Can You Use Steel Wool on Cast Iron?

Cleaning a cast iron pan is a controversial topic. Some people say that you must never clean your pan, whereas others diligently clean it after every use. As a rule, it’s best to clean your cast iron pan as little as possible. 

It’s definitely a good idea to avoid steel wool and other abrasive scrubbers as much as possible. You should only use steel wool when you want to re-season your pan. When you first get a cast iron pan, you need to cover it with oil and bake it several times. You don’t need to do this very often, so it’s best not to scrub the pan as it will remove the oil that you have used to season it.

If you need or want to re-season your pan, then you can use steel wool. But you still need to be careful, as you don’t want to scratch or damage the pan itself. Cast iron pans are sturdy, but they can still become damaged.

What steel wool is best for cast iron?

If you do choose to use steel wool on your cast iron pan in order to re-season it, it’s best to use one with a low grade number. Usually, we just grab whichever packet of steel wool pads is the cheapest or is available. But steel wool pads are actually graded depending on how abrasive they are. Similar to sandpaper. So it’s important to check the grade number before buying and using it on your cast iron pan.

To clean a cast iron pan, try to find the lowest graded steel wool that you can. If you can, choose a #0 grade steel wool pad. This is the lowest grade available and will be abrasive enough to clean off the oil used to season the pan, but not so abrasive that it will scratch or damage the pan itself.

As cast iron pans are so tough, it’s easy to assume they can be scrubbed with anything, no matter how abrasive, and still last a lifetime (if not longer). But this isn’t the case. So make sure to double-check before using any steel wool pad. Instead of going to the grocery store as you normally would, try a hardware store or a store that specializes in cleaning products. This will provide you with more options, so you can find varying grades of steel wool.

Can you use a Brillo pad on cast iron?

Brillo pads should definitely be avoided. Brillo pads should only be used when nothing else will work. But even then, this should only be on other pots and pans. As with other steel wool, Brillo pads can be used when you want to re-season your pan, but you should use something gentler if you can. 

A Brillo pad can damage a cast iron pan, especially if used with soap. You might be able to get away with it once or twice. But it’s not worth the risk of ruining the seasoning and damaging your pan. So it’s best to avoid. 

Can you use steel wool on enameled cast iron?

Enameled cast iron pots are cast iron pots that have been coated with enamel. Despite this additional coating, enamel cast irons are actually more sensitive to scratches and damage than traditional cast iron pans. So it’s best to avoid using steel wool on enameled cast iron as well.

Enamel cast iron can be clean more often than traditional cast iron and doesn’t require seasoning. This means that scrubbing off brunt or dried-on food won’t ruin the seasoning or the pan as it would on a traditional cast iron pan. As it is so smooth and shiny, enamel looks quite tough and scratch-resistant. A lot of them will be scratch-resistant, but that doesn’t mean that they are completely impervious. So it’s best to avoid.

Can you use steel wool on cast iron before seasoning?

Before seasoning your cast iron pan, it’s important to completely clean it. This is one of the few times when using steel wool on cast iron is a good idea. It’s important to make sure that the pan is completely clean before seasoning or re-seasoning it. Steel wool is excellent for this, due to how abrasive it is. 

That said, it can be a little too abrasive. So don’t scrub the pan too hard. Cast iron is renowned for being tough, but it is still possible to scratch and damage it, which you can do with steel wool.

Can you use aluminum foil to clean cast iron?

Surprisingly, aluminum foil is one of the best ways to clean a cast iron pan. It will be tougher than a standard washing-up sponge, but not as tough as steel wool. This means that the sharp edges of the foil will scrape off any food burned or cooked onto the pan that you want to remove. But it won’t scratch or damage the seasoning. 

Make sure to use the aluminum foil with hot water only. Using dish soap or any other cleaning products will be damaging to the seasoning and the pan itself. After you have cleaned the pan, make sure to dry it immediately. Don’t leave it to dry on the rack as this can cause the pan to rust.

How do you clean a cast iron skillet without destroying it?

Cast iron pans are products that are incredibly tough and sturdy and will last a very long time, but they need to be treated gently and with care. This means that you should not scrub or use any soap on your cast iron pans, unless you are trying to remove the seasoning. Even when you are trying to remove the seasoning, it’s important to make sure that you don’t use anything too abrasive as you can scratch the pan itself.

As mentioned above, you can use aluminum foil to clean a cast iron pan. You can also use a cleaning brush with soft bristles, but make sure not to scrub too hard. You should only ever use water to clean your cast iron pan. Using soap or other cleaning products can break down the seasoning on your pans, and also trap the soap in the seasoning if not rinsed and dried thoroughly. 

Can you clean a cast iron skillet with a sponge?

You can use a sponge, but it won’t have much of an effect. Sponges can be a little too soft for a cast iron pan, especially one which has been used a lot and has a lot of food stuck to it. It’s also important not to use the scrubbing and abrasive side of the dish sponge, this will not be abrasive enough to clean the pan properly and can cause the strands to become stuck. Hot water and maybe some aluminum foil or a soft brush are the best options.

Do you clean a cast iron pan after every use?

After using a cast iron pan, first wipe it down with dry paper towels. Then rinse it with hot water and dry it immediately. If there is food burned or cooked onto the pan, then it’s a good idea to remove this with aluminum foil or a brush. Other than that, no cleaning is necessary.

As cast iron pans don’t need much cleaning, there are some who say they should never be cleaned at all. But this is not the case.

Can I use baking soda to clean cast iron?

If after using your cast iron pan you are finding it difficult to remove some cooked or burned food, then sprinkling a little baking soda onto the pan can help remove it. Baking soda is an abrasive substance, but it is made up of very small grains. This means that it very likely won’t scratch or damage the seasoning or the pan itself.

Baking soda, when mixed with a liquid, begins to fizz. The fizzing breaks up the cooked or burned food. This means that you should be able to remove the food without having to scrub it at all. Just make sure not to use too much baking soda or leave it on for too long. Eventually, it will start to break down the oil seasoning itself, which is not what you want. 

When cleaning stubborn food off a pan, it’s best practice to leave it on for a little while. But this isn’t a good idea when it comes to cast iron pans. Cast iron pans should not get too wet, or they will begin to rust. This can make cleaning them difficult. But it just means that they should be the first item that you clean.

You should dry clean a cast iron pan as much as possible, then wash it with water. But only a little and the water should be hot. Then dry it immediately and thoroughly before putting it away. Cast iron pans require quite a bit more work than most other cooking pans, but they are worth it.