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Angie C. 07-21-2014 02:06 PM

Coating exterior with dish soap before open fire cooking?
Twenty-some years ago, when I was a camp counselor, I recall the camp director instructing us to coat the outside of our cast iron Dutch ovens with a thin layer of liquid dish soap before placing them in the coals, or on a grate over an open fire. He said it was an old Boy Scout trick he learned, and would allow all the ash and smoke to rinse off easily, to save us a lot of scrubbing. Now, these many years later, I realize that seems counter-intuitive, as I rarely use any soap or detergent of any kind to clean my cast iron, for fear of ruining the seasoning.

The Dutch ovens we used at camp were blacker than black, not a bit of rust anywhere, inside or out, despite frequent use in less than ideal conditions. We usually ended up by cleaning them with salt and oil, and drying them over the remnants of our fire. We had to carry in any water we wanted to use, so cleaning up our cookware involved as little water as possible! :chuckle:

Has anyone else heard of this method? Any thoughts on pros/cons?

Doug D. 07-21-2014 02:21 PM

Re: Coating exterior with dish soap before open fire cooking?
New to me, however, Wikipedia says, "The one down side to this form of cooking is that the pots will become blackened with soot and ash, which can be difficult to scrub off. The ash and soot build up can be easily avoided by applying a thin layer of dish soap (preferably biodegradable) to the outside of the pot before cooking. The ash and soot will stick to the soap which is then easily rinsed off later."

My experience has been that mild dish soap and gentle scrubbing with a plastic scrubber do not adversely affect a well-established seasoning.

Angie C. 07-21-2014 02:47 PM

Re: Coating exterior with dish soap before open fire cooking?
Thanks! We're taking our boys camping next week, and we're taking along our big Dutch oven with legs. We usually just grill on camping trips, but my renewed interest in our cast iron cookware inspired me to dig out the big #12 Lodge Dutch oven and some recipes! Just wanted some confirmation on my rusty memory before I started teaching my kids these methods!

BryanB 07-21-2014 07:29 PM

Re: Coating exterior with dish soap before open fire cooking?
How rusty is that iron? A little rust? 80 grit sandpaper. Some hands remove the stuff, the light rust?? Put the "brillo" or other soapy steel scrubber thing, with some water. Wipe clean, if still rusty repeat.
Build a rip roaring fire over a suspended grill, make sure the fire is lapping, or kicking into the cast iron DO. Coat the DO in lard, yes old fashion lard, pure pig fat. It won't kill you. Keep an eye on the DO and use gloves, a hook or a tire tool to turn the DO. When the iron starts to smoke, heat slowly and brush more lard inside and out, remove. Cool. Coat with more lard and return to the fire, I have a nice hook to keep the leather gloves you will need to adjust the iron, from steaming the hands. Allow the fire to cool down as the DO cools. Stoke the fire again, and replace the DO, bean pot, or any other piece of cast iron you want to season. Dark, black seasoning, non-stick. This takes practice. That's half the fun. Live and learn.

Angie C. 07-26-2014 10:34 PM

Re: Coating exterior with dish soap before open fire cooking?
Thanks, Bryan, but it is my memory that is rusty, not my CI. My cast iron is well-used and thoroughly seasoned. LOL. Got any remedies for middle-age brain dog?

[SIZE=1]---------- Post added at 10:34 PM ---------- Previous post was at 10:32 PM ----------[/SIZE]

Ugh, that was supposed to be "brain-fog." Apparently have clumsy thumbs to go along with my foggy brain.

LarryB 08-04-2014 01:05 PM

Re: Coating exterior with dish soap before open fire cooking?
Many years ago,or as they say now back in the day,when I was a boy scout we were all told to use our bar of ivory soap to coat the bottom of our cooking kit to make clean up easier. I am also pretty sure that this information was also printed in the scout handbook. Larry

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