Monday, November 08, 2010

How I Cleaned A Very Dirty Old Iron Skillet In My Woodstove

! Update Note: I think I was very lucky I didn't damage the skillet when I put it in the fire to clean it! It could have warped or cracked. Next time I will make sure the fire is not hot enough to make the skillet red hot. Just hot enough to clean it off.

This is a photo of an old family skillet that had been encrusted with layers of cooked on food inside and out.

It was even lumpy! Yet, it was an old family skillet I didn't want to get rid of, but at the same time I didn't want to use.

Tom took the skillet out of the wood stove to finish cooling after the fire burned down. The skillet is covered in ash. Not wood ash. The ash is from all the crud that got burned off.

Wish I had thought to take a photo of it in its before state or when it was red hot. I didn't plan to make a post about putting a skillet in the fire. Should have!

I remembered reading an iron skillet could be restored by putting it in a fire and burning off the crud. The wood stove was burning so I decided to give it a try.

I set the skillet in the wood stove on a bed of glowing wood with small flames. If I put a skillet in the fire again, I will raise it above the coals because the skillet ended up glowing red. I was a bit afraid and thought it might melt. But no, the skillet survived its bath of fire and all crud was burned away to ash.

The next day I scrubbed the skillet with steel wool and dish soap. All the ash and burned stuff came right off. I rinsed the skillet very well, dried it, and heated it on the cook top to make sure it was all the way dry.

Then I lightly oiled the skillet inside and out and put it on the top of the wood stove to cure the bottom a bit. The skillet is supposed to be oiled and put in an oven or back in the wood stove at a much lower temperature (around 300 degrees) to cure.

In the past I'm sure people didn't always have ovens and skillets must have gotten cured just by everyday use. I may try out using this skillet without curing and see how things work out.

The skillet doesn't have any marking stamped on it except an 8 on the handle. It has a smooth bottom with a smooth rounded edge. The handle is different than my other skillets.

The handles on my other skillets are rounded at the end and this handle comes to a point. The other difference I noticed right away is that it is a bit lighter and the metal feels a bit thinner. It is still heavy... just not as heavy as my Wagner 8 inch skillet.

Wish I knew the history of this skillet. Where and when was it made? I'll have to do a search on iron skillets with pointy handles and see if I can find any information.

I will for sure never put anything other than an iron skillet or pot in the wood stove. Having it turn red scared me... and next time I will try placing the skillet above the coals in the flames and see if that works as well as having the skillet turn red hot.

If there is a next time. I got rid of all the other old messed up skillets I had when I was doing my cleaning and clearing out. Well, anyway I got a clean skillet!

The big shiny pot on the wood stove is full of water keeping the air moist and us from getting dry throats and bloody noses. (Our big wood stove dries out the air) It is amazing how fast water evaporates out of that pot. I found the pot when I was clearing stuff out and thought, instead of sending it to Goodwill, I'd try it out this winter on the wood stove. Might not look that great, but it works out great.

November Quote

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul.
And sings the tune
Without the words,
and never stops at all.
~ Emily Dickinson, 1830-1886

I'm thankful for Hope.

The answer to yesterday's riddle: A promise

Today's riddle:
Of no use to one, yet absolute bliss to two. The small boy gets it for nothing. The young man has to lie for it. The old man has to buy it. The baby's right, The lover's privilege, the hypocrite's mask. To the young girl faith; to the married woman hope; to the old maid charity. What am I?

(November 8, 2009)

[no eggs today]



Lynda said...

Thank you for this post. I have 2 cast iron bean pots that need to be cleaned up and I'm heading up to the cabin this weekend...I can take care of them while I'm there...still not cold enough for a fire here in the Valley.

Knatolee said...

THAT is an amazing transformation, and it's so nice to see something fixed up rather than tossed out. Fantastic!

Hopeful said...

thank you for this post! i often see old, messed up skillits at yard sales but pass them up because i don't know how to salvage them. now i have something to try! your skillet looks great - it will sure be fun to cook in it and get it good and seasoned! enjoy.

Foothills Poultry said...

We have quite a few of the iron ware. 2 or 3 number 8s are here, even one of the thinner ones. From what I understand those were produced during WWI/WWII when metal was in high demand. They made alot of the metal products thinner in order to save costs.

Some modern ones are also thinner just because companies are making cheaper products.


Margaret said...

I can't believe that I threw out two iron skillets, years ago, I know better now. I'll to search the second hand stores for iron skillets to replace the ones I threw out. Thank you for the post, I was always unsure how to clean/season them.