You know, it's kind of interesting how our grandparents and their parents before them never used soap on their cast iron pans. Can you believe it was because the soaps back in the day were made with lye and vinegar? Those two are notorious for stripping away the seasoning and could even harm the iron of the pan!
Does soap really ruin cast iron due to lye?
All soaps are made with lye, an ingredient crucial for transforming fats, oils, or lipids into soap. During this process, the lye is neutralized, ensuring the final soap product is lye-free. So, soap won't damage your cast iron. However, it's recommended to use a gentle dish soap that doesn't contain strong degreasers or detergents to maintain the natural seasoning oils on your pan.
The expert team at Campfires and Cast Iron, who specialize in restoring cast iron, suggest not applying soap each time you wash your cast iron. A simple wipe with a paper towel or a light scrub with warm water is usually sufficient. This technique can help extend the seasoning of your pan.
How to clean cast iron with castile soap
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to clean your cast iron cookware with castile soap:
- Let the Pan Cool Down: After cooking, allow your cast iron pan to cool down to a manageable temperature to avoid burns.
- Scrape off Excess Food: Use a spatula or a brush to scrape off any excess food particles from the pan.
- Apply Castile Soap: Pour a small amount of castile soap onto the pan. Remember, a little goes a long way.
- Scrub the Pan: Use a soft scrub brush or sponge to gently clean the pan. Make sure to scrub all areas including the handle and bottom of the pan.
- Rinse Thoroughly: Rinse the pan under warm water to ensure all soap is removed. It's crucial to remove all soap as it can affect the taste of your food if left behind.
- Dry the Pan: Dry the pan thoroughly using a towel. Cast iron is prone to rusting when left wet, so make sure it's completely dry.
- Re-season if Necessary: If your pan looks dull or sticky after washing, it may need to be re-seasoned. You can do this by applying a thin layer of cooking oil to the pan and heating it in the oven for about an hour.
- Store Properly: Store your cast iron in a dry place to keep it free from moisture and rust.
While it's okay to use soap on cast iron, it should be done sparingly and not done after every use as it can strip away the seasoning over time. Always re-season your pan after washing to maintain its non-stick surface.