I have recently bought some cast iron skillets and am completely new to using them. I have learned from the internet to never use soap on them and that the more I use them, the better they get. I’ve been using them as often as I can, but still have some questions.
The skillets I bought were Lodge brand. They get decent reviews online, but obviously they aren’t vintage hand-me-downs that have the years and years of seasoning in them.
The Lodge skillets, due to the newer casting system the company uses have a textured bottom and it seems from videos on line that what I want is a smooth bottom on the skillet. My question is, will this smoothness build up over time through use? I’ve seen several videos where people take grinding wheels and smooth out the bottom of the skillet and then season it again.
Mainly, I’m wondering if this is worth it or if it is actually possible for it to become smooth, glass like, and totally non-stick just through normal use rather than having to grind it down and go through the seasoning process again…
If you want a pan that works like it’s Teflon-coated, buy a Teflon-coated pan. Even if you ground, sanded, and polished it down until it was perfectly smooth as glass, cast iron is never, ever going to perform like that so you can throw that fantasy right out the window. It will build up just fine through normal use.
And you can use soap on them. If soap is stripping the seasoning off of your pans, they weren’t really seasoned. The seasoning is not just a layer of oil on the surface, it’s a layer of polymerized oils that are bonded to the surface and are going to stay there unless they are physically removed i.e. manually scraped off.
I agree with DCnDC. Lodge is a perfectly respectable brand and their skillets work just fine as is, no post-purchase modifications necessary. I have one myself. I use soap and water on it and everything and it looks and works just fine.
Piggybacking on the OP’s thread to plead for guidance in figuring out a way to use my cast-iron pans on my glass cooktop.
My landlords have requested me not to put the pan bottoms on the cooktop directly, and even if they’re wrong about the possibility of scratch damage I intend to comply with their request. So what kind of surface protector, heat diffuser, silicon pad, grill cloth, etc. etc. can I use between the pan and the cooktop?
I have used cast iron cook wear my whole married life. It is a long process to season one properly, you can’t rush it, use it every day, don’t put any tomato based products in it, but anything else is okay. You will have stickage for awhile. I inherited my MIL breakfast skillet, it is over 60yrs old. A egg never sticks, a perfect pan. Oh, about the glass cooktop, probably not the idea thing for a iron skillet.
I’ve used cast iron right on top of a glass cooktop for years. Never had a scratch. Just make sure the cooktop & the bottom of the pan are clean. And if the pan isn’t flat, it will take a long time to heat up.
If you ever want to re-season your pan, just coat it with flaxseed oil and put it in the oven at 450 F for an hour. Flaxseed works well because it’s a drying oil.[/QUOTETHIS x100. Sheryl Canter first popularized it. Works really well
You can definitely use soap on it - regular “gentle on your hands” dish soap is just fine. You’ll know you’ve got a nice seasoning on it when you go to dry it off and realize that 95% of the water has beaded away. It’s pretty cool.
I do not use soap on my cast iron pans. I use water. Those who use soap on their cast iron pans have forgotten the face of their father.
(The surface of your cast iron pan, properly seasoned does in fact have a layer of polymerized oil that has bonded to it and does not care about soap. You also have a layer of partially poymerized oil. This layer cares very much. It likes soap and it absorbs soap, and it releases it back when you cook it. Unless you like the taste of soap don’t use it. You can test the truth of my words by washing your pan with soap and then cooking an egg seasoning only with butter or peanut oil. You will be able to taste the soap in your egg no matter how much rinsing you have done. The error made by those falsely espousing soap is that the chemical reaction that results in the polymerization of oil to your pan is perfect process. It is not. You do not get a complete reaction.)
Treat the seasoning on your pan with the kindness and respect you should show to all the gifts and bounty bequeathed to you. It will take some abuse, and it can be restored, but a well-seasoned pan only develops over time and with care and discipline. Your seasoned pan does not like standing water. It does not like abrasion. Prolonged excessively high heat will burn off your seasoning and leave you with ash and raw iron. Your seasoning will carry some of the characteristics of the oil with which it is formed. Olive oil and butter used in your pan will result in less tolerance to high heat. Peanut oil will result in more tolerance. If you are going to sear something preheat your pan on high until it begins to smoke. That smoke is your seasoning burning off. As soon as it starts put your food in to cool it down.
You want to season your entire pan, inside and out. Rub it with peanut oil and put it on the heat.
It’s a good idea to season your pan by cooking minced garlic in it along with the peanut oil. You will get a deeper richer seasoning that comes on faster and is easier to maintain. This occurs because of some kind of chemical reaction with the carbon and the aromatics in the oil and the pan and the heat. It is a complex chemical process that is not important to understand, but if you want the scientific details let me know and I will be glad to make something up off the top of my head, and describe it with authority. (The garlic molecules create a macro plasma that enhances the polymerization binding process on a micronaut level.)
Do not play frisbee with your dog and then Suddenly substitute the frying pan for the frisbee as a joke.
Tomatoes are acidic and can eat away at the seasoning. That being said, I often use my cast iron for tomato-based foods and then cook a good amount of bacon in it the next Saturday and call it a wash. Scylla may disagree, but that’s ok, he doesn’t have to eat it.
There’s all sorts of weird cooking rituals and superstitions with cast iron. Not cooking tomatoes in it and not washing it with soap are probably the two most common ones. They both supposedly eat through your patina/“seasoning” and destroy it or some such nonsense. Maybe when you’re first building it up, there might be some truth to that, but with an established seasoning, you’re fine. The acid of the tomatoes won’t eat through it, neither will your soap.