I am often asked whether vintage cast iron is really “non-stick” as is claimed.
My answer is that a properly cared-for, properly cleaned, and properly seasoned vintage cast iron skillet will be non-stick once seasoning is built up.
The Pan Handler pieces are sold only after being cleaned to bare iron and then subsequently heat-seasoned with Crisco (and sometimes Pam). Therefore, when you purchase a piece from The Pan Handler, it has just one layer of seasoning. To achieve full non-stick properties, it needs more than that one layer. I typically recommend cooking fatty foods in the pan when first received to help build up that seasoning. Generous use of your preferred cooking oil also helps with this process.
Sometimes you will see a vintage piece offered for sale with a claim that the piece is “well-seasoned.” Unfortunately, that is often code for “I didn’t know how to clean this pan” or “I didn’t want to take the time to thoroughly clean this pan” or “OMG, this pan is a mess…I know, I’ll call it SEASONING!” The pan may have decades of burnt on food, carbon, and rust. That is not “seasoning.” That is decades of crud that needs to be removed.
I made a little video of me cooking my morning scrambled eggs in my vintage Griswold Iron Mountain #5 skillet. You will see that this pan is indeed non-stick; it’s not just hype! Just be sure to thoroughly clean and dry your pan after use, and then put a light layer of protective oil on it. I use a quick spray of Pam on a paper towel; that works well for me.
Enjoy the vid!
In the vid, the 2 eggs were cooked on a pre-heated skillet without the use of additional oil (hello, waistline!) Plopped two eggs into a bowl, sprinkled on some seasoned salt, gave it a few stirs with a fork, and into the skillet they go.
Once the eggs are removed and the pan cooled a bit, it’s quite a simple task to pour in a little water and give it a rub with the chain mail scrubber til any bits are removed. Be sure to remove any bits; otherwise the next time you cook, your food will stick to the bits, and there goes your non-sticked-ness! Dry the pan thoroughly with paper towels, then spray a bit of Pam on the cooking surface and give it a rub with your paper towel to coat the entire surface.
Voila! Your new old non-stick pan! And doesn’t it feel better to be eating off of your cast iron instead of your scratched up old teflon pan that is leaching chemicals into your body? Give yourself a pat on the back for being healthy!