In an earlier post, I mentioned a great resource for reseasoning cast iron; on Friday I finally went ahead and cleaned my skillet using my oven’s self-cleaning cycle. I wasn’t afraid of warping the pan, since the skillet walls are quite thick – also I set the pan right-side-up instead of upside down so it would be able to keep its shape more easily even if the iron softened during the cleaning cycle. No appreciable warping at all – I probably wouldn’t try it with a thin-walled popover pan, though.
There was a bit of rust on the inside of the pan when I finished, courtesy of my previous lack of care of the pan, so I used the vinegar treatment (no soaking – just a scrub with some steel wool) and used a ton of baking soda instead of washing soda to neutralize it after rinsing the vinegar out. It didn’t seem to make much of a difference to the rust, and since this is not high-quality cast iron by any measure, I figure, whatever, we’ll see if it works out. No big loss if something goes wrong because I didn’t use washing soda or didn’t get enough rust off or whatever.
So, on to the seasoning! I didn’t have any flaxseed oil on hand, and wouldn’t spend the good stuff on that particular pan for my first attempt anyway, so I used some olive oil instead. I figure, it’s also cold-pressed and I dunno if it qualifies as “drying” but you’re not supposed to cook with it, therefore it must be an okay oil to use for seasoning. (Rationalization ftw!) I heated the pan for half an hour at 450, and used some oven mitts to protect my hands as I applied the oil and mopped up the extras. (I was already running late into the night and couldn’t afford the whole hour of pre-seasoning heating.) The initial, bare-iron heating run apparently worked to darken the pan – the first layer of seasoning darkened up quite nicely after an hour at 550. I waited until Saturday afternoon to run the second round – heated the pan a bit at 200, which left it warm but still within bare-hands handling temperatures. For the first round I baked the pan upside down – the rest of the time I think I’ll do it right-side-up, because (a) I’m mopping up the excess oil so that there’s no extra to form drips, and (b) the inside of the pan is incredibly rough and if the seasoning can fill in the roughness a bit that would be nice. It’s never going to have a nice smooth finish but I don’t want to encourage the nubbles to get taller instead of filling in the pits!
It doesn’t make the house smell too good, but I opened the door a bit for fresh air so hopefully I can clear out the smell quickly. Sometimes there is a bit of an advantage to having a drafty house – no worries about air going stale! LOL