Hello, all. This is my very first post on the chow boards, but I've been reading them for the last month or so. Basically, I came across these boards when I did a search for seasoning cast iron. My husband just bought me my very first cast iron skillet, last month. I was a complete novice to cast iron. I was raised on Teflon and the like. Last year I threw out all of our nonstick pans and switched to stainless steel. Then I wanted to add a cast iron skillet to my collection, b/c of it's traditional charm. I had no idea that it was supposed to even be nonstick.
Alright, so I got the skillet, and I had read not to use soap, so I did not. I didn't see anything about using a scrubbing pad like Scotch Brite, so I figured I could as long as I didn't use soap. Then one day I realized that the inside of my skillet had turned gray, while the outside was still black. I wasn't sure if it was supposed to be like that or not, so I looked online, found these threads, and realized that I had scrubbed the preseasoning off. I have since reseasoned the skillet with lard, and it has a nice, glossy, black finish to it. It is indeed nonstick. I do not use any soap or scrub brushes on my skillet. Most things just wipe right out. I haven't experienced anything getting truly stuck to the pan, yet. I've read a few ways to get that kind of stuff out, though. The one that I'd probably try would be putting water in it and letting the water boil for a little bit on top of my stove, while scraping with my spatula. Someone correct me if that is not a proper way to clean the skillet?
So on to the debate of washing vs. not washing (sorry I had to give a little history before getting to this point). My husband and I just went to visit my inlaws in TN and GA. They've been using cast iron forever. I thought I'd ask them for pointers, since I'm still new to the cast iron world. First off, they all use soap on their skillets. My husband's grandmother even puts her's in the dishwasher sometimes. Second, everyone's skillets did not have the glossy finish that my skillet has. And thirdly, they all said that cast iron is not meant to be nonstick. Umm, is this really the way that cast iron is traditionally used? I've read where people on CHOW have a skillet that is so old, and so seasoned, that they are able to use soap and water. For those of you who do that, do you find that your skillet is not nonstick? Those of you who don't use soap, do you find that your skillet stays nonstick? Is it normal for a skillet to have a dull look to it?