Return to the Cookware Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
Black residue on cast iron skillet

Posted by nancybc (My Page) on
Sun, Mar 14, 10 at 21:52

HI Everyone,
HOpe you can help.
I got a cast iron skillet at the thrift store. It's used but clean. When I tried to oil it for re-seasoning, the towel picked up lots of black residue although the pan looks clean. The pan was made in Taiwan and has concentric rings on the inside bottom.
I tried heating the pan, cooling it and then using a brush followed by putting coarse salt in it and wiping hard with an oily paper towel.
Twice. The pan still releases the black smudgy stuff on the paper towel. IS the pan defective? Am I too impatient? Is it safe to use?
Any help/suggestions gratefully received!
Nancy


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: Black residue on cast iron skillet

I'd scrub it really well--maybe even strip it with EZ-Off-- and season it in the oven. Mine get that too sometimes when they aren't as clean as I think they are. I'm sure it's fine underneath...

(Try the cooking forum--more readers there!)


 o
RE: Black residue on cast iron skillet

Thanks,
I've put it in a plastic bag with EX off and will hope forthe best!
Nancy


 o
RE: Black residue on cast iron skillet

The black smudgy stuff is often plain old cooking oil which has attracted some dust or cooking residue into it. The cooking oil likely has polymerized and that is why it is difficult to completely remove it. The first thing that I do when I purchase cast iron (and I purchase a lot) from a thrift store is give it a good cleaning. I use Dawn liquid detergent with a good scrub brush. I follow that cleaning with Bar Keeper's friend....again using a good stiff PLASTIC or NYLON brush. After that cleaning; if the surface feels sticky or soils a paper towel wipe, I will bake it in the oven at 450 deg F for about an hour. The stickiness should be gone and the pan is quite ready to be re-seasoned, if needed.

Dan


 o
RE: Black residue on cast iron skillet

Thanks, Dan.
I'm using EZ Off and putting the pan in a plastic bag to retain the fumes etc. So far I've repeated the process four times. Since I posted the original request, I've returned the Taiwan pan for an old Griswold and a Wagner ware as I thought those were better pans. I'm tempted to find a sandblasting company that will do them as the EZ off, scrub process does not seem to be getting the build up of baked in stuff removed.
Thanks so much for your help.
Nancy


 o
RE: Black residue on cast iron skillet

Nancy,

The absolute BEST way to clean old cast iron pans is with electrolysis. This is not a procedure for most people. The procedure can be obtained by a google search. There may be some shops in your area that use this technique of cleaning. People that are into restoring old automobiles, antiques, etc. often use this technique. Electrolytically cleaned cast iron pans will often look just like the day they were manufactured. Some of the better sellers of old cast iron on eBay use this process......."oldcatsiron" is one seller that comes to mind. Often these super-nice, great performing pans can be purchased at a great price.

Regarding the cleaning of your pan with oven cleaner....it will eventually get all of the old seasoning off. Make sure to keep it wet with oven cleaner and let it sit a several days before washing it off. Soaking the pan in a lye bath will significantly speed up the cleaning process; however, that too is not a procedure for most people.

Griswold and old Wagner cast iron pans are much superior to what is available today. I have written about this and the care & cleaning of cast iron in the thread that I have linked below.

Dan

Here is a link that might be useful: The Care and Cleaning of Cast Iron


 o
RE: Black residue on cast iron skillet

I'll look into it!
It's funny how simple activities can turn into a seminar experience!
I wanted to make better cornbread, so thought I'd get a cast iron pan .Being frugal- I went to the thrift store. Got on line to find out how to clean it and suddenly found that between this forum and Permaculture (Paul Weaton) there is an entire science of cast iron care! I've gotten more than I bargained for-lol!
I'll see about the electrolysis. Sandblasting will be about $20 so I have to keep costs in line. Elbow grease comes cheap at my house-lol.
I am glad that I could return the Taiwan pan and that I found an old Griswold slant 8 and a Wagnerware one. I'm learning about quality cast iron.
Flaxseed has some advocates as well in seasoning.
Thanks for posting the friendly and helpful advice and links!
Cheers,
Nancy


 o
RE: Black residue on cast iron skillet

Just some general info.........

The small logo Griswolds are not as collectable as the larger or slanted logo pans.....so, they often go for very good prices on eBay. I've purchased perfectly seasoned 8 and 10 inch small logo skillets for as little as $5 each plus shipping. When purchasing Wagner.....look for the words "Sydney" in the logo under the pan. Modern day Wagner is not as good as the older stuff.

Dan


 o
RE: Black residue on cast iron skillet

Thanks,
I love ebay! I'm not planning on collecting- but am glad to have two pans that eventually will be seasoned and ready to use.
It's great that you are so willing to share your expertise on a forum so that we can learn, avoid mistakes and enjoy owning good cast iron cookware.
Bless you!
Nancy


 o
RE: Black residue on cast iron skillet

The method I used is simple and easy. Just put the pan in your oven and run it through a self-cleaning cycle. When cool, just wash off the ash and you'll have a perfectly clean, gray, raw cast iron pan. Dry thoroughly and re-season. It's worked for me...


 o
RE: Black residue on cast iron skillet

Glad you brought up cleaning cast iron in the oven.....I completely forgot about that. You are correct in stating that the self-cleaning cycle of an oven will burn off the seasoning layers into an ash. However, just be aware that it is possible to ruin a cast iron piece with that procedure. Some people also use their BBQ pits for cleaning their cast iron. Sometimes a skillet or dutch oven will develop a warped bottom due to the intense heat. Warped bottoms can be problematic when used on some stoves......it is a pain in the botox when a cast iron skillet spins like a top on the stove top due to a warped bottom. Also, too much heat can cause the cast iron to become brittle and subject it to possible cracking during the heating cycle or cracking at some unexpected later time. I have not come across many cast iron pieces that really require the complete removal of the seasoning; so, I generally clean them as stated above and put another layer of two or seasoning on top of what's already there. No sense in removing a nice patina that took years to develop...if you don't have to.

Dan


 o
RE: Black residue on cast iron skillet

Wow! I've done this to several pieces over the years with no ill effects. And I've talked with a lot of people who have done the same, again with no problems.

Sorry to hear about yours warping and cracking. I'm an infrequent visitor here, so I hadn't heard of your mishap before -- apologies. I'll be more careful with my contributions in the future.


 o
RE: Black residue on cast iron skillet

I use the self-cleaning oven method too and have had no problems. Two thoughts: pans that crack in the oven most likely had a tiny crack to begin with that was made worse in the heat; also, it's a good idea to warm the pan in the oven before turning on the self-cleaning cycle and to let the pan cool in the oven instead of taking it out immediately. Gradual temperature changes avoid thermal shock that could crack or warp the pan. With this in mind, the self-cleaning oven method's great!


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the Cookware Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here