I picked it up for ten bucks at a flea market in Hadley, Massachusetts while I was at school, and its been with me ever since. Its not high maintenance or complicated its actually the easiest pan to care for, so long as you know what to do. If youre thinking of getting one, or have one and want to know how to take care of it, check out my complete guide to cast iron. Cast irons are so great because they are so versatile. In one pan, I have a nonstick skillet, pizza stone, dutch oven, griddle, and even a cookie sheet. Plus I can take it camping and leave it tossing around in my trunk for a few weeks and its still perfect though anything fragile in the trunk may be dented. Here are my reasons to get a cast iron pan Although they heat more slowly, they heat and cook much more evenly than thinner pans. Their self created nonstick surface called their seasoning is great for eggs, pancakes, and basically everything. Multipurpose skillet, pizza stone, dutch oven, griddle, campfire pan, cookie sheet. Goes straight from stove to oven and back again. Nearly indestructible. Other nonstick pans deteriorate over time, and their coatings are possibly toxic. Unlike other nonstick cookware, you can use metal utensils with cast iron. Cheap. A well seasoned secondhand cast iron can easily match an expensive luxury skillet. Easy to clean. Lasts forever. Your cast irons will definitely outlive your grandchildren. Marzipan Recipe. If you need another reason, heres a short video about cast iron pans inspired by the movie Tangled. Reasons not to get one. You dont like different foods touching on your plate, or are grossed out by the idea of not using soap. Cast iron is porous and over time the metal slowly absorbs oil and other food particles, creating the sought after non stick sheen. Some people say this lends food cooked in cast iron a subtle meld of flavors as the thyme in your breakfast eggs lingers into tomato sauce at dinner, but truthfully Ive never noticed. Another con is that its heavy. If you have trouble lifting or want to be able to toss a pan around the stove with a flick of your wrist, try something else. How to clean. For day to day cleaning, rinse out your pan with water and lightly scrub out anything stuck. After washing, put the pan back on the stove to dry. Leaving cast iron wet for long periods is the only easy way to harm it, since iron can rust. If you have super stuck on food, try scrubbing your cast iron with salt. Salt works as a light abrasive that simultaneously seasons the pan. Dont use heavy abrasive scrubbersbrushes, and never ever use soap. Both will clean the pan, which in this case is a problem since theyll clean the seasoning out of the pan. Bye bye non stickIf your pan rusts, use steel wool to remove the rust and then re season the pan. The only time you ever want to soap and scrub clean your cast iron pan is right when you get it if and only if its used. Since you dont know exactly where a used cast iron has been or whats been cooked in it, youll want to thoroughly scrub it down and re season it from scratchTo season it, thickly coat the inside of the pan with oil and toss it in a 3. F oven for an hour or so. This bakes the oil into the metal, a kind of jump start on the buildup you get from cooking in it. If your pan ever starts feeling a bit sticky, feel free to season it again. Ive heard of people using oven cleaner to strip their pans, and my recommendation is dont. Oven cleaner is toxic, your pan is porous, and youll end up eating oven cleaner. Although many people think this is an egg pan, its actually made for aebleskivers, delicious and easy Scandinavian pancakes filled with jam. Image credit Emil EvansTips on buying a vintage cast iron pan Buy American made pans. Griswold, Wagner, and Erie are the three brands to look for at flea markets and tag sales. Flip the pan over if it says made in Taiwan or anything other than one of those three names, you dont want it. The numbers on the handle are sizes. I find 6 to be great for single portions and grilled cheese, 8 for everything else. Heres a chart of exact size number to actual dimensions. Ask vendors where their pans came from. If its an autoshop, stay away. Their grandmother or an estate sale kitchen Great. If they dont know, use your best judgement. I give you permission to closely inspect smell the pan and reject it if anythings too funky. If you dont like the idea of used cookware, or dont want to season your own pan, Lodge makes pre seasoned pans. For higher end cast iron, including enameled pots think Le Creuset, check out our post on How to Shop for Cast Iron Cookware.