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Quote from www.saltworks.us:

Preventing food from sticking - Rub a pancake griddle with a small bag of salt to prevent sticking and smoking. Sprinkle a little salt in the skillet before frying fish to prevent the fish from sticking. Sprinkle salt on washed skillets, waffle iron plates or griddles, heat in a warm oven, dust off salt; when they are next used, foods will not stick.

I've heard this more than once but never tried this, because I simply can't imagine why or how this works, and mostly the descriptions are a bit vague (for example, what temperature should a "warm oven" be?).

If it does work, how long does the effect last, just the next time it's used? And would there be remains of salt left in the pan when it's used next, so that one should use salt with caution after applying this procedure?

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Can't answer the main question but terms like, "warm oven" and "hot oven" do have a meaning. My grandmother always used to refer to cool, warm, moderate, hot and very hot ovens for baking. My mother used gas marks. I have always had electric ovens in C. So my whole life has been spent converting between these three systems. Roughly a cool oven is down at 110-120C, a wram oven maybe 150-160C, a moderate oven around 170-180C, hot ovens would be at 200C, very hot at 220C. –  Rincewind42 Aug 18 '11 at 13:45
    
I'm guessing salt works similarly to cornmeal in preventing bread from sticking to bakeware, by putting a layer of material between pan and food. However, I think this is also a great way to cause salt corrosion damage to your pans, particularly cast-iron stuff. –  BobMcGee Aug 18 '11 at 14:44
    
@Bob Thanks. I think it's not really meant for cast-iron ones, because if they're seasoned properly, they're pretty much non-stick anyway. My guess is that it's probably more meant for aluminium ones without teflon or any other kind of non-stick coating. Good point about the cornmeal, I just wonder how much salt would be left after "dusting off" to have any effect. –  takrl Aug 18 '11 at 14:59
    
@Rince Thanks, that at least gives me an idea about the temperatures. –  takrl Aug 18 '11 at 14:59
    
I don't know how to google and find citations to prove a negative, but my best guess from understanding the science is that salt sprinkled in a pan then wiped out will have precisely no affect whatsoever. The claim is quite silly. –  SAJ14SAJ Mar 6 '13 at 1:15
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2 Answers 2

Most of the described method will help you to clean and dry your pan. A clean pan, especially when it is cast iron, is a happy pan and will work better. A clean an smooth surface, and rubbing salt on it will clean an smooth a metal surface, will also help to prevent food from sticking.

Sprinkling your pan with salt immateriality before frying fish or meat is pointless. What salt does to food is to bind water and less moist things stick less. But your pan should be so hot that the little salt can't make a different. If the salt has time to dry your food, your pan just isn't hot enough.

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Agreed. The salt just acts as a physical abrasive while rubbing. Note that the first tip says to prevent "sticking and smoking" - it obviously refers to the removal of particles remaining on the pan from the last cooking process, which would start to smoke and glue the food to the pan while turning to charcoal. –  rumtscho Mar 6 '13 at 12:00
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It sounds like this would be pretty much equivalent to properly cleaning your pan with a good scrubber, then heating the pan sufficiently to make sure it's dry. –  Jefromi Mar 6 '13 at 16:20
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I saw a chef on European TV who always sprinkles a little salt on his hot skillets, swirls it, and then wipes it before grilling anything. Nothing sticks. His explanation is that the salt absorbs the extra moisture ingrained in the pans, especially cast iron. I do that whenever I remember, especially when searing meat or chicken without adding fat, and of course for fish. It works.

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