HOW DO I GO ABOUT BRINGING BACK MY IRON COOKWARE?
Q. I HAVE SOME IRON COOKWARE I WOULD LIKE TO USE, BUT IT IS IN NEED OF CLEANING, AND TREATING. SOME OF MY IRON COOKWARE HAS SOME RUST SPOTS. AND I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW HOW TO GO ABOUT CLEANING THEM AND HOW TO TREAT THEM SO MY FOOD DOES NOT STICK TO IT. THANK YOU.John Mansfield
- SAN ARDO, CALIFORNIA
The traditional treatment for cast iron cookware is as follows.
Build a fire and put the cookware in, heating to red hot if possible, and leave it until it cools. It will show a film of surface rust all over. Clean off rust with steel wool [linked by editor to product info at Rockler], followed by a good all over scrubbing, the fire will have burned off all the old burnt grease deposits in the metal and cleaned out the "pores". Rub a coat of Crisco shortening (the solid stuff) into the metal inside and out, place in oven at 250 degrees for 1 hour, turn off oven and leave till cool. should come out ready to use!. Brand new cast iron should be washed and "treated" as above.Michael Burrow
- Yellville, Arkansas
A. I am the "Fajita King" and I use cast iron serving plates for my fajitas. The best way to rejuvenate cast iron after it gets a little rusty or crusty is to spray it with oven cleaner and let it sit for an hour to remove the buildup. Then remove any rust with Naval Jelly [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] (gelled phosphoric acid, good stuff for rust).
Then rinse thoroughly in hot water several times, wipe it down with vegetable oil and heat it up in the oven. You'll have to re-apply the oil a time or two, but this is the step that prevents rusting, so coat it well and let it soak in, the heat will help it wet the metal and cure it so that it stays put. Good Luck and Bon Appetite'!
- Pearland, Texas
A. John - The easiest way to clean your cookware involves some elbow grease. Use an SOS pad and clean until the rust stains don't reappear upon drying. It may also help to heat the pans after rinsing to speed up the drying and minimize the opportunity for corrosion(rust). I would then recommend putting a light coating of vegetable oil on them to prevent rust. The only way to prevent food from sticking to cast iron cookware (according to a chef friend of mine) is to have sufficient oil in the pan during cooking - sounds fattening-unless maybe you use olive oil? Good luck.Dan Brewer
chemical process supplier - Gurnee, Illinois
A. Michael Burrow's is the best of above recommendations. If you do not have a place to build a fire, use steel wool to clean the pan. This will take some time and elbow grease. You can use dish detergent, but avoid scouring powder and other chemical cleaners, as it can and will absorb into the metal, affecting taste.
After metal is bare grey, coat with a solid fat (Crisco or animal fat - not oil) and place in oven upside down at 250 degrees for about an hour. Place a cookie sheet below to catch melting fat. Cook fatty foods (bacon, etc)in it the first couple uses after cleaning. This coats and "seasons" the pan. Under normal use, it should be fairly non-stick. The pan will not be as slick as a Teflon coat, but has a Teflon- coated pan ever lasted 50 years?Lester Bangs
- St.Paul, Minnesota
A. I just cleaned all my cast iron a week ago. Put it in a self cleaning oven and set oven to clean for 3 hours. When oven is clean, so are your fry pans and pots. You will have to give them a good scrub with some hot soap and steel wool, then a good coat of vegetable oil and in the oven at about 250 for 1-2 hours. But worked really great and all my cast iron looks and cooks great. PatPatricia Dole
- Keizer, Oregon, USA
Q. My wife and I recently purchased a cast iron cookie pan. It had some rust spots and a less than pleasing appearance, so we used a wire brush to remove the rust and then applied Rutland Stove Polish [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] and buffed to a like-new shine. We are now concerned that the pan is no longer usable as a cookie pan. Are we incorrect? and if not, how do we go about treating the pan to become ready for cooking again?Warren Henderson
- Goldsboro, North Carolina, USA
A. Hi Warren. I'm not familiar with that product and don't know exactly what's in it -- presumably waxes and black pigments --but I find it hard to believe that there would be any toxic ingredients in a consumer product if it's made for applying to griddles and grills. But if it's only intended for non-food surfaces (like grates, as opposed to grills), it might be a different story. Does the label contain any cautions? Ideally I think it should be sandblasted off, but I might just scrub it with detergent and hot water, and immediately oil or grease it up to prevent the rust from returning, then season it as above. But that's me, and some people are more chemophobic than I am.
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Q. My cast iron teakettle is rusted inside but not on the outside. I don't want to give up and use it as a planter. How can I reclaim the inside of the tea kettle to use for boiling water?Barbara Kresge
hobbyist - Pismo Beach, California
January 25, 2008 -- appended here by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread
Q. Hello, I am a young female who just inherited a set of cast iron cook ware that was not kept in a dry environment. I therefore have what was black iron that is now orange with rust.
How can I safely restore these pots to cooking standard?
home owner - Detroit, Michigan, USA
December 8, 2010
A. I have been collecting old cast iron cookware for use in our Boy Scout Troop. This requires much cleaning. I have read some people are using 1 Tablespoon Washing Soda (Sodium Carbonate) to a gallon of water and using a car battery charger, steel rebar anodes, and battery cables to electrochemically reduce the rust to iron. The frying pan must be the positively charged item and the rebar is the negatively charged electrode. After the pan is done, remove it, wash it in soapy water and scrub with a stainless steel scrubby if needed, dry well with towel, dry in an oven at 250 F for at least 30 minutes, coat with a very very light coating of oil inside and out, place upside down in the 250 F oven and wipe out any pooled oil after a half hour or so with a dry paper towel, heat further hour and let cool in oven. Repeat a few times at the 250 F. One site says to heat to 550 F and coat the pan with oil very carefully after a few 250 F cycles. I have not gotten to this step yet. I have used the Crisco, 350 F method Lodge publishes, and it works. But I got pooling and didn't know to wipe it out before it got tacky. I am now using Olive Oil on four pans for use by Soy allergy scouts.
Link to a few step by step Electrolysis articles www.wag-society.org/Electrolysis/electros.php
Here is a good blog site on cast iron blackirondude.blogspot.com/2008/05/seasoning-cast-iron-cookware.html
- Bloomingdale, New Jersey, USA
October 21, 2011
Q. How can I create a thin layer of black rust on my cast iron cookware? I seasoned a cast iron pan after grinding the inside clean with a plastic spinning paint remover. But left the out side alone it was black but didn't bother me.
When I finished seasoning the outside black had a very slippery feel to it. It felt more non-stick then the inside of my pan which I was trying to get non-stick.Matthieu Methot
Hobbyist - Worcester Massachusetts usa
January 12, 2015
Q. I have some cast iron skillets and such. They are 50 years old, and newer. Unfortunately they all where caught in a Hurricane flood water. I was told they could be sandblasted to remove the rust, and then treated the conventional way (rubbed with oil and heated to 500 degrees for an hour). Do I stand a chance saving this collection?Vicki Hall
- Bridge City, Texas USA
A. Hi Vicki. I suspect they'll be just fine after sandblasting and seasoning as you describe.
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
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