Survival Buzz: How to Clean Cast Iron the Easy Way

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For the longest time I have been promising to share with you my number one tip for cleaning cast iron skillets.  Well finally, today is that day.

Let me begin at the beginning.  Six months ago, on a lark, I ordered this chain-like gizmo called “The Ringer”.  The purchase was based upon one of those “just for you” suggestions from Amazon and in a moment of weakness, I fell for it.  Little did I know that cleaning my cast iron skillets would become so easy.  Not that cleaning cast iron is difficult, mind you, but it can and does take some time.

How to Clean Cast Iron the Easy Way | Backdoor Survival

So here is the deal.  Pre Ringer, I would add a bit of water and salt to the dirty skillet and scrub.  If the pan was especially grungy, I would set it on the burner and bring the water to boil first.  This, in itself, is an effective way to loosen those crusty bits of food from the bottom of a cast iron skillet or pan.

With the Ringer, I skip both the boiling water and the salt.   Here are some photos so you can follow along.

How to Clean Cast Iron the Easy Way | Backdoor Survival

A crusty, dirty cast iron skillet.  BTW, the burgers were delicious.

How to Clean Cast Iron the Easy Way | Backdoor Survival

This is what the Ringer looks like in use.

For really big messes, you can also add water to pan before scrubbing caked on food residue.

How to Clean Cast Iron the Easy Way | Backdoor Survival

My skillets have never looked so good.  Not only that, I am not seeing any rust spots develop (it happens) and can only assume that the Ringer scrubs them away.  Before storing the pan, I give it a very light coating of coconut oil and I am done.  That’s it.  Start to finish, two to three minutes and no elbow grease.

I have written about cast iron a number of times in the past but think an update is long overdue.  Do you have a cast iron tip to share?  Let me know in the comments and if I get enough of them, I will use them in a roundup post.

Additional Reading:  Every Prepper Needs a Big Beautiful Cast Iron Skillet

Backdoor Survival Mail Bag & Reader Tips

Two weeks ago John E. posted this tip in the comments of 39 Fantastic Prepping Tips.  It was too good to leave buried so I share it here for all to see:

A mistake many beginners make is to think that prepping has to be expensive.  It’s all about priorities, really.

The first thing that I had to ask myself when I decided to become a prepper is, “Are you serious about doing this?”  Would I pass up my morning latte? Not buy those chips that are bad for my health anyways?

All I needed to come up with when I started was an extra $5 a week, that’s all.  I think just about everybody can come up with that much cash, don’t you?

I had always loved going to the dollar store and Goodwill.  Now I took it to the next level and started prepping on the cheap with a vengeance.

Visited a dollar store lately?

It’s not just cheap trinkets or flimsy items that will break when you breathe on them.  Most of them actually have a surprising number of stuff that we preppers can use.  For example, you can pick up rice, beans, oats, and pasta all for a buck a bag.  For your five dollars, you will get a good head start on your long term food supply.

By the end of three months, you should have a pretty good stock of dry goods in your pantry, for probably less than $75 total.

One of the reasons I like to share reader tips is that the encouragement of others will often times give us that wee bit of motivation needed to take our preps, and our lives, really, to the next level.  Don’t you agree?

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Ed has shared a unique tip for using a AAA battery in a device that holds AA batteries.  I have not tried this myself.

I did a 9 month wilderness experiment a couple of years ago and made the mistake of not packing enough AA batteries for my radio. I had plenty of AAA batteries, but AA’s were all gone, I found that by placing an AAA battery negative post down inside a .45 Colt cartridge it makes the AAA fit perfectly inside the battery compartment of the AA powered radio.

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And last for today, this in from David.

I liked the comment about prepping being hard work, but to remember to live, love, laugh. Keeping your life in balance is critical.

This is something I personally struggle with daily.  Just when I think I have it covered, there is a disaster somewhere (or a government snafu) that puts me into ultra-prepper mode.  Perhaps that I why I play cheerleader so often; as much for myself as it is for you.

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An Update on the Oil of the Month Club

There is some exciting news for essential oils enthusiasts.  Spark Naturals has introduced a Premium Oil of the Month Club that features the higher priced oils at the bargain price of $24.99 with free shipping.  To give you an example of the savings, the May oil is a 15ML bottle of Frankincense, normally $70.  That is a discount of almost 65%.

If you would like to learn more about the Oil of the Month Club, visit the page I created for you (shown below) or click on the graphic to head on over to the Spark Naturals web site.

Additional Reading:  Spark Naturals Oil of the Month Club

Spark Naturals Oil of the Month Club | Backdoor Survival

The Final Word

Next week I hit the road and head back home to Washington State.  My fingers are crossed that I will have decent internet service along the way as well as when I get home. These days I never take internet service for granted which also means I never assume the proverbial “cloud” will be available.

For that reason, I have set aside an abundance of reference books and printed materials so that I will have them if and when the time comes. But that’s not all.  I also have numerous old laptops that are loaded up with electronic versions of my books, photos, and important documents. Some are ancient by today’s standards but they still work just fine and don’t take up a lot of room.  And yes, I do have the means to charge them when the grid goes down.

How about you?  How much redundancy do you have relative to your electronic books and other documents? And the biggest question of them all:  are you prepared to get by without the internet?

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
Gaye

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Bargain Bin:  Here are some cast iron goodies for your consideration, including The Ringer.

The Ringer Cast Iron Cleaner – Stainless Steel Chainmail:  I purchased one of these in October 2015 and it is friggin’ fantastic.  You will never ever have to scrub cast iron again.  I can’t say enough good things about this gizmo.  You want one.

Cast Iron Skillet with Hot Handle Holder: I feel that everyone should own a basic, 12” cast iron skillet.  In spite of the myth, they are easy to care for and over time, will become a family heirloom.  On grid or off grid, cooking with cast iron is the way to go.

Lodge Dutch Oven/Camp Stove:  I originally purchased this Dutch oven because it was so darn cute.  But over time, I have learned to love it for its versatility.  Remember, a camp stove is designed so that you can bake with it by arranging charcoal on top of the lid as well as underneath the Dutch Oven itself.

Ove’ Gloves Hot Surface Handler:  I cannot say enough about these hand and arm protectors.  I have permanent scars from hitting my arm on the rack of my oven.  I can only imagine what I would look like if I did not use these with my cast iron cookware.  Forget the colorful silicon hot pads.  These are 1000 times better!

US Forge 400 Welding Gloves Lined Leather: These well-priced gloves provide complete heat and burn protection. They are made of soft and supple top grain leather for comfort and pliability, plus they have an internal liner gives more comfort and durability.

Four Silicone Brushes:  I call these”mop thingies”.  Great for layering a nice thin coat of oil on your cast iron pans.

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Spark Naturals Oil of the Month Club | Backdoor Survival

 

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Comments

Survival Buzz: How to Clean Cast Iron the Easy Way — 17 Comments

  1. Regarding “The Ringer” — she speaks the truth. I also bought one just a couple weeks ago, and I am stunned at how easy it is to clean my cast iron pans now. No more greasy, plastic scrubbers that never again feel clean. The Ringer is a gem! A little pricey but worth every penny. I’m going to buy more for gifts.

  2. Yes this thing really works. Have a not so high quality cast iron pot to hold water on top of my wood stove. It rusts and pits pretty easily. As I was cleaning and closing up the wood stove for the summer, I tried the Ringer on the water pot. ZAP! It was clean and smooth again. WOW. Love it.

  3. Wow! A blast from the past. I haven’t seen one of those in decades but my dad had one (or something very similar) that he used on his cast iron. As a little kid I like to play with it because it “felt weird”. I had forgotten all about it. Thanks!

  4. I have had one for about 6 months and cannot imagine having cast iron without it. It really does get the pan clean without damaging the seasoning finish. Also, I have learned to keep a rag tucked into a plastic bag in my cupboard next to my oil. When my pan has been cleaned, I grab this cloth rag (actually it’s a piece of terrycloth sock!), heat up the pan just a bit, and use the rag to apply just a bit of oil before storing. The heat makes it easy to spread just a bit of oil and the rag makes it easy to apply it just right. Don’t know why I had never thought before to use a dedicated rag to spreading the oil on cast iron …

  5. If you have a bunch of new cast iron one of the best ways to season it is deep frying. Offer to buy some new oil for a local restaurant (get something good with a high ignition temp; grape seed if you can afford it) and trade the oil for the use of their fryer for an hour or two when they’re not using it. Obviously oil gets all over the entire piece of cookware, and the oil on the outside will need to be cleaned off before you cook, but it’s worth the extra hassle to get a well seasoned interior quickly. Make sure you use new oil and a clean fryer though. Don’t just throw your pan in the fryer at the local greasy spoon at closing time. Do it right and you get quality, consistent results. The ignition of grape seed oil is about 420F IIRC, so if the fryer is set to 375-85F (10-20 higher than most restaurants since they use cheaper oils) you should be good to go. Check the temps with a reliable thermometer, since the “on board” fry temp indicators are often inaccurate. Of course take the necessary safety precautions, and if you don’t know how to safely do it, then don’t do it. You can hurt yourself very badly, and or burn down the building if you screw up.

  6. People are saying that this does not remove the pan’s seasoning. But the last photo looks so shiny. I suppose I am looking for some assurance. More questions. If metal is ok to use on cast iron, can other metal items work? such as steel wool? If not why not. TIA

    • I contacted the manufacturer and here is what he said:

      “The Ringer will be the last pan scrubber you buy for a few great reasons:

      Firstly, the stainless steel ringlets of The Ringer are very smooth compared to the sharp texture of steel wool or copper scrubbers, which tend to dig into and remove the hard earned seasoning on the pan. The ringlets of The Ringer simply glide over the seasoning rather than cutting into it. They are also machine soldered together, which removes any sharp edges that are normally found within crimped ring chain mails, further protecting the seasoning and adding to the durability of the product.

      Secondly, the stainless steel ringlets do not bend and flex when they encounter tough grit and grime on the pan. Steel wool and copper scrubbers end up getting pulled apart during tough jobs, and they remove the seasoning in the process. The Ringer plows through stubborn grit much faster and with minimal effort, all while preserving the seasoning.

      Lastly, The Ringer is much easier to clean. Food particles simply rinse right out of the Ringer with hot water. It can also be used to “self-clean” by adding some dish soap, folding it over on itself, and scrubbing the two sides together under hot water. To top it all off, the premium stainless steel of The Ringer is dishwasher safe :-)”

      So there you go 🙂

  7. Do you have any idea where I might buy cast iron bread pans? I had ordered from Ka-Tom but after six months, they cancelled the order. I guess they didn’t have the bread pans!

  8. I’m in love with cast iron pans! We fry with mostly olive oil or butter in our cast iron pans. After the food is removed we then carefully add water to the warm pan and leave it to set while we eat. Almost always the pan washes out with the swish of the dish cloth. We use only virgin coconut oil for seasoning. Leave on a warm burner for a while. Don’t understand the science behind it but the coconut oil has someting to do with easy clean up. And there is no build up of gunk in the pan, no rust ever and always keeps its seasoning. It works like magic!

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