Skillets and pans are a necessary tool for cooking food over a flame, and they're a must in any kitchen. Although non-stick cookware is popular today, many professional chefs prefer to use cast-iron skillets and pans to cook food -- they don't have chemical coatings like nonstick hardware, they cook food more evenly and if properly maintained, they can last for several generations.
If you treat new or refurbished cast-iron cookware correctly, it can have the same properties of non-stick cookware. This requires seasoning and reseasoning the tool, which is a simple process of cleaning and coating your skillets and pans with oils or fats before use. To do this, remove the cookware from any packaging, clean the cookware with soap and water and preheat the oven to anywhere between 250 and 350 degrees Fahrenheit (121.1 to 176.7 degrees Celsius). Coat the insides of the cookware with cooking oil, shortening, bacon grease or lard and place the skillet or pan upside down in the oven. To make sure nothing drips onto the bottom of your oven, it's a good idea to place an ovenproof tray below the cookware. After about an hour, turn off the heat and remove the cookware from the oven. The oil or fat will actually cook into the pores of the cast iron cookware, making it more difficult for food to stick. You can repeat this process, and will probably have to, several times to achieve a good seal. The skillet or pan should look black and charred once it's seasoned properly.