Black residue on cast iron skillet

shezzy_in_sjMarch 13, 2006

Hey, all.

I made a peach cobbler in a seasoned cast iron skillet over the weekend, and by the next morning what was left in the skillet (in frig over night) tasted metallic-y. I dumped the rest of the cobbler and wiped it really quickly with a barely soapy sponge and rinsed with hot water. The sponge came off with a black residue, and the paper towels when I dried the pan did too.

This is the first time this pan has reacted this way. I've done the cobbler before, but don't remember this issue. We haven't seasoned the pan, in the oven, for a while and I know DH forgets to put it "to bed" with a wipe and wipe off of oil on it when we use it.

I went to rub some Crisco on it just now to reseason the thing, but the paper towel came away with the black again.

Because I haven't run into this before, it'd be great if you could give me some pointers about what I might be doing incorrectly.

It's never been in the DW, or vigorously scrubbed with soap. But DH does insist on a quick wipe with a slightly soapy sponge to encourage any clinging bits to come off in the wash.

Thanks for your help.


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You just have to scrub it real well now, before you reseason it. Now's your chance to use soap and a scrubbie thing of your choosing. I use a plastic scrubbie. When it's nice and clean, wipe it with oil. (I don't know if Crisco is good - my instructions said peanut or corn oil, since they have a high smoking point).) Then put the pan, upside down so any excess oil can drip away, in a 350 degree oven for an hour. Turn the oven off and let it sit until it cools - it may take a long time. That's all - it will be fine again. (Oh - and put something under the pan to catch any drips.)

I'm thinking the peach cobbler was both acidic and wet, and one or both of those things wore the seasoning off, perhaps? I have a feeling it's a no-no to use cast iron for storing food like that, especially in the fridge - that will make the pan damp as well.


    Bookmark   March 13, 2006 at 4:20PM
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Wash it good, real hot water, and I like to use a plastic scrubber. You could use just a dab of detergent with the plastic scrubber, then rinse with hot water. Dry it on a burner, and when it is dry (and hot), just give it a wipe with a paper towel or a little rag and a touch of Crisco. It should be fine.

The other thing is that you can't store food in a cast iron skillet or pot after it is cooked. I've had corn bread do the same thing after letting it sit overnight. It was metallic tasting, and even had a dark color where it sat on the cast iron. Once food is cooked, remove it and immediately clean & prep the skillet or pot.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2006 at 6:25PM
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I agree with the other two posters, but I use a stiff bristled (plastic or natural - not metal) brush to clean all my cast iron after I've cooked with it. IMO the brush gets in the pores of the cast iron and cleans it better than a sponge or scrubby. I love to make deep dish pizza in my grandmother's large skillet. But I take it out of the pan within minutes of removing it from the oven. And the same with cornbread too.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2006 at 9:11PM
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I have a fairly new Lodge Logic skillet and it has lots of black residue. I've been washing it with very hot water, scrubbing without soap, drying it on a burner, and wiping with a bit of oil before storing. We've never stored food in it.

I DON'T want to constantly strip & reseason! This is very discouraging, and I no longer trust the pan.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2008 at 1:51PM
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Lodge Logic cookware is only "pre-seasoned" and it is not "cured". There is a big difference between a pre-seasoned skillet and one that is cured. Pre-seasoned cast iron still has minute holes in the black seasoning layer and the underlying iron is very reactive to liquids in foods. This is especially true of Lodge cast iron as it has a rough surface. On the other hand, cured cast iron has no holes in the seasoning layer and is impervious to liquids. Consequently, cured cast iron is nearly non-reactive. Properly cured cast iron will not impart a heavy metallic taste to food and can even be used to cook tomato products in it (for example: Cajun sauce piquant or spaghetti).

To quickly "cure" a pot you must season it multiple times at a relatively high temperature. Re-season your cast iron multiple times with Crisco at 450 degrees and it will become cured. The secret is to apply many THIN seasoning layers and bake at a high temperature. You will not get the same effect if seasoned at a lower temperature.

When cast iron is seasoned at a high temperature it can be washed with soapy water using a plastic scrub brush as needed and it will not remove the seasoning layer.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2008 at 4:56PM
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I did season the pan once but obviously that is not enough.

Do I assume that I now need to really scrub the pan to get rid of the black residue, and then start the seasoning process?

    Bookmark   January 23, 2008 at 8:46PM
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Some of that black residue is pre-seasoning and some of it is cooked on food and oily debris (fond). You only want to remove the food debris and not the black pre-seasoning.

I suggest you clean your skillet with hot soapy water and a plastic scrub brush. Don't be afraid to scrub it well with plastic. Do not use a metal pad. This cleaning will only remove the debris and not the pre-seasoning. Rinse the skillet real well with hot water afterwards to remove all traces of soapy residue. It should still look black because that's the color of the pre-seasoning that Lodge put on your skillet. At this point all you have removed is the junk that does not belong on your skillet.

Think of the "curing" process as if it were a "painting" process. With painting, first you clean the surface, next you prime the surface with a good paint primer, finally you add several thin coats of paint. If you skip any of these steps in the painting process, your paint job won't last. It's exactly the same with curing a skillet, skip any of these steps and the seasoning layers won't last either.

With painting it is very important that the surface get cleaned properly. Yes you can paint over a dirty surface and it will look good for awhile. But, eventually that paint will flake and fall off even if we used the best grade of paint. It is the same with seasoning cast iron. The surface must be clean of all food debris before seasoning.

The durability of the final seasoning layer depends on the type of oil that you use and the temperature that you heat it to. Don't worry too much about this, just use melted Crisco shortening at 450 degrees for an hour and you will be fine. Just be sure to use very THIN layers (No puddles) of melted shortening on your skillet......this is very important to the chemical reactions that take place on your skillet's surface. Your skillet will smoke at this temperature but keep in mind that that is the temperature at which the best seasoning layer occurs. This can be done on a BBQ pit outdoors or in a small toaster oven placed outside.

You're very fortunate in that Lodge has already cleaned the skillet for you and has put on the prime coat of pre-seasoning. All you need to do now is clean the food debris off your skillet as directed above and add multiple coats of more seasoning. Your skillet will be cured rather quickly. A good paint job lasts for years. Likewise, the cooking surface of your properly seasoned skillet will last a long time.

The alternative to this procedure is to use your skillet as often as possible and it will eventually cure on its own. How long it takes to cure depends on what types of cooking you do. If you do a lot of frying, it cures quickly.....a lot of brazing and it takes longer.

Hope this helps.


    Bookmark   January 24, 2008 at 12:15AM
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I scrubbed my pan & put it through several cycles of Crisco high heat seasoning just as Dan explained above, and what a wonderful difference! Thanks!

    Bookmark   February 8, 2008 at 12:56AM
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Thank you for your feedback. Glad it worked for you.


    Bookmark   February 11, 2008 at 4:23PM
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Hi Dan, Thanks for sharing your knowledge and the instruction.

I bought a couple of Lodge skillets last week. I fried some eggs and it sticked to it so badly. I scrubbed the food off and tried your technique of curing it.

I used Crisco and put in the oven 450 degrees for 1 hour but didn't get the smoke but my house smelled good though. Is is supposed to smoke? Anyway, I did it a couple of times and the skillets turned glossy. Is it right? How can I tell when they're cured?

Btw, I also bought an oval pot w/lid awhile back, not Lodge. It came unseasoned so I preseasoned it w/Crisco in the oven for 1 hr. at 350 degrees. Toward the end, it did smoke. So, I don't know why the skillets didn't smoke at higher temperature.

Thanks in advance.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2008 at 1:46AM
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You will get a much better seasoning at 450 degrees than what you get at 350 degrees. Seasoning layers at that temperature should take on a shiny/glossy appearance. If you put that Crisco layer on thin enough you shouldn't see a lot of smoke. What's very important after each baking is that the seasoning layer not feel "sticky" at all. Baking at 450 for 1 hour should be long enough to get beyond that sticky stage.....and into the slick stage. Put your pans through at least 3 to 5 seasoning cycles and your pan should be pretty darn near cured.

Now that you have seasoned your pan properly at a high temperature. It is equally important that you "clean" your pans properly after each use. Don't short cut this important step. Here's how awm03 does it........

"When cleaning up, I wash with soapy water & the scrub side of a sponge, making sure all the food is removed. I always set the pan on a low burner to dry thoroughly. I rub a bit of Crisco in it with a paper towel, then rub the pan with a dry paper towel to remove as much Crisco as possible. I turn the heat up to medium until the remaining oil starts to smoke, then I turn the heat off. When cool, I store the pan with a paper towel in it so other pans stacked in it don't chip the seasoning."

When you season cast iron at a high temperature it is perfectly OK to wash your pan with soap when and if needed. Soap is not always needed as in when you fry a batch of french fries. But by all means don't be afraid to use it. Keep in mind that if you exactly follow the cleaning procedure quoted above, each time you clean your pans you will be adding another thin layer of seasoning to your pan. The patina will get better and better each time that you use your pan. I have posted quite a bit of stuff regarding the care and use of cast iron and in some instances went into nauseating detail. Do a search on my username and it will bring up those old posts.

Enjoy your new pans.


    Bookmark   February 17, 2008 at 12:57PM
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Thanks Dan. Yes, for the past months, I've been reading alot of info and directions from many on this forum about caring for cast iron.

I guess, I've been doing it correctly by baking at 450 degrees on the 2nd and 3rd cycle. They do have a non sticky glossy look. However, I will do it for a few more times.

Cast iron use is not new in my country. Practically, cast iron cookwares are typical cookwares in every family. However, with living here in the US and the new tech of cookware products, cast iron is no longer used in my family. However, I love using them because of the even heat and better food they create.

In a matter of fact, some of our dishes must be made with cast iron cookware. Otherwise, they don't look nor taste the same for some reason.

I'm glad to find that cast iron cookwares were once widely used here in the US too. It's nice to know that they're still available.

Thanks for all your postings and instructing us how to care for these inexpensive but high quality cookwares.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 9:35PM
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Does anyone know if this black crap that comes off the skillet is harmful? I mean I know we need to have a daily dose of iron. LOL I am kinda slow when it comes to some things, but when your eggs come off the skillet gray, somethings wrong. I have cleaned this skillet many diffrent ways - still black residue. I think its headed for the garbage. I know that my grandmother used one to throw at a women who told her that she was going to steal my grandfather when he came back from WW2. Needless to say the women never returned. Best regards, Pat

    Bookmark   July 9, 2009 at 11:28AM
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I sanded my pan (an old pan given to me) to remove all previous coating from previous curing. I cured the pan @350 for 1 1/2 hours right side up with crisco and 3 hours @350 up side down. It came out with a golden color. I fried eggs the next morning and the new coating came off sticking to the eggs. Do I need to re-cure a stripped pan several times in order for it to turn black and stick to the pan.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 7:14AM
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That was caused by not seasoning at a high enough temperature......all you accomplished with your seasoning attempt was to create an oil removable coating on your pan. That is not the same thing as actual "seasoning".

Next time you you re-season your pan with Crisco, do it a higher temperature.....350 degrees is NOT HOT enough. For best results you need to use a temperature that is ABOVE the smoke point of your seasoning oil (Crisco in your case).....use a 450/475 degree temperature instead. Make sure you put a VERY thin/light coating of "melted" Crisco on your "warm" skillet. You do not want the Crisco to be puddled or in a thick layer anywhere on your skillet. Again, use a very thin layer and place in a hotter oven. You will have to do this coating/baking procedure several times for the pan to develop a real nice durable seasoning.


    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 12:29PM
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danab_z9_la other thing. Before trying to season a cast iron pan that was "sanded", clean it real well with hot soapy water. Then follow that with a cleaning using Bar Keepers Friend (BKF). BKF is a chemical chelate, a chemistry term that means in layman terms, "will clean the heck out" of any metallic residue from that sanding operation. BKF is perfectly safe to use. After cleaning with BKF, again clean with hot soapy water, rinse well......and you're ready to re-season that (now properly cleaned) pan.


    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 12:41PM
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Tonight my husband cooked on the side burner of our gas grill with my skillet. When I went to wash some black residue came off the BOTTOM that even turned my hands black. I've never seen this happen as the inside is perfectly ok. Should I cure/season the bottom of the pan?

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 10:48PM
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The bottom on the pan (outside) does not need any seasoning. Just wash/clean the pan as you normally would. It's only the inside/cooking surfaces that you take care of.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 12:24AM
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I apparently have been cleaning my skillet wrong. I had just been wiping it off with a sponge and water, but never really scrubbed it. Then i made the mistake of rubbing it with olive oil. oops. Now there's a ton of black residue when i cook.

So i looked online and found a few people using scouring pads. I boiled water in the pan and scoured the heck out of it. Now i'm thinking it was too much! I even used salt and rubbed it around as suggested by some.

Still a ton of black when i rub it with oil.

Where do i go from here? Not sure if i should be curing it if there's still black showing up when i wipe it.

It's a Lodge pan, so I'm guessing my scouring has ruined their preseasoning. Is this pan toast?

Also can i season with coconut oil?


    Bookmark   October 26, 2013 at 11:35PM
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jess_leigh, did you ever receive any follow up info on your post? Your experience mirrors mine EXACTLY (except I used coconut oil instead of olive oil). I don't know what to do and it seems like no one had this problem except me (and you), which seems weird.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 3:22PM
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Somewhere within the messages on this forum are exhaustive directions on seasoning cast iron. I don't come here often enough to keep track but a search, even if it has to be via Google, should find it.

As I recall, a high smoke temperature oil, such as peanut oil, is used to coat the pan, which is then baked in an oven. As Admiral Rickover once put it: "The devil is in the details, but so is salvation." Good luck.


    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 8:30PM
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