What is the Black Coating on Cast Iron Skillet? (And What Causes the Black Residue?)

The kitchen is always one of the busiest places in the home. This reason for this is not farfetched. We need to make food for ourselves and our loved ones. There are many ways we achieve it. Even much more, there are different kitchen utensils that we use. 

One of those regular kitchen utensils that stand out is a cast-iron skillet. This cookware is one favorite of many people due to its durability and heat-retention ability. Another plus is that the cookware is cast iron and can sustain fine cooking during high temperatures. If you properly season it, it can also serve as a non-stick pan. 

So, there are a million and one reasons to prefer the cast iron skillet when cooking. However, you would discover that there is, sometimes, black coating on the cookware for those familiar with it. This often leaves many people confused, as they don’t understand what the black coating on the cast iron skillet is.

Why Do Cast Iron Skillets Have Black Coating?

The first thing to know is that there’s a distinction between the black coating on a cast iron skillet and the black residue. Here’s the difference.

While the black coating comes from seasoning the skillet, the black residue may be due to an unseasoned skillet, burnt oil, or stuck food. Generally, cast iron skillets are unseasoned and therefore come in grey or silver color. 

It is when manufacturers decide to season it with polymerized oil that it turns black. The black coating prevents it from rusting and gives it a non-stick interior. The black coating, however, does not last forever; it can peel off at any time. But the good news is that there is always room to season it.

Conversely, the black residue is due to using, abandoning, or not seasoning the skillet for a long time. For instance, if you use it without seasoning, foods will stick to it quickly and burn. This obviously can cause black residue. Using cooking oils such as olive and walnut that have low smoking points can also cause black residue. This is because the fat tends to burn when you overheat it. 

That’s the difference between the black coating and the black residue in the cast iron skillet. 

The black coating is not harmful, but can we say that about the black residue? Let’s take a look.

Is the Black Residue on Cast Iron Skillet Harmful?

There is so much concern about the black residue that you sometimes find in your food. Of course, this doesn’t give the food the beauty you wish for it, but what else can you do? It seems like the only way out is to season your pot. 

However, before you do this, let us consider if what you have been eating is harmful to your health. 

While the black residue does not look palatable, the good news is that it’s not harmful to your health. Follow through to know the reason for this. 

The black residue on your skillet is not harmful because it is the residue from your burnt foods. These residues are mere deposits of carbons caused by burning your food or overheating the oil. 

Nonetheless, this black residue still has to go. So how do you go about that? Let’s consider how to remove black residues from your cast iron skillet.

Ways To Remove Black Residue From Cast Iron Skillet

Although it’s not harmful, it’s still not supposed to be in your food. The proper thing is for you to remove it. 

There are many ways to do this, but we have explained only the tested methods for you. So, let’s go.

1. Use Self-Cleaning Oven

One of the easiest ways to get the black residue off is by using a self-cleaning oven. There are, however, steps to do this. 

First, you have to put your iron cast skillet and make it face down in the cleaning oven’s upper shelf. After this, all you need is to allow your self-cleaning oven to clean it for about five minutes.

To achieve a great result, you can repeat the technique. The only remaining thing after this is to let your skillet cool and remove any debris on it. 

There you go, you have just cleaned your cast iron skillet.

2. Use Basic Household Items

You don’t have to work yourself up before removing the black residue in your skillet. You can make use of some essential household items like baking soda, salt, and soap. Let’s tell you how to make use of these items to achieve a sparkling skillet. 

Once you get the baking soda or salt, you can add one of them to the skillet. Then, add your water and washing soap. Then you can begin scrubbing. These household items have their different uses. The baking soda or salt, for instance, can clean away the burnt carbon. While the soap will get remove the grease in the skillet.

After scrubbing, use warm water to wash off the foam and soda. If you are not satisfied with the result, you can repeat the method to get a sparkling skillet. Allow the skillet to dry for some time. You can also use paper towels to wipe the excess water. 

3. Use Boiled Water and Spatula

This is also a great way to eradicate black residue in your skillet. However, you can only use this method if only your burnt food caused the black residue. 

You can use this method by first using a non-abrasive sponge to take off the burnt food. After this, you may pour water in the skillet and boil it. Ensure that the water covers the burnt food in the skillet. 

When the water has boiled, you can scrape the burnt food with Spatula. This will remove the black residue. If you are not satisfied with the result, you can do this again. after getting a satisfactory result, make sure you thoroughly use warm water to rinse the skillet. 

4. Use Vinegar and Water

In cleaning your iron cast skillet, you can make use of vinegar and water too. Vinegar is also very good at removing black residue and rust in your iron cast skillet. Since it is another home item, you shouldn’t have difficulties with it. So, how do you go about it?

First, you have to pour water and vinegar in your iron cast skillet. You must leave the water and vinegar mixture in the skillet for nothing less than sixty minutes. You can set a timer for this. 

After this, you should remove your skillet and begin to scrub with a non-abrasive sponge. This will help you remove excess burnt food. After washing thoroughly, you can do it again if you don’t feel satisfied with the outcome. 

When you are sure that you have a sparkling skillet, you can wash the skillet with warm water. This is not a difficult thing to achieve, as the vinegar does a thorough job. 

The final part is for you to allow the skillet to dry. Turn it upside down and let the excess water to fall off the skillet. You can then use a towel paper to clean up the excess water. 

So, in a short but helpful manner, these are the ways to clean your skillet and remove the black residue from it. 

What Causes the Black Residue on Cast Iron Skillet?

There are different things responsible for the black residue on cast iron skillet. Two things are often the major cause of the black residue in iron skillets. It could be as a result of improperly using it or not seasoning it. Some have also said abandoning it for long could cause rust and black residue, but let’s focus on the first two. 

So how does improperly using a cast-iron skillet cause black residue? If you are not careful with how you cook, it could lead to black residue in your skillet. For instance, if you burn food often or use cooking oil with a low smoke level, it can cause black residue. Also, if you scratch a part of your non-stick skillet, foods would burn quickly. This can also cause black residue.

On the other hand, not seasoning your skillet would cause food to burn at any time. The best way to avoid this is to season your pot

Now that you already know what causes black residue in your skillet, how do you prevent it?

How to Prevent a Seasoned Skillet from Getting the Black Residue?

Prevention is always better than cure. With the iron cast skillet, there is no exception to this rule. It is still better to prevent your skillet from shedding the black residue than trying to get rid of it later. It saves you time and energy. Your iron cast skillet will also last longer.

There are ways to prevent your iron cast skillet from getting the black residue. Read on to find out.

1. Don’t Overheat Oil and Fats

If you have the habit of overheating your oil and fats when cooking, you will not help yourself. The reason for this is not farfetched. 

All cooking oil does not have the same smoking level. The ones that have a high smoking level will do relatively well when you overheat them. But those who possess a low smoking level can quickly begin to burn at the slightest overheating. 

With this, they can burn and turn to black residue in your iron cast skillet. 

If you don’t know your cooking oil’s smoking point, it is better to avoid overheating them.

2. Immediately Clean off Burnt Food with Oil

There are times you would burn food unintentionally. When this happens, there is the possibility that it would become a black residue if you leave it there. 

To avoid this, the best thing to do is clean off the burnt food immediately you notice it is burning. You have to transfer the food to a different skillet and clean one with the burnt food.

It’s quite simple and easy. That way, you are not leaving anything to chances.

3. Season it After Cleaning

Preventing black residue covers not giving room for anything to burn in your iron cast skillet. The best way to do this is to ensure you season it after each cleaning. 

After using your skillet to cool for some time, you can thoroughly wash it and dry it. Immediately you have dried it; you can add some oil to it. 

Ensure you run this oil evenly in the skillet. Remove any excess oil from the skillet. After this, you can put the oiled skillet in the oven and heat it. Allow the skillet to heat for about sixty minutes before turning off the oven. 

Once the time is up, don’t take the skillet out immediately. Allow it to cool off to avoid incidents of burns. When the skillet is finally cooled, you can remove it, and your skillet is ready to use again. 


Cooking is excellent when you know how to go all day without burning your food or not having black residue in your foods. We have explained to you things you should know about your skillet and how to prevent your food from burning. We can only expect that you go ahead and put to practice all that you have read. 




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