How To Clean Cast Iron Skillet Camping The Proper Way & More

by Julie | Last Updated:   April 20th, 2022
How To Clean Cast Iron Skillet Camping The Proper Way & More


Without any doubt, camping is one of the most interesting activities for any individual to get into. During camping, you get the chance to connect with nature and free up yourself. You also get a chance to connect with different members of your family and friends. To have a fun-filled and comprehensive experience, you may travel with a cast iron skillet.

When going on your next camping trip, one of the best items to carry along are cooking utensils made from cast iron. Cast iron is a tough material that’s used is perfect for making camping utensils. Due to its durability, materials made from cast iron are tough and may last for many generations.

A cast iron skillet is one of the most effective methods of cooking while camping. This cast iron pan is an effective camp cookware and can be used along with the camp stove or campfire. Cast iron cooking will keep your food from getting burnt and give you an experience close to cooking at home. When properly maintained, you may get to use this item repeatedly without it giving out.

There are many reasons for anyone to go along with a new cast iron skillet during your next camping trip. However, many people prefer to stay away from these utensils because they are unfamiliar with how to clean and take care of them. If you belong to this category of people, you’re at the right place.

Cleaning a camp iron skillet while camping is relatively simple. This piece will give you a detailed guide on how to clean cast iron skillet camping and keep it in shape.

Let’s begin!

What Are The Most Effective Ways To Clean A Cast Iron Skillet?

Before going ahead with learning how to clean a cast iron pan, it is important to look at the best way to use cast iron cookware. With the right type of care, an old cast iron pan would appear new.

What Are The Basics Of Using Cast Iron Cookware?

The basics of using a cast iron pan include:

  • Make sure that you use only a cast iron skillet
  • Cast iron seasoning describes the dark layer of carbonized oil that is used to cover the raw iron
  • Cast iron seasoning will protect your paint from rust and will ensure that it becomes a non-stick item
  • Seasoned cast iron will gradually build up as you cook with oil and butter. It gets better with usage
  • When cleaning cast iron, it’s important to preserve the seasoning layer

The following steps will help you preserve the seasoning on your cast iron;

  • Avoid the use of harsh cleaning soaps and chemicals
  • Avoid the use of sharp and abrasive metals
  • Don’t soak your cast iron pan in water

What Are The Supplies To Use For Cleaning Cast Iron Skillet?

These are the best cleaning supplies to use in taking care of your cast iron pan:

  1. Pan scraper – The pan scraper removes stuck food from the pan surface.
  2. Sponge – You need to purchase a soft sponge while camping. A soft sponge will not scratch the surface of your iron pan and will keep the non-stick surface intact.
  3. Seasoning Spray – The seasoning spray is used to protect the seasoning of the pain and prevent rust formation.
  4. Lint-free towel – You can use the lint-free towel to clean up your cast iron pan after washing it.
  5. Salt – The salt is used as a removal agent to remove stubborn food particles.
  6. Dish soap – The dish soap will make soapy water to clean food stains.

How To Clean A Cast Iron Skillet?

There are different types of camp cookware, but the cast iron skillet stands out. Contrary to popular opinion, cleaning your cast iron while camping is relatively straightforward. It would help if you remembered that there are different methods of cleaning cast iron. While some plans will effectively help you get rid of the food crumbs that may have stuck to it, others will only damage the inner and glossy surface of your pan.

When cleaning your cast iron skillet, you always need to remember that the seasoning determines a lot about your cookware. The seasoning of a cast iron pan will add flavor to your food and offers a non-stick surface that is healthier than most ceramic coatings you’ll come across today. Depending on the amount of dirt and food left on the pan, you may decide whether to wash it, use a paper towel or use a salt slurry.

You may choose to opt for a simple method where you wipe the body of the season cast iron pan with a paper towel and a little oil. You’re expected to brush the inner and outer parts of the skillet with this paper towel to remove food crumbs. The paper towel is particularly effective in eliminating large food particles and crumbs.

If you still have any bits of stuck-on food in your skillet, you may bring out your sponge and gently scrub the surface with soapy water. Avoid using abrasive sponges because they will peel the non-stick coating of your skillet. The good idea is to clean the pan with lukewarm water. The warmth of the water will help you easily get rid of getting stuck on food.

For stickier bits of food, a salt slurry can be used to rinse off the food. To use a salt slurry, follow these steps:

  • pour a tablespoon of salt into the pan
  • Add some warm water to create a paste. A few drops of warm water will do. It’s important not to add hot water that will dissolve the salt immediately
  • use a clean cloth to scrub the salt into the pan and remove any food stains present
  • Add some warm water to the body of your cast iron pan. a warm pan cleans easily.
  • Clean the salt from the pan’s body with warm water and wipe the pan dry completely with the lint-free towel.
  • Wipe the body of the pan with oil before storing it.

Check out the following video on the many methods to clean cast iron cookware:

Let’s say that you have burnt your food and have some stuck-on food particles that have refused to leave the surface of the pan. So, what do you do?

There are some more aggressive solutions for you to try out. However, you need to note that these methods may scratch the non-stick surface of the pan. A little scratch will expose the pan to further deterioration, such as rust.

If you’ve tried all the methods above to deal with the remaining food bits and you still aren’t satisfied with your results, you can try the following aggressive solutions:

  1. Add some sand to the inside of the cast iron pan. Then, use a cloth, followed by a chainmail scrubber to remove food particles.
  2. You could also heat the pan and pour hot water on it. Keep in mind that this process is a more aggressive method, and you risk causing a lot of damage to your pot by doing it. Don’t use cold water for this process. Only boiling water will be effective enough to release the stuck-on bits of food. Pouring cold water on a pan after heating it will only cause the surface of the cookware to crack.

Well, that’s not all on cast iron care. You could also take care of your cast iron pan by using it while camping. It’s a bad idea to boil water for too long or heat the skillet over the fire to remove the stuck food. If you subject the cast iron pan to a long healing process, you risk damaging the seasoning.

When the seasoning of the cast iron pan is damaged, food will begin to stick to its surface. It will also allow the cast iron to deteriorate quickly and may lead to rust. You’ll have no choice but to dispose of it.

You also have to learn how to store cast iron pan to prevent it from peeling and scratching. But the worst thing that you could do to a cast iron pan is to keep it in a dishwasher or clean it with harsh soap chemicals. Cast iron is a porous material that absorbs chemicals fairly easily. If you use harsh chemicals to clean your pan, you will taste it in your meals.

All you need is a little dish soap to clean all the dirt stuck to its surface without any side effects. Invest in some dish soap that has skin-friendly chemicals for the best results. You may also choose to avoid soap and clean your cast iron in other ways.

Anytime you are done cleaning the iron pan, you should place it over some low heat to let it completely dry. Make sure that you do not apply excessive heat to prevent causing damage to the pan’s body. While the pan’s surface is still warm, clean its surface and outside with oil to preserve the seasoning. You may use grapeseed oil to complement the finish of the iron pan.

If you traveled into the woods with a cast iron dutch oven, you could also apply some of the tips above to clean it successfully. However, you need to treat its components with care.

How To Season Cast Iron

There are different types of cast iron, including enameled cast iron, regular cast iron, seasoned cast iron, and so on. While enameled cast iron has numerous advantages, seasoned cast iron is a more popular alternative for campers. However, is it possible to season cast iron by yourself? Keep reading to find out.

You have damaged the seasoning of your old pan or have recently gotten a new pan; you will need to create a new foundation to cover it with seasoning. You can season your iron pan in two ways. However, the first seasoning process is simpler. For both seasoning processes, you will need a bottle of grapeseed or canola oil.

The first method is perfect for campers and can be done over a stovetop or an open flame. The steps of this seasoning process include:

  • Slowly heat the skillet. You can apply medium heat to prevent the pan from getting hot too quickly.
  • When the body of the skillet is hot, you can rub the oil on it using paper towels. However, take care not to burn yourself or get caught in a fire.
  • Let the body of the skillet and the oil cool off gently.
  • Repeat this process many times. There is no limit to how many times you can go over the process. Each time you do it, you create a seasoning base and prepare the body of the pan

The second seasoning method may not suit campers unless you have a cast iron dutch oven. However, it’s a superior method of adding a seasoning base to the cast iron skillet. The process includes;

  • Cover the entire pan in oil
  • Place the pan into an oven set at 400F to bake for some time
  • Leave the pan in the oven for between fifteen to twenty minutes. You may see some smoke through the oven door, but it’s perfectly normal.
  • Gently the skillet from inside the oven.
  • Wipe more oil on the surface of the skillet.
  • Place it back into the oven for another fifteen to twenty minutes.
  • Repeat the process as many times as you want. But make sure you end it with a final wipe of oil before letting the oil cool down slowly.

Another interesting way to add seasoning to the pan’s body is to cook bacon. Then, wipe the inside of the pan with a paper towel. But don’t wash it!

Watch this video to learn how to season a cast iron pan:

How To Maintain Cast Iron Seasoning?

Now that you’ve learned everything about cleaning your dirty pan while camping, the next thing to do is to learn how to maintain your iron pan seasoning. As mentioned earlier, seasoning keeps food from sticking to the surface of the pan. It even adds flavor that makes your food more appealing. But how do you keep it from getting scraped off?

To maintain your seasoning after every use, you should warm up the pan and wipe it with a heat-resistant oil – such as peanut or grapeseed. Olive oil will cause the body of the pan to smoke heavily. It may even become rancid after some time.

If you’ve just spent some time on the camp, it’s a good idea to re-season your skillet through any of the methods explained above. This will help you maintain the seasoning through different cleaning periods and continuous usage.

How To Find Quality Cast Iron?

Several manufacturers are renowned for making cast iron products. However, not all manufacturers create their products according to the same level of quality. When purchasing a released iron item, you need to ensure that it has been made from the best manufacturing processes and will be able to withstand the wear and tear of continuous usage. The best pans can resist falling and even splashes of hot water.

When shopping for new pans, ensure that the product has been tested and is trusted by reviewers. Also, don’t be scared to sacrifice some money to buy more quality. A good cast iron skillet can be used for many years.

However, if you can’t afford a new skillet, you can check out antique shops and flea markets for other alternatives. Look for pans without any cracks and flaws. It’s also important that their inner surface is smooth and free of scratches.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you clean a camp skillet?

Cleaning a camp skillet doesn’t have to be complicated. You have to remove all the remaining food bits in the skillet. Then, you may choose to wipe the body of the skillet with a paper towel or use dish soap.

Is a cast iron skillet good for camping?

Without any doubt, a cast iron skillet is a great idea to take along when camping. This is because thrown iron materials are tough, durable, easy to use, and clean. It would be perfect for making meals in the wild.

How do I get black soot off my cast iron skillet?

One of the simplest ways to remove this type of residue is by using salt. All you have to do is pick up an oily paper towel, and use it to scrub some salt into the base of the skillet.

I was fishing before I could walk and it's been a family tradition for centuries. Fishing is my life, or at least as long as I can remember. In the Lake Champlain International Fathers Day Fishing Derby, not only have I won first place twice but also third place! Also, in addition to majoring in Wilderness Recreation Leadership, I also happen to be a licensed camping, hiking, and hunting guide for NY.