Why You Shouldn't Intentionally Set Your Cast Iron Pan On Fire

food, why you shouldn't intentionally set your cast iron pan on fire

Cast iron pan on open fire with sausage

Owning a cast iron pan tends to come with a lot of rules. They are an investment and something that can be passed on for generations. But their culinary value only increases when appropriately cared for, and for this reason, they can be a tad intimidating. We seem to think they need to be handled with kid gloves or we risk undoing that lifetime of proper seasoning and care. From no soap to iron levels in the food to which oil to season them with, the list is long and believers are steadfast. And while some rules ring true, a lot of them are just urban legends: Turns out they’re pretty tough — they are made of iron, after all.

Cowboys never seem to worry about putting on their kid gloves. Their chosen method of cleaning after a campfire? Lighting the pan on fire (via Food & Wine). But as it turns out, this falls on the not-so-true side of the rules list. Odds are most people these days are not practicing this approach, but in case you’re curious or contemplating a backyard experiment right about now, there’s a good reason not to — aside from the obvious safety concerns.

Extreme Temperatures Can Ruin Cast Iron

food, why you shouldn't intentionally set your cast iron pan on fire

damaged cast iron pan with orange spots

Per Cast Iron Community, the cowboy cleaning method can outright ruin your pan. That level of extreme heat will not only permanently warp the metal, it can change the compounds of it and cause orange spots that are incapable of holding seasoning. You also run the risk of cracking your pan if it’s too cold when it enters the fire. According to Cast Iron FAQ, cast iron is more brittle than other metals and doesn’t withstand extreme temperature changes as well.

Better option to clean your pan? Contrary to popular belief, a little soap and water will not undo all of your hard work at seasoning your pan. The enemy is soaking, not soap, per Lodge Cast Iron. You can also use coarse salt to absorb grease and work as an abrasive to remove any crusted on remnants of food (via Home Depot). And re-seasoning is always an option if you break one of the rules.

Just leave the bonfires for the buckaroos.

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