Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cast Iron in the Self-Cleaning Oven

I had no intention of posting anything about our latest cast iron purchase. However, I found out some interesting things about this pan's trip through the self-cleaning oven and thought I had better pass them along in case anyone was using my advice about cleaning a really cruddy old pan.

In my blog of October 1 I gave a run down of how I had cleaned the other one. That one was $5 and very dirty and was rusty under the yuk. This one is larger and was also $5, but also a lot crustier, but with very little rust.

The first step is to remove the rust. Then get the pan to its original state. In the blog of October 1 I listed all the things I had done before finally giving up and saying that it was time for the pan to go into the self-cleaning oven. I was amazed that there wasn't any smoke involved since all sites had warned that there would be.

Friday I had done some scrubbing with coarse salt and oil and nothing was happening. Since all my work with the earlier pan didn't seem to do anything, I decided to just go for the self-cleaning oven cycle treatment without wasting my time trying to clean off some of the gunk.

Big mistake!! About ten minutes after the oven was going there was some lots of smoke coming from the oven vents. About ten minutes after that my oven turned itself off and gave me a warning sound that it was doing so. Lots of smoke. I opened as many doors and windows as I could and ran fans, as well as shaking a dampened towel.

What the heck? After the oven had cooled down and I could open the oven door, it wasn't bad on the inside. No ash though. Nothing had changed on the pan in that short time. Why the smoke? What had been different? Well, what was different is that all the cleaning and scrubbing and soaking I had done with the previous pan had apparently cleaned off almost all of the grease. The grease was still on this pan! This is what had caused all that smoke.

Now what? Well, I took a razor blade and noticed that chunks of charred remains were coming off (as charred anything is wont to do). Aha! I got a sturdy screwdriver and began chipping away. There were black pieces flying everywhere, but the pan was getting cleaned. It took quite awhile doing this, but I was actually enjoying it. It is more of a chisel motion, much as you do if you were to use the end of a window scraper and try to remove ice from the windshield, without damaging the windshield itself.

After I got off almost all of it (I was getting tired at this point), I did the seasoning, three times. I haven't posted a photo of the finished pan because it looks as clean as the other one in the prior blog.

This pan is from The Crescent Foundry Company out of St. Louis, Missouri. Very little can be found about them in a search. There are probably as old as Griswold or Wagner.


FirePhrase said...

Have you seen anything about taking it to the car wash and using the power washer? I found a camp skillet in my parent's garage, and have been considering taking it down and thrown a couple of dollars in the coin wash. Kind of like yours in that it's black with gunk, but not so much rust.

glorm said...

Hmmm, I would think that would be a lot of water and porous cast iron doesn't like water, but maybe it won't matter because it is the cleaning process, not the seasoning process.

Someone else said that it might not be enough pressure to clean it.

I would guess that if your pan is not nearly as dirty as the two I posted pics of, that spraying an oven cleaner (like Easy Off) on it and sealing in a plastic bag for a day or two might be enough to get the process started. But I'm no expert. So far I've only dealt with the super dirty!

I'm going to do a little more reading and will send to you some sites which had good info. Give me a day or so to get the info together.

glorm said...

Every so often a person, without thinking, puts a cast iron pan in the dishwasher. Tsk, tsk. Thus, they must do the seasoning ritual from the beginning. Would that be so different from using the power wash at the car wash? Maybe not. FirePhrase may try this. Without a self-cleaning oven, fireplace, or a handy camp site, alternatives need to be used. I am curious as to the outcome. Please let us know.

sew{very}creative said...

A friend of ours (from Cub Scouts) gave hubby two cast iron skillets about 3 years ago ~ both were gunky and rusted. You couldn't even TELL it was cast iron!! It just looked like a deformed lump of metal gunk).

DH spent HOURS with an SOS pad, trying to clean the first (smaller) gunky skillet. After about 30 hours (yes, HOURS) the one still looked like you wouldn't dare cook in it. The other, still sits in our garage to this day. It was far worse than the first one (and much bigger).

Yannow, I'm going to have DH read your Cast Iron Saga and see if he can't be motivated to try again. There is NOTHING like bacon fried up in a cast iron skillet. Hmmmm .... or maybe a nice big ol' batch of cornbread?

You mean woman!! Now you've got me slobbering all over my keyboard!!!

Seriously, though, AWESOME job on that skillet!! DAMN!!!


glorm said...

Unless your pan is badly pitted, gouged, unevenly on the bottom, or cracked, you can salvage it.

The main steps:
--remove rust
--clean down to original surface

It takes awhile but *is* worth it.