You just bought a cast iron frying pan but it doesn't look at all like the old black one your mother always used. Chances are it's from a broken home and has rust on it, or worse yet it's brand spanking new and is shiny and silver. Neither one will have the magic of a properly seasoned cast iron frying pan.
Seasoning a Pan
Wash the pan with dish soap and water. Rinse it thoroughly. Place it on the stove at a low temperature until it is completely dry. Turn off the heat and allow the pan to cool.
Coat the pan in lard or cooking oil and let a generous amount of the fat sit on the frying surface for 24 hours.
Wipe off excess grease with a paper towel.
Line the bottom of the oven with aluminum foil to catch drips. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Open the windows and get some fans ready. It is going to get pretty smoky in the house.
Bake the pan upside down in the oven for 1 hour.
Turn the oven off and allow the pan to cool to room temperature before you take it out.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Always heat the pan before using.
Use the pan exclusively for frying for the first few months. This will continue the seasoning process.
Wash the pan immediately after use. Use a tablespoon of salt and a splash of water, and scrub with a cloth or paper towel.
Set the pan on a stove burner to dry. Use low heat and leave it for just a minute or two.
Remove stuck on food by scraping with a metal spatula or spoon. If this doesn't work use soapy water and a scrubber. Dry on the burner as usual and then rub the surface with paper towel and some mineral oil.
Hide your cast iron frying pan from persons who may not treat it with respect.