8 Home Remedies for Carbon Stains | Q&A

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Q: Grandma, What can I do to remove carbon stains from cast iron skillet? I have tried vinegar, steel wool, borax and barbeque grill brush but the stains are still there.

A: Dear M, Cast iron skillets are superior quality cookware used by professional and home cooks alike. No matter how careful we handle its usage, grease build up and carbon stains become a problem in time. Unlike ordinary cookware, cast iron skillets require special cleaning techniques which can be easily done through the use of some recommended home remedies.


1. Boiling water – Pour boiling water over the skillet carefully, making sure to cover the entire surface. Use a soft scrubber to scrape the stain away without burning the hands. If there are still stain, place the skillet back on the burner and let the water boil some more while you scrub it with a spoon or wooden spatula. Continue scrubbing until all the stain is completely gone. Dry the skillet well before putting it away.[1]

2. Coarse salt – For more stubborn stain, pour salt into the skillet. Use a soft cloth to scrub and break the build-up of stains. When the stains are gone, clean the cookware with soap and water. Dry completely then apply corn oil or melted lard to restore the smooth texture.

3. Baking soda – Cover the stained surface with a paste of combined baking soda and water. Leave the paste on the skillet overnight then scour the stain the next day.[2]

4. Pepsi Cola – Pour a little amount of Pepsi Cola on the stain area. Use a tin foil to rub away the stain. Re-season with cooking oil to preserve the finish.[3]

5. Hydrogen peroxide – Spray the cookware with oven cleaner and allow to sit for several minutes. Use a clean cloth to wipe it dry. Pour hydrogen peroxide all over the surface then heat the skillet until it becomes hot. Do not boil. Wait for an hour to let it cool down before wiping the carbon stains with a cloth. Wash with water then dry well.[4]

6. Oven baking – Position the oven racks at the bottom level in the oven. Place aluminium foil under the racks to catch the drippings. Place the cast iron skillets upside down the racks. Bake for one hour then turn the oven off. Allow the cookware to cool down inside the oven.[5]

7. Fireplace burning – Throw the skillet in the fireplace burning with mound of newspaper or dry leaves. Leave the skillet on fire for 30 minutes or until the metal is shiny. The method, though, runs the risk of warping or cracking the cookware if done longer than necessary.[6]

8. Use of propane torch – Subject the skillet with carbon stains under heat using a portable propane torch. Be careful not to heat the metal too long to avoid warping. Scrub the remaining stains with a scrubber and soap. Rinse with very hot water. Use layers of paper towel to remove all residues and to wipe dry the skillet completely.


How to Clean a Cast Iron Skillet

Cooking in Cast Iron – Here’s What You Need to Know

How to Remove Carbon Stains