The Best Way to Dry a Cast Iron Skillet

published May 29, 2013
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(Image credit: Faith Durand)

While our party line, here at The Kitchn, is that the cast iron skillet is one of your best friends in the kitchen, I’ve always been a little intimidated by mine. It just seemed so demanding, so finicky. I’d season it and carefully wash it (wait — was I supposed to use soap? Yes or no?) and dry it, but it would still develop spots of rust. And then I found a better way of drying it, and this pan rose once again in my estimation. 

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

The best way to dry a cast iron skillet? Over a low flame on the stovetop! Here’s what I do: 

Gently wash out the skillet with hot water and a bit of soap. I like to use a brush, too, (like this one) as it cleans thoroughly but isn’t too abrasive; it won’t take off the seasoning. Then wipe out most of the water with a towel or paper towel. Place the skillet over a medium flame and let it sit until very dry — about 5 minutes. Let it cool, wipe out one more time, then put it away. 

I actually learned this technique when Grace Young taught me how to take care of a carbon steel wok, which is also prone to rusting. (See how to clean a wok here.)

I find that this method of drying is more thorough and quicker, and it also seems to preserve and even maintain the seasoning on my skillet better. It’s become part of the routine — and I use my cast iron skillet a lot more frequently now. 

Do you do this? Or do you have other tips for keeping your cast iron skillet in good shape? 

(Images: Faith Durand)