To all who use cast iron...

What can I do to keep the bottoms of my pots & pans from getting all sooted up while cooking over the open fire. Can I coat them with something before use or is it just a deal with it problem?

Paddle easy,


Back in the 70s, when we beginners
went into Quetico for a couple of weeks, we had been told that if we cooked with pine, the pots and pans would be sooty, but if we cooked with alder, they wouldn’t. Well, they were sooty with pine, but cleaned easily. When I finally found some alder to try, there was less soot, but it was much harder to clean off.

That’s at least marginally relevant. You could take gas, so to speak, and your bottoms would be much cleaner.

elbow grease NM

No coating
I wouldn’t try coating the outside with anything like oil. It will probably just burn into more soot, gooey - sticky soot. Avoid cooking over flame and wait for the wood to turn into coals.

That should minimize the problem. I have used flame to deliberately soot things up. When you are hand inletting things like lock and other hardware into a gun stock you can soot the back of the parts, set them in the stock, and the soot will transfer allowing you to see what needs filed and sanded.

Open Flames and smoke
You should be cooking over coals not open flames. Try starting the cooking fire a little early and get a good bed of coals going. A few larger pieces of wood work better than a bunch of sticks. More wood can be added at the edge of the coals to keep things going. You’ll get much better results this way and a lot less soot.

As a Boy Scout
we always rubbed bar soap onto the exterior of the pots. Didn’t prevent soot, but made cleanup easier.

Of course, we took salt tablets in the summer too.


stow the pots-pans
in an old pillow case an ya won’t get that mess over everything else , an yeah the coal thing , and yer just gonna have to deal with it when usin wood .BUT on the plus side the carbon build up transfers the heat better ! You’ve already “blued” the iron ?

I season (re-season) them after every few uses or so. I cook over the coal for the most part but when adding small sticks to up the heat factor, they get sooty. The main problem I have is when I am popping pop-corn in the dutch oven for a tasty before bed snack, the bottom of that soots up real quick. I just don’t like the clean up…

Paddl easy,


Second vote for soap
LIke Jim said above, rub bar soap on the bottom. Soot wipes right off.


AL foil?
as disposable barrier layer. Might need some heavy duty Reynolds wrap to endure the heat.


…cooking over open fires, silly.

A Coleman Stove
with a nice hot flame.

They don’t take much fuel at all. For a weekend you shouldn’t need to refill it.

When I go camping a one burner Coleman is at the top of the list unless it’s backpacking. I also use thick stainless so YMMV.

It’s nice to heat up tea too.

hope this helps

A soot-free BWCA trip
Last year my BWCA trip cooking pots had absolutely NO soot buildup. I didn’t soap them either.

I just timed my trip (unintentionally) to coincide with a fire ban due to the Ham Lake fire.


From remembering
Coffee posts from a couple of years ago, he’s a real back to basics DIY type. That’s why I didn’t suggest using something like charcoal or a gas stove. My guess is that he prefers using what he can gather for free. I can’t say I argue his logic. That said, I don’t have soot problems using charcoal briquettes under/over my DO.

cast iron is supposed to be black after you’ve used it once.

Carry Oven Cleaner…
If you can carry cast iron a spray can of easy off is not much to add…

spray it on, wipe it off immediately…along with ALL the soot the pots develop…

(Don’t call BS until ya try it…I use it on my Backpacking pots n’ Pans All the Time…- usually at home after…but if yer Yakin’ or Canoein’ then do it after each use…).

cast Iron??
My Grandma uses cast iron!!! I prefer Titanium!!!

Howzit pop corn?

Aluminum foil

– Last Updated: May-29-08 3:18 PM EST –

I use this all the time, makes clean up WAY easier.

In fact, depending on the size of the pan and what you are cooking, you can sometimes line the inside of the pan and save even more clean time.

When I am feeling really lazy, I have fashioned aluminum foil cookware and left the real pans alone altogether.

I use the cast iron when I “truck camp”,
So weight is not an issue. Everything tastes better when camping, but everything tastes best when it is cooked in cast iron over a camp fire. No stove or fuel to worry about. Everything you need to cook (stove & fuel) is alreasdy there in the woods waiting for ya, no matter where you go.

paddle easy,