Let’s start with a big myth, one that contains every other piece of misinformation about cast iron cooking: Cast iron is hard to maintain.

We’ll admit that cast iron cooking can seem daunting —intimidating, even—at first. But a great cast iron skillet is an invaluable, indefatigable kitchen companion that only gets better with time and use.

There are a handful of persistent cast iron myths, and most have to do with what you (allegedly) can’t do with a cast iron skillet. To set the record straight, here are our takes on five of the most common cast iron misconceptions:

1.

Myth: Soap will strip your seasoning and ruin cast iron cookware.
Truth:
Decades ago, many household cleaners and soaps included harsh ingredients like vinegar and lye. These soaps could erode seasoning and damage cast iron cookware, and gave rise to the common belief that cast iron and soap don’t mix.

Today, most dish soaps don’t have harsh active ingredients. The soap by your sink is most likely a “degreaser” designed to cut through grease and food debris — and well-suited to cleaning cast iron cookware with tough food residue.

Here’s our guide to cleaning a cast iron skillet with soap.

2.

Myth: You can’t use cast iron to cook acidic ingredients.
Truth:
Simmering sauces made with acidic ingredients like tomatoes, lemon, vinegar, or wine can adversely affect seasoning if you aren’t careful — but that doesn’t mean you can’t cook with tomatoes from time to time. Limit your cooking time, know your ingredients’ pH, and clean your skillet immediately after cooking to keep its seasoning in good shape.

Read our recipe for cast iron shakshuka for a full guide to cooking with acids.

3.

Myth: Metal utensils will chip seasoning and ruin cast iron cookware.
Truth:
Metal utensils won’t harm your skillet’s seasoning. In fact, metal tools like our slotted turner and chain main scrubber are well-suited to cast iron cooking and care. Your skillet’s seasoning is far more resilient than Teflon or ceramic nonstick coating and will bounce back quickly from minor scuffs or scratches.

These are the metal tools you need for cast iron cooking, plus a few techniques we recommend avoiding.

4.

Myth: Seasoning problems and surface rust spell curtains for cast iron cookware.
Truth:
Cast iron cookware can bounce back from just about anything — that’s why vintage skillets get passed down like family heirlooms.

For most seasoning issues — think patchy spots and uneven patina — the best remedy is simply to cook often and clean according to the Field Method, our best-practice guide to cast iron care and maintenance. Use a chain main scrubber] to lightly scuff problem areas and apply Field Seasoning Oil to help rebuild your skillet’s naturally non-stick seasoning.

Even rusty skillets deserve a second chance: send photos of your problem pan to us, and our team will help get it back in top shape.

5.

Myth: Flaxseed oil is the best for seasoning cast iron cookware.
Truth:
The internet is awash with recommendations for cast iron seasoning techniques. Some are solid, some are suspect, but the flaxseed oil method is particularly divisive. We’ve done the research, and flaxseed oil flunks the test: While it produces a dark patina, it forms a brittle seasoning that won’t stand up to regular cooking.

The best cast iron seasoning oils, like our own everyday Seasoning Oil blend, are high in polyunsaturated fats and naturally inclined to convert to seasoning. Read our guide to cast iron seasoning oils for a deep dive into the science of seasoning.