I get a lot of questions about cast iron care, and this question seems to come up pretty often. Why is my cast iron flaking and how do I fix it? We decided to demonstrate re-seasoning flaked cast iron. To do that, we needed a skillet to start flaking a bit. We used our Stargazer skillet – but please know we did this on purpose. Stargazer is a great brand and their cast iron won’t just go to flaking for no reason. We had to mistreat the cast iron pretty significantly to get it to flake like this!
What Causes Cast Iron Flaking?
- Seasoning with a low-smoke point oil over time.
- Cooking acidic foods like tomato sauce or citrus based sauces*.
- Over seasoning.
*If you have a well-seasoned cast iron skillet that you’ve used for years, you can get away with cooking some acidic foods. Lightly or newly seasoned cast iron cookware will flake much faster.
What do I do with Flaked Cast Iron?
- For minimal flaking, scrub the cast iron piece with coarse ground salt . You can use a rag or even a potato cut in half to buff the seasoning off with the salt. For heavier flaking, you can also use a steel wool pad. Buff the piece until the flakes are gone and the surface is smooth. Note, you aren’t trying to remove all the seasoning, just the flaking parts.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Meanwhile, heat the skillet over medium-high to high heat or until the skillet is hot to the touch at the top of the rim.
- Pour just enough food oil into the hot skillet and rub the oil around until it evenly coats the surface with a lint-free cloth. I prefer to use avocado or grape seed oils for this process as they bond well to cast iron. Be sure not to leave any excess oil in the pan.
- Place the cast iron in the oven and bake for 1 hour. Turn the oven off and leave the skillet inside until cool.
- Remove the skillet from the oven and reheat over the burner. Add a little oil in and rub around. At this point, I like to let the skillet heat up a little more on the burner just until smoking. Take your cloth and buff the surface generously until glossy and any excess oil is removed. Place back in a preheated oven at 400 degrees F. and bake for 1 hour. Turn the oven off and leave the skillet inside to cool.
- Repeat step 5 at least 2 more times.
Things to note:
- As the seasoning builds back in, it may have a splotchy appearance with black, brown and bronze spots. This is normal. Your skillet won’t become a solid, glossy black until later and you season and cook in it more.
- After the steps above, it’s best if you can deep fry in the piece a few times, because this will really help build in your seasoning.
- If the cast iron is gummy, you’re using too much oil.
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