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I've seen this a number of times (for example here, or here at cooking.SE), and I do it at home, but I'd like to know for what reason salt is good for cleaning (cast) iron cookware.

I know it's a stop-gap measure when a non-stick pan looses it's coating (I can't find the reference).

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salt is a good cheap abrasive – Brendan Apr 7 '13 at 16:20
Does this answer your question?… (It should if you're just asking about food safety.) – Jefromi Apr 7 '13 at 16:31
@Jefromi, thanks for the link, but it's about science, not safety. – BaffledCook Apr 7 '13 at 16:57
But... the "science" is about cleaning it (so that it's safe) without damaging it. – Jefromi Apr 7 '13 at 17:37
@Brendan It's really best to take the time to write an actual answer, rather than leaving one as a comment. – Jefromi Apr 7 '13 at 18:06
up vote 1 down vote accepted

The purpose for cleaning with salt is that it is an abrasive, and helps remove anything sticking to the pan, without being harsh enough to remove the seasoning.

Its not a stop-gap measure for poor seasoning; it is intended to preserve the seasoning. The main issue is avoiding soaps and detergents which would tend to remove the seasoning that makes cast iron fairly non-stick.

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Stop-gap for non-stick pans, not seasoned cast iron ones. – BaffledCook Apr 7 '13 at 16:57
There is no benefit that I know of for non-stick pans, even if damaged. – SAJ14SAJ Apr 7 '13 at 17:03
Someone claimed you should heat the non-stick with salt before each use after the coating becomes less effective. I can't find the reference, so... :-( – BaffledCook Apr 7 '13 at 17:05
:-) Here's a Q&A – BaffledCook Apr 7 '13 at 17:07
Its nonsense. Water doesn't wet PTFE. You actually want to minimize abrasion on the non-stick coating because once it is gone, the benefit to the pan is essentially gone. And the Q&A assertion is nonsense as well, as the answer indicated. – SAJ14SAJ Apr 7 '13 at 17:07

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