Cast iron is a favourite tool for serious home cooks. But what most people find really serious is the proper way to maintain their heavy metal cookware. Some people swear that soap is the enemy of a properly seasoned pan. Others hold firm that the correct method for seasoning a pan takes five hours.
Well, the good news is that cast iron is easier to maintain than you may have previously thought. It does, however, require a more intensive care process than most other dishes and cookware.
The big question most people have is whether they can wash their cast iron cookware with soap. The answer is yes! Soap away! Just be sure to rinse and dry the pan thoroughly, and then immediately re-season it.
“Season a pan? What’s that?” This is not as complicated as it sounds. You need to treat cast iron a certain way in order to give it a protective nonstick coating. After each use and cleaning, return your pan to medium heat and add a few drops of vegetable oil. Spread the oil evenly over the pan using a wadded-up paper towel. Make sure there is no oil pooling in any parts of the pan, let cool, and store. That’s it! Your pan is now seasoned.
“But how do I clean the pan if I’m still afraid of soap?” First, let’s get this out of the way: The reason why some people say don’t use soap is that it may break down the polymers created by the oil when seasoning. (It doesn’t, so don’t worry.) You still should not let the pan soak in soapy water in the sink, but if you insist on alternatives to soap, then return the pan to the heat and add some salt and vegetable oil. Scrape the surface with a wadded-up paper towel or ball of foil. Just season again and you’re ready for the next round of cooking!