Cast iron and carbon steel are common materials for many woks. Like most woks, cast iron requires a similar care and maintenance routine. They do come preseasoned to protect it from rusting. The seasoning procedure is the same no matter the type of material used in making it. If you do not clean it and maintain it properly, the wok will not last you longer. Here’s is how to clean a cast-iron wok before and after seasoning.
Cleaning it for the first time
A new cast iron wok needs to get cleaned before use and after every use. This is the first wash you give the wok before seasoning it. To clean it when you get it out of the box, you will need the following:
- Hot water
- Mild soap
- A sponge.
Scrub the wok to remove the factory oil and then rinse it off with hot water.
Dry and season
When the wok is clean enough and the protective layer washed off, dry it with paper towels. Place it on the stove and heat it on high heat until there are no water droplets. Heating dries any water left and also kills out any bacteria that might be on the wok. Please remove it from heat and put two tablespoons of vegetable oil at the bottom of the wok. Swirl it and spread the oil around with the paper towels.
Wash it once more
After the wok has been seasoned and cooled, wash it the second time with hot water. If you use soap with harsh chemicals, you might damage the coating you just created.
Regular cleaning before and after every use
Regular cleaning is important to keep the wok from rusting overtime. Constant cooking may get the wok dirty with burnt food leaving behind food particles. Cleaning it the right way frequently won’t damage the patina.
Remove debris and burnt food
When done cooking, remove any food particles left before washing it. Soak the wok on hot water to make the debris come out easily. Scrape them off with something non-metallic. Avoid abrasive scrubbers like steel wool as they can cause damage to the seasoning. The alternatives to use are old debit or credit cards. To make the process easy, use kosher salt for scrubbing, and if you accidentally remove the season while washing, always re-season it.
Removing rust from a cast iron wok
It is not advisable to use abrasive materials for cleaning. But to remove rust, you will require a ball of steel wool. Scour the rusted areas with a ball of steel wool until it fades. Rinse it with warm water every time you finish scrubbing to check if it is rust-free. You don’t have to be gentle as it will need aggressive scrubbing to remove the rust. Although you are going to strip the seasoning, you can add another coating when done cleaning.
When all the rust has come out, wash it as usual with a soft sponge and a mild dish soap. Rust builds up from moisture and water droplets. If there is too much rust, you can have it sandblasted and re-season it one more time.
Cleaning with salt
Put about one cup of salt into the wok and heat for a few minutes. Spread across the rusted areas with a spatula for some minutes. Allow the wok to cool down, and then continue scrubbing with a small piece of clothing.
When you are satisfied with the scrubbing, put the wok back on the heat. Have it on high heat until it starts to smoke. Please turn off the heat. Let it cool and then rinse with hot water. If you do not have salt, you can use vinegar or baking soda.
Cleaning using a bamboo brush
Put hot water on the wok with a few drops of liquid dishwashing soap. Take a bamboo brush big enough for the size of the wok. Scrub the affected areas with the brush to clean off dirt and debris. Wipe it and pat dry before seasoning.
Drying the wok after washing
A wok made of cast iron doesn’t need to go in the dishwasher. Manually wash it with a sponge and soap until it gets clean. Pat it dry with a kitchen towel or paper towels. Place it on heat and for a few minutes to completely dry. All the moisture needs to evaporate before re-seasoning.
It is not advisable to leave the wok to dry by itself. Air drying won’t remove the excess moisture quickly and, if left for too long, will cause rusting. The wok should get dried immediately after rinsing.
The clean wok will need to be seasoned once more before making it ready for cooking. Put a small amount of cooking oil in it. Swirl it to form a thin layer of a coating by spreading around the surfaces and at the bottom. Wipe off the excess oil and heat the wok to make it dry completely. Always add a thin coating after every wash before you store it in the pantry. A well-seasoned cast-iron wok makes food easy and fun to cook.
Maintaining a cast iron wok
You never clean a wok and leave it there. For easy cleaning in the future, you require proper maintenance. If you do not want to struggle with cleaning each time, avoid exposing the wok to rust. Never let the wok stay longer in water. Only soak it in cases where there are stubborn food particles and severe food burn.
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If you have been struggling to clean a cast-iron wok, these methods will be of help. Having a proper cleaning routine will make it easier to cook with and expand its longevity. You will have tasty food with a clean wok in the kitchen. If not cleaned correctly, the patina will fade, and you can bring damage to it. You can incorporate any of these methods depending on how dirty the wok gets. Woks can be dirty from grease, burnt food, rust, or stubborn stains. To make cleaning easier, always make it non-stick at all times.