Have you ever wondered why your cast iron pans get black residue on them? Fortunately, the solution is simpler than you think. This black residue occurs when food cooks at a high temperature.
When this residue builds up, it can affect the nutritional value and taste of your food. The bad news is all that “buildup” is toxic to us as well. The good news is all it takes to fix it is a little hot water and a good scrubbing with soap or steel wool.
Black residue on cast iron
Black residue is a common byproduct of cooking with cast iron cookware. Black stains on cast iron pans are caused by oxidation in the pan. Oxidation occurs naturally over time, but black staining can also occur when food particles cling to the surface of the pan.
The black residue on cast iron isn’t a seasoning, it is fat and food particles that have been baked on at high temperatures. High enough to carbonize. This means that the fat and food particles undergo a chemical change as they are exposed to oxygen at temperatures above the smoke point of the fat.
Generally, carbonized material is not harmful, although it can be difficult to remove. The process of using soap and water to remove carbonized material is called “deglazing”. Deglazing is used in cooking to dissolve browned food bits from a pan after sauteeing meat or vegetables.
How to clean black residue on cast iron?
You’ll need a good stiff brush, like a vegetable brush or wire brush, scrubby soap (like Lava), and hot water. The process takes about 15 minutes for an average pan. Here’s how you do it:
* Scrub off any food scraps using the brush and soapy hot water.
* Dry the pan over medium heat until any remaining moisture evaporates – this prevents rusting. If you don’t want to use your stove for this step, leave the pan uncovered for about half an hour at room temperature to dry out.
* With the pan still warm from evaporating off the moisture (this makes it easier), use more scrubby soap and the stiff brush to scrub off all the black residue. Use plenty of hot water and continue
*If the stain still remains after cleaning, use baking soda to help remove it. Mix 1/2 cup of baking soda with enough warm water to make a paste. Apply the mixture to the affected area and let sit for 5 minutes before rinsing off with clean water. Repeat as needed until the stain disappears.