How Do I Get The Black Residue Off My Cast Iron Skillet?

You purchased a new cast iron skillet and are excited to use it. However, when you wipe its base, you realize an accumulation of black residue on your piece of cloth.

It may also be from a skillet that you have been using for some time. The residue is normally a result of an unseasoned skillet.

It may not be harmful but can interfere with the taste of your meal.


Causes of the Black Residue

Other than the skillet’s age and how you use it, below are other factors that may cause the black residue.

  • For new skillets, it is probably from the manufacturer’s pre-seasoning. In this case, you ought to remove the residue and season the skillet to avoid residue accumulation.
  • Charred oil from oil with a low smoke point like olive oil.
  • Burnt foods from meals before.

It is key that you eliminate the black residue before coming into contact with your food or clothes, as removing it from either can be a difficult task.

There are various methods of removing the black residue, such as boiling water, scrubbing using chainmail, and others. This article features the 3 most common cleaning methods.

  1. Soap and Salt Method

The use of salt in cleaning skillets is probably the most common method. Salt is a great abrasive, affordable, and accessible.

It is favorable when you want to protect the polymerized layer; that is the seasoning.

The combination of salt and soap removes the oily black residue.


  • Step 1: Pour a quarter cup of kosher salt and soap into the skillet.
  • Step 2: Scrub the mixture thoroughly on the skillet with a rag.
  • Step 3: After scrubbing, use warm water and wash the skillet with your hands, to eliminate any trace of the mixture on the iron pores.
  • Step 4: Dry the moisture with a piece of a clean towel.
  • Step 5: Set the oven or stove to medium heat and put the clean skillet on top to get rid of remaining moisture. This step is key in the prevention of rust, which is prevalent in cast iron materials.

Afterward, season the skillet with some elbow grease.

  1. Self- Cleaning Oven Method

If you own a self-cleaning oven, this is probably your method. Self-cleaning ovens burn any layers of gunk or oil from the iron skillets.

The process takes place under high temperatures (around 8800F). This temperature turns food, and oil remains into ash.


  • Step 1: Transfer all the oven racks to the base and on the top shelf, place the skillet facing upside down.
  • Step 2: Begin the self-cleaning process in your oven, which takes about 3-4 min, on majority ovens after turning it on. However, the duration varies depending on the type of self-cleaning oven you own.
  • Step 3: After completing the cycle, let the skillet sit till it cools.
  • Step 4: When cool, remove the skillet and scrub to ensure there is no left residue or soot.


Self-cleaning ovens can get really hot, with this;

  • Avoid placing foil beneath the oven to collect the ash, as the hot temperature may melt it.
  • Holding hot skillets with bare hands will earn you third-degree burns, remember to use gloves.
  • Avoid this method with old skillets; the high temperatures may crack your cast iron.
  • In addition, avoid using this method regularly.
  1. Vinegar and Baking Soda Method

The acidic nature of vinegar clears all the oil from the surface of the skillet. This is the reason why you ought not to cook with it immediately after seasoning.

Combining vinegar with baking soda produces an effective cleaning solution.


  • Step 1: Pour a mixture of water and vinegar in the skillet.
  • Step 2: Put the skillet on the stove and let the mixture boil
  • Step 3: After boiling, add a tablespoon of baking soda. After a while, there will be fizzing from the reaction.
  • Step 4: Scrub the baking soda on the skillet’s surface using a scouring brush. This ought to eliminate the black residue.
  • Step 5: Rinse the skillet, dry with a towel, and store it.

If It Has ALot Of Black Residue:

Dip the skillet in a blend of water and vinegar, if you have a big sink to fit your skillet. Soak the skillet for about an hour.

Repeat the process until there is no black residue. You can, after that, rinse and dry with a towel.


Do not leave the skillet in the vinegar overnight as it may cause pitting. This occurs when the vinegar eats away the cast iron hence damaging it.

Seasoning an Iron Cast Skillet

Removing the black residue requires seasoning the skillet after, as it loses its polymerized oil layer during the process.


  • Step 1: Add a tablespoon of vegetable oil or a bit of shortening in the skillet.
  • Step 2: Rub the skillet’s surface thoroughly on both sides with a paper towel to leave a thin layer of oil on the skillet.
  • Step 3: Using an oven at a temperature of 350F, place the oily skillet inside upside down on the middle rack. Place aluminum beneath to trap any oil during this process.
  • Step 4: After an hour, remove the skillet and leave it to cool down before using or storing it.

Preventing a Seasoned Skillet from Getting A Black Residue

Season Each Time after Use

Seasoning the skillet once is inadequate to ensure it remains non-sticky.

It needs regular maintenance, or you will spend more time seasoning rather than cooking with it due to black residue build-up.

Otherwise, you will spend more time reasoning it rather than cooking with it.

Proper Storage of the Cast Iron Skillet

How you store your skillet is very vital. The cast iron skillet should be completely dry before storage.

As mentioned before, it is prone to rust, so it is key that you ought to wipe off all the water traces.

Do not be scared of damaging your Skillet. Skillets are among the most durable home utensils. When scrubbing, if need be, scrub it till you get to the metal till there is no more residue.

Seasoning, it will return it to its normal appearance. Furthermore, skillets can endure the cooking of acidic foods.

You can repair a damaged skillet and remove rust using steel wool. The most important thing is the regular maintenance of your skillet.