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Can You Soak Cast Iron? The Surprising Truth

Can You Soak Cast Iron?

No, you should not soak cast iron in water.

Soaking can cause cast iron to rust, so it is best to avoid submerging it for prolonged periods.

Instead, use a nylon scrubbing brush or a pan scraper to remove stuck-on food, rinse the cast iron under warm water, and thoroughly dry it to prevent rust formation.

If rust does develop, it can be removed with extra care.

Quick Tips and Facts:

1. Can you soak cast iron? Surprisingly, soaking cast iron in water is not recommended. It can cause the pan to rust or develop a sticky residue. Instead, it is better to gently clean it with a sponge or brush.

2. Cast iron cookware is known for its durability, but did you know that it can last for several generations? With proper care and seasoning, cast iron pans can be passed down through families, becoming treasured heirlooms.

3. One interesting fact about cast iron is that it can actually add a small amount of iron to your food. This can be beneficial for those who are deficient in iron, as cooking in cast iron can help increase iron levels, especially when preparing acidic foods.

4. Before non-stick pans became popular, cast iron was the go-to choice for making pancakes. The even heat distribution and natural non-stick properties of a well-seasoned cast iron pan make it perfect for achieving that golden-brown, fluffy texture.

5. Although cast iron cookware is commonly associated with stovetop cooking, it is also oven-safe. In fact, it is ideal for dishes that require both stovetop browning and oven- baking, making it a versatile and essential tool in the kitchen. Whether it’s a juicy roast or a delicious cornbread, your cast iron pan has got you covered.

Water Soaking Leads To Rust

One of the first things you learn when using cast iron cookware is to avoid soaking it in water. Soaking cast iron in water can cause it to rust. Cast iron is made of iron, which is highly susceptible to rusting. When water comes into contact with the iron, it creates a chemical reaction that leads to the formation of rust. The longer the cast iron is exposed to water, the higher the chances of rust development.

So, if soaking cast iron in water is not recommended, what should you do to clean it after use?

  • Avoid using soap: Instead of using soap, which can strip away the seasoning of the cast iron, use a stiff brush or sponge to scrub off any food particles.
  • Use hot water: Use hot water to rinse the cast iron, as the heat helps to loosen any stubborn food residues.
  • Dry thoroughly: After rinsing, make sure to thoroughly dry the cast iron to prevent any moisture from lingering and causing rust.
  • Apply a thin layer of oil: To further protect the cast iron and maintain its seasoning, apply a thin layer of oil after drying it. This helps to create a barrier against moisture and prevents rust.

It is important to take care of your cast iron cookware to ensure its longevity and optimal performance.

Effective Tools For Stuck-On Food

When cleaning cast iron, it is best to use tools that are gentle yet effective in removing stuck-on food. A nylon scrubbing brush or a pan scraper are excellent options. These tools are designed to remove food debris without damaging the surface of the cast iron.

To use a nylon scrubbing brush, simply dampen it and gently scrub the surface of the cast iron. The bristles will help loosen any food that is stuck on the pan.

For more stubborn residue, a pan scraper can be used. This tool has a flat edge that can easily scrape off hardened food particles without scratching the cast iron.

  • Use a nylon scrubbing brush or a pan scraper
  • Dampen the brush before scrubbing
  • Gentle scrubbing motion with the brush
  • Use a pan scraper for stubborn residue
  • Avoid scratching the cast iron surface

“It is important to use tools that are gentle yet effective when cleaning cast iron.”

Rinse With Warm Water

After removing the stuck-on food, it is important to rinse the cast iron under warm water. The warm water will help to remove any remaining residue and ensure that the pan is thoroughly clean. However, it is crucial to not leave the cast iron soaking in water for an extended period. A quick rinse is sufficient to remove any leftover debris.

It is important to note that using soap on cast iron is generally not recommended. Soap can strip away the seasoning, which is a protective layer that forms on the cast iron surface. The seasoning helps to prevent rust and makes the pan non-stick.

Importance Of Thorough Drying

To prevent rust from forming on cast iron, it is vital to thoroughly dry it after cleaning. Leaving any moisture on the surface can lead to rust development. To ensure the pan is completely dry, follow these steps:

  1. Use a clean, dry cloth or paper towel to wipe away any remaining water.
  2. Place the cast iron on a hot stove burner for a few minutes to evaporate any moisture that may be within the pan or on its surface.


“Thoroughly drying cast iron is crucial to prevent rust. Moisture left behind can lead to rust development.”

  • Dry with a clean cloth or paper towel
  • Apply gentle heat to evaporate any remaining moisture

Rust And Prolonged Water Exposure

Despite the caution against water soaking, it is important to understand why cast iron is prone to rust. Rust can develop due to prolonged exposure to water. If the pan is left in water for an extended period, the iron reacts with oxygen and moisture in the air, resulting in the formation of rust. To avoid this, it is essential to promptly dry the cast iron after use and avoid allowing it to sit in water.

Removing Rust With Extra Care

If, despite all precautions, rust has formed on your cast iron, it can be removed with extra care. Start by scrubbing the rusted area with a gentle brush, such as a steel wool or a soft-bristled brush.

Next, create a paste by mixing equal parts baking soda and water. Apply the paste to the rusted area and let it sit for a few minutes. Then, scrub the paste gently to further remove the rust.

Rinse the pan thoroughly and dry it completely before applying a new layer of seasoning to protect it from future rust development.

While caring for cast iron may require some extra effort, it is well worth it. With proper care and maintenance, your cast iron cookware can last for generations, providing you with excellent cooking results and adding a touch of nostalgia to your kitchen.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why can’t you soak cast iron?

Cast iron cannot be soaked due to its porous nature. The porous surface of cast iron skillets allows them to absorb water, leading to rusting. Soaking a cast iron skillet can result in the unwanted consequence of rust formation, damaging its durability. Instead, it is advisable to clean cast iron with gentle, non-abrasive methods to ensure its longevity and prevent rusting.

How long can you soak cast iron for?

If you find yourself dealing with stubbornly stuck-on food on your cast iron pan, a short soak can be a helpful solution. However, caution should be exercised as prolonged soaking can lead to rusting of the cast iron. It is crucial to promptly dry the pan after washing it with water, especially if it is a newer pan, to prevent any rust formation.

Can cast iron be washed in water?

Yes, cast iron can be safely washed in water. Contrary to popular belief, using soap and water to clean cast iron cookware is perfectly acceptable and will not harm the seasoning. This traditional method may be time-consuming and require extra materials, but it effectively removes any residual food particles without affecting the cookware’s seasoning. So, feel free to use soap and water to clean your cast iron and simplify the cleaning process without worrying about damaging it.

Is it OK to boil water in cast iron?

Yes, it is absolutely fine to boil water in cast iron. However, it is advised to avoid boiling water for extended periods, generally exceeding 10 to 15 minutes, to ensure the preservation of the cast iron’s seasoning layer. While you can bring water to a gentle boil or simmer dishes for up to an hour, it is essential to be mindful of the boiling duration to maintain the integrity of the cast iron’s seasoning.

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