This information is taken from the website of Lodge Cast Iron, a manufacturing company located in the small and beautiful town of South Pittsburgh, Tennessee. For additional information on caring for your cast iron, visit www.lodgemfg.com.
Cleaning Cast Iron
After cooking, clean cast iron with a stiff nylon brush and hot water. Using soap is not recommended, and harsh detergents should never be used. (Avoid putting a hot utensil into cold water. Thermal shock can occur causing the metal to warp or crack).
TIP: If you are having trouble removing stuck-on food, boil some water in your pan for a few minutes to loosen residue, making it easier to remove.
Towel dry immediately and apply a light coating of oil to the utensil while it is still warm.
TIP: Do not let your cast iron air dry, as this can promote rust.
Store in a cool, dry place. If you have a cover, or lid, for your utensil, place a folded paper towel in between lid and utensil allowing air to circulate. This prevents moisture from collecting inside the utensil, which can cause rust.
TIP: The oven is a great place to store your cast iron; just remember to remove it before turning on the oven.
NEVER wash in dishwasher.
If for some reason your utensil develops a metallic smell or taste, or perhaps rust spots (maybe a well-meaning relative washed your utensil in the dishwasher or with soap thinking they were being helpful), never fear. Simply scour off the rust using a very fine grade of sandpaper or steel wool and reseason immediately.
Seasoning Cast Iron
If you have inherited your iron skillet from your grandmother or mother, as I hope to inherit one day, then this step isn't really necessary. However, if you are purchasing a new iron skillet pay close attention.
1. Heat oven to 275 degrees.
2. Coat the pan with lard or bacon grease. Do not, let me repeat, do not use liquid vegetable oil because it will ruin, let me repeat, ruin your new skillet by adding a layer of sticky film preventing the seasoning process. Crisco can be used, but how often do you season a new skillet. Go ahead and get lard for this task.
3. Put the skillet in the oven and season (bake) for 10 minutes or so. Remove skillet and pour off exces grease and place back in the oven for the remainder of the day.
4. Repeat this process several times to create a stronger seasoning bond.