Fishy smell from a cast iron pan??

grizzlyj

Tea pot tester
Hiyi

Weird question, but how do you get the smell out of a cast iron pan?!

I bought a lovely one second hand last year and as my first experience with a pan like this its fab.

But, it smells of fish. I'm not a big fan of fish, especially when cooking up a big fried breakfast after the night before.

I've never cooked fish in it, Its been used maybe two or three times a week for maybe 18 months but still smells when warm.

I did once use soap on it in desperation, but have reverted to a soap free clean then reoiled, resealing when necessary.

Should I sell the lovely thing and buy new? Or? Any suggestions welcomed :)
 

BEG

Adventurer
Soap isn't going to hurt a properly seasoned pan. That seems to be one of those internet half-truths that's been blown out of proportion. Run the pan under hot water, scrape any loose seasoning/ food residue off with a metal spatula (yes, metal) and go at it with dish soap and a nylon-bristled brush until the water runs clear. Towel off any water and set it on a low flame to dry it thoroughly, then wipe it lightly with your fat of choice.

We do all of our cooking in cast iron and carbon steel pans and strong odors, like fish, never last more than a day. Keep at it and you'll get the hang of using cast iron. You'll find that it really doesn't require as much fussing and fretting over as people think. And definitely don't buy new cast iron as long as the old stuff is available to you.
 

AndrewP

Explorer
You likely have some rancid oils clinging to the surface.

Do this-Fill the pan 1/8 inch deep with kosher salt. Heat it up to normal cooking temps, and run the salt around the pan with a spatula, using the grains as a mild abrasive. Then, dischard that salt and repeat, only this time, add enough cooking oil to just cover the salt. Stir around the pain for 5-10 minutes on medium heat until oil hits it's "smoke point" Cool and discard. Wipe out, heat back up and re-oil. This "purifies" the pan, and should kill your rancid smell. This is also a good way to heal a damaged seasoning.

Use any oil you want, but peanut oil has a relatively high(er) smoke point, and is less likely to turn rancid over time.
 

Herbie

Rendezvous Conspirator
Agreed that there's probably just some rancid fat somewhere.

It may not be in the pan, either, but on the handle or the groove of the "hanging hole". I'm guessing you just haven't got the pan truly hot enough to burn it all off.

The upside of cast iron is that you can't possibly hurt it with fire. It melts at 2300°F, so unless you're cooking steaks on a blast furnace, it'll be fine. Worst case scenario, put it on your BBQ grill and crank it. Mine will see just under 800° with the lid closed. After that you'll probably need to re-season, but it won't smell like anything except what you season it with. (I like Crisco, which doesn't smell like anything, post-seasoning.)
 

grizzlyj

Tea pot tester
Thank you for the replies :)

It has certainly been so hot we've had to leave the house because of the smoke, but I hadn't thought of having a proper go at removing the surface abrasively. Plastic scourer so far only.

Since the pan soaks up oil to some degree I was thinking the smell must be within the metal somehow but maybe not.

I'll have more of a go at it :)
 
You likely have some rancid oils clinging to the surface.

Do this-Fill the pan 1/8 inch deep with kosher salt. Heat it up to normal cooking temps, and run the salt around the pan with a spatula, using the grains as a mild abrasive. Then, dischard that salt and repeat, only this time, add enough cooking oil to just cover the salt. Stir around the pain for 5-10 minutes on medium heat until oil hits it's "smoke point" Cool and discard. Wipe out, heat back up and re-oil. This "purifies" the pan, and should kill your rancid smell. This is also a good way to heal a damaged seasoning.

Use any oil you want, but peanut oil has a relatively high(er) smoke point, and is less likely to turn rancid over time.
I would think you may need to be careful about using peanut oil, friend stops by you cook on it and they have peanut allergy. Just saying!
 

AndrewP

Explorer
I would think you may need to be careful about using peanut oil, friend stops by you cook on it and they have peanut allergy. Just saying!
Actual incidence despite the hype is that less than 1% of the population is even sensitive (actual self reported number is 0.6%, so the real incidence is much lower), and far fewer than that, experience severe problems.

By your logic, you should remove any potential allergen from your home, like milk, seafood, dust, aspirin, grass, hair shampoo, laundry detergent etc.

Peanut oil is great for cast iron cooking and seasoning, and most wok cooking in Chinese restraunts is with peanut oil. Other decent seasoning alternatives: Grape seed oil, Canola oil, lard, bacon fat even Crisco.

Flax seed oil is the MOST likely to become rancid, and the whole Sheryl Canter thing has been discredited as pseudo science long ago. It produces a good looking seasoning that flakes off over time. Plus, it's hard to find, it goes rancid immediately, etc. Your grandmother did not season her cast iron with Flax seed oil.
 

OCD Overland

Explorer
Flax seed oil is the MOST likely to become rancid, and the whole Sheryl Canter thing has been discredited as pseudo science long ago. It produces a good looking seasoning that flakes off over time. Plus, it's hard to find, it goes rancid immediately, etc. Your grandmother did not season her cast iron with Flax seed oil.
And any oil you heat enough to season a pan goes WAY past the point of being rancid. 6 months of use and I haven't had any issues.
 

tgreening

Expedition Leader
My wife loves her cast iron pans and Dutch ovens. Being born and raised in Japan you can imagine the amount of seafood said pots and pans experience. Since I leave the care and maintenance (actually I'm not allowed to touch) to her I can't offer much insight other than they never smell of fish, so it can be done.
 
Whatever.
Actual incidence despite the hype is that less than 1% of the population is even sensitive (actual self reported number is 0.6%, so the real incidence is much lower), and far fewer than that, experience severe problems.

By your logic, you should remove any potential allergen from your home, like milk, seafood, dust, aspirin, grass, hair shampoo, laundry detergent etc.

Peanut oil is great for cast iron cooking and seasoning, and most wok cooking in Chinese restraunts is with peanut oil. Other decent seasoning alternatives: Grape seed oil, Canola oil, lard, bacon fat even Crisco.

Flax seed oil is the MOST likely to become rancid, and the whole Sheryl Canter thing has been discredited as pseudo science long ago. It produces a good looking seasoning that flakes off over time. Plus, it's hard to find, it goes rancid immediately, etc. Your grandmother did not season her cast iron with Flax seed oil.
 
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