Cast iron skillets are one of the most versatile kitchen tools. The key to a well-seasoned cast iron is establishing lots of layers of seasoning that will make it smooth, shiny, and non-stick. Using oil with a high smoke point in this process, like grapeseed or safflower, is key. First, use a paper towel to evenly coat the bottom of the pan with the oil. The goal of using a thin layer of oil is to polymerize the fat to the pan—using too much oil will cause a bumpy, uneven, and sticky surface.
Once the pan is well-coated, crank your burner up all the way, and turn your hood vent on. You want the pan to smoke for a couple of minutes before shutting the heat off. Repeat this process as needed to achieve an even non-stick surface.
Sometimes all you need to clean your pan is a quick and easy wipe. Some situations call for a bit more elbow grease. Even though some people will debate this, using a mild soap to wash your cast iron is perfectly fine. Just be sure to dry it out on the stove once you’re done and finish with a wipe of oil as needed. Well-cared-for cast irons can last lifetimes!