How to Clean a Carbon Steel Pan Without Ruining it

A carbon steel pan is a kitchen essential for its durability and versatility. Made of thin sheets of carbon steel, the pans are highly conductive. People use them to make tortillas or pan-fry chicken breasts.

cleaning a carbon pan

However, there are times when your carbon pan can get so dirty that you may think it is not worth saving. This article will cover simple and cost effective ways to clean your carbon pan without ruining it, and the best part, you won’t need to break the bank.

– 1 table spoons baking soda

– 3 table spoons water

– A clean rag

Steps to clean a carbon steel pan without ruining it

Step 1. Prepare

Take a clean rag and lightly wipe down the pan with baking soda on the surface. Then, mix water and baking soda together on a small plate to make a paste.

Step 2. Apply mixture

Add some of the mixture and scrub off food particles and leftover residue from cooking. These remaining particles can ruin your pan if not removed completely. Continue doing this until the pan has been cleaned.

Step 3. Dry

Wipe off any excess mixture and dry it completely with a clean cloth or paper towel for several minutes.

Step 4. Season

Rub a thin layer of oil or other cooking fat all over the pan to season it for use, then let the seasoned pan dry overnight before using again.

using baking soda to clean carbon pan

Other methods to use to clean a carbon steel pan

1) Pour in 1/4 cup of liquid dish soap (not hand soap!) to your carbon steel pan filled with hot water and bring it to a boil for 30 seconds. Let the pan sit in soapy water for 10 minutes, then rinse off.

2) Scour it with kosher salt and lemon juice in a bowl.

3) Fill the pan with water and add two tablespoons of baking soda. Bring it to a boil, then simmer for about 15 minutes until all the food particles are gone. Then, remove from heat and let it cool overnight in the pan before rinsing or washing it in the sink.

methods to clean carbon steel pan


  1. Do not heat the pan over high heat: carbon steel pans can warp and lose their nonstick properties when exposed to extreme temperatures without food in them.
  2. Don’t submerge the wooden handle in water: the moisture can damage it. If your handle becomes dry, rub a small amount of coconut oil onto it weekly.
  3. Don’t use steel wool or metal utensils on the surface: this will result in scratches and damage to the pan.
  4. Do not put it in the dishwasher: the harsh chemicals can ruin your pan, and it may warp and discolor.
  5. Don’t leave acidic foods sitting in the pan for hours: highly acidic ingredients like tomato sauce, lemons, or citrus juices can damage the pan’s surface. 
  6. Always wash your carbon steel pan immediately after use to avoid having residue and acid sit for too long in the pan.
  7. Keep it well seasoned: For best results and easy cleanup, keep your carbon steel pan lightly oiled and well seasoned.
carbon steel pan safety

Q & A about carbon steel pans

1. The handle on my carbon steel pan is loose. Can I fix it?

Yes, you should be able to re-tighten the screws or bolts holding the handle in place. If this doesn’t work, you might need to replace the handle entirely.

2. How do I know when my carbon steel pan needs to be re-seasoned?

Check the surface of your pan after using it. If food particles aren’t coming off, or if it has begun to look dull and nonstick surfaces are starting to flake off, it’s time to re-season your pan.

3. Will my carbon steel pan rust?

Only if you leave water or another liquid sitting in the pan for too long without cleaning it. That can happen if you use soap to clean your carbon steel cookware.

4. Can I put my carbon steel pan in the oven?

No, this will damage and ruin your pan, so don’t do it!

5. How do I use my carbon steel pan?

Carbon steel pans are great for frying, searing, cooking eggs, and browning meats like steak. Lightly oil the surface before heating it up on high heat. Then you can now add your meat or vegetables to complete your dish!

carbon steel pan safety

Final thoughts

To avoid ruining your carbon steel pan, always clean it immediately after use and never let it soak. Since the surface is sensitive to heat and water, make sure you don’t immerse the wooden handle or hand-wash it with soap. Also, season your pan before each use for best results. 

Finally, keep the bottom of the pan dry by putting it over low heat to let the excess moisture evaporate. Cleaning your carbon steel pan often is key to maintaining its nonstick properties!

I hope this article has helped you understand how to clean a carbon steel pan without ruining it. Thanks for reading!

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