5

votes

Any luck restoring old cast iron?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created August 20, 2012 at 5:02 PM

I've seen a lot of REALLY rusty cast iron pans at tag sales or getting thrown away and have seen online tutorials for restoring them. Has anyone had any luck or ever even tried bringing back a really nasty cast iron pan?

9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

(15833)

on January 06, 2013
at 02:53 PM

http://sherylcanter.com/wordpress/2010/01/a-science-based-technique-for-seasoning-cast-iron/

07243c7700483a67386049f7b67d90a4

on August 21, 2012
at 07:45 PM

I think its the oxidizing that you want !? but then again I just usually use what ever is around, usually butter,bacon and coconut oils. They all seem to work just the same.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on August 21, 2012
at 06:14 AM

Being such a delicate oil, usually stored in the fridge, wouldn't flax seed oil leave you with a coating of oxidized bad juju?

4498698fa91a620e4ee5b618da71016a

(427)

on August 21, 2012
at 04:25 AM

Absolutely beautiful.

2e5dc29c61f97d335ffb990508424719

on August 20, 2012
at 11:41 PM

Nice job!!!!!!!!

61844af1187e745e09bb394cbd28cf23

(11058)

on August 20, 2012
at 11:41 PM

I've used it to clean the toilet, but never to remove rust from a pan. And to think, I used to drink soda constantly!

F4d04667059bc682540fdfd8b40f13a7

on August 20, 2012
at 11:39 PM

It does have uses after all!

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on August 20, 2012
at 10:59 PM

Interesting idea. I'll keep this in mind for when I need it.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on August 20, 2012
at 10:58 PM

You can get some nice cheap ones here: http://www.webstaurantstore.com/search/cast+iron.html I got a skillet from them that I'm very happy with. Amazon's good too.

46c9fbd45b82453f6a2dfe614a853314

(1876)

on August 20, 2012
at 10:43 PM

Well, I appreciate that, but I really try to live as responsibly as possible both economically and environmentally, so I buy used whatever I can. Why waste my money and our natural resources when so many people get rid of useable stuff?

A7768b6c6be7f5d6acc76e5efa66464c

on August 20, 2012
at 09:53 PM

This definitely works well--th skillet will look like pure grey metal afterward. But caution: make sure you can open all the windows and ventilate. When I did this, it filled my apartment with noxious fumes.

0d2dec01a5ed9363a9915e111ae13f7e

(4583)

on August 20, 2012
at 05:58 PM

As Thrak commented, take them to a tombstone-engraving joint. They can media blast them with walnut shells (and other media options) then season as you would a new pan. I like tallow for my cast iron cooking fat of choice.

Bbb65dfde2b925e334048eb6438b3950

on August 20, 2012
at 05:49 PM

I would bake it in the grill, outside. I smoked out my whole appartment restoring cast iron in my oven. And I would use flax seed oil because it makes the hardest coating.

07243c7700483a67386049f7b67d90a4

on August 20, 2012
at 05:37 PM

Just scrub with a brass brush attachment on a drill. when its all smooth and clean bake in bacon grease in the oven or over a cool fire.

61844af1187e745e09bb394cbd28cf23

(11058)

on August 20, 2012
at 05:31 PM

Gently? An abused pan usually requires that your arm be about ready to fall off before it is de-rusted!

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on August 20, 2012
at 05:30 PM

I've been under the impression that they are infinitely restorable until they crack. Just takes a little elbow grease.

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9 Answers

3
276a5e631b62f8e0793987c0496364bb

(1644)

on August 20, 2012
at 05:39 PM

The easiest way to strip cast iron clean? Throw it in a self-cleaning oven.

Failing that, you could always use electrolysis.

A7768b6c6be7f5d6acc76e5efa66464c

on August 20, 2012
at 09:53 PM

This definitely works well--th skillet will look like pure grey metal afterward. But caution: make sure you can open all the windows and ventilate. When I did this, it filled my apartment with noxious fumes.

2
E753cf7753e7be889ca68b1a4203483f

on August 20, 2012
at 09:07 PM

Soak in coca cola or competing brand beverage, scrub once daily for a few minutes. Worst cases may take up to a week or so.

F4d04667059bc682540fdfd8b40f13a7

on August 20, 2012
at 11:39 PM

It does have uses after all!

61844af1187e745e09bb394cbd28cf23

(11058)

on August 20, 2012
at 11:41 PM

I've used it to clean the toilet, but never to remove rust from a pan. And to think, I used to drink soda constantly!

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on August 20, 2012
at 10:59 PM

Interesting idea. I'll keep this in mind for when I need it.

2
5457372e78a910c00cd1dd579ecbdce3

(1230)

on August 20, 2012
at 05:50 PM

I cheated and had my cousin bead blast mine. They were really really bad. They were made between the 20s and 40s and I don't think were ever stripped, just re-seasoned over and over. Have a look at my album to see how they turned out.

My Cast Iron

0d2dec01a5ed9363a9915e111ae13f7e

(4583)

on August 20, 2012
at 05:58 PM

As Thrak commented, take them to a tombstone-engraving joint. They can media blast them with walnut shells (and other media options) then season as you would a new pan. I like tallow for my cast iron cooking fat of choice.

2e5dc29c61f97d335ffb990508424719

on August 20, 2012
at 11:41 PM

Nice job!!!!!!!!

4498698fa91a620e4ee5b618da71016a

(427)

on August 21, 2012
at 04:25 AM

Absolutely beautiful.

2
9292f931425e13b43002a93eea1ba576

(108)

on August 20, 2012
at 05:28 PM

Gently scrub the rust with steel wool, wash the pan really well, dry it even better, coat the inside with oil, put it a 450 degree oven for 1 hour. Done, good as new.

61844af1187e745e09bb394cbd28cf23

(11058)

on August 20, 2012
at 05:31 PM

Gently? An abused pan usually requires that your arm be about ready to fall off before it is de-rusted!

2
61844af1187e745e09bb394cbd28cf23

(11058)

on August 20, 2012
at 05:26 PM

Yes! It takes some elbow grease, but is well worth it. Scrub it with steel wool and soap to get all of the rust and old seasoning off. Once ALL of the rust is gone, heat it up and throw in some bacon. (I save all of my bacon grease, so I just used what I had.) Once the grease is cool enough to touch, rub it all over the pan, inside and out, including the handle. Heat oven to 250 degrees and put pan upside down on a baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour. Let pan cool enough to handle and rub it again with grease and repeat the process. The last pan I resurrected, I repeated the process 4 times before it was seasoned well and slightly shiny.

You can also use lard instead of bacon grease. Once it's well seasoned and you don't let it rust, never, never, never use soap on it again.

0
61848fb3934eb0f08abacf0b920bf81b

on January 06, 2013
at 08:45 PM

Go to your home hardware store and by lye. Soak the pan in it for 24 hours and the seasoning will come right off. Be sure to clean and re-season really well.

0
19217631f21d75639e308a9685293eae

on January 06, 2013
at 02:25 PM

Spray with oven cleaner, wrap in a plastic bag and leave for a couple of days. Amazing how well this works to take off all old build up and grime. After cleaned and dried scrub any rust with steel wool and you are ready to re-season. Found an old Wagner skillet at Goodwill and did not think it was in that bad a shape until I used the oven cleaner on it! Wish I had taken pictures now.

0
45ace03a0eff1219943d746cfb1c4197

(3661)

on August 21, 2012
at 11:51 AM

I've restored lots of cast iron pans using a variety of the methods mentioned. I'd recommend avoiding any that seem seriously pitted, otherwise, no problems and they should last almost forever.

0
707342e3cb97e0fc088917919a154b8a

on August 20, 2012
at 05:24 PM

Not a direct answer to your question, but if I were you I'd either wait to find one in good to excellent condition at a thrift store, tag sale, etc-- or I'd just bite the bullet and buy one new.

You can get Lodge cast iron cookware for very reasonable prices (available at both Walmart and Amazon)-- an enamel coated dutch oven is around $50 and frying pans are around the $20 mark. In my opinion, because you'll get so much use out of it for so many years that it's worth 'splurging' on it and buying new instead of expending tons of energy trying to restore something that might be unrestorable (I don't think that's a word, but it should be!)

46c9fbd45b82453f6a2dfe614a853314

(1876)

on August 20, 2012
at 10:43 PM

Well, I appreciate that, but I really try to live as responsibly as possible both economically and environmentally, so I buy used whatever I can. Why waste my money and our natural resources when so many people get rid of useable stuff?

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on August 20, 2012
at 10:58 PM

You can get some nice cheap ones here: http://www.webstaurantstore.com/search/cast+iron.html I got a skillet from them that I'm very happy with. Amazon's good too.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on August 20, 2012
at 05:30 PM

I've been under the impression that they are infinitely restorable until they crack. Just takes a little elbow grease.

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