Didn't properly season my new cast iron cookware. Now what?
July 19, 2007 8:22 AM   Subscribe

I bought a cast iron skillet. Rubbed it with oil. 300 F oven for 1 hour. I neglected to clean it in soapy water prior. What has been indelibly burned into my skillet? Should I go to the emergency room now or should I save time and just start start organizing my affairs?

If it makes a difference:
1)purchased cheap from a closeout store
2)no discernible grim, dirt or residue
posted by stuart_s to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You'll be fine. The risk is that your seasoning layer might flake off the pan, and if that happens, just put it through the trials of the oven again.
posted by majick at 8:28 AM on July 19, 2007

IANAD. I am just a cook with a fine disregard for overthinking cleanliness - and I'm alive and even healthy. You're fine. Your skillet is fine. Hot oil is really good at killing things - hey, it's even been used for that purpose in the past! Germs are no stronger than crusaders. And whatever small discount dust or minuscule plastic particles or oil used for packing it or whatever is also almost certainly no big deal. Just wash it again with water. And don't use linseed oil to season it.
posted by mygothlaundry at 8:29 AM on July 19, 2007 [2 favorites]

Yeah, if it's really bugging you, just get out the steel wool and soapy water and scrub the hell out of it. Then dry it in a hot oven, let it cool, and re-season it as you did the first time. It'll be fine.
posted by some chick at 8:47 AM on July 19, 2007

Hot oil is really good at killing things... Germs are no stronger than crusaders.

Ha. No kidding.

Julia Child and Jacques Pépin were on camera together once, preparing chicken for the oven.
CHILD: I have washed this chicken with hot water. And if we take...

PEPIN: I don't wash my chicken.

CHILD: And he doesn't wash his hands. I think in France they're not as worried about things as we are, are they?

PEPIN: Well, I live in Connecticut, pretty far from France.

CHILD: That's right.

PEPIN: But what happened is that I feel it's going to go in 425-degree oven for like an hour or so, and at that point if the bacteria still living, they deserve to live, you know?
Relax. You're fine. If you like, you can always wash, scrub, and start over — or, if you're super-crazy-nuts, fill a grill with hot coals and bury the skillet in them. That's normally reserved for cleaning off rust, but it'll work for paranoia, too. That's probably what I'd do.
posted by cribcage at 8:48 AM on July 19, 2007 [20 favorites]

Germ-wise this skillet is easily the cleanest thing in my house. I guess my original concern was some industrial solvent, detergent, mercury, lead, whatever it was in that Chinese toothpaste, etc... Something inorganic that won't be killed by heat. Is there anything in that area that warrants concern?
posted by stuart_s at 9:06 AM on July 19, 2007

Is there anything in that area that warrants concern?

Nothing that soapy water would fix, if there were. Usually when I get cast-off cast iron pans I put them in the oven at like 450 to bake everything off of it, then I scour it with steel wool, then I season it agan more or less from scratch.
posted by jessamyn at 9:23 AM on July 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

According to wikipedia, the factory coating is usually food-grade wax or mineral oil. You're probably fine.

If you're really paranoid, you can scrub it with soap to remove the seasoning and start over.
posted by O9scar at 9:24 AM on July 19, 2007

Best cast-iron cleaning method: the "Self Clean" setting on your oven, for as long as it'll run. If anything survives that long enough to kill me, I'd be honored to be a part of such magnificent evolution.
posted by Skorgu at 10:23 AM on July 19, 2007

Clean and re-season it. As others have noted, it's probably not technically necessary, but this is clearly bugging you and if you leave it as-is, you're going to have an annoying nagging feeling every time you use it, which will make you use it less.
posted by mkultra at 10:58 AM on July 19, 2007

Seasoning isn't permanent - it's not like enameling or something that is sealing in bad things forever. It's just a thick layer of dehydrated oil, and it comes off, which is why you have to re-season every now and then anyway. The good news part of that for you is that, like everyone says, you can just scrub it down, clean, and re-season for peace of mind.
posted by Miko at 12:57 PM on July 19, 2007

I was just worried about something like a serious carcinogen. If mineral oil and food grade wax are the worst things I have to worry about then I don't think I'm going to even bother reseasoning it.

Thanks, everyone.
posted by stuart_s at 6:39 AM on July 20, 2007

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