A chain mail scrubber is one of the best tools for cleaning a cast iron skillet, and an essential component of our Cast Iron Care Kit. Cast iron cooks tout their impressive ability to scrub away stubborn baked-on food residue without stripping away hard-earned seasoning — yet they are more than just a cleaning tool.
How does it work?
The chain mail scrubber scuffs and scrapes against the gunk on your pan from the top down, eliminating the bad stuff and leaving the good stuff behind.
But there’s more.
Beyond cleaning your skillet, chain mail scrubbers also help you build up stronger seasoning over time. They do this by gently scuffing the top layer of seasoning, creating a textured surface that gives new seasoning something to grab on to. It’s difficult to build bulletproof seasoning on top of a really slick surface, so the chain mail scrubber helps prepare your pan to accept and build resilient seasoning.
The evolution of a Field Skillet
3 O'clock. Raw cast iron.
6 O'clock. Pre-seasoned Field Skillet, directly out of the box.
9 O'clock. Within the first few months of cooking, your pan starts to develop seasoning, filling in over time like a puzzle.
12 O'clock. If you use your chain mail scrubber during this process, you will soon develop a smooth jet black finish. At this stage, you're ready for everything from scrambled eggs to tomato-based sauces.
As with all things cast iron, time and use are the key: the more you use your skillet — and use chain mail to clean it — the stronger and more resilient your seasoning will become.
How to use your chain mail scrubber on cast iron:
If your pan is relatively clean:
1. Wipe out food with a paper towel.
2. Scuff with chain mail in a circular motion using firm pressure.
3. You’re ready to cook again!
If your pan has a lot of gunk on it:
1. Wash it with water (soap if needed).
2. While wet, scuff with chain mail in a circular motion using firm pressure, spending a bit more time scrubbing the surface even after the food has been cleaned off.
3. Dry the skillet on the stovetop over low heat
4. Apply a dab of Field Seasoning Oil. Use a thin layer, so the next time you pre-heat the skillet, you’ll turn that oil into seasoning.
Remember! If you are gouging your cooking surface, you’re pressing too hard. But you should see some light scratch marks. It’s beneficial to concentrate scuffing on any bare spots or areas that are farther behind in the seasoning process.
The more consistent you are with this process, the faster you’ll build seasoning. Let’s go!