How To Clean A Cast Iron Skillet With Burnt On Everything?

The best way to clean burnt-on foods & greases cast iron skillets, place them on the stovetop, boiled water & baking soda on it; continuously scrub with a wooden spatula for 2 minutes.

Moreover, to clean the burned cast-iron exterior portion, apply vinegar & baking soda mixture on burnt places, leave it for 30 minutes, & scrub with a nylon scrubber.

If the pan gets rusted, check-out my article “how to clean a rusted cast iron?“. The boiled water is very effective to remove the burnt residues from any cookware.

Consequently, boiled water & baking soda loosen up the back residues or burnt elements slowly from the cookware surface.

I hope this short effective answer completes your query successfully – how to clean a cast-iron skillet with burnt on?

There are so many other methods you can try to solve this problem. In the later part of this content, I will share with you these procedures briefly.

Do you know the right oils for seasoning the cast iron cookware?

How To Clean A Cast Iron Skillet With Burnt On Using Baking Soda & vinegar?

Vinegar & Baking Soda Reaction With Baked On Greases:

Only the vinegar solution ineffective for removing the burned grease elements properly. The baking soda alkaline in nature, which effectively dissolves the burned oils. So, all trapped grease stains are pulling out from pans very efficiently.

Burnt On Food Reaction With Vinegar & Baking Soda:

Vinegar lightly dissolves the burned foods, and contain citric acid.

When vinegar comes in contact with baking soda, it reacts & releases carbon dioxide (CO2). One way, vinegar slightly soften the burnt foods; consequently, releasing the CO2, help to loosen up the burned residues from the skillet surface.

Tools Required To Clean Burnt On Foods, Greases & Black Resides

The main tools required for cleaning the cast iron are a nylon scrubber or medium-hard brush & wooden spatulas.

The spatula & nylon scrubber works best for inside cleaning, and a medium-hard brush is required to clean the outside of the pans, but it optional.

There are lots of people in this same industry may suggest you to use the steel wool to clean up the back resides & burned elements. Steel wool & hard brush are only required for cleaning the rusty cast iron skillets; to make it rust-free.

However, in some special cases, you may need to use steel wool; like if it slightly get rusted.

Clean Burned On Grease & Food Residues

In this section we will discuss on cleaning the burned greases & food residues using boiled water & baking soda.

If baking soda isn’t present at your home, you can use coarser salt, instead of baking soda.

If you don’t clean the singe foods & odors, you have to compromise with the food test. The hot water & baking soda doesn’t ruin the seasoning coating.

There are two ways you can clean them properly; let’s discuss them step by step-

Method No1: If You Cook With Low Amount Of Oil


Fill 1/3rd (one-third) of the skillet with plain water, place it on the stovetop & turn the stove on.

Step 2:

Boiled the water with add baking soda for a minute.

Step 3:

Continuously rub with a wooden spatula for 2 minutes. Now left the water on the basin & clean it with regular dish soap & nylon water. Finally, rinse under the flowing water.

Method No2: For cooking with a larger amount of oil.

This is the easiest way to clean a heavy-greasy cast-iron cooking surface. In this hot skillet, add one cup of coarser salt or baking soda.

Salt trap the greases, so it doesn’t get rusty.

Finally, scrub it pressure-fully with a paper towel. Left the salt & grease mixture & let the pan cool down at room temperature.

Finally, clean it with the rinsed water & regular dish soap.

How Boiling Water Helps To Remove The Burned Greases & Foods?

The burnt oil is a polymerized form of oil. When a cast skillet gets overheated (let’s say above 425F) & you put oils & cooking ingredients, it formed a polymerized layer with burned foods.

Boiling water on a pan soften the polymer layer & burned foods. So, when we rub with a wooden spatula, soft burned on elements become sticky less & easily remove from the cast iron cookware.

Never use a metallic spatula, this will damage the seasoning coating, so the cast iron gets easily rusted.

Additional Tips:

  • Warm skillets are easy for cleaning; but, every portion of the pan is equally heated. So, if the panhandle is uncovered, then never grip it with an empty hand. Always use either hand gloves or a cotton towel.
  • Never submerge the hot pan under cold soapy water. It will badly ruin the seasoning coating, as well as the durability of the cookware. Additionally, if you do this, the pan might get rusted.
  • If you heard from someone to put the cast iron in a dishwasher, never try this. It will ruin the pan’s coating.
  • Always avoids hard scrubber for cleaning.
  • Try multiple (2-3 pieces) cast-iron skillet for different recipes. First for the fish, the second for meat & the third for veggies. Never go for a rigorous cast-iron cleaning method.
  • Must go for frequent seasoning (at least 2 to 3 times in a month); especially, if you use them regularly.

 Everything About Black Residues:

The black resides are the combination of burnt-on foods, greases & the singe resides. This black resides, are not only appeared on the cast iron cooking surfaces.

But also appeared on the exterior bottom of the pan. This is also known as black stains. 

Suppose if you place the pan on any leftover foods, a small amount of that food stick on the bottom of the pan.

Finally, when we place this pan on the stovetop, it badly burns that food; as a result, you get black stains on that bottom surface. 

Are Black Residues Harmful?

No black resides are not harmful. But, it changes the food test. 

Additionally, if a pan contains black-residues for a long time, scrubbing off during cooking & goes into your food, that might be unhealthy for you.

How To Remove Black Residue Off From Cast Iron Skillets?

Removing the back residues from cast iron is an effective idea. You can clean this using several methods. But, I will only describe the best solution for you-

Technique No.1, Using The Bar Keepers Friend:

The ‘bar keepers friend‘ uses for more than 2 decades. It not only removes the black stains/ resides from the cookware, but you can also apply it on stove-tops, sinks, etc.

1st, take a tablespoon of bar keepers friend & add the same amount of water.

2nd, apply on the black spots & wait for 2 to 5 minutes.

3rd, Take a soft sponge & gently scrub on the stain spots. Now, you can see all the black resides are totally gone from the cooking surface.

4th, finally wash it with normal water & go for lite-seasoning on the cast iron. 

Technique No.2, Vinegar & Baking Soda:

The cost of baking soda is very-low, & its use as an effective cleaning agent for cleaning the burnt pans.

Take one 2 teaspoons of baking soda & vinegar each one, mixed it very well. However, if the skillet is bigger in size or has stains spots in many places, you can use 1 tablespoon for both of these ingredients. 

Apply the paste/ mixture on the black residue spots, leave it for 10 to 15 minutes. The vinegar & baking slightly hurt the seasoning coating.

Use a soft scrubber, & rub on the dark spots. This mixture easily stains out all the resides very efficiently.   

Finally rinsed under flowing water & Must season it lightly.

Technique No 3, Using The Cream Of Tartar:

The cream of tartar also effective for these types of problems. The cleaning procedure is as same as using the bar-keepers’ friend method. But, it is relatively less effective than the other two cleaning methods..

Can You Go With Self Oven Cleaning Method?

If you wish, then obviously you can go with the self Oven cleaning method. It effectively cleans all the black residues from the skillets. But, we don’t suggest you to go with this method, there are several reasons left behind it; like-

  • Firstly, the cleaning cost will effectively increase with this method.
  • Secondly, you must need re-seasoned the cast-iron properly (not light-seasoning) from the scratches.
  • Third, It voids the pan manufacturer warranty periods.  

Tips For Protecting The Cast Iron From Black Residues & Getting Burnt On:

Avoid Cooking At High Temperature: 

On the gas stove, we don’t have a temperature control option. So, these skillets get easily overheated. As a result, we get burnt-on residues.

That’s always set gas stove know at low flame. If you are using the cast iron on an electric stove or in the oven, then set the temperature at 425F, which is totally safe.

Don’t Use Bad Oils For Seasoning 

There are several types of bad oils present on the market; however, oils that have a higher percentage of saturated fats are, are non-recommended for seasoning.

These oils make the pans gunky, so food gets easily stuck on the cooking surface.

Say No To Nonstick Cooking Sprays:

The nonstick spray contains lecithin, which makes the pan sticky; that’s why never use any nonstick cooking oil spray. Use good oils like olive oil, canola oil; they don’t make the pan gunky.

Always Apply Thin Oil Coating For Seasoning:

You might think if the oil coating will be thick enough, the polymerized coating will be much thicker. No, it’s totally a wrong decision; the thick oil layer gets burned, & formed black residues on the cast iron skillet.

That’s why to take 2 teaspoons of drying oil, thinly smear it on the whole pan. You can use a paper towel for this thin smearing. Moreover, repeat the same procedure 2 to 3 times to get a well-seasoned pan.

Store Them Properly:

We can store them 2 ways- 

1st, on the hanging racks, make sure there is enough gap between two cast-iron.

2nd, if you place them on the cookware-rack, then always place a paper towel in between the rack surface & the cast-iron. The same method is applicable if you one skillet on another.

This technique is really effective; to prevent the cast-iron coating from scratches. So, they don’t get rusted quickly.


Can I Left Cast Iron Skillet On A Burner?

No, never do that. If you left a cast iron on a burner, it easily reaches above 500F. Most of the recommended seasoning oils smoke point is nearly 425F-450F. Once the pan reaches above this particular temperature, it will start deteriorating the polymer coating.

That’s why never left the cast-iron on a stovetop or burners.

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1 thought on “How To Clean A Cast Iron Skillet With Burnt On Everything?”

  1. This is confusing as it can possibly be.
    Only put a cast iron skillet of low heat?
    Cleaning tips that contradict each other?
    Did anyone bother to edit or proofread this before posting?
    It’s friendly in style, but hard to have confidence anything so full of errors.


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