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What to do if your cast iron skillet rusts or becomes sticky - a simple guide

Been having a little trouble with your cast iron skillet rusting or getting a little (or a lot) sticky after what you'd assume is normal use and care?

Our good friend and chef Mike Van de Elzen is here to save the day. Here he shares his simple tips for removing rust, sticky spots or other unidentifiable (and unwanted) marks on your beloved cast iron cookware.


If your cast iron pan becomes sticky or rusty, cover the base with 1cm of salt. Place the pan on a high heat and cook the salt for about 10 minutes or until the salt starts to spit or turn light brown, wrap a kitchen towel (or your Ironclad Pan Snug) around the handle, carefully remove the pan from the heat, and throw the salt out. It will be extremely hot, so I tip mine into the fireplace ash bucket, While the pan is still hot, rub the surface with a wad of paper towels. Once dry, pour a little oil in the pan and use a clean paper towel to rub it in. Every time you use it, while it's still warm, rinse it with hot water and scrub anything that doesn't wash off with a soft brush, dry, then apply a teaspoon of grapeseed oil to the entire surface with a paper towel.


As a general rule, in the initial weeks your cast iron pan will need slightly more oil or butter than you might usually use when cooking. Until the patina develops, things may stick a little but that's easy to fix and it will just get better with more use. So keep cooking!

Heating your pan is different with cast iron, because it takes a little longer to heat up, but does get very hot and retains the heat well.

An easy way to get the sticky stuff off is to put water in the pan after you're done cooking, then put it back on the heat and bring it to the boil. You may use a scrubbing brush or wooden scraper to remove the stuck-on bits, then dry thoroughly and re-oil to coat it before storing. No dishwashing liquid needed.

The more you use it the better and more non-stick it will get. I also suggest roasting things (like veggies) with it - more time in the oven will speed up that blackening/patina developing.

Feel free to comment your own cast iron skillet tips and tricks below if you have any others - we can always all learn more!

By Kate Slavin, Co-Founder of The Ironclad Co. & Mike Van de Elzen, Founder of Good From Scratch

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