Camping & Survival

Quick Prepper Tip: Cast Iron Cookware Care Tips

Stansport Cast Iron Cook Set

Cheaper Than Dirt Quick Prepper TipCast iron cookware is timeless and for many an essential piece of cooking gear. In fact, many preppers keep several sizes and a variety of pieces of ironware on hand to use in case of a power outage as this type of cookware is equally at home in a fancy oven as it is over an open fire or tucked into a bed hot charcoal briquettes.

Before You Buy

If you are buying cast iron cookware, make sure a reputable company such as Stansport  or Coleman makes it and avoid cheap cast iron cookware made overseas. Some of the cheaper grades of cast iron have been known to contain lead. It is hard to know for sure so it is best to stick with quality and a reputable company.

Stansport Cast Iron Cook Set

Opt For Seasoned

Seasoning is a process used on cast iron ware such as skillets, dutch ovens and kettles to cure or prepare the metal for the cooking process. Today most cast iron ware comes pre-seasoned. However the seasoning will need to be maintained; to do so generously coat the inside with food grade oil such as olive, vegetable or lard with a paper towel to clean, dry cookware. Place cookware upside down in an oven heated to 350 degrees. Use a tray or foil under your cookware to catch any dripping oil. Turn oven off and let cookware cool.


Properly clean your cast iron before storing it. Hot water, a scouring pad and mild non-citrus based detergent works well. Occasionally you may need a pan scraper for dry or stubborn pieces, heating the cast iron to medium heat often make this task easier. Dry thoroughly and store in a cool, dry place with a wedge of folded paper towel under the lid to allow air to circulate plus it soaks up any additional moisture.

Maintaining a perfectly seasoned cast iron skillet or kettle is not difficult if you follow these simple steps. If you do so, your cast iron cookware can last a lifetime.

Do you have a tip for cast iron cookware maintenance? Share it with us in the comment section.


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Comments (23)

  1. Bought Stansport cast iron at a garage sale that has been allowed to rust. Have scrubbed and baked it but still has black that comes off on fingers and towels. How do I fix this

  2. Thank you for the cleaning recommendations! I want to buy a cast iron pot, but my only concern is how to maintain it. Now I can finally get my pan, after reading your cleaning tip!

  3. After washing, dry with dry cloth and then heat it on stove for a few minutes to get it warm and remove any moisture.

  4. Clean ugly cast iron with lye. Let it soak for awhile and reseason. Fires warp cast iron, blasting is harsh.
    Soak in lye, and reseason .

  5. I grew up with cast iron cooking utensels and just recently sold all my old Griwold pans and pots.
    Quick tip:if at garage sale you find cast iron skillets and there is surface rust, point it out to seller to lower price, take home and cut potato in half or find long one and just open end, and begin rubbing then wipe with paper I. Use old grocrry bags and rust disapears leaving a coal black surface.
    Never never use sand paper lazy mans way,
    you best check for cracks in old waresbecause if you use oven to cure after coating with oils the oil can expand cracks.
    Never sandvblast as sand blastion even with bakng soda permeates castvmetals and you willplay havoc getting out taste.
    My Granbma when she hot a new pan we used fat back direct from butcher and kept pan on back of stove ,rubning until all fats gone or else excess was then removed.
    Today lard is best, my friends have used fats from fur bearers including bear to cure their ironware.
    The usebof soap of any type is a no no.
    Gram used to always get threr sizes of cast iron fry pans and 1bean pot for newly wedded family members.
    watch out for too clean used ones as some do-do’s use oven off to clean and that realy permeatesbas a poison into cast.
    A well taken care of but not babied as with new Teflon crap cast iron cookware is a heritage onecan pass on to future generations. There area few books on how to care gor and cook with cast wares
    Voleman puts their name on other manufacturers goods and Some Chinede and Russian cast iron is almost as good as an original Griswald.

  6. For stubborn stick-on stuff, use a good quality CLEAN paper towel, moisten it a bit, pour a generous amount of salt in the pot and scrub away. More towels and salt as needed. Then just rinse and coat with solid Crisco using a clean, lint free rag. In the old days, we were NEVER allowed to put soap of any kind in or on our cast iron pots. I have some that go back to my grandparent’s youth including one prized Griswold! No soap. None. Never. Period.

  7. My wife uses her cast iron like a teenager uses a smart phone. Everytime she cleans either the pan or pot, she scrapes out as much as possible with a food scraper and hot water, then hits it with a stiff bristle brush and kosher salt (kills the germs without messing the cast iron up). Dries it, then throws some Crisco in the bottom until its all heated up, wipes away the excess and leaves it to cool.

  8. I NEVER use soap or detergents of ANY kind when cleaning my cast iron cookware (or my hand pounded steel woks!). Detergents will remove all the hardwork you’ve accomplished seasoning your pans. Your foods will start to stick and the iron will be more susceptible to rust.
    Just use very hot water and an aluminum scrubby pad (NOT Brillo!) and some elbow grease. I have pans I’ve used since I was 16! They’re still in great shape and I’m 68.

  9. My mother (Who had mostly cast iron cookware), told me that after seasoning, when it’s cooled, to rub bar soap (like Ivory) on the bottom and part-way up the outside. It helps to keep hardened deposits from forming on the outside. (If you nest the pans, one into the other when storing them—don’t do this. Anyway, it works.

  10. The Goodwill has used pans Cheap, the older the better. Clean one up and real careful taking your time… use 600 grit wet and dry sandpaper with a sponge backing pad so it’s even smoothing and cleaning of the iron. Clean it up until it’s smooth as a baby’s behind. Make sure you work the 600 grit sandpaper clear out to the sides, you want the entire cooking surface to be happy.

    Season as directed here or turn it rightside up and cover the bottom with 1/4″ or so of peanut oil. (high heat oil)

    Done correctly you can flip a fried egg just like you can with a high quality restaurant saute pan. I’m an ex cook and seriously with no utensils can flip eggs and hash browns with a flip of the wrist.

    When you’re done you will have a pan that works as good as teflon, I swear!

    NOTE: Those free cast iron pans you see at yard sales clean up really well. If they are really bad blast em with walnut shells in a small sand blaster. They turn out like factory new!

    happy cooking

  11. Seasoning is essential to preparing a pan for use. First heat the clean pan to be seasoned with a small amount of oil. When the pan is hot (not smoking) remove from heat and add 2-3 teaspoons of plain salt. Use several folded paper towels or a cloth towel (which will probably brown slightly) and rub the ‘seasoning’ into the pan. Remember pan is hot and so is the oil and salt. The more you rub…the smoother the surface becomes. Wipe out the salt and you are ready to cook. The pan is now ‘seasoned’. You can use less oil and not stick. Cooking sprays are convenient but some may contain moisture (water) and can make the pan sticky.

    Repeated coatings of oil and then baking upside down will definitely ‘season’ the pan and also begin creating a non-stick surface. This method is used on steel pans as well and creates the next-best thing to Teflon. Jared and Ron have the right idea to lightly oil the pan before storing, especially in warm climates.

  12. I use Lodge cookware and suggest to buy the unseasoned skillet. Then use it as your bacon skillet for a year or so after your initial seasoning… it will be your favorite pan, period. That bacon seasoning makes everything you cook in it taste better, more authentic I guess… you simply can’t duplicate that taste any other way.

  13. Cast iron has an additional advantage that (non enameled) it will leach tiny amounts of iron into acidic foods like spaghetti sauce, providing nutritional iron which might be missing from a post ap diet. My go-to frying pan is probably 40 years old and better than new.

    I’ll second the endorsement of Lodge . Personal preference is a smooth surfaced cooking surface which is easily cleaned. Steel or brass wool only improves the finish.

    Old mountain cabin trick, store pans with a sheet of newspaper or paper towels between each (and protruding beyond the rims) and this will help wick off condensate and prevent rust.

    As others noted a light coat of olive oil will prevent the film of rust.

    Forget the fancy frying pans and stick with the basics…..

  14. if you find a old cast iron skillet or you ruin the skillet the best way to bring it back to life is simply throw it in a hot fire . burn the old off , let it cool down and use only crisco to re season the skillet . i’ve got some that are 2 generations old . never eat cornbread that ain’t cooked in cast iron and no sugar . one more thing that’s a must , you can not make a text book roux for gumbo without cast iron . made gumbo last week and the roux was the color of dark chocolate , better than the gumbo shop in N’AWLINS !

  15. I have been told that using dish soap to clean cast iron cook ware can result in food having a “soapy” taste? Not true?

  16. Always coat the raw areas of the iron with a light layer of oil before storing. I have a large, heavy bottom skillet I use in my kitchen regularly. It took a little while to get the iron seasoned to my liking based on the casting structure. ( pores a little on the loose side) However, after cooking a large duck breast with the skin on one day, I was thouroughly amazed at the results.
    The duck fat did something incredible for the iron. The seasoning is smooth and even.
    I would suggest avoiding foods that have been marinated with a lot of sugar in the marinade.
    The carmelization tends to want to lift some of the nice surface seasoning when scraped off.
    Hope this comment was helpful.

  17. I prefer Ceramic Enameled Iron Cookware, MUCH EASIER TO CLEAN. Many to Choose From, Like:
    1. GreenLife Healthy, ~$80.00 USD.
    2, Cuisinart Enameled, ~$100.00 USD.
    3. Cook’s Companion, ~$160.00 USD.
    4. Fancy Cook, ~$260.00 USD.
    5. LeCreuset Enameled, ~$800.00 USD. (My Favorite, because I Like to Cook).
    6. Staub, ~$1,330.00 USD.

  18. I use cast iron a lot in a sub-tropical climate. No matter how dry I make it before storing, I always would have light rust develop. I started storing with a thin coating on olive or peanut oil to help prevent the rust. Then simply wash before use and everything is tasty.

  19. I find Lodge Cast Iron to be the best due to the bottom remaining flat regardless of how hot I get it. I have had mine for over 12 years without any problems. Other than that, I agree with your comments

    1. I use Lodge and locally produced cast iron for cooking all the time. When cleaning it is best to clean while pot is warm and just after using. Always heat pot on stove top before spraying oil coating for storage. I never find rust on my stored pots. Paw paw used sand to clean his and never, ever, allowed soap to be used. I live in the center of Louisiana with high humidity.

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