Left cast iron skillet on burner. What do I do?

Some of us are forgetful and tend to leave our cast iron skillet on a burner. Before you know it, it’s flaking, worn, and looks ready to throw away.

But that’s not true.

What happens after leaving a cast iron skillet on the burner?

When you leave a cast iron skillet on a burner, what happens is, the seasoning burns off. However, it doesn’t all burn off, just portions of it. So it will look like it’s flaking or even rusting away.

Most people tend to get worried, especially when you are new to cast iron or not experienced with it.

But it’s a simple fix that’s relatively easy and stress-free.

Strip the seasoning

The first task you need to do is strip the seasoning off altogether. There are a few ways to do this, so I’ll list them below and give a brief overview of each one.

Self-cleaning oven

The easiest method if you have a self-cleaning oven is using the self-cleaning function to remove the seasoning.

The self-cleaning function will heat the oven to a high temperature and burn the seasoning off.

To find out how to use the self-cleaning function on the oven, look in the manual for the model of range you have.

Leaving it in a fire

Another easy method, but not as convenient.

Get some cool, place it into a fire-safe container and place the cast iron skillet in the fire until the fire has burnt itself out.

This method will remove any of the seasoning.

Soak in white vinegar

The last method for stripping the seasoning off the cast iron is soaking the cast iron pan in white vinegar for 24 hours.

Try to aim for a white vinegar that’s 5-6%.

Fill a bin bag or something similar up with the white vinegar, place the cast iron skillet into the white vinegar, and leave it for 24 hours.

After 24 hours, start scrubbing the cast iron skillet with a sponge; this should take any of the seasoning off.

Reapplying the seasoning

Now that you’ve removed the current layer of seasoning. It’s time to reapply the new layer of seasoning.

To do this, follow the below instructions:

Make sure your cast iron skillet is very clean. Then, get some cooking oil, preferably flaxseed oil, wipe a thin layer of it all over the cast iron pan.

Place your cast iron skillet into the oven (do not preheat the oven) and heat the oven to 400F. Once you have reached 400F, put the cast iron skillet in for 1 hour.

After 1 hour, remove the skillet from the oven and wipe it off with a damp cloth; this will remove excess oil and prevent food from becoming too oily when you next cook with it.

Leave to cool for an hour, and then repeat five more times, so you have six layers of seasoning.

We also have a more in-depth guide on how to season cast iron skillets if you need more information on this.