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Seasoning & Restoring Cast Iron Cookware

Q. If I Parkerize a cast iron pan, then season it normally by making a layer of grease on it, could this be dangerous for cooking in?

wesley keyser
- jackson Mississippi
March 12, 2021

A. Hi Wesley. It certainly doesn't sound safe to me. The zinc and/or manganese in your Parkerizing solution could theoretically leach into your food. Further, I don't think Parkerizing will be stable at stove-top temperatures.

Any time you use something for food service that was not intended for food service you run into the practical problem that no studies have been done, no epidemiologists are undertaking research on the subject, and it's just a big unknown you're imposing on your health. Don't do it.

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

⇩ Closely related postings, oldest first ⇩


John Mansfield

simultaneous replies

simultaneous replies

A. John,

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 00 steel wool [on eBay or Amazon affil link], 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 [on eBay or Amazon affil link] and let it sit for an hour to remove the buildup. Then remove any rust with naval jelly [on eBay or Amazon affil link] (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'!

Jeff Watson
Jeff Watson
- Pearland, Texas

A. John - The easiest way to clean your cookware involves some elbow grease. Use an SOS pad [on eBay or Amazon affil link] 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 00 steel wool [on eBay or Amazon affil link] 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. Pat

Patricia 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 stove polish [on eBay or Amazon affil link] 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,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - 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

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?


Doris Crowell
home owner - Detroit, Michigan, USA
January 25, 2008

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 [on eBay or Amazon affil link] to a gallon of water and using a car battery charger [on eBay or Amazon affil link] , 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

Here is a good blog site on cast iron:

[Ed. note: The above link has broken; thankfully,'s wonderful Wayback Machine saved a copy smiley face ]

Jerry Smith
- Bloomingdale, New Jersey, USA
December 8, 2010

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
October 21, 2011

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 °F for an hour). Do I stand a chance saving this collection?

Vicki Hall
- Bridge City, Texas USA
January 12, 2015

A. Hi Vicki. I suspect they'll be just fine after sandblasting and seasoning as you describe.


Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

A. Vicki, after sandblasting your pans to remove the rust, or you can use a rotary wire brush in a drill press or hand drill. So after you get all of the rust off you will have to clean the CI to remove the dust. You also need to coat the surface quickly to exclude air/humidity. Wipe the CI pan with Avocado Oil till the grey dirt no longer comes off. Avocado Oil has a smoke point of 551 °F and works great for seasoning. I go through a two step heating process: wipe the pan with a very thin sheen of Avocado Oil. Place in your oven upside down. Heat to 350 °F for an hour or more. The raise the temp to 475 °F for another hour. The oil will no longer be sticky and you can do multiple coats.

Note regarding using Natural gas ovens. There is a lot of moisture in Natural gas. When I put a bare CI pan in a cold oven and heated, the entire pan flash rusted due to the moisture condensing on the pan as it was heating up. I now turn my oven on to about 250 °F and wipe the condensation off of the door and then boost the temp to 350 °F. I put the pans into preheated ovens.

Jerry Smith
- Bloomingdale, New Jersey, USA
August 11, 2022

Q. In my search to replace a warping non-stick pan with something healthier as well as durable, I came across black steel pans (de Buyer and Matfer) on which the seasoning will build up to become virtually non-stick over time. I also found a Brandani-brand pan described as "hard-nitriding cast iron skillet". Does anybody have any experience or comments on these?

Lima Poppa
- Ontario, Canada
December 5, 2017

A. Hi Lima. For a number of reasons we don't discuss specific brands ( huh? why?), only types and technologies. But there are some good reviews of black steel pans available:


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey
December 2017

Alternate Coating for Iron Cookware. Kalhai involves poisonous gasses!

Q. I am a manufacturer of iron frypan and we coat out products with kalhai, as kalhai involves poisonous gases so I want an option for coating or plating my iron cookware products with is safe for cooking. Please suggest

Arun Gupta
Cookware manufacturing - Mumbai, India
January 3, 2018

A. Hi Arun. We'll need to clearly define exactly what 'kalhai' means to you before we can make much progress. The favored definition on Google seems to be 'copper vessels wiped with tin coatings', and tin coating definitely doesn't involve poisonous gasses, although you probably could pick a toxic flux.

Other possibilities for cast iron include uncoated and ceramic coating. Good luck.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey
January 2018

Q. I am wondering if a nitride infused carbon steel wok can still be seasoned like a regular hard carbon steel or cast iron pan? Or will the polymerized fat (in the process of heating the oil in the pan) not stick to this surface ?

Maisoon Alasadi
- Toronto. Ontario. Canada
February 13, 2018

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