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Okay, so I just gathered my cast iron dutch oven from my ex, and he apologetically explained that he'd spilled "something" on it. He is an organic farmer who works on cars, so literally: THERE IS NO TELLING WHAT IT COULD BE--from motor oil to transmission oil to yogurt. ONLY--IT WILL NOT COME OFF.

I have tried: -traditional methods of cleaning, from water vinegar to soap and water -AND, here's the most important part: When i tried to simply burn it off, the oven and the house began to smell like acrid poisonous "something." -i've even tried "bar keepers friend"

literally sanding down the top seemed to work okay, but honestly, should I just give up? throw it away? will i die if i eat out of this pan?

The substance is sticky and somewhat shiny, like a polymer or plastic based something, and it may have a slightly green tint, though its almost impossible to tell on the black surface of cast iron. in pictures, it just looks like an oil spot.

Oh, and no, I don't have access to a torch.

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    Welcome! While we love to help people, without actually seeing the pot (and possibly even then) we can't possibly know for certain what's on your pot and if we don't know what it is, we can't tell you how to remove it or whether it's dangerous or not. It's a guessing game. – Catija Jan 17 '17 at 22:14
  • Yeah--I'm sure, I just need a suggestion for a heavy duty cleaner!! – Nora B Jan 17 '17 at 22:43
  • or should I just sand the pot down and start again – Nora B Jan 17 '17 at 22:43
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    Personally, I think I'd just replace the pot. It's not worth risking that the something could be quite toxic. (And could it be some organic pesticide?) And even if you manage to get off all you can see, how will you know there isn't still an invisible thin layer? – derobert Jan 17 '17 at 22:50
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    If it's a vintage piece, you might consider stripping it entirely with oven cleaner and starting over with the seasoning process. It sounds to me like it got some kind of oil on it, and then was heated to the point of polymerization. – franko Jan 17 '17 at 23:38
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I used franko's suggestion: oven cleaner. I first sanded it down, and after letting it set, I completely reseasoned it was the answer.

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