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Old 09-10-2019, 11:08 AM
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Rescuing A Cast-Iron Sklliet


Backstory:
I have a 12 inch cast-iron skillet the was improperly seasoned by me. Only used it once to disastrous results to the meal I was trying to prepare.

I let it sit unused for almost a year afterwards, then had a 7 month hospital stay on top of that.
(This was not a cheapo skillet, sorry I can't remember the brand offhand, but do remember proudly bringing it home).

Present day:
When I returned, there it was sitting in all its' rusted glory. Mostly on the bottom cooking portion of the pan.

My impulse is to just throw into a campfire until it is glowing red and starting over.
So I sheepishly call upon the collective wisdom of the SDMB about what to do next.
Feel free to call me names.
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Old 09-10-2019, 11:20 AM
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Grease it good with Crisco then put it in a slow oven for a couple of hours. Wash and use.
Or throw it on the fire. I'd like to know how that works.

I'll call you a name..ummm? Can't think of one.

Last edited by Beckdawrek; 09-10-2019 at 11:21 AM.
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Old 09-10-2019, 11:23 AM
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Just scrub it down with a scouring pad until it's clean and re-season:

Preheat your oven to 350 F.

Pour a tablespoon of oil into the pan. Pretty much any edible oil will work. Rub it all over the pan with a paper towel. Do the outside and bottom of the pan, too.

Put the entire thing upside-down on the center rack of your oven. Let it bake for 1 hour.

After 1 hour turn off the heat and let it cool.

Done!

I'd go easy on it at first. Just fry a few eggs in it or something like that.
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Old 09-10-2019, 11:24 AM
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I've been researching this, but haven't tackled mine yet. Here are acouple sites I've found that address this subject:

Hope this helps.
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Old 09-10-2019, 11:26 AM
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I agree wiht DCnDC, though when it comes to seasoning, I've always just done a couple batches of bacon and then rinsed and wiped it clean and that works just fine.
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Old 09-10-2019, 11:39 AM
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If it's actually rusty, not just dirty, you'll want to get that rust off first. Steel wool if it's not too bad, a small hand sander would be useful if it's deep/extensive.
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Old 09-10-2019, 11:44 AM
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Lodge?
Victoria?
Field Company?
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Old 09-10-2019, 11:45 AM
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Thanks for all replies. I don't want to discard the skillet during the annual fall clean-up. But the way the skillet looks now reminds me of vector diseases and cross contamination. Hence the trial-by-fire campfire idea. Besides, It is raining here today so that idea is out the window.

The bacon thing is out, much to my chargrin. My landlord/housemate is sensitive/allergic/WhoKnowsWhat to cooking bacon. Her house/her rules. I will try the other methods above. Wish me luck!
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Old 09-10-2019, 11:47 AM
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Lodge?
Victoria?
Field Company?
Lodge, upon closer inspection.
  #10  
Old 09-10-2019, 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by muldoonthief View Post
If it's actually rusty, not just dirty, you'll want to get that rust off first. Steel wool if it's not too bad, a small hand sander would be useful if it's deep/extensive.
This. Some steel wool is probably enough, but if it's not, then I'd start with sandpaper. After all the rust is gone (feel free to use plenty of soap and water to help this process along) THEN it's time to season it.

I'd start by smearing oil on it and roasting it, as recommended above. Then I would use it for several batches of popcorn. (any lid that fit's loosely is fine to keep the corn in.) My cast iron pan always looks happy after I make popcorn. Or cornbread. But I'd start with popcorn, which basically can't stick, and work up to other foods.

Cast iron makes terrific popcorn. Use an oil you like. Olive is a little fussy due to the low smoke point, but tasty. Ghee or goose fat are terrific. Peanut oil isn't as tasty, but it's cheap and easy to use.
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Old 09-10-2019, 11:51 AM
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Oh, dude! You gotta move. Living without bacon is not living. Take the skillet with you.

Last edited by Beckdawrek; 09-10-2019 at 11:51 AM.
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Old 09-10-2019, 11:57 AM
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I just re-seasoned an old cast iron pan I found at my parents. It hadn't been used in years and was very similar to what you describe.

I did the basically same as DCnDC suggests:

1) Used an SOS pad to scour the pan and remove the surface rust.
2) Dry the pan with paper towels then put the pan on a hot burner for a couple minutes to make sure 100% of the water is gone.
3) Once cooled down rub it down with about a TBSP or so of vegetable oil on a paper towel and wipe out all excess with a new paper towel.
4) Put in a preheated oven at 450F for 30 minutes
5) Repeat step 3 & 4, three or four times and you're ready to go.

Repeating the wipe down and heating did an amazing job of building up the seasoning quickly. I just set a timer on my phone and left the oven on and went about reading SDMB or whatever while it I repeated things. Very easy.

It's now seasoned and works beautifully.

I found this site useful:
https://www.seriouseats.com/2016/09/...-cookware.html
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Old 09-10-2019, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Cabin_Fever View Post
Lodge, upon closer inspection.
Ha! I knew it. I was just going to reply and assure you it's a Lodge. They are ALL Lodge's. Except for mine, of course. Like a fool, I shelled out the additional $5 for a Calphalon. Or is it Calaphon? I can never remember.
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Old 09-10-2019, 03:21 PM
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You can run a cast iron pan through the self-clean cycle of a self cleaning oven to clean any old seasoning off the surface, although I doubt it will remove rust. You probably want to scrub the rust out as well as possible with steel wool first, then self-clean, then re-season.
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Old 09-10-2019, 03:25 PM
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The best brand of cast iron is "Grandma's."

Yeah, scrape, oil, bake. Then use the sucker. You'll never build up that wonderful seasoning if you don't cook with it!
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Old 09-10-2019, 03:26 PM
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A Video may help. I've always been intimadated by cast iron and seasoning the surface.

Good luck

https://youtu.be/O6bFWVB2BRY
  #17  
Old 09-10-2019, 05:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Beckdawrek View Post
Oh, dude! You gotta move. Living without bacon is not living. Take the skillet with you.
I am seriously considering that along with other factors.
And yes, the skillet will come with me. along with everything else of mine.

Last edited by Cabin_Fever; 09-10-2019 at 05:21 PM. Reason: logistics
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Old 09-10-2019, 05:31 PM
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Thanks for all suggestions. I think I can survive with just this one pan/skillet if need be.
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Old 09-11-2019, 07:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Fiddle Peghead View Post
Ha! I knew it. I was just going to reply and assure you it's a Lodge. They are ALL Lodge's. Except for mine, of course. Like a fool, I shelled out the additional $5 for a Calphalon. Or is it Calaphon? I can never remember.
Not mine, either. A neighbor picked it up for a buck at a rummage sale. It's made in China, and doesn't say the brand on it. But it's a nice getting pan with a smooth (not lumpy) finish.
  #20  
Old 09-11-2019, 08:15 AM
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Obligatory XKCD link
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Old 09-11-2019, 11:23 AM
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Thanks. Whenever these discussion come up, I want to say, "it's a frying pan. It's not supposed to be hard to operate. If it's hard for you, get a better frying pan."

I like my cast iron pan, but I don't work very hard to care for it.
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Old 09-11-2019, 01:06 PM
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I didn't read the whole thread, apologies if this is redundant.

I had a Lodge skillet that I had tried to season repeatedly and never could get it right. Things stuck constantly and the seasoning was sticky in spots and had flaked off in others.

Part of the issue I think was that this was at the time a "new" Lodge skillet that came both with some awful preseasoning and a bumpy surface instead of smooth (apparently this is intentional, but damned if I understand the logic of those engineers).

I eventually gave up and decided a start over....and stripped the stupid thing down to the bare metal using this method. I bought a wire brush attachment for my drill, similar to this, to get all the built up seasoning off once the lye had softened it.

Afterwards I reseasoned it using this method. I went nuts and probably did 10 coats. The end result is a much, much better experience. It's still not perfect because of that fucking bumpy surface.

Good luck.
  #23  
Old 09-11-2019, 04:48 PM
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snip ...

Part of the issue I think was that this was at the time a "new" Lodge skillet that came both with some awful preseasoning and a bumpy surface instead of smooth (apparently this is intentional, but damned if I understand the logic of those engineers).
snip ...
This was exactly how mine was advertised on the shelf. "Pre-seasoned"? Nope, not even close. Those bumps on the surface puzzle me to this day. I have yet to see or hear a proper explanation of them.
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Old 09-11-2019, 04:57 PM
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If I had the proper tools (which I don't) I would use the power drill method mentioned above. It looks like I will using steel wool and elbow grease.

Last edited by Cabin_Fever; 09-11-2019 at 04:58 PM.
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Old 09-11-2019, 04:58 PM
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Money and time. My last ink explains it a little. Ignore the bullshit that Lodge spouts about it being a feature.
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Old 09-11-2019, 05:13 PM
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Thanks. Whenever these discussion come up, I want to say, "it's a frying pan. It's not supposed to be hard to operate. If it's hard for you, get a better frying pan."

I like my cast iron pan, but I don't work very hard to care for it.
Yes it is just a frying pan/skillet. neglected for sure.

Why the snark? I asked an honest question, got many helpful answers, and you reply with this?
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Old 09-11-2019, 05:16 PM
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You can run a cast iron pan through the self-clean cycle of a self cleaning oven to clean any old seasoning off the surface, although I doubt it will remove rust. You probably want to scrub the rust out as well as possible with steel wool first, then self-clean, then re-season.
Whenever I have a cast iron I need to reseason from scratch, I just run it through the self-clean cycle and see where it leaves me. It's always worked fine for me and seems to even get rid of surface rust. Then I proceed with the usual seasoning method.

Last edited by pulykamell; 09-11-2019 at 05:16 PM.
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Old 09-11-2019, 05:22 PM
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The real 'trick' to cast iron it to use it daily. I wouldn't take a gold nugget for mine.(well, maybe a big nugget) Mine are very old inherited pans. When I was cooking for the whole family they were used everyday and held their seasoning. I have a 12inch one I use nearly everyday for eggs. It's perfect at the moment.
Long term storage does things to them.

Last edited by Beckdawrek; 09-11-2019 at 05:24 PM.
  #29  
Old 09-11-2019, 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Cabin_Fever View Post
This was exactly how mine was advertised on the shelf. "Pre-seasoned"? Nope, not even close. Those bumps on the surface puzzle me to this day. I have yet to see or hear a proper explanation of them.
I think it's because it would cost more to grind it down to create a smooth finish after casting it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cabin_Fever View Post
Yes it is just a frying pan/skillet. neglected for sure.

Why the snark? I asked an honest question, got many helpful answers, and you reply with this?
How was that snarky? I gave more specific advice earlier, about scraping off the rust and seasoning it. But at the end of the day, I think people often make the mistake of over-thinking it, and doing more work than is needed to maintain a cast iron frying pan.
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Old 09-11-2019, 07:39 PM
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I think it's because it would cost more to grind it down to create a smooth finish after casting it.

How was that snarky? I gave more specific advice earlier, about scraping off the rust and seasoning it. But at the end of the day, I think people often make the mistake of over-thinking it, and doing more work than is needed to maintain a cast iron frying pan.
Sorry. I took your post the wrong way. All of everyones' suggestions are appreciated. My resources are quite limited at the moment (Steel Wool? Would require a 20 mile trip), hence my initial comment about "toss into a campfire until glowing red". I realize that it is not that complicated but really want to bring this skillet back to life. And yes, I am most likely over-thinking the situation.

Last edited by Cabin_Fever; 09-11-2019 at 07:42 PM.
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Old 09-11-2019, 07:47 PM
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I can't see a camp fire would hurt it. Maybe not red hot. Cast iron can and will crack. But a good burn off should help it. Then get lard or crisco and put a goodly amount in the skillet and put it back on the fire for awhile. I think it might just work.

ETA, a large amount of salt in the cold pan with a damp sponge will scrub it out. Do this first. I never use steel wool on my pans.

Last edited by Beckdawrek; 09-11-2019 at 07:49 PM.
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Old 09-11-2019, 08:25 PM
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Sorry, cabin fever, I didn't mean to offend.

I would try to remove the rust. If steel wool isn't realistic, I bet a handful of sand would do the job. And I agree with beckdawrek that burning off any crud you can burn off won't hurt. If so that before scouring it.

Then season with any edible oil, as mentioned by several people.

Best wishes.
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Old 09-11-2019, 08:47 PM
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For the record, throwing it in a campfire is probably in the top 3 of best solutions. It's nearly identical to the cleaning cycle in an oven. If the rust is more than superficial it'll need extra attention, but a hot fire will strip the seasoning as well as anything. Steel wool will be fine for the rust so long as it's not pitted.
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Old 09-11-2019, 09:59 PM
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Griswold and Wagner are THE best brands of cast iron, and are usually quite expensive on the secondhand market unless somebody doesn't know what they really have.

I have a 12" cast iron Griswold that I got for $1.20 (90% off sale for an antique dealer who was getting out of the business and it was completely covered with a thick layer of rust. I scrubbed it off (eventually) and gave it the Crisco treatment and guess what? Good as new! I don't use it frequently, but when I do, food doesn't stick.
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Old 09-11-2019, 10:15 PM
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This is the bee's knees for seasoning cast iron: https://www.cooksillustrated.com/how...ason-cast-iron
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Old 09-11-2019, 10:27 PM
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Christ, if I tried to cook eggs in my cast iron pans I’d be scraping egg off for days.

I keep an All-Clad 8-inch non-stick pristine as my omelette (and fried egg) pan. I pan-fry better chicken in a beat-up 25-year-old All-Clad 12-inch steel skillet than my 14-inch Lodge cast iron pan.

I look on y’all with these magic cast iron skillets with sheer envy.
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Old 09-12-2019, 05:40 PM
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Christ, if I tried to cook eggs in my cast iron pans Id be scraping egg off for days.
You're not doing it right.

Unfortunately i can't help you, because I can't manage it either, but Rhiannon8404 can make up a batch of eggs and leave the pan cleaner than when she started.

...and that's why nobody else in the family is ever allowed to use her 'egg pan'.
  #38  
Old 09-12-2019, 06:05 PM
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This is the bee's knees for seasoning cast iron: https://www.cooksillustrated.com/how...ason-cast-iron
After you strip the previous seasoning, you have to do at least 18 hours more work on the pan to get it ready. Granted, most of that time is just letting the pan sit---but that's a helluva lot of work to get it ready.

Why don't they sell pans already seasoned using this method? It sounds like it'd lend itself well to commercial work.
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Old 09-12-2019, 07:11 PM
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Flax seed oil is a bit precious for my taste. Crisco works just fine. Granny never had no stinkin' flaxseed oil.
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Old 09-12-2019, 09:54 PM
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Flax seed oil is a bit precious for my taste. Crisco works just fine. Granny never had no stinkin' flaxseed oil.
It's certainly not needed at all, but it kind of gets you there much more quickly than the traditional method, at least in my experience.

And, yes, properly seasoned, a cast iron skillet shouldn't require days of scraping to get the eggs off. With my cast iron, at least, the surface isn't nearly as easy to work with as a non-stick egg skillet -- not even close (weight being the biggest factor, but shape another), but I can cook eggs on them without creating a big mess. This guy's video flipping over eggs on a cast iron is where my pans are at, and (except for two mini pans -- maybe six-inch? -- I inherited from my wife's grandmother) they're just cheap-ass Target cast iron pans, so not milled to a smooth glassy surface or anything like that. Unseasoned, they have kind of a sandpapery texture to it, but with enough seasoning, they've become smooth.

Last edited by pulykamell; 09-12-2019 at 09:55 PM.
  #41  
Old 09-12-2019, 11:49 PM
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Flax seed oil is a bit precious for my taste. Crisco works just fine. Granny never had no stinkin' flaxseed oil.
Flaxseed (aka food grade linseed oil) has a higher smoking temperature and IIRC bonds much better. I did 4 different cast iron pans and pots at once out on the grill. It didn't take that long. Put on a very thin coat, grill the hell out of it, let cool, repeat for a few days.

My pans have gone thru the dishwasher and still have a good finish.
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Old 09-12-2019, 11:55 PM
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Flaxseed oil is the same thing as linseed oil but food grade. If you're worried about your cast iron having bumps, season it with flaxseed oil. It doesn't matter if the metal is smooth or bumpy the food should never contact the metal. It's like a untouched swimming pool, the water is the same in the shallow end as it is in the deep end.
  #43  
Old 09-14-2019, 03:07 AM
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Anyone can restore cast iron to near new, and have it last many lifetimes. Even skillets old enough to have pitting on the bottom from seeing use with gas or coal containing sulfur will be attractive and usable after restoration. With skillets of unknown provenance it is wise to test with lead check swabs, as some barn finds could conceivably been used to melt lead. Even lead crystal is now considered unsafe. (I'm hoping my scotch will kill me before my lead tumblers make me (more?) demented, but if I drink with anyone under 40 I'll now give them a plastic Spongebob Squarepants sippy cup. Better safe than sorry.)

Putting cast iron in a fire or self-cleaning oven is not recommended. You may get lucky a few times, but doing this can cause discolored areas that won't take seasoning as readily, and high temperatures can flake and warp your iron.

Gunk and rust are two separate issues.

Pros who restore a lot of skillets use an electrolysis tank (e-tank) which efficiently strips the cast iron of gunk AND rust. Some Dopers have been known to science a bit, but if you're not aware water and electricity generally don't mix and why, this isn't for you.

For regular folks the best way to address gunk is to use lye-based oven cleaner (aka "yellow cap".) Using the same safety precautions as cleaning an oven, spray the cast iron liberally all over and seal it in a garbage bag to leave in the hot sun all day. Then scrub with steel wool and stainless steel pot scrubbers. Do not use softer copper or brass scrubbers or drill attachments as they will transfer the metal to your iron and use power tools only if you're OK with changing the surfaces. Same with sandblasting and such, it's all been tried, you'll alter the surface of the iron.

Repeat de-gunking process as necessary, but if you have to do this more than twice your cast iron is likely old and potentially valuable.

Cast iron, so hot right now. Cast iron. My local thrift store sells used $9 Made in Taiwan skillets for $20. It's definitely a craze.

For just OPs rust the best method would be to completely immerse in a 50-50 solution of table vinegar and water for 30 minutes then scrub away with steel wool and stainless steel pot scrubbers. It isn't advisable to soak in vinegar for more than a few hours. You'll be using the evil dish soap and lots of cold water for a final rinse, so dry the cast iron immediately and heat it on a stove or in the oven to evaporate any remaining water.

Since you fired up the oven, why not start seasoning immediately? This is website that's been advising (and standing up to) the cast iron crazies the best and probably the longest. Rookie mistake is to leave too much oil on the pan in the process. Many coats, like painting a wall.

http://www.castironcollector.com/seasoning.php#season

If you think you've come up with a better mousetrap (could happen) take it to experts at https://old.reddit.com/r/castiron/ (their FAQ will mostly confirm the prior link) and wait for consensus and moderators to confirm any "advice".

Last edited by eunoia; 09-14-2019 at 03:10 AM.
  #44  
Old 09-14-2019, 09:15 AM
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Rookie mistake is to leave too much oil on the pan in the process. Many coats, like painting a wall.
Yes, my method is to put about a teaspoon to a tablespoon of oil in the pan and rub it around with a cloth towel to coat all surfaces and wipe off any excess. It'll look shiny, but not oily. That's all the oil you need. (And looking over your link, that's exactly the process explained.)

When I first got a cast iron maybe 25 years ago, I did not know this. I oiled it up but did not wipe all the excess oil off. I ended up what I would describe as a sticky pan, as in the surface itself had a bit of a gummy residue feel to it that would slightly stick to your fingers when you touched it.
  #45  
Old Yesterday, 02:54 PM
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I've been told (by an enthusiastic relative who might have things wrong) that after the cast iron pan is seasoned, in order to properly clean it without taking off the seasoning, is to scrub it with a mixture of salt (gritty) and oil.

Not soap and water.

Does anyone do the salt and oil thing? I'd like to, but I usually forget. So we reseason the pan from time to time. Works great.
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Old Yesterday, 03:10 PM
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That’s the traditional advice, but I’ve found that once you have a good seasoning down, soap and water doesn’t harm it. I soap and water my cast iron, then heat it to make sure it’s compketely dry and lay down a very thin layer of oil and wipe it off to store.
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Old Yesterday, 03:42 PM
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Old Yesterday, 04:59 PM
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I've been told (by an enthusiastic relative who might have things wrong) that after the cast iron pan is seasoned, in order to properly clean it without taking off the seasoning, is to scrub it with a mixture of salt (gritty) and oil.

Not soap and water.

Does anyone do the salt and oil thing? I'd like to, but I usually forget. So we reseason the pan from time to time. Works great.
If something does stick a bit I rub salt in and rinse. Then do light layer of oil. I don't mix the salt and oil together
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Old Yesterday, 05:42 PM
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If something does stick a bit I rub salt in and rinse. Then do light layer of oil. I don't mix the salt and oil together
Oh, sorry, I misread the original post. Yeah, never heard the salt and oil together. Cleaning out the pan with salt is the traditional advice. Dry and oil after.
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