Cracks can often be repaired by brazing with standard bronze rod after heating the cast to 500F or so (the max most residential ovens will produce); an acetylene torch is required, probably an OA torch unless you're practiced and have a big tip on an air-acetylene "turbo torch" (OA is hotter and that helps to get up to temperature and complete the work) . Drill the end of the crack w/a 3/32 (more or less) bit for a "stop-hole", cut a slot along the crack w/a hacksaw to expose clean metal (there may be other ways to clean the crack), fully heat in oven, fill the crack w/braze, immediately put back into oven and turn the oven OFF; let the cast cool slowly w/the oven to room temperature - usually about 3-4 hours.
At least it worked for me and I'm a redneck welder of no particular skill at all. But it does help to have brazed some and know what metal, flux and rod look like when they reach critical temps.
I bought my first 12 inch skillet in the 70s for 15 dollars i think at the grocery store and it has been heavily used since then. Oh at first, cast iron sticks, when seaoning i remember this and choose things to cook in it which are easy to scrap off. No oven seasoning for me, although not above it just dont turn on the oven for that...i will use residual heat. Mostly seasoned that skillet with crisco, i dont use crisco any more but any high heat oil will do...i want to pan to get hot b4 smoking.
To season, at first with each use heat it up with oil on it every time you think of water any place near the pan. Some times coat the outside, heat up in whatever way is convenient....stove top mostly for me til it smokes. After you build up a nice black coating on it, this is not needed except when you have put water in it.
To clean, most of the time i used a paper towel. If things stick the first approach is to turn your spatula upside down and scrap it off. If push comes to shove just wash the thing and stick it on the stove top with a bit of oil...all better.
So, although others seem to find the brand of the cook pot matters, i dont because I expect the pot to stick at first. When i see what paul has to say about the spatula, well i never thought about that before but likely he is right...i am scrapping the high spots and filling the lows.
Oh and tomatoes with cast iron, to me this is more than a try to avoid. I have seen well seasoned cast iron start to rust right after cooking tomatoes. If i cook tomatoes in one, i will immediately wash in water and heat it with some oil on it.
If at first your pan doesnt seem all you want it to be, be patient...use it and wait.
Oh one more thing, I never ever put the cast iron on the countertop...leaves stains. I toss the pan in the oven if i want it out of my way and it is dirty...and you know what, it doesnt even matter if the oven is hot.
It uses 2 burners at once.
I love it. I've had it about 15 years now. The large flat surface is great for flapjacks, etc.
We use it both on the stove, and BBQ...indestructible.
(I do wish it would hold more oil in the 'drain' area though. For doing large quantities of things like bacon, you do need to use something like a turkey baster to suck up the drippings before they begin to overflow.)
Amazon.com - Pre-Seasoned Cast-Iron Cooker (3-quart Dutch oven and a 10-1/4-inch shallow skillet that doubles as lid) on sale for $30, shipped.
Looks like a great deal, especially with the free shipping, and has great reviews overall.
Amazon.com link: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0009JKG9M/ci12-20
Julia Winter wrote:If you're going to buy something on Amazon, start here at Paul's cast iron article and scroll down to one of the Amazon.com links. It will activate a cookie that gives Paul some sort of teeny kickback for whatever you buy in the next, I don't know, hour or so. You don't have to buy the particular thing that is linked, so just click on the link and then enter what you want in the search box.
I believe the link I posted in my message accommodates Paul's ID. At least that's what I tried to do. Not sure how to verify it's working though.
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