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Below is a picture of my current cast iron skillet from Le Creuset. As a relative cooking novice, could someone let me know if I have possibly damaged my pan, or if this is normal? I have a Le Creuset dutch oven, and have always cleaned with soap/water and it is perfect, I thought I would do the same here (since both are enameled), but it looks like it may be in need of special treatment.

If this isn't normal, what is the recommended process of keeping this pan clean (daily use and/or the occasional deep clean).

Le Creuset cast iron skillet

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    Is the interior of that pan enameled? It looks like either bare cast iron or possibly a non-stick coating (which I didn't think Le Creuset does). – SourDoh Sep 13 '13 at 20:44
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    Assuming that's just cast iron on the inside (it looks like it), this is probably a duplicate of How do you clean a cast iron skillet? – Cascabel Sep 13 '13 at 21:09
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    From Le Creuset's product description: "Over time, the matte black interior enamel develops a natural patina that is ideal for searing and frying." So though that "patina" kinda sounds like seasoning, there does seem to be enamel, so maybe not a duplicate after all. – Cascabel Sep 13 '13 at 21:52
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    We have one that looks just like it and it is indeed enamel coated. – Adam Starrh Jan 1 at 21:49
  • I am still devastated that I killed mine by answering the telephone while roasting sunflower seeds in it. The enamel cracked off. – RedSonja Jan 12 at 14:28
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The above pan is not a typical Teflon coated non-stick item. It is a cast iron skillet with red exterior enamel and an interior "Satin Black" enamel. It is not identical to a Lodge cast iron pan, but for care and maintenance, it can be treated similarly. A patina can form on the interior "Satin Black" enamel, which is desirable. The brownish looking area on the surface of the pan is from caramelization, which occurs during the cooking process. Le Creuset says seasoning is not required (unlike other cast iron pans like Lodge), but seasoning the pan will form a better patina, which does improve the natural non-stick properties. As you said, the patina develops naturally, but if you don’t want to wait, then you can help it along by seasoning it. Check Le Creuset's website (someone else linked it) for other details. I usually just use hot water and paper towel to clean with periodic seasoning.

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This pan should be cleaned only with a wet cloth and little bit of soap. No scrubbing is required as it can damage the pan. This link may be more useful.

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    I've got the matching milk pan and the only really important thing I'd add to this is only use wooden or plastic tools, metal will scratch the lining too. – vwiggins Sep 14 '13 at 13:13
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    From the visual appearance of the pan in the picture, would you say that this one has been damaged or that this is normal wear? – Kyle B. May 29 '14 at 13:46
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It's difficult to tell in the picture exactly what is going on. There are a few possibilities:

  1. The coating has flaked off, and the non-shiny portions are the bare metal underneath.

  2. You've developed a bit of a coating on top of the pan.

  3. We're looking at the coating, but it's lost its shine.

In the case of #1, it's likely a ruined pan. It might be possible to re-enamel, and if it's non-stick, it might be possible to torch off the non-stick and season it as a non-enameled cast iron pan, but this will give off poisonous gas in the process.

For #2 & 3, it shouldn't be a big deal, you just won't have as much of a non-stick process. If it's #3 and a non-stick pan, be careful, as this is a sign that you've been over-heating the pan, and will likely start flaking off in the future.

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Just soak it and scrub it with a plastic scrubber. Then coat with lard or oil and heat it up and wipe off the excess with a paper towel. Le Creuset is enameled and tough stuff, it never peels. I recommend never using soap.

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The skillet in the picture may not be authentic LeCreuset since it has what looks to be a non finished(enameled) cast iron cooking service. My skillet is enameled cast iron and it says that on the box. Therefore it does not require any scrubbing with anything more than a nylon scrub pad and some light dish soap at most.

I would consider returning the skillet if the cooking service got that funky from just cooking and cleaning. I have other LeCreuset pieces and none of them have ever gotten this bad.

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  • Le Creuset also sells stainless steel non-stick pans. As far as I can see all their cast-iron is indeed enamelled. – Mark Wildon Jan 11 at 16:34
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I'm going to answer this based on my experience with my Staub, enamel over cast iron pans. The best way to get burnt on food off of enamel over cast iron is to do this: heat water in the pan/pot til really hot but not boiling, drop in Tbsp. fulls of baking soda into it, especially over the burnt on areas... wait 5 minutes, turn off heat and if it's really bad the thick burnt on areas will just bubble up.

If it's a little bad you can push that burnt on stuff off with a wooden spoon or spatula. Drain water, clean as usual and for my Staub it returned it to "brand new" finish. I had totally burnt a cream based soup when I was first using my 4 Qt. pot and thought I had ruined it. This hot water, baking soda trick has worked many times to get surface back to like new.

Don't get worried with a white cast from baking soda, it washes right off. Granted mine are black enamel interiors over cast iron, but I can tell when the surface is back to brand new. Good luck!!

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It is not ruined! I have two of these and I wash them by hand with hot water and Dawn dish liquid. I first let them soak for a little while in Dawn and then scrub (not too hard) with a nylon scrub pad. Yours is just somewhat discolored. Try this and then maybe a little veg oil, although I have never oiled mine. If you preheat on medium heat, food will not stick.

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I've been on a VERY similar journey and put a lot of research into this in the past couple months. There is a LOT of misconception to sort through, which I'm also seeing in comments here. Please see the before and after shots of my pan- it was in way worse shape than yours, all because I was following bad advice that didn't acknowledge the enamel. Namely that I wasn't really washing it and I was "seasoning" it. The result was years of carbon (burnt food) build up.

Care instructions from the skillet's own Le Creuest sales page say "Dishwasher safe!" You can go nuts on cleaning this thing; that's the top advantage of the enamel. ABSOLUTELY use soap. https://www.lecreuset.ca/en_CA/iron-handle-skillet/CA-LS2024-307D.html

To fix my pan, I graduated through gentle instructions (boiling laundry soap, gentle scrubbing) until I noticed scrubbing worked best and I went to town with STEEL WOOL. For THREE HOURS.

The result is a totally fixed, totally functional, not chipped anywhere enamel pan. It is smooth to the touch and the remaining black flecks of carbon don't affect the performance of the pan. (Le Creuset congratulated me and suggested wiping it with distilled vinegar as a final step.)

Yours will probably just need a good overnight soak with soap and some scrubbing. Besides trouble-free washing, the other advantage of this pan over reg cast iron is that you can cook acidic sauces without damaging the pan.

Next question- how did your food get on there in the first place? Be advised that unlike seasoned regular cast iron, these pans are not ideal for frying, and not non-stick. If you want to fry with this pan, use lots of oil and never heat it above medium. Do not move or turn your food until it is done on the bottom- a crisped brown. It will release easily when it's ready to turn which is actually kind of cool- it tells you when it's ready.

Although some people talk about seasoning or patina, it's very different than the process for normal cast iron. The patina happens over years naturally WITH washing. Best to just put it out of your mind, wash the pan and make sure you cook things best suited for it!

Link to google photos album of pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/NDgKh8TaDKuUxuh38

About my pics:

  1. Black pan- how it looked to the bare eye; I thought it was a normal cast iron pan
  2. How it ACTUALLY looked once I took a picture with flash to send to Le Creuset for customer service. THAT'S when I realized something was built up on the pan!
  3. End result after restoration
  4. Care instructions off Le Creuset website. I also suggest emailing THEM your pics, as I did. They were very friendly and helpful and know the product best.

Good Luck!

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