they get to the point of no return, I take them to a place that has a sand blaster and they sandblast them for me for a donation (to cover their expenses). Once done, I then just rub them with oil and bake them in a hot oven for an hour. They are then good to go for another decade or so.

  27. Sharon says:

    Just use it. None of this nonsense is necessary. We never use soap or anything else on our cast iron, only water when absolutely necessary. What are you afraid of? Germs? They won’t live in a hot skillet or Dutch oven. Store them in the oven to keep them dry. Use daily. No need to re-season. Just wipe them out and put them away.

  28. Greg Hankins says:

    I appreciate your article about reconditioning, and need to pass it on to my son and son-in-laws. As wedding presents, I’ve bought each of them cast iron.

    I also wanted to tell you my rescue and reconditioning story. My grandmother was given a cast iron dutch oven as a wedding gift in 1925. When she could no longer use it because of the weight she gave it to my dad. It was too heavy for my mother to use in the kitchen, so Dad decided he could use it out on the farm – specifically as a receptacle for used oil as he worked on tractors and trucks. About 1995 I realized what it was and looked about until I found the original lid. Then I bought Dad a proper oil changing receptacle, and started thinking about how I might make this dutch oven once again usable. I use lump charcoal when I grill, so I started the lump inside the pan (no lighter fluid needed with the lump) before grilling, and then dumped the coals into it when I was down grilling. After a year, it was back to raw cast iron and I started the reseasoning process. I now use it every week in the oven, on the stove top, even out on my grill – and my son has already staked a claim on it.

  29. Bea Sabori says:

    I bought a new cast iron bean pot and it was covered with a sticky goo, how do I cure it? Please advice me. I tried to wash the sticky off to no avail. Almost threw it out

  30. Gena Mahon says:

    This I insane advice. Easy off oven cleaner is horrible. Somehow of you are saying it’s only lye. Who wants to ingest lye? Some of you have said it is only ash from burnt wood. Haven’t you read that even using wood to cook your meat, if cooked too long to brown the meat is a known carcinogen. I would never feed my family lye or ashes, would you? In essence that is what you are doing with this method. Just put your cast iron pot or skillet on the stove top with water in it. Bring to a boil., pour out dirty water. Rinse well. If there are any stubborn spots, put coarse salt in dry pan and scrub til gone. Rinse, dry, re-oil with coconut oil. Nothing unhealthy or damaging is done to your family or your cookware with this method. Happy, healthy cooking!

  31. Fran says:

    Best advice, works like a charm. All the old crusty stuff on out side of pan is gone.

  32. Fran says:

    Throwing it the fire, I mean. Don’t have any trouble re seasoning . Have 5, all sizes. Love them.

  33. Erika Morin says:

    I absolutely do not recommend using oven cleaner. I just bought two cast iron skillets at an auction two weeks ago. Both were in pretty bad shape. I used hot water, sos pads, and a pair of gloves. Cleaned up beautifully. I dryed them on the burner, sprayed them with oil and cooked them in the oven for a while. It won’t be long before they are fully conditioned. But for now, they’re in great shape. Easy.

  34. Wally says:

    Bacon. I use bacon grease to season my cast iron. If I don’t have bacon grease, i will goto the store and use lard. They didn’t have this fancy peanut and coconut crap back in the day. They had lard. It worked perfectly to season cast iron.

    As I read this article, I began to wonder why someone needs to go through that much cleaning of a skillet. What on earth did you cook that screwed it up so much? Some Dawn soup and a SOS pad will clean most. Boil hot water in the skillet on the stove will help too. And when your done cleaning it, dry it on a stove top or in the oven. wipe some lard in it and your good to go.

  35. Lara says:

    Build a fire in a old grill or fire pit. Place skillet in coal bed, use wire brush to scrub, use oil of choice, place back in fire and then use a new cheap paint brush to oil pan a few times.

  36. Katie Carlson says:

    Patience is the most important thing. I learned my lesson during the years. Patience is half of the cleaning! My advice is to pour yourself glass of wine every time when you finished cleaning. 🙂 Greetings!

  37. Patrick Rhéaume says:

    Evidently you know nothing about cast iron, or its benefits. While I use Apple Cider Vinegar on any rusting metal, this is the only thing you got right. for hundreds of years there have been no spray on crap, just bacon fat or bear grease. So one can set a cast iron they found in a tub of vinegar for a day or two, rinse off and put on the stove with a fair amount of pork fat and rub it into the pan as it heats, also the out side of the pan, once you have done this place it upside down in the oven at a very low temp and place a cookie sheet under it on the next shelf below for a few hours, take it out wipe any fat that remains and you should see if one coat will do, if not, let it cool over the day and redo these steps the next day.

  38. Brett says:

    I’m sorry you really lost me when in two sentences you went from “cleaning without chemicals ” to the first item which is “oven cleaner ” !!!!! one toxic concoction !! I watched a documentary ,where a man pulled his cast iron pan from the ashes of his cabin ! all burned and rusty , walk over to a creek and with a handful of sand scrub it to useable condition !! save for the coating to re-condition it , this looked like a pretty cheap non -toxic way !!

  39. Guy says:

    First off…. I am only 35 and have a wood burning stove that I chop wood for. I come from a family that has burned wood for 100+ years.

    You season your pan as you cook. Everytime you cook you season it. I have a chain-mail scrubber to get the particles out but for the most part I leave the fat in the pan. days upon days.

    When I clean it I scrub all that out lightly wash with water. Then entirely dry it immediately. Afterwards I take some cooking oil to coat it all down with and then leave it sitting on the stove.

    If you need to season it rub some cooking lard on it and put it in the over with something underneath to catch the drippings.


    *110 year old pan looks like day one…. just cook with it.

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