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I recently discovered I have mice or rats in my garage, where I had some stuff stored for space purposes, including a barely-used newly-seasoned frying pan. I found a bunch of rodent droppings in it (blegh), and I scrubbed it hard, twice, with soap and hot water, and washed it out.

I also re-seasoned it (stove-top method, not oven method, where the oil smokes and burns) since the seasoning was not that well done. I thought the soap/water/scrub would damage it, but I didn't see any visible deterioration of seasoning.

I have young children (two under 5 years old), and I'm not a food safety expert. Is this enough, or do I need to do something more to guarantee the sanity of my cast iron pan?

Edit: After doing some reading, I've found a few things to verify:

  1. Bleach dissolved in water, soaked for ~5 minutes, will kill everything rodent-specific. But what will that do to my cast iron?
  2. Droppings themselves are easily discarded, if not green (from poison)
  3. Rodent urine (which will exist anywhere droppings exist) will soak into the seasoning, even if it's sterilized now.
  4. Baking it in the oven for a couple of hours is probably a safe way to sterilize it. 350F seems okay. Is it high enough?

Based on all this information, I think the best approach would be to strip down and re-season the pan from scratch. That'll remove anything soaked into the existing seasoning, and it'll sterilize the surface.

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4  
I'd bleach it, personally. Why take chances? –  Aaronut Sep 29 '13 at 15:56
3  
Stainless steel cookware is not normally seasoned. –  SAJ14SAJ Sep 29 '13 at 17:17
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The CDC link is good information, but it is not culinary or cooking information. –  SAJ14SAJ Sep 29 '13 at 20:06
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Washing the pan and then heating it to the point of smoking oil should kill every organism on it. I wouldn't hesitate to use the pan after that process. –  Carey Gregory Sep 29 '13 at 21:33
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Comments are not for answering questions. As much as I (honestly) really appreciate the discussion (since I now have my answer), this information should really be put into a cohesive answer. +1 @CareyGregory –  ashes999 Sep 30 '13 at 13:11

3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

If it's cast iron, and you're really paranoid about it, just stick it in the oven, run a clean cycle, then re-season. Cast iron can withstand stupidly large amounts of heat: in traditional Chinese cookery, woks are cleaned by building a big fire, and throwing them in...When the fire burns out, you dig out your wok, re-season, and you're back in business.

If it's stainless, just stick it in the dishwasher.

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A full cycle seems like overkill to me. Anything toxic will burn when you reheat it on >110°C (that's botox). Seasoning / Maillard reaction happens at over 150°C.

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Had a cast-iron Dutch oven that went through the same thing: rodents decided to make it a home for a while. Re-seasoning, especially anywhere over 350 degrees F, should take care of the problem. My wife has asthma and gets bothered with excessive smoke, so I do it outdoors with a charcoal grill. My dutch ovens I just set directly onto the coals, then re-season as necessary once they're cool. It's worth the $2 in charcoal to not have to deal with the smell inside the house.

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