Cast iron cookware is built to last. This heavy-duty cookware is versatile and convenient to use in the oven, on the stovetop and in the refrigerator. Proper use and care ensures your cast iron skillet stays in good condition, cooks food well and cleans easily. But before using a cast iron skillet for the first time, you'll need to season the surface in order to achieve that ideal nonstick surface.

Wash a new cast iron skillet with hot water and a nylon dish scrubber -- dish soap isn't necessary. In fact, soap will cause the seasoning to wear off after the pan has been cured. You may notice a gray film wash off the first few times you clean your cast iron cookware.

Season the cast iron skillet prior to the first use. Rub vegetable oil around the entire surface with a paper towel to coat it lightly.

Place the skillet in an oven that's been preheated to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Leave the pan in the oven for 30 minutes, then remove it and allow to cool.

Heat the stove top or oven to the appropriate cooking temperature before cooking with your skillet for the first time. Allow the skillet to heat up for a few minutes before adding food to create an even cooking surface.

Use wooden cooking utensils to prevent the pan from being scratched. Grasp the pan with an oven mitt when removing it from a heat source, as heat is absorbed into the handle.

Wash the pan immediately after use by scrubbing with a nylon dish scrubber and water. Dry immediately with a kitchen towel to prevent rusting.

Tip

Use medium to low heat on an electric range to prevent hot spots that can cause the pan to crack.

Hand wash your skillet, as it can become damaged in the dishwasher. Re-season occasionally to keep a nice finish on the cast iron skillet.

Warning

Avoid metal utensils when cleaning or cooking with cast iron. They can scratch the cast iron and leave metal shavings that contribute to rust.

About the Author

Mary Ylisela

Mary Ylisela is a former teacher with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and mathematics. She has been a writer since 1996, specializing in business, fitness and education. Prior to teaching, Ylisela worked as a certified fitness instructor and a small-business owner.