I've used cast iron skillets for years. Jumped on the bandwagon with those that rave about it lasting a lifetime and its non-stick surface. We have a gas stovetop where a 10" and 12" skillet permanently reside. Over the years I’ve used different cleaning methods. As of late, I use a chain mail cast iron pan scrubber (amzn.com/B0087UYR1S) for the stuck on food and simply apply a little olive oil when the pan is dry.
Recently, my skillets started to develop a layer of crud on it. In one case, it was almost as if the seasoning was being scrapped off. I started to question myself when my paper towels would turn black after wiping the “clean” skillet. After scrapping it off a few time, I turned to Google to see what was going on. I didn’t realize there was so much to learn and how fascinating the science was.
* Apparently, the type of oil matters and the leading candidate is flaxseed oil (the food grade version of linseed oil).
* Old school cast iron is often more glossy and sticks less. Back in the day they machined the skillet after casting. This was eye opening to me. It explains why my grandmas chicken fryer was so slick at Christmas and why my Lodge skillets never got there. I can only imagine how costly it is to machine cast iron. That's why no ones does it any more until….
* I found out that this obsession might cost me $195. A guy for Portland started a kickstarter campaign last year to manufacturer a high quality cast iron skillet. They look impressive (post cast machined, cool handle) and appear to be shipping soon.
So to restore my current skillets, I’ve got some work to do. I need to completely strip and re-season them. I’m leaning towards the oven cleaning cycle method because I don’t want to use funny chemicals and not sure I have the place to perform the electrolysis method. We already have the flaxseed oil in the refrigerator, so once it is stripped all I need is the time to apply at least 6 coats. Will update when I do.
http://goo.gl/v6GNY - theory behind flaxseed oil
http://www.richsoil.com/cast-iron.jsp - good cast iron info
http://finexusa.com/ - fancy new skillet
amzn.com/B0087UYR1S - chain mail cast iron scrubber