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History and Stories

Griswold, Lodge, Wagner, Favorite, Wapak, and More!

Home » Explore our Website » Ask Mary: My Griswold vintage cast iron skillet is flaking!
Vintage Griswold Cast iron pan skillet with seasoning or carbon build up that is flaking

Ask Mary: My Griswold vintage cast iron skillet is flaking!

Shirl’s Question:

Shirl M. from Ann Arbor, Michigan sent in two photos of her large block logo Griswold no. 5 cast iron skillet, and said:

I purchased a set of Griswold pans from [a seller] a couple of years ago.
I’ve really enjoyed them. I don’t use soap, mostly plastic scraper.
However, one of my pans is flaking ‘black’ flakes. Attached are a couple of pics.
What should I do?
I’m not worried if real or fake. I’m more interested in how to fix the flaking issue, if possible or if I should trash the pan.”

Photo of Shirl’s pan. Nice Griswold no. 5 LBL EPU (large block logo, Erie, PA., U.S.A. markings) cast iron skillet, pattern no. 724.
griswold cast iron skillet pan old antique vintage pattern 724 5 cross logo erie pa u.s.a.
Close up of Shirl’s pan showing some of the flaking.

Mary’s Response

Don’t trash the pan, Shirl! Just strip and re-season it!

From the photos you sent, it appears to me that the pan has some kind of buildup which is flaking off. I would take that as a sure sign that you should strip the pan and re-season it. You don’t want to be ingesting those black flakes!

I have heard of certain kinds of seasoning – flaxseed oil in particular – flaking off such as I see on your pan. From what I understand, flaking doesn’t happen immediately – as is true in your case.

I don’t know if you purchased the pan already cleaned and seasoned or whether it came to you in “as found” condition. I can tell you though, that stripping and re-seasoning will take care of the issue for you.

I’d suggest using the “Easy Off” method to strip your pan. Cooks Illustrated did a nice tutorial on how to strip a cast iron pan using the “Easy Off” method. When you just have one or two pieces to strip, that’s often easier than setting up a lye bath to strip a pan, and it’s certainly easier than trying to figure out how to set up an electrolysis system!

As for seasoning, your question reminds me that I have been meaning to write another blog post about how I season my cast iron. What I can tell you is that if you ask 10 cast iron aficionados how they season their iron, they will each have their own method with variations, however slight. Some folks swear by flaxseed oil; I have heard from too many people that it flakes, so I do not recommend flaxseed oil. Serious Eats wrote a post about seasoning which is similar to how I season; you might want to check that out.

I hope your pan turns out beautifully and gives you many more years of use, Shirl. Thanks for the query!

Note: Originally published January 5, 2018.

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