This is written for the La Follette High School Culinary Basics class in Madison, Wisconsin, but all are welcome to see it. It is intended to be a simple, straight forward tutorial.
In following this tutorial on caring for a cast iron skillet, students will have the opportunity to a) remember that there is a special way to care for cast iron, and that they have means to access similar information for future reference, b) practice proper care and maintenance of equipment, c) more deeply connect the written word to "real life" in a meaningful way.
Step 1: Let Your Cast Iron Skillet Cool to Room Temperature.
Let your skillet, or other cast iron implement, cool to room temperature.
Putting anything hot into water can crack or warp it, so don't.
Step 2: Wash, Using No Soap.
Wash the inside of your skillet. You shouldn't need to use any soap, but do scrub it very well. Make sure there isn't any food on the cooking surface.
Rinse your skillet thoroughly, inside and out.
Note: Don't soak your skillet before you wash it. If you have a rusty skillet.
If you have a rusty skillet, try washing it with a scrubby sponge. If that doesn't work, use steel wool. Follow the seasoning instructions for new pans as I've detailed in step 5.
Step 3: Towel Dry Your Skillet
Using a clean towel, dry the skillet inside and out.
Step 4: Finish Drying, and Heat
Finish drying your skillet by putting it over medium heat. This will also heat your skillet for the next step.
Don't walk away from your skillet, it could overheat and warp, which ruins it. It should be dry in just 30 seconds or so.
Step 5: Oil, or "season" Your Pan
You're embarking on the mysterious "seasoning" step.
Here it is:
1) Your pan has to be hot (not over-heating and giving off the smell of a foundry, just hot enough to evaporate water)
2) Dampen a paper towel with food oil (olive oil is good), and rub it around on the inside of the pan.
3) Do this until all of the metal is glossy. If you pour it right on the pan that works, too, but putting too much on makes the surface of the pan sticky, instead of non-stick.
4) Compost your oily paper towel if no one else needs it.
If your pan is new, or hasn't been seasoned in a while, you can do this steps a few times. Let it cool between steps, and you'll build up a coating will make it easy to clean.
Be efficient: Next time you bake you can heat your skillet in the oven while you preheat and season it then.
Step 6: Let Cool, and Put Away
Let your pan cool to room temperature on the stove top, and then put it away.
At home people often store them in the oven, or hang them on hooks, so that they don't have to wait before putting them away.