How to clean scunge off of enamelled cast iron?
October 4, 2013 12:02 PM   Subscribe

How can I most effectively clean an enameled cast iron pot?

I have an enameled cast iron pot that has gotten some sort of scunge/stuck on stuff on the bottom of the inside (but it's not big chunks of anything). It's not just that the pot is stained (OxyClean will remove the stains) but that if I run my fingers along the inside, the bottom feels rough, not smooth. And when I cook food in the pot it sticks badly almost immediately.

Any suggestions for how to effectively clean out the pot? The manufacturer warns to not use things that are too abrasive so as to not damage the enamel.
posted by leahwrenn to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Try simmering it with salt water for an hour, then scrubbing it with salt and baking soda. If you can't get it, call out the big guns and use Bartender's Friend.

You may have to do it several times, but it will eventually come clean.
posted by BlueHorse at 12:08 PM on October 4, 2013

What is the gunk? I recently discovered my Le Crueset had a thin layer of hard water minerals on the bottom. Vinegar removed it.
posted by ryanrs at 12:09 PM on October 4, 2013

I scrub out my Le Crueset pot with Bar Keepers Friend. That stuff gets off anything.
posted by cecic at 12:13 PM on October 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: What is the gunk? I recently discovered my Le Crueset had a thin layer of hard water minerals on the bottom. Vinegar removed it.

I wish I knew! I've tried boiling baking soda, and (halfheartedly, because I was worried about scratching things) Bon Ami cleanser. I've not tried vinegar, yet, though, and we do have hard water!
posted by leahwrenn at 12:27 PM on October 4, 2013

Magic eraser.
posted by O9scar at 12:28 PM on October 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Based on the question I asked earlier this morning I tried the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser on the bottom of one of my pans and it easily wiped up gunk I didn't even know was there, and all it took was a light swipe.
posted by Room 641-A at 12:30 PM on October 4, 2013

Nthing Bartender's Friend. It's meant for use on food service items and it works.
posted by fingersandtoes at 1:03 PM on October 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

Yeah, don't waste your time boiling it. Scrape that shit off, yo. Your iron can take it.

Then oil immediately, wipe off ALL excess (seriously - nearly dry!), and heat to smoke level (fan on), if there's any chance you hit bare metal. Or just because.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:19 PM on October 4, 2013

Best answer: In my experience, Oxyclean will etch glass.

However, some people in the two threads I linked claim that it only left a residue which was removable with acid, so I would try a packet of the scale remover sold for coffee makers if vinegar doesn't work.

If you have etched it, try polishing it with the wet/dry 1200 grit sandpaper auto supply stores typically carry; you might have to start out with 600 grit.

Beautiful pot, by the way, I didn't know Lodge made enameled cast iron
posted by jamjam at 1:25 PM on October 4, 2013

There is no need to oil and season it if it is enameled. Won't help in the slightest. If you actually wore it through to the bare iron, you've got bigger problems than a simple seasoning can help (chipping enamel in your food, for example.) Enameled cast iron is a different beast from plain cast iron.

Look closely at the bottom and see if it's got really faint crazing -- if so, you may not be able to do much for it. That was the case for one of mine. Otherwise, Bartender's Friend really does work well on these.
posted by litlnemo at 4:45 PM on October 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Do you have a pond nearby? When I was a scout leader, we had a kid who fried whatever to the bottom of a cast iron pan, harder than rock. The kid's mom took the pan, tied a rope on the handle, threw it in the pond in their back yard and let whatever was living there work on it for a month. Pulled it out, reseasoned it, it was good as new... no elbow grease required.
posted by HuronBob at 9:23 PM on October 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

A 0.1 M solution of sodium hydroxide is usually my go to solution for this sort of problem. If course if it's etched or crazed this won't help. Wear safety glasses and rinse thoroughly.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 1:54 AM on October 5, 2013

I don't know if it's too abrasive or not, but to clean my enameled Le Creuset stuff I use the green and yellow Scotch-Brite Heavy Duty Scrub Sponge. They're amazing - they're the only thing that will clean my stainless steel cookware and all my bakeware of dull scummy grease that seems really baked on, and while my Dutch oven doesn't usually get that dirty I do use the same sponge to lightly scrub it out. No damage so far after two years of heavy use, but ymmv.
posted by aspen1984 at 9:52 PM on October 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Based on jamjam's forum link, my guess is that the scunge is some sort of OxiClean/hard water mineral deposit. The instructions that came with the pot said to soak the pot in OxiClean to remove stains, which I dutifully did (for, well, a couple of days, several times).

Things I've tried recently:
(1) Boiling vinegar in it. It actually helped to remove some of the scunge on the sides. Not much removal on the bottom, but leads me to believe that (a) the scunge is a deposit and (b) there is some hope.
(2) scrubbing with Bon Ami.
(3) Soaking it in coffee scale remover overnight. No effect that I could see.
(4) Scrubbing it with a magic eraser. This took off a little of the scunge, but most of it is thoroughly stuck on.
(5) Currently, I'm trying soaking it in CLR. So far, no effect after about an hour.
posted by leahwrenn at 2:33 PM on October 13, 2013

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