How To Remove Rancid Oil From Cast Iron In (2) Simple Steps

How To Remove Smelly Rancid Oil

In this article, we explain how to remove rancid oil from your cast iron and eliminate those stinky and smelly smells caused by the accumulation of rancid oil.

Bacon grease and vegetable oil will season any pot and do it very well.

Actually, you can use almost any oil to season your cast iron.

But, if the pot or skillet goes unused for long periods of time, the fat used to season your cast iron will become rancid after a while.

In order to remove the smell and take good care of our cast iron skillets and dutch ovens, we must first discuss what rancid oil is.

Remove Rancid Oil

What Is Rancid Oil

So what in the world is rancid oil, you may be wondering?

Well, technically, it is called rancidification or rancid for short, which is the oxidation of fats, fatty acids, and edible oils.

It sounds really bad, doesn’t it?

Well, actually, it is not a good thing.

We cook a great meal, clean our skillets, and oil them like we are supposed to do.

And then, these skillets or pots and pans go unused and are put on shelves.

They are often stored away in cabinets or in the garage until needed.

As time goes by, these pots and pans become what we call “rancid.”

Why Should We Care

If you have ever smelled a rancid pot, you already know what I’m talking about.

If not, let me say this: it stinks, and that’s putting it mildly.

A stinky pot is not good.

Why? Because it could ruin our favorite recipe, and we surely don’t want that to happen, do we?

At a bare minimum, it will affect the taste of your food.

And simply put, that’s not a good thing.

I love to eat, and I love the taste of food.

I sure don’t want to ruin this experience because of rancid oil in my cast iron!

What Can We Do To Prevent It

Therefore, if you know you won’t be using your pans for a while, don’t re-oil them.

I know this goes against everything you may have heard about taking care of your cast iron.

Trust me on this one!

The second thing you must do is what we should always do after cooking in our cast iron.

And that is to wash them as usual, put them back on your heat source, and heat them until dry.

The third thing is to store them away until next time.

But what if our cast iron has already become rancid?

How To Fix Rancid Oil

So your cast iron has become rancid already.

Not to worry, because these next steps will eliminate that awful smell for good!

The first thing to do is add a cup of vinegar to your skillet or pot and fill it the rest of the way up with water.

Put it back on the heat source and boil for about 30 minutes.

As a result, you will see the oil separating from the cast iron into the boiling water.

Consequently, you will need to pour the vinegar water out and dry it as usual.

The pan is now ready for use.

But, if this doesn’t completely do the trick for you.

You can go to step two and bake it in the oven for about an hour.

This is similar to seasoning your cast iron but do not add any oil during this step.

If your oven will heat to 450-500 degrees, I would set it as high as it will go.

Place the skillet or dutch oven on the center oven rack (upside down).

PRO TIP: Place a baking sheet or piece of aluminum foil on the bottom rack to catch any oil that may drip from the cast iron.

Bake it for one hour and turn the heat off.

Let your cast iron completely cool in the oven before e removing it.

In conclusion

If you find your cast iron becoming rancid, there are things you can do to remedy this situation.

When you are faced with a stinky cast iron skillet or dutch oven, all is not lost.

You can easily remove the rancid oil, as we have explained here!

Keep in mind, though, that the next time you want to use that piece of cookware, apply a light coat of oil and cook away!

14 thoughts on “How To Remove Rancid Oil From Cast Iron In (2) Simple Steps”

  1. Yes, this is true. You can use a paper towel doubled up or take the cardboard roll of a paper towel roll and fold it up under the lid too. I hope your chicken turned out ok? Thanks for your reply!

  2. Mike, i had watched something on YouTube about rancid cast iron. The guy said whenever he puts his pot and lid away, not knowing when he’ll be using them again, he takes a paper towel and folds it until it’s thick. Then he doubles it and put it between the lid and the pot. He said that when the lid in on the pot, there is no air circulating, and so the pot gets rancid. I tend to agree with him, because my pots or skillets w/o lids, opened to the air, don’t get rancid. So I’m trying his trick, once I get my pots back to a good stage. Thanks for your info. I nearly used my rancid pot w/o dealing that it would have ruined the chicken sauce piquant for my son. Glad I didn’t.

  3. You are welcome, and thank you for asking. Yes, you can wash your pan and dry it with a soft cloth or paper towel. I generally wipe a little oil after the pan is dry and lightly heat the pan until it is warm to the touch. Remove from the heat and wipe with a towel to remove any excess oil. It is now ready for your next use!!

  4. Thanks for this article, but I am still confused. Can I just use my frying pan every day or two and wipe it out only? It doesn’t smell rancid yet but is the oil too old the next day? My seasoning stays on well this way but I don’t want to consume rancid oils which are supposed to destroy fat soluble vitamins on contact in the digestive tract. I do wash it out every week or two. The other question I have is it is said you can put some oil into a just cleaned pan and then bring it to smoking point on the burner, but isn’t oil that has been
    smoking bad for health?

  5. Oh no, a stinky pot is not a good thing, is it? So I would undoubtedly heat an oven to at least 350 degrees and put the pot in for at about an hour, and then re-season it.

  6. thank you. i haven’t used my cast iron pot since last fall…..generally heartier meals in the fall and winter. Yikes did it stink!!!
    I am boiling the water and vinegar now. hopefully that’s the cure….going to make first season chili for a hungry crew tomorrow. Leah

  7. Rebeca Campos

    Hi! How to I remove the rancid oil from the lid! I don’t believe there’s actual oil on the lid but it’s smells like the oil from the pot…

  8. Thank you, Susan and you’re welcome too! Yes, sometimes we just have to get rid of that smelly old grease on our cast iron!

  9. Thank you Mike!

    Great information!!! I too was looking for information on rancid smell. I do tend to use my dutch ovens infrequently. So, this was most helpful!

  10. Thanks Mike, my problem is a rancid cast iron pot. Your idea is the first to show the cure for a very old pot.

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