How To Clean A Cast Iron Skillet With Salt

Whether you have a brand new cast iron skillet you want to clean or you have a rusty one, this is how to clean a cast-iron skillet with salt.


There are lots of well-known benefits to cooking with a cast-iron skillet. Did you know that it can actually fortify your foods with more iron? This is great news for anyone battling anemia or pregnant!


Not only that, but they are some of the longest-lasting pans you will ever use. Some people are still using cast iron skillets passed down from their grandparents.


When you have a cast-iron skillet that you need to clean, this is how to do it safely, without any chemicals.


All you need is some salt, oil, and a potato.


how to clean a cast iron skillet with salt

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How To Clean A Cast Iron Skillet With Salt


The safest way to clean a cast-iron skillet is with simple ingredients. You might have heard the many things not to do with cast iron:


  • Do not put it in the dishwasher
  • Don’t use steel wool
  • Don’t use soap.


The last one is a myth – and I’ll answer it at the bottom of this post. But first, I want to share exactly how to clean a cast-iron skillet.


The best part is that you already have all that you need in your house! Some coarse salt, a potato, and oil will remove stubborn rust and make your skillet safe to use.


Follow these steps to clean your cast iron skillet safely.




  • Coarse salt
  • Oil (vegetable, olive- even Crisco works!)
  • 1 potato


Step 1: Dry The Skillet


The very first step is to make sure that you are cleaning a dry skillet. If you used it to cook, remove all the food, rinse it out, and then dry it completely. If you are cleaning a rusty skillet, wipe it out quickly with a paper towel.


Step 2: Pour Oil and Salt Into The Skillet


Add about a teaspoon of oil to the skillet with 1/2 cup of coarse salt. You want enough salt to almost completely cover the bottom.


The best kind of salt to use is going to be larger, like sea salt.


Step 3: Cut A Large Potato


Next, cut a large potato so that it has a flat side you can use for scrubbing. Any kind of potato will work, even a sweet potato. You just have to make sure it has enough surface area on the flat side to scrub a larger area.


If you cut it so a small tip is flat, it will just take you longer to clean with.


Potatoes are used because they are great for cleaning up rust. Potatoes contain a non-toxic acid that forms a compound with the iron ions in rust. It’s science! I’m not just some crazy person cleaning my pans with a potato. 🙂


Step 4: Scrub The Skillet


Use the potato to grab the salt in the skillet and scrub the bottom, sides, and handle of the skillet. Make sure to scrub in circular motions. The coarse salt will act like little scrubbers, grabbing the rust and dirt and pulling it up.


If you notice that it’s too dirty and no longer cleaning very well, rise the dirty salt out and start the process over with new salt and oil.


Step 5: Rinse And Dry The Skillet


When you think it’s completely cleaned, rise out all of the salt and oil. By this step, the entire pan should be shiny and black.


Step 6: Heat Dry


This step is also known as seasoning your skillet. Heat the pan over low heat for a minute to dry it completely. Then, pour a small amount of oil into the pan and then rub it with a paper towel until the bottom and sides are coated.


If you need to, use a clean paper towel to remove any excess oil. Heat it on low heat for 30 minutes.


How to Maintain Your Cast Iron Skillet


Repeat the oil and heating process each time you use and clean your skillet.


Store your skillet in the oven to keep it away from moisture.


Frequently Asked Questions About Cleaning Cast Iron Skillets


clean cast iron skillet after being cleaned with salt and oil


Now that you know exactly how to clean your cast iron skillet, here are a few questions I wanted to answer.


Can You Use Soap To Clean Cast Iron?


There is a very common myth that you shouldn’t use soap to clean a cast-iron skillet. But that’s just it- a myth. It’s completely safe to use soap on your cast iron skillet.


The myth goes like this. People say “don’t use soap on a cast-iron skillet” because dish soap cuts through grease and could remove the seasoning from your pan. Since you use oil to season your pan, the idea is that the oil is what gives the skillet the non-stick properties. So you obviously don’t want to remove or destroy that.


Thankfully, that’s not true! Using soap on a cast-iron skillet won’t remove the seasoning from it.


Can You Use A Brush To Clean Cast Iron?


Another myth is that you can’t use steel wool on a cast-iron skillet. The most frugal option is the potato since almost everyone has potatoes in their pantry. However, you can use a brush – in fact, they make cast iron skillet brushes.


My potato and salt method should work just fine for cleaning a skillet. If you have a really rusted one that you think might require more work, invest in a brush with firm bristles. This will make the work so much easier.


Is It Safe To Clean Cast Iron Without Soap?


If you want to use soap, you can. You don’t need to use soap to clean it effectively.


If you wipe out all the old food, rinse it, and then season it correctly over low heat, it is safe to use again. Removing the food and then heating it over low heat sterilizes and cleans the skillet so that it’s safe to use next time.


How To Clean A Cast Iron Skillet: Final Thoughts


It’s so much easier to clean and maintain a cast iron skillet than you might think. You can use soap and even a brush to clean it if you want.


The most important thing to remember with a cast iron skillet is to keep it dry. Whether you use soap or just oil, keep your skillet dry so that it lasts longer without rust. Some people store their skillets in the oven, others hang it up.


You will love using your cast iron skillet!


More Posts About Cleaning



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