Author Topic: Used, rusty cast iron?  (Read 31892 times)

Offline cartpusher

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Used, rusty cast iron?
« on: May 02, 2010, 05:33:30 AM »
My mother in law gave us a couple cast iron skillets that seem to be in rough shape.  They look as thought they have been scoured, and and much of the black is scrapped away on the inside revealing the more silvery iron.  They also have a bit of rust on them.

Are the salvageable?  Can I just season them and put them back to good use?

Offline MaddoginMass

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Re: Used, rusty cast iron?
« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2010, 05:49:15 AM »
From what I understand, they would still be usable if you simply clean them and then reseason them.

Offline TwoBluesMama

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Re: Used, rusty cast iron?
« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2010, 07:19:22 AM »
Yep - you have treasure that just needs a little love.  We do this all the time finding old cast iron at thrift stores and yard sales.  My dh has the luck of having a sand blaster at work so he takes them there and cleans them up.  I would just clean it up as best as possible and then you need to re-season it.  You can use the bar-b-que or oven but if you use the oven it can smoke a little.  Scrub your pan and heat on the stove top until completely dry. When cool enough to handle coat in crisco (solid not oil) including the handle as that is using where the most rust accumulates. Put in the the oven (or on the bar-b-que) at 250 degrees for an hour with foil or a cookie sheet under as it will drip some. Depending on how bad of shape you may need to let it cool and re-coat and do it again. Never wash with soap just wash with hot water and heat on the stove till dry. We use a wooden "scrubber" to scrub anything stubborn. Then after it's dry and still warm just coat lightly with crisco. If you do this every time it will turn like glass inside and nothing will stick. I love cooking with cast iron and that's all I use. I've accumulated enough to have plenty here at home and at the BOL.
Good luck! TBM

Offline joeinwv

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Re: Used, rusty cast iron?
« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2010, 10:27:55 AM »
As long as they are not cracked or otherwise broken, they almost cannot be in unsalvageable condition.

Typically, I will use a round bronze brush attached to my cordless drill to take any surface rust off. Then a good scrub with steel wool and season as above.

Offline Uncle Bob (he ain’t right)

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Re: Used, rusty cast iron?
« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2010, 10:41:27 AM »
If the rust is only surface rust they can be saved. If the cooking surface is pitted it will be hard to keep clean and sanitary and possibly not worth the effort.
If you want to have it sand blasted, most monument sales places that do their own work would do it for a small fee.

Offline I.L.W.

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Re: Used, rusty cast iron?
« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2010, 10:59:58 AM »
Just take a rough sandpaper to them.  Remove the rust and try to make at least the cooking surface and the rim all an even color.  Get yourself an oil with a high burn temperature. Peanut oil works well (burns at 500°F), don't use vegetable oil (burns at around 375°F).  Heat the pan, wipe with oil inside and out while hot and let it cool slowly down to room temperature.  Repeat if desired, but it's fine to use after the first seasoning.  Eventually the black will come back. Break it in with meats and vegetables. Wait until you build up a mirror finish on it before doing eggs.

A note on cleaning.  It sounds like it was scrubbed, left in the sink, or worse, had soap applied.  The non-stick surface that inhibits rust is actually old oil trapped in the pores of the metal.  Soap destroys that layer and leaves the pan exposed to oxygen, causing rust.  Never use soap.

When you finish cooking with it, turn the heat up on your burner all the way, get an old cloth rag, soak in water and wipe the hot pan.  The stream will lift off even the most burned, caked on garbage without ever breaking down the pan's protective coating.  Once steamed clean, add ¼tsp of oil, and wipe it all around with a paper towel until the surface is evenly coated. Wipe off any excess oil, the thinnest coat possible is the most protective.

Offline phargolf

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Re: Used, rusty cast iron?
« Reply #6 on: May 02, 2010, 11:09:02 AM »
Just take a rough sandpaper to them.  Remove the rust and try to make at least the cooking surface and the rim all an even color.  Get yourself an oil with a high burn temperature. Peanut oil works well (burns at 500°F), don't use vegetable oil (burns at around 375°F).  Heat the pan, wipe with oil inside and out while hot and let it cool slowly down to room temperature.  Repeat if desired, but it's fine to use after the first seasoning.  Eventually the black will come back. Break it in with meats and vegetables. Wait until you build up a mirror finish on it before doing eggs.

A note on cleaning.  It sounds like it was scrubbed, left in the sink, or worse, had soap applied.  The non-stick surface that inhibits rust is actually old oil trapped in the pores of the metal.  Soap destroys that layer and leaves the pan exposed to oxygen, causing rust.  Never use soap.

When you finish cooking with it, turn the heat up on your burner all the way, get an old cloth rag, soak in water and wipe the hot pan.  The stream will lift off even the most burned, caked on garbage without ever breaking down the pan's protective coating.  Once steamed clean, add ¼tsp of oil, and wipe it all around with a paper towel until the surface is evenly coated. Wipe off any excess oil, the thinnest coat possible is the most protective.
VERY good advice! ;)

Offline Dr. Prepper

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Re: Used, rusty cast iron?
« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2010, 06:17:46 PM »
Here's a good video on how to clean cast iron using electrolysis. Pretty cool and it looks easy.
Eat The Weeds: Episode: 114: Cast Iron and Pig Weed

Offline Orionblade

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Re: Used, rusty cast iron?
« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2010, 09:17:42 PM »
That's how they cleaned up the Monitor here at the Mariner's museum in Newport News.

Offline teton traveler

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Re: Used, rusty cast iron?
« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2010, 08:38:59 AM »
I guess it is time to hit the thrift stores in search of cast iron.

Offline cartpusher

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Re: Used, rusty cast iron?
« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2010, 09:51:22 AM »
Thanks for all the great advice.  Looks like I will be cooking in these in no time.

Offline Dadio

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Re: Used, rusty cast iron?
« Reply #11 on: May 31, 2010, 11:54:37 AM »
That was a great video! Thanks for including it. I need to check out that guy's website.

Offline Pathfinder

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Re: Used, rusty cast iron?
« Reply #12 on: May 31, 2010, 01:37:33 PM »
I guess it is time to hit the thrift stores in search of cast iron.

Most of the stuff I see in thrift stores - and cast iron is rare - are Chinese crap pans, usable, but not worth a whole lot. OTOH, should you run across something with the name Griswold on the bottom - grab it!!!!

Offline TwoBluesMama

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Re: Used, rusty cast iron?
« Reply #13 on: June 02, 2010, 08:41:34 AM »
Most of the stuff I see in thrift stores - and cast iron is rare - are Chinese crap pans, usable, but not worth a whole lot. OTOH, should you run across something with the name Griswold on the bottom - grab it!!!!

Must be the location of stuff - we've found Griswold and Lodge at thrift stores and yard sales.  Maybe folks just don't know what they're getting rid of here in Colorado  :D

Offline BatonRouge Bill

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Re: Used, rusty cast iron?
« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2010, 07:18:34 PM »
Yep - you have treasure that just needs a little love.  We do this all the time finding old cast iron at thrift stores and yard sales.  Good luck! TBM

Very true, the best cast ironware has been passed down from grandmothers that wore the cooking surface down with the metal spatula's until very smooth! New cast iron is rough cast and what I do to simulate the wear is us a flapper wheel sander in a die grinder or drill to knock down all the bumps. They are as bad as pits for holding food particles and causing food to stick. I have a used 17 gallon jambalaya pot, a 10 gallon jambalaya pot, and 20,16,12, and a couple 10 qt stock pots. and various sized skillets. You can sand new ones down but well used ones are the best!
Also try to keep high acid foods like red gravies out of them, bad for the pot and will make an iron taste to the food.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2010, 07:21:15 PM by BatonRouge Bill »

Offline millwright

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Re: Used, rusty cast iron?
« Reply #15 on: June 08, 2010, 10:06:53 PM »
Sandblast then fry fish a few times. Just wipe with a paper towel, no soap. Too much heat will burn the finish and give you sticky spots. A good 6" skillet will do eggs better than teflon, or corn bread without sticking. The trick to corn bread is putting butter in the pan and getting it pretty hot before you put the batter in.
Repetitive cast iron abuse could be grounds for divorce.......... :(

Offline Orionblade

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Re: Used, rusty cast iron?
« Reply #16 on: June 09, 2010, 12:03:28 PM »
I have a new one and an old one that I relenquished to my mom's house since I wasn't using it much - it's a BIG skillet that my grandmother used to make pineapple upside-down cake in.

*note to self - stock up on maraschino cherries!*

Offline steeltownknight

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Re: Used, rusty cast iron?
« Reply #17 on: June 11, 2010, 12:45:27 PM »
I used a brand NEW paint scarper to remove surface rust.  Wiped it clean then re-seasoned the skillet with grape seed oil. 
(kept it on low heat for a lil over an hour) Just because I find GS oil has NO flavor and wont affect the taste of the first few meals.

Offline soccer grannie

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Re: Used, rusty cast iron?
« Reply #18 on: June 11, 2010, 05:49:39 PM »
Scrub rusty cast iron with a Brillo or SOS pad. Yep, the only time I'll put soap on cast iron. Get the skillet wet, scrub the devil out of it (can take a lot of elbow grease), rinse and repeat. Grease the skillet up good with shortening, place in slow oven for several hours. If you notice any rust, repeat process. If the skillet isn't seasoned good, grease it and slow bake again.

Offline BatonRouge Bill

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Re: Used, rusty cast iron?
« Reply #19 on: June 11, 2010, 07:28:57 PM »
I take a paper towel and wipe a very thin oil coating after cleaning and before storing. Pots that only get used a couple times a year (17 gallon and the 10 gallon) I will boil a little water in it before use to remove any possibility of rancid or at least rancid taste.

Offline joeinwv

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Re: Used, rusty cast iron?
« Reply #20 on: June 11, 2010, 09:05:58 PM »
grape seed oil is a good call b/c it has a very high smoke point - which allows a lot of oil penetration without polymerizing (when surface is sticky or tacky)


Even really junky cast iron works for blackening. Clean all the surface rust off and then just get it hot as the hinges. Clean it with a grill brush and give it a few sprays of pam. Dip meat product in butter, cover with cajun seasoning and slap it on. Most restaurants I worked in used an upside down 14" over a commercial gas burner for blackening fish and chicken. After about 6 months of constant heat for 8 hours a day, they'd usually crack. At which point you can still use it, just flares up a bit more.

Offline Orionblade

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Re: Used, rusty cast iron?
« Reply #21 on: June 12, 2010, 12:34:41 AM »
A little beeswax goes a long way for long term storage. Outdoors, my hammers don't get rusty and I just wipe them in linseed oil and beeswax or paste wax. Left one on a stump for a winter and only had a light dusting of pink come spring.

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Re: Used, rusty cast iron?
« Reply #22 on: June 12, 2010, 04:58:25 AM »
If you want to have it sand blasted, most monument sales places that do their own work would do it for a small fee.

Hey that's a good lead.  Thanks.


On seasoning:  I left my new skillet on the BBQ grill over charcoals.  It got too hot and cracked.  Don't do that.

Offline BatonRouge Bill

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Re: Used, rusty cast iron?
« Reply #23 on: June 12, 2010, 05:58:37 AM »
A little beeswax goes a long way for long term storage. Outdoors, my hammers don't get rusty and I just wipe them in linseed oil and beeswax or paste wax. Left one on a stump for a winter and only had a light dusting of pink come spring.
Sounds like a good helpful idea to me because sometimes I cook for benefits and it is short notice but ironicly most of your new cast iron comes coated with pariffin wax, really a bear to get off because every where it stays the pot won't take the seasoning. I ended up boiling in aluminum crawfish pot...let cool in the pot and the wax will solidify on top of the water, scrape out the hardened wax then take the pot out. If you take the pot out with the water/wax still hot it just recoats a thin layer as it passed thru the top of the water/wax and it isn't until you try seasoning again that it screws up the coating because the oil doesn't stick where the wax is.

Offline paul wheaton

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Re: Used, rusty cast iron?
« Reply #24 on: September 05, 2011, 05:42:20 PM »
Hot off the press.  I uploaded this video about eight minutes ago.  It shows a cast iron skillet fished out of the garbage, covered in gunk.  The gunk is burned off and a new seasoning layer is put on.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjgP-6W_YN4



Offline cartpusher

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Re: Used, rusty cast iron?
« Reply #25 on: September 19, 2011, 06:48:53 PM »
The pans that were the start of this thread turned out great, and have been in heavy use in our kitchen ever since.  They work way better then a pre-seasoned pan that I picked up.

Offline Morning Sunshine

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Re: Used, rusty cast iron?
« Reply #26 on: September 20, 2011, 07:23:15 AM »
yeah I found some at an antique store.  they are my new favorite pans!!!  I want more, for sure!

Offline FromScratchWoman

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Re: Used, rusty cast iron?
« Reply #27 on: September 20, 2011, 08:11:20 AM »
Other than our cookie sheets and crock pots we only cook with cast iron this has been so for five generations...so I will share a secret ;) soak your rusted surface in Apple cider vinegar no sand blasting or elbow greese needed just a good day or two worth of sitting,we NEVER use crisco as it will go rancid after being heated then stored..we use olive oil or lard..will coat in olive oil after the vinegar has stripped it completely down to bare iron and bake at 350* for a couple hours..let it cool wipe with oil..we then leave it in the oven for about a weeks worth of cooking giving it a good oil wipe each time prior to baking..you can use white vinegar but It's lower acid levels work a little slower..this is all just in my experience..

Offline Morning Sunshine

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Re: Used, rusty cast iron?
« Reply #28 on: September 20, 2011, 08:40:26 AM »
Other than our cookie sheets and crock pots we only cook with cast iron this has been so for five generations...so I will share a secret ;) soak your rusted surface in Apple cider vinegar no sand blasting or elbow greese needed just a good day or two worth of sitting,we NEVER use crisco as it will go rancid after being heated then stored..we use olive oil or lard..will coat in olive oil after the vinegar has stripped it completely down to bare iron and bake at 350* for a couple hours..let it cool wipe with oil..we then leave it in the oven for about a weeks worth of cooking giving it a good oil wipe each time prior to baking..you can use white vinegar but It's lower acid levels work a little slower..this is all just in my experience..

I wonder if this would work with the waffle iron I saw at the antique store.  I passed it up because it was very rusty AND needed new wooden handles.  I talked to a cast iron user friend, and he said sandblaster would be the only way to get it clean.

on another note - where do you find large amounts of ACV without buying 20 quart bottles?

Offline FromScratchWoman

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Re: Used, rusty cast iron?
« Reply #29 on: September 20, 2011, 05:07:13 PM »
I wonder if this would work with the waffle iron I saw at the antique store.  I passed it up because it was very rusty AND needed new wooden handles.  I talked to a cast iron user friend, and he said sandblaster would be the only way to get it clean.

on another note - where do you find large amounts of ACV without buying 20 quart bottles?

As long as its not to pitted this would work just fine,minding to keep the vinegar clear of the wood,I buy gallon jugs of it from a local bulk store but have seen it at Walmart..it really doesn't take much,if it was we I would open the iron fill the bottom half with acv let sit for a day or so then wipe away the gunk flip over and do the other side..imo acv works better than blasting,when you blast your creating a billion little pits that will allow rust to reach deep into the iron..

About a month ago I came across a HUGE griddle I mean it covers my whole stove top..it had no joke about a quarter inch of rust..I paid 15$ for it..now I could easily sell it for over 400$ as its an antique  griswold..it took me three days of soaking and half a gallon of acv and it looked brand new.. to big to season in my oven so over the dug in fire pit it went took me two days and a lot of oil to season it..
I have used acv on my waffle iron as it was in the same state I don't have beforehand pics buy I do have after pics of a lot of iron I used acv on..

this was VERY rusted and it has deep dimples in the squares so a normal patter iron should be no prob..

this is the griddle....
« Last Edit: September 20, 2011, 05:16:30 PM by FromScratchWoman »