Cast Iron Re-seasoning Question -- how stripped must it be?

I have a 3-4 year old Lodge cast iron skillet that's been showing a bit of wear around the edges -- there are places where the seasoning is obviously chipping off along the in edges of the pan about an inch from the bottom. Now I'm trying to re-season it.

I watched the recent Food52 video, but when I tried to scrub off the old seasoning with soap, an abrasive sponge, and finally Barkeeper's Friend, it only partially came off. Now I have a fairly smooth, fairly unseasoned pan that's metal-colored in spots and still black in others.

1. Does it sound like the pan has been un-seasoned enough for a re-seasoning?
2. If not, what the heck can I use to get it more un-seasoned? Do I really have to use oven cleaner? I don't have a self-cleaning oven.

Thanks all!



Quinciferous June 1, 2012
Thanks all. I am in a city apartment -- no grill, no fireplace, no megaoven in the backyard, etc. (No yard, period!)

Sam, to answer your question, the chipping on the side of the pan was right down to the silver-colored metal -- black flakes were coming off with a bit of prodding, leaving the bare pan.

I guess I'll just try to reseason as it now is, sort of half-cleaned off, and see how it goes. It's been a sturdy pan and had developed a very nice seasoning on the actual cooking surface, but the sections on the side worried me. I'll report back as to how the reseasoning process goes.
sfmiller June 1, 2012
To address question 2: if you have a fireplace or a charcoal grill, build a wood or charcoal fire and, once the flames have died down, put the pan right on top of the coals and leave it until the embers cool. The heat will burn off the seasoning. Scrub off any carbon on the pan, dry completely, and reseason.

If I were in your shoes, I'd try to reseason the pan as it is before taking that step, then just cook with it. If you don't have sticking problems after that, carry on; if you do, reseason completely.
cookbookchick June 1, 2012
Sam is right. They don't make 'em like they used to. I buy my cast iron pans at "antique" (junk) shops. They are inexpensive and usually have already been cleaned. Look for Griswold or Wagner.
Sam1148 June 1, 2012
Some of the newer Lodge Skillets are IMHO substandard. With imperfections in the casting. Unfortunately that's the really the only widely available skillets made in the US today. Older ones from ebay or thrift stores are great. Even ones that are rusted etc.....a trip to a autobody shop and a sandblast brings them back for reseasoning if needed. But if you don't have a good base and good casting you might as well get a new a one.

And don't obsess about a presitine pan with the 'edges' or lip or bottom of the pan immaculately clean.
The only thing that matters is the cooking surface, not the lip of the pan. In fact the only thing you worry about is a smooth surface on the cooking surface of the pan. Ignore the rest.
Grungy is good is this case.

When you speak of 'seasoning chipping off' what are the more detail is it a 'crust' as a seasoning should be a bonded coating of oil to the surface of the cast iron.

Bill F. June 1, 2012
I know this isn't a complete answer to your question but under no circumstances use oven cleaner on your skillet.
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