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Scrubbed cast iron down to silver-- black gunk still won't come off!

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I recently browned pork in my Lodge cast-iron skillet, and it left black, burnt spots over the pan (along with a few other places that arose from cooking over time). I boiled water in it in hopes it would lift it up, but it didn't. I scrubbed the spots down to silver (which I think is the exposed cast iron, where it was once black), but the black gunk is still there with the silver exposed around it. I can scrub it down to silver and it still won't lift. Help!

The black gunk feels smooth, and if I am able to scrape some away it's sooty. What can I do to get rid of this layer of gunk and get my cast iron back to normal? I don't want to re-season the whole thing with the gunk still on, and I need to use my pan again tonight for a big dinner with guest! I don't want to cause any more damage to it and am afraid to continue cooking in it!

Thanks so much!

asked by nicole.lee almost 2 years ago
8 answers 2673 views
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Susan W

Susan W is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added almost 2 years ago

Shelling is correct. As you cook, the seasoning builds up and eventually creates coating. Your pan will always have black on it that comes off. Here is a nifty little video that Amanda did a while back. You'll need to re-season your pan.


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added almost 2 years ago

For the record; it's not appropriate for cast iron, but for non reactive pans (stainless, enameled, anodized etc.) burned on gunk is removed much more effectively by boiling water with a lot of baking soda in it than with water alone. Vinegar works too, but is expensive and reeks to high heaven- it doesn't work as we,ll either.

4798a9c2 4c90 45e5 a5be 81bcb1f69c5c  junechamp

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added almost 2 years ago

You're not supposed to scrub a cast iron pan. I don't wash mine. I clean it by applying a thick coat of Kosher salt to the pan while it's still warm. I use a pad made of sturdy paper toweling to wipe the pan clean. The salt acts as an abrasive, and as the pan cools, the "dirty" salt is easy to pour out and discard.

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added almost 2 years ago

I have put my iron skillet in a wood fire to burn off food. I never wash mine and to clean I use salt and always oil it after cleaning.

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Laura Candler

Laura works at Lodge Cast Iron.

added almost 2 years ago

Hi Nicole,
This is Laura and I work for Lodge! I'd recommend that you use something very abrasive like steel wool to scrub the black bits completely off, then re-season your skillet. And since you'll be re-seasoning, go to town on that soap if you have to! Here's a quick video showing how to do that: https://youtu.be/Gg6S6vWyPH8...

With cast iron, very high heat can cause things to stick, especially if there's little or no oil in the pan and especially if the ingredients are cold. Cast iron retains more heat than other pans, so medium/high heat is plenty high to sear meat, and veggies usually require low or medium/low heat. Here's another quick film on searing steak: https://youtu.be/7QmCVjSoY_w...

Hope this helps!


23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added almost 2 years ago

when i was a little kid, my dad took a circular metal brush attachment for his drill to the insides of my mom's cast iron pan which surface had become irregular due to build up. it was beautifully seasoned and returned to that condition quickly as he smoothed out the cooking surface. it survived for many decades.

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added almost 2 years ago

You can also put it in the oven through the cleaning cycle. Bakes everything off the pan and then you can re-season.

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