Is My Cast Iron Pan Beyond Rescue?

published Mar 25, 2016
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Q: I have an old cast iron skillet I have used for years, but last week I had bacon in it and got distracted and it caught on fire! The bacon quite literally melted into the pan.

I have tried everything I can to clean it, including oven cleaner, but it still looks like it is uneven and has parts that are shiny and some parts look dry. How can I get it completely smooth and clean so I can re-season it? Or should I just buy a new one?

Sent by Fiona

Editor: Back away from the oven cleaner! No need for anything that harsh to save your pan. And yes, your pan can be saved, although you’ll need to put in some time to restore the “nonstick” patina — but it is possible. Being great fans of cast iron cookware here at The Kitchn means we’ve amassed quite a few tips on how to manage all sort of cast iron conundrums. Through it all, the one thing we’ve learned about this kitchen workhorse is patience. You need to re-season your pan to get that illustrious black surface back, and that might require more than one round of the process. Check out our tutorial on seasoning a cast iron pan, plus any extra advice on how to manage other cast iron pan situations. Let us know how it goes!

Cast Iron Care 101