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Monday, March 18, 2013

Cast Iron Cookware Restoration Part 1

this is not the worst
I have lots of cast iron skillets, pots, and lids that are all rusty. When I read a blog post, four blog posts, about soaking tools in vinegar to remove rust, I thought I might have the solution. So, today, I started. The skillet and lid above did not originally go together. The lid cost me $5 and the deep skillet was given to me.

The brush is a new, nylon brush. No matter. I have lots of cast iron and the brush was only $1. The brushing made lots of red dust in the air. Then, I had red dust on my fingers and then on my clothing.

When I used a rag to try and remove some of the red dust, it did not seem to work very well. Notice the rag with candy cane print. I sewed from that about 25-years-ago. Storage for scraps was no problem until lately.

My $5 lid is Lodge

The free skillet is a Griswold.
I cooked in this all the time.

18 gallon Rubbermaid tote
I poured one gallon of vinegar in the skillet and watched as a bit trickled into the bin. Obviously, I planned to put more vinegar in, but two gallons of vinegar will not be enough. I had other pieces of cast iron to add to the bin, but the weather turned bad quickly.

The Doppler Radar indicated bad weather was on the way--SOON. I rushed to put the hens up halfway through this. The lid to one of their Rubbermaid homes had blown off, so I got them in, fed them, put the top back on the bin with a brick to hold it down.

Back to the other side of the yard I hurried. Only pouring the vinegar in was left. There was no time for more vinegar or more cast iron pieces. Since I had not gotten the mail, I hurried out front. The back yard I left had a black horizon and sky above me. Thunder rumbled near and far with a bit of lightning glow, no streaks.

3 PM--the only light in the sky is in the east.

I was amazed by the stark beauty of the limbs in the middle of the lighter space. The wind kicked up so swiftly and violently that I ran as well as I could back to the backyard and the side door. I only got this one shot before I became alarmed. The bin with vinegar and cast iron had already lost the lid to the wind. As I ran to get the lid and ran to the other direction to get a brick to anchor it, I thought, "I cannot believe I am risking my life for a lid to cover the vinegar." A limb had already blown across the porch steps, blocking my way.
These rusted pieces have caused me consternation for a long time. I managed to clean one piece myself. All have been through my gas grill to remove the worst crud/grease/rust. Exbf cleaned one and hurt his hands. If he did not scrub so hard, it would be easier. Then, way back in the fall, Mark clean two for me because I promised him one. When I read jambaloney's tool restoration post, I thought maybe I had hit upon a solution. Things are looking good.

Your turn
Have you ever used vinegar to clean rust from cast iron?


  1. I've never used vinegar but I have used a self cleaning oven to clean cast iron. It works really well.

    My Daddy would build a bonfire to clean old cast iron. He said that a BBQ wouldn't get hot enough to do the job. I read the same post you did about using vinegar. I will be anxious to hear your results.

  2. I have a self-cleaning oven, but am afraid of This is mostly rust, not gunk, that is on this skillet. I forgot what the problem is with the others.

    I have heard a too-hot fire can crack the skillet. But, I suppose your Daddy knows more about it than I do! He probably knows how hot to get the fire.

    We will see. If it all works out, I will have cast iron to sell since I don't need so much cast iron.

    1. Amy Dacyczyn in the Tightwad Gazette advised people to use their self-cleaning ovens if they had it. It's the one thing about electric ovens I really like; you can clean it without using all of those chemicals. And it does work in getting rid of rust.

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