I found a Wagner Ware #6 skillet, 2" deep, made in Sidney, on Ebay for $23 with shipping. The picture is a little fuzzy, but it looks like it's in good condition and the seller has a 99% rating.
Does this sound like a good deal, or can I refurbish my current skillet?
Seriously though, while a cast iron skillet never really dies, if you aren't comfortable cooking on it I would just get a new one.
Have you thought about keeping that one for cooking outdoors on or just using for bacon, sausage and the like?
Gray Simpson wrote:Thanks, Craig. I think the steel wool I have isn't up to the job. It shed bits everywhere, one of which ended up in my thumb, and I didn't make the surface any smoother. Plus I'm concerned about biting into my pancakes or fried eggs one day and getting a mouthful of rust!
Somebody gave me one of the Lodge brand pans which is not smooth to begin with, so I used my disc sander to make it smooth as glass. Then I seasoned it pretty much the way Paul has laid out in the article. I found that just heating it up and rubbing it with oil then letting it cool down for a while worked well. Repeating that about 10 times put a pretty good sheen on it. Good enough to cook on at least. Having bare metal will result in rust and if there is rust under the seasoning, it'll just keep rusting away as long as moisture gets in there. Best to get it cleared up any way you can and then grease it up real good.
I've been lucky that I've found pretty good pans at yard sales and thrift stores usually for under 10 dollars. but let's face it... if the pan is taken care of, it'll last longer than you will, so 25 dollars is still a good investment.
I just bought a #5 Wagner Ware skillet made in Sidney for only 15 bucks. Can't wait till it arrives!
Your pans look great as is.
cast iron doesn't need to be smooth for it to be a great non-stick pan.
Also, when we purchased 2 Chinese cast iron woks at the wok shop in San Francisco, they recommended that your burn onions (or green onions) on them before using.
Supposedly it gives the wok "flavor" that is added to any food you cook on it afterwards.
In defense of Lodge's, made in the USA, pans, the rough surface is actually an advantage.
The rough surface makes it easier to obtain a uniform seasoning coat, so you get a much more uniform black seasoning coat than you do on a smooth pan.
On the smooth pans, I experienced, every now and then the seasoning would flake off in parts, leaving a small area that food would stick to.
(After extended usage, the Lodge's look much nicer than the Wagners, because of this)
Also when cooking using the rough surface; the oil is "captured" by the rough indentations so the oil is more uniformly applied over the whole surface.
On the slicker pans, the oil would just slide around as a puddle and not really oil the entire surface.
We had a smooth wok and a rough one. we kept the rough one and sent the smooth on to Goodwill.
I've also used Wagner's smooth pans (while at vacation rentals). They worked great, but the oil did slide around and they just didn't look as nice, because of seasoning flaking.
We've purchased 2 Lodges: an 8" and an the chicken fryer pan. They came seasoned and didn't really need any extra, although the seasoning does get better over time.
For the unseasoned woks we bought, peanut oil works better than vegetable oil (bacon & chicken oil even better). Just got peanut oil off the top of organic peanut butter jar.
As an aside:
Butter is actually a much better lubricant when cooking than oil.
Just a little butter, less than a teaspoon, will make your eggs slide like they are on an air-hockey table.
Sometimes when people use cast iron for the first time they burn the oil which creates a sticky goo. This makes the food stick and they blame it on the "rough" surface.
If you create the sticky goo, you can either burn it off, more seasoning. Or you can simply scrub it off with a rough sponge while running hot water over the pan in the sink.
It took about 30 full seconds of sanding to get to the shiny metal, and even then there was still some black stuff left, so I know I can't sand it by hand with this kind of sandpaper. Maybe an aluminum oxide or silicon carbide sandpaper with coarser grit will help.
- X 2
The pan needs to stay in long enough to burn off any carbon from the fire.
Pull it out hot or leave it in till cooled a bit (not cold though as it will start rusting again) , give it a good srub with steel wool, wash, then season it.
Lots of methods on the web, but most are roughly the same. Here's one: http://curtcorwin.blogspot.com/2012/03/how-to-clean-cast-iron-cookware-with.html
I think just light a fire outside and throw it in when its roaring and take it out after a while. I got two rusty ones for free and did this recently and they're as good as new.
This sounds like the same process I have stumbled onto from somewhere- I have a self-cleaning oven, the sissy urban equivalent to a roaring fire, and if i place a crusty old cast iron pan inside for the self-cleaning cycle, it comes out with some grey powder ash inside and bare cast iron, inside and out, ready to reseason. No elbow grease involved.
definitely worth a try before getting out the angle grinder and goggles.