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Clever Ways To Use A Coffee Filter On Your Cast Iron Pan

Cast iron pans make a great addition to any kitchen. They're versatile and can be used to cook everything from steaks to pancakes. However, cast iron needs a little extra TLC when it gets dirty, as using soap and water isn't ideal. And if you're looking for tips to prevent your cast iron pan from rusting, a TikTok video shared by @brunchwithbabs explains that you can effortlessly clean a cast iron skillet with salt, a potato, and a coffee filter. The filter works better than a paper towel because it doesn't shed its fibers, making it ideal for this type of cleaning activity. 

Just to clarify, you can use a mild soap and water to clean cast iron. It won't ruin your skillet — it's just not ideal. Cast iron is "seasoned," which means that it features a protective film of carbonized oil. This works to protect your skillet from rusting while offering some non-stick properties, and strong soaps can strip away these oils. However, modern soaps typically don't have the same harsh ingredients that older soaps boasted, such as lye and vinegar. So, yes, you can use soap and water, but this coffee filter hack alleviates the need to do so.

The first step is to grab a clean potato and cut it in half, scrubbing any caked-on food from your pan. Next, make sure your pan is warm before cleaning — but not hot. Although you can clean a cold cast iron skillet, it's easier to clean slightly warmed pans.

Grab some salt, a potato, and a coffee filter

Sprinkle salt into your pan — you want enough to coat the bottom of your skillet. Kosher salt is the best type of salt to use for this cleaning project. It's coarse and works to get your cast iron skillet as clean as possible. Next, start scrubbing your skillet with your potato. If you have any stubborn food bits, use the skin-side of your potato to slough it away. This is where your coffee filter comes into play, as you can use this in tandem with your potato to really remove any food particles. Once you're done scrubbing, rinse your pan clean with water and pat dry with a clean towel. 

But what makes potatoes ideal for this hack? For starters, potatoes contain oxalic acid. This works to break down rust or charred pieces of food. This also makes them a cost-effective, versatile cleaning agent. If you're worried about pesticides in potatoes, simply use an organic spud to reduce any exposure. If you only have sweet potatoes in the house, they work, too — don't be afraid to get crafty! And if you don't have any of the above mentioned products but still need to clean your cookware, you can also use ketchup as a great ingredient to remove rust from a cast iron pan.

Coffee filter alternatives

If you're looking for eco-friendly coffee filters for this cleaning hack, Amazon sells If You Care Unbleached Coffee Filters for $9. But any coffee filters will work, so use whatever you have in the house. After cleaning your pan, you'll need to season it. The best food-safe oils include coconut, vegetable, and canola — just ensure whatever you use works with high heat. You can then use a clean coffee filter to rub the oil around your pan's interior surface. 

Although this hack calls for coffee filters, you can swap them out in a pinch. Paper towels do work, but they rip easily and shed. You can use a clean cloth, but it might stain as you scrub away caked-on grease and food. If you have reusable tea bags, however, these also work. You can use cheesecloth or a clean washcloth to carry out this cleaning hack as well. As long as your cast iron pan scrubs clean, the sky is the limit with what fabric you can use to slough away old food debris. 

Additionally, you can purchase a bamboo scrub brush on Amazon for $10 if you're looking for reusable cleaning products for your cast iron skillet. And if you don't have any coffee filters or salt, consider using club soda as another ingredient to clean cast iron