One great substitute for a pizza stone is by using pizza steel.
It gets up to the temperature you need and can produce crispy crusts so I will share my technique on how to clean a pizza steel.
You might have a rusted-out pizza steel that needs to be cleaned or just one that has been recently used.
Now, there is what we call deep-clean and just the regular cleaning method.
So no matter the problem with your pizza steel, we will be getting to the best way to clean a pizza steel.
Just like other kitchen tools, it is important to clean pizza steel once in a while.
The biggest problem that you can encounter is the rust build up on the pizza steel.
If you have a slightly rusted pizza steel, you will need chemicals that can help remove the rust from the pizza steel.
There are certain chemicals that, while they can clean, can also damage the pizza steel. I learned that the hard way so we will try to avoid that as much as possible within these methods.
Before seasoning your pizza steel, it is important you clean it with plain water and do this process to get your pizza steel ready for seasoning.
So whether your pizza steel is rusted-out or just filled with cheese, sauce, pizza toppings, or crust, I have here the perfect cleaning method to keep your pizza steel in great condition.
Cleaning Your Pizza Steel
If your pizza steel has just been used and you need to clean it before storing it, then this is the method you need to use. It is easy so make sure that you follow it properly.
Pyrolyzing is a process where you remove the food residuals from the pizza steel by burning them off.
You need a hot oven to do this so I recommend using a pizza oven.
The most common food residue on the pizza steel is cheese and toppings.
They can stick easily on the pizza steel, but they can also burn off easily and you can wipe them off once they are burnt.
Set your oven temperature to 550 degrees Fahrenheit and then leave the pizza steel inside for an hour.
This will kill all the bacteria and contaminants that are stuck on the porous surface.
A regular home oven cannot reach the actual temperature needed for pyrolyzing but you might have an oven that has its self-cleaning feature.
You can use that to clean the pizza steel.
When you use a pizza oven, make sure to get the temperature up to the highest temperature it can get to.
This will burn the residuals easier and will kill the contaminants on the pizza steel.
Leaving the pizza steel in a 900 to 1000-degree Fahrenheit oven between 30 minutes and an hour surely gets the food residuals burnt or removed so the hotter the oven, the better.
Brushing Your Pizza Steel
Once you have burnt the food residuals on the pizza stone, you will need to brush them off.
Now, never use tough bristles or steel brushes when you clean your pizza steel.
A sponge can do the job and it can also prevent scratching the surface of the pizza steel.
Scratches on the surface of the pizza steel can result in more food residuals sticking to it.
So after you pyrolyze the food residuals, allow the pizza steel to cool down and then brush off the brunt food residuals. You can use running water while you brush off the residuals.
Do not worry as pizza steel does not break when it is exposed to sudden changes in temperature. So washing it with water will be a great way to clean off the food residuals.
Once done, you just pat dry the pizza steel or wait for it to air dry and then put it back in the oven to store or if you have a dedicated drawer for the pizza steel.
Storing The Pizza Steel
Just like when you clean pizza steel, you need to avoid using or putting it near sharp hard objects. This will prevent it from getting scratches that can affect the non-stick surface.
The best way to store the pizza steel is by putting it in the oven when not in use. That is so you can always preheat it with the oven whenever you need to have a hot surface for baking.
Storing it in a drawer or a cabinet can be risky because of dust and other contaminants so you will have to clean it again before you can use it.
I usually store mine in the oven and keep the oven closed unless needed to prevent too much hassle.
If not the oven, then store it someplace dry. If you store it in a place where there is moisture, your pizza steel can get rusted.
Rusted pizza steel is rare and only happens if you do not take care of it.
If you do the bare minimum in taking care of the pizza steel, you will be fine.
Deep Clean On The Pizza Steel
If you need to clean your pizza steel further or deal with rust because you have not used your pizza steel for a long time, I also have the perfect method here for you.
The Vinegar Bath Method
What You Will Need
- A basin large enough to fit the pizza steel in.
- A soft sponge.
- A cup of regular white vinegar.
- A pail of water.
- One tablespoon of flaxseed oil.
Step 1: Brush The Pizza Steel
Soak the sponge with vinegar and start brushing the pizza steel. I usually go with a circular motion to go back and forth and make sure that the rust is removed.
Note that the pizza steel will not look perfect, but your goal is to remove as much rust as possible.
Do not use the hard bristle of the sponge as, again, it might scratch the pizza steel.
Step 2: Rinse The Pizza Steel
Once you see the rust significantly decrease, start changing the soaking agent to the water.
Rinse off your sponge and then soak it in water to rinse the pizza steel.
Continue brushing the water onto the pizza steel until the rust is further reduced.
Once you think the rust has come off, rinse it well using water and then let it dry.
Step 3: Season The Pizza Steel
Use a towel and dip it lightly into the flaxseed oil. Wipe the dry pizza steel with the towel and then place it in the oven to season and bring back the non-stick coating of the pizza steel.
We have a more detailed post about seasoning your pizza steel so make sure that you go and read that one as well.
Here are some of the reminders that I would like you to remember when cleaning the pizza steel so you do not damage yours further and make sure that it lasts for a long time.
Do Not Use Strong Chemicals
As you can see from the guide and the pointers above, I did not use any strong chemicals such as acidic ones or even soap. You need to keep this in mind to prevent damages.
Pizza steel, just like a pizza stone, is porous which means that it has small holes or dents on the surface.
These pores can easily absorb chemicals and emit toxic fumes when burnt.
Harsh soaps and detergents can stick hidden into the pores and transfer to the food when you cook with the pizza steel.
So avoid using soap or harsh chemicals when washing the pizza steel.
Do Not Use The Dishwasher
I would recommend this even with knives or pizza cutters since the dishwasher also uses aggressive detergents. Plus, the rattling motion can put dents and scratches on the pizza stone.
Naturally, the pizza stone develops a non-stick coating when you cook regularly with it. When you put it with other steel utensils and rattle together, you scratch off that non-stick coating.
You can even risk putting dents on the pizza steel, which can allow chemicals and food residuals to stick to the pizza steel.
Just The Right Coating
The only time you need to re-season the pizza steel is when you deep-clean it.
Even then, you do not need to use too much oil to coat the pizza steel properly.
You only need about a tablespoon of flaxseed oil to coat the whole pizza steel.
Any excess oil will produce fumes and smoke that will smell horrible for many hours inside the house.
So make sure that you put just enough oil and spread it evenly on the pizza steel.
The thin coating will develop later on so there is no need to put too much oil on the pizza steel.
If you want to know how to cook the perfect pizza on a pizza steel then you should read more about the best temperature to cook pizza.
How often do you clean pizza steel?
I rarely clean pizza steel since I use it frequently. I make pizza almost every weekend and sometimes twice during the week.
Even when I need to clean pizza steel, I just brush off all the residuals and wipe it down with a dry cloth after every cooking session.
Cleaning pizza steel is something that I do once in three or two months and I usually clean it with plain water and then season pizza steel.
I think it is important to season pizza steel once I clean it so that it still has the protective layer on top that helps it cook pizzas so well.
You can clean pizza steel once in six months and even then you would be fine. Just make sure to wipe it down after every cooking session.
I never have any stuck pizza dough or cheese residuals on my pizza steel, but if you are a beginner, you might get something stuck on the steel that needs some water washing.
Follow the steps above to clean your pizza steel in these situations and you are going to be good.
Also, do not forget to re-season your pizza steel whenever you clean it.
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