Cast-iron cookware is popular among chefs and home cooks for various reasons. They are durable, naturally nonstick, easy to use, versatile, and make food taste better. However, you can’t expect anything to last forever. So, how long can a cast iron skillet last? How do you know when it’s time to get a new one? Find out the answers to these questions and more about your cast-iron skillet.
- Cast iron skillets can last for generations when cared for properly
- You can ruin your cast iron skillet when it cracks or the base is warped
- Wash your cast iron skillet by hand, dry it immediately, and keep it well seasoned to maintain its durability
How long can a cast iron skillet last?
Cast-iron skillets can easily last well over 20 years, some people even pass on their skillets for generations. However, you do have to care for them properly. The two main things that can reduce the lifespan of your cast iron skillet are rust and cracking.
Leaving your pan sitting in water or wet after a wash can lead to rust. Luckily you can salvage the damage and restore the pan by stripping and re-seasoning it. If the skillet is cracked, however, there’s no saving it and you’ll have to throw it away for safety and health reasons.
When should you throw away a cast iron skillet?
While rust isn’t a deal-breaker for your cast iron skillet, other conditions are. You’ll want to throw away your cast iron skillet if there’s a crack because eventually, the pan will split during cooking. The cracks can also harbor rust and bacteria.
Another reason to ditch your skillet is if it has a wobbly base. This means your cast iron base has warped. While a little warping just means your food will cook unevenly, too much of a wobble can also cause food to spill or splash during cooking.
Can you ruin a cast iron pan?
Yes, you can. Your cast-iron skillet can crack due to rapid temperature changes. It’s best to heat it gradually and let your skillet cool down naturally after use. Shocking the metal with sudden temperature changes, such as cold water while it’s still hot out of the oven, will eventually cause cracking.
When caring for your cast-iron skillet, you also want to avoid:
- Overheating the skillet by using high heat on the stovetop
- Soaking your skillet in water or keeping it wet after cleaning
- Infrequent use that degrades the pan’s “seasoning”
How do you clean a cast iron skillet after use?
Now that you know what not to do, you should understand what best to do when cleaning your cast iron skillet so you don’t destroy it. Wash your cast iron skillet by hand, using a small amount of soap. To remove stubborn food bits, pour in coarse kosher salt and use a kitchen towel to scour before rinsing the skillet.
You’ll want to dry your pan immediately with a paper towel or lint-free cloth. To maintain the “seasoning” quality, spray seasoning spray onto the dry surface or rub a light layer of cooking oil. Use a paper towel to wipe the surface and remove oil residues.
Which brand of cast iron is best?
When searching for the best cast iron skillet for your household, you’ll want to consider the size, depth, and ease of cleaning. Also, make sure it’s real cast iron that has a dull and dark surface. Some of the best brands for purchasing cast iron skillets are:
- Le Creuset
- Lodge Cast Iron
- Utopia Kitchen
Some brands like Le Creuset also sell enameled cast iron, meaning it’s coated with a durable, non-porous glaze. These products are better for beginners since it makes the skillet non-stick and easier to clean vigorously without damaging it. While cast iron skillets can seem pricey, consider them an investment that will last in your kitchen for years.
Other cast iron skillets on Amazon:
- Lodge L14SK3 15-Inch Pre-Seasoned Cast-Iron Skillet
- Amazon Basics Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet, 15-Inch
Cast iron skillets are renowned for their durability, lasting at least 20 years and being able to pass down among generations. However, without proper care, you can ruin your cast iron skillet.
Soaking in water can cause rust, while rapid temperature changes can cause cracking. So, be aware of how you clean and season your cast iron skillet when you invest in one of the popular brands.