Cast iron is a go-to for many kitchens because of its durability and non-stick properties. Seasoning layers build up over time, but you need to properly care for your cookware to ensure they remain in place. Many recommend using salt to clean cast iron, but wouldn’t that be too abrasive for these delicate layers?
Salt doesn’t damage cast iron. On the contrary, it’s the best tool to clean cast iron. It can gently scour away stuck-on food pieces, remove the stickiness from incorrect seasoning, and buff away rust. Using salt is a straightforward process that should be done when the pan is hot.
This article will discuss the benefits of using salt to care for your cast iron, including removing stickiness, stuck-on food, and rust. I will also cover the proper way to clean with salt.
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You’ve spent time building up the perfect seasoning layers on your cast iron, and now it’s one of your best pieces of cookware. It has a perfect sheen and looks beautiful in your kitchen
Naturally, you don’t want to do anything to damage those layers. Salt can be pretty coarse, and it would seem that anything with that quality could ruin your carefully perfected seasoning.
Let’s see what salt does to your cast iron and if you need to avoid it.
Salt Scours Hard-to-Remove Food From Cast Iron
While it may be surprising, salt is the primary kitchen tool for cleaning your precious cast iron cookware. It has just the right level of coarseness to tackle the job of removing stuck-on food without damaging your seasoning layers.
In combination with the correct scrubbing tool, salt gently buffs away these food pieces. You can use anything from a regular kitchen towel to a bamboo scrubber for the scrubbing tool. The goal is to not choose one that is too harsh, such as steel wool.
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Your cast iron can become sticky for a few different reasons. The main reasons are using too much oil or starting the seasoning process when the iron is cold. Any oil buildup can cause an unpleasant, tacky feeling and creates an uneven cooking experience.
While you can try scraping some excess oil off with a pan scraper, the ideal option is to use coarse kosher salt. A generous amount of salt in the pan and a sturdy scrubbing sponge will remove the oil. Keep in mind that it will also release a significant part of the seasoning, but this is necessary if you want to remove the stickiness.
Once you have removed the excess oils, you will have your pan back in working order.
Sometimes through neglect or misuse, cast iron can become rusty. While several methods exist to handle this, you can use salt and a good scrubbing sponge or piece of leather to buff the rust out.
As you can see, salt is necessary when taking care of your cast iron. It is used for everyday maintenance and cleaning and is essential for removing stuck-on food, excess oil, and rust.
Now that we know how important salt is to care for your cast iron, let’s look at the steps to cleaning with salt.
See also: Can You Put Cast Iron in the Dishwasher?
How to Clean Cast Iron Using Salt: Step-by-Step
Using salt to clean cast iron is a very straightforward process. You should always clean your dirty cookware and never let food build up over time. Follow these steps to maintain your cast iron using salt:
- Heat the pan on the stove or oven until it is hot. Ideally, you will clean your cast iron right after cooking while it is still warm.
- Add a generous amount of salt to the pan, so the entire bottom is covered. Continue cooking for another five minutes.
- You’ll notice the salt turning brown as it cooks. It is a natural process of the salt cooking off the food residue on the bottom of the pan and indicates it is time to begin scrubbing.
- Take your scrubber of choice and begin scouring the salt around the pan. Do this for at least one minute to remove any stuck-on pieces from the bottom of the pan.
- Pour the hot salt into a heat-resistant bowl. You need to let it cool before placing it in the trash.
- Add a small amount of smokeless oil to the hot pan. Using paper towels, rub the oil around the inside of the pan to remove the final bit of salt and give the pan that lovely sheen.
If you want a visual guide, here’s a video on how to clean your cast iron using salt:
The Bottom Line
Despite its coarseness, salt is one of the most beneficial tools for maintaining your cast iron. It has many uses, including removing stuck-on foods, stickiness from incorrect seasoning, and rust from improper care.
Using salt to clean your cast iron is a straightforward process that takes no time and should be done regularly to keep your cookware looking its best.