How to Clean a Carbon Steel Pan
Carbon steel pans have always been favorite cookware for professional cooks all over the world. Now, it has become an integral part of many home kitchens. Not only are they lightweight but their durability is far higher in comparison to other steel or cast iron cookware normally used by homemakers. Carbon steel also can conduct heat faster than other materials which is a reason why it is loved by so many. They are easy to use and very efficient.
To that long list of qualities, we may add yet another advantage of using carbon steel pans – they require virtually no maintenance. The only time they can be harmed is if they come in contact with water, moisture, strong cleaners and the like. While preventing the formation of rust or dirt may help to run things smoothly for a while, there will be times when you have to deal with dirty carbon steel pans.
So, how to clean carbon steel pan? Let us walk you through the various methods!
Cleaning the Dirty Pan
You may be a little skeptic while working with this method since it involves using water. However, this method is undoubtedly foolproof as it will help in cleaning the pan without causing it any further damage.
Here are some of the supplies and apparatus needed for cleaning carbon steel pan:
- Warm water
- Dishcloth (or a sponge as an alternative)
- Nylon scrubber ( this is optional)
- Paper towels or a clean dishcloth
- The first step will be to fill your sink with warm water and submerge the dirty pan in it. Then let the pan soak in the warm water for a couple of minutes (not for too long), without letting any suds form.
- Take your pan out of its warm bath and use a dishcloth or a sponge (as a substitute) to clean the pan. Most of the dirt should come right off when you run the dishcloth or sponge along the surface. In the rare case it does not, you may have to make use of a nylon scrubber in order to scrub off the food bits that are too hard to get rid of.
- When all of the pan has been cleaned, it needs to be dried properly and as soon as possible. Use a clean, dry dishtowel to remove any water from the surface of the carbon steel. It is very important that you carry out this step meticulously or you may risk damaging such great cookware.
- The very last step will require you to oil the pan. Put some vegetable oil on a clean dishcloth or paper towel (whichever you prefer), and run it along the surface of your pan to evenly coat it with a thin layer of oil. Do this, not only for the inside of the pan but also the outside.
Related Post: Dish Scrubber
Preventing Surface Rust
Though it may be a prevention technique, this is an important part of cleaning carbon steel. As we mentioned before, water and moisture will always damage a carbon steel pan. Your pan could very easily gather surface rust if any residual water remains on the pan. So, we avoid this from happening by guaranteeing that the pan is absolutely dry before setting it aside.
The basic protocol would be to take a paper towel or dishcloth and use it to dry the pan. But to really prevent your pan from getting rusty, you need to go the extra mile – place the pan on your stovetop burner. The heat from the burner will make sure all the water has evaporated and there is no chance of the formation of surface rust.
Cleaning the Sticky Gunk
It is almost impossible to keep the sticky dirt and grime from forming around the rims of carbon steel pans. This dirt is not only disgusting but also poses a great threat to the health and well-being of you and your family. Hence, this is a problem that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
If you were wondering how to clean a pan infected with this problem – we have the perfect solution for you!
The steps to solving the problem:
- Put your carbon steel pan on a stovetop burner and let it heat up for a while. You know it has been heated enough when you place a droplet of water on the heated surface and it immediately evaporates off of the surface. When this happens, take the pan off the heat.
- In a bowl, create a mixture of salt and oil in a 2:1 ratio. For example, if you were using 2 tablespoons of salt then you would need to add 1 tablespoon of oil to create the mixture.
- Pick up the mixture from the bowl using a paper towel and then spread it all over the pan’s surface, rubbing as you go. This will help to get rid of the filth almost acting like an exfoliating agent.
- When all the dirt has scraped off, use hot water to wash the pan and remove the mixture completely from the pan.
- After the pan has been washed, dry it completely, using paper towels or a dishcloth. You may use the stovetop burner trick as well to ensure it is absolutely dry. Better safe than sorry!
Black Spots and Streaks on the Carbon Steel Pan Surface
Most of us get really worried when our carbon steel pans end up acquiring dark patches and specks. This eventually leads us to work hard to restore it back to its previous conditions.
However, in such cases, you need to do absolutely nothing. This is basically the iron discoloring due to its reaction with the natural acids from foods like tomatoes or anything citrusy that you may have cooked in your pan. The spots and streaks are only signs that your carbon steel pan is aging and undergoing a change which is natural with the passage of time and constant use.
These spots and patches are not dirt or rust, so there is no need to “clean” them. There is also no solution to restore the pan, so it will be better not to stress about them and continue using the pan as it is.
To Sum It Up
These were all the solutions to the problems of dirty carbon steel pans. With a little care, these hardy pans will last for a very long time while giving you excellent service. Our only advice? Prevent the pan from being in contact with water for a long time. It may help to store it in a clean, dry place away from any source of water. And always dry the pan thoroughly to avoid unnecessary damage!