I rarely start threads but I thought this subject might be helpful to some home cooks.
Yes this is another thread about cast iron. Sorry for the long post.
Long intro (you may skip this part)
There is a dominant cook in every household. That's me in my home. I haven't taken the time to teach all my techniques to my wife and kids thinking that curiosity will make them ask about how to cook such and such at which point I would provide.
Lacking experience, the equipment gets damaged and neglected (knife become dull and cast irons become sticky). I try to explain how to take care of these but there are things that don't get through so I mend as I go along.
My cast iron skillets have been getting gunky, dull and stickier lately. My daughter is cooking eggs regularly for breakfast, maybe a phase, and leaving the dirty skillet all day in the wet sink then often my wife sneeks a couple of good rubs in the soapy dish water when I am not looking or not around. I know they keep secrets from me....
So, one day I return from an extended business trip , I was early enough that I could prep dinner. I noticed one skillet was sticking annoyed I tried another, same thing, then my third one looked dull.... Years of seasoning gone I come to realized. Everybody plays innocent obviously. So this weekend, I took drastic measures
I placed every cast iron skillet that needed to be re-seasoned in the oven then set to autoclean.
They came out dull gray covered with ashes completely devoid of their seasoning. One skillet even had a thin layer of rust.
I set the oven at 450F
I wiped each with a damp paper towel then proceeded to remove everything left behind bringing the whole surface to bare metal. That included 320-420 grit metal wet sand paper and zero steel wool. I used water to wash away until I saw metal. Then I wiped each surface with white vinegar, letting it rest 5-10 minutes then rinsed everything under tons of running water.
I wiped each skillet dry with paper towel and placed them in the hot oven. (the surface is very reactive to oxidation at this point. If the pan is not dry, it will rust in the hot oven) (one pan actually came out rusty so I repeated the process again)
I use flaxseed oil I keep in my freezer (let it melt to liquid) to spruce up the seasoning of my neglected pans.
Once the pan come up to temperature, I took them one at a time and wiped every metal surface (mine are all metal) with a paper towel dabbed in flaxseed oil. I applied a very thin layer, no drops, no streaks and place the pan back in the oven for 30min.
I applied oil like this 4 to 5 times. The pans went from dull metal gray to deep velvety dark brown/charcoal.
The last step was to leave the pan in the oven an extra hour or more at 500F. The pans are ready when the surface is no longer tacky (use a dry paper towel to test if you don't want to use your fingers). You can let them cool in the turned off oven I guess.
I used one skillet immediately to make a St-Valentine dinner, savory crêpes, and it worked wonderfully!!
(I did not take pictures at each step thinking this would probably not succeed- I should have)