I really enjoy cooking with a good cast iron skillet. I love being able to take the skillet from stove top to oven in a snap. Plus, the heavy skillet speeds up cook time of roasting chicken, without drying it out, and leaves it with a delicious golden color.
Bare cast iron vessels have been used for cooking for over two thousand years, and date back as early as the Han Dynasty. In many cases, you will see cast iron skillets, dutch ovens, or other containers passed down from generation to generation -- from grandmother, to mother, to daughter, and so on. These skillets have experienced A LOT of cooking hours, and no doubt many people will have put a lot of care in maintaining the skillet's "seasoning". This seasoning is what keeps your skillet from rusting and creates a non-stick surface, so it is definitely worth protecting. Whether you are the recipient of a generational skillet, or you bought one brand new, you definitely want to take care of it!
Cast iron skillets are different than other cooking tools, so the way you clean them needs to be different, too! The key...DO NOT WANT TO USE SOAP when cleaning your cast iron skillet (I repeat: DO NOT USE SOAP WHEN CLEANING YOUR CAST IRON SKILLET)! Why? Because using soap will take away the seasoning!