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HuskerMan 12-10-2012 01:17 PM

Cleaning rust on cast iron?
What is the best way to clean rusty cast iron? Bought some pots that need cleaning.

aawa 12-10-2012 01:19 PM

Hit the rusted area's with fine grit sandpaper till the rust is off. Then re-season it accordingly.

deguerre 12-10-2012 01:21 PM

Um...what if the entire thing is covered in rust? Does anyone still use Naval Jelly?

el_matt 12-10-2012 01:27 PM

I've used a wire wheel on a drill or angle grinder. I've tried using Naval Jelly in the past, on other projects, I didn't have any luck with it.


chicagokp 12-10-2012 01:31 PM

I use fine grit sand paper or a wire wheel. Or a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water, but only for a short time, like an hour or two.

Taking off the carbon and sludge I use a 5 gallon bucket of water with 12 oz of lye.

RW 12-10-2012 01:33 PM

I read somewhere that Coke does a great job.

Bluesman 12-10-2012 01:41 PM

While we're on the subject. I have some Lodge pans and I wash them in just hot water after cooking. When I wipe them out I get a black residue on the paper towel. Did I not season correctly or what?

rg02 12-10-2012 02:47 PM

50/50 water vinegar for an hour or two till the rust is gone. be sure to wash with dish soap and hot water after. then toss it in the oven at 200 to fully dry then start your seasoning process.

as for lodge CI bluesman, if you have a lot of black gunky residue after a cook soemtimes you need more then just hot water. take a lightly oiled paper towel and some kosher salt and lightly scrub your greasy areas (not too hard). then coat rinse, dry on the burner, and coat with a thin layer of oil.

Smoking Westy 12-10-2012 03:05 PM

I would strip the seasoning completely, deal with the rust and then re-season. To strip it, give it a soak in a lye bath. I bought one of those plastic tubs with a lid on it and picked up some lye from the hardware store. Give it a soak in there to dissolve all the gunk and seasoning on it. I've soaked pans as little as a day or two and as long as 3 weeks. It makes cleanup a breeze.

From there you can rinse it off and hit the rust with a mixture of vinegar/water and steel wool. Once it is all cleaned up you can re-season and start cooking.

MisterChrister 12-10-2012 03:17 PM

Basically what a few above have said. I've restored countless old pieces ranging from no-name oldies to Griswold/Wagner/Piqua etc. You can do a lye bath (be CAREFUL of your skin/eyes) to remove everything except the rust first (as long as needed, you can't hurt it in the lye bath), then rinse well and do a a 50/50 water/vinegar to get the rust off. You're ok to go up to 12-18 hours if need be on the vinegar solution, just SOFT wire brush it occasionally as it goes. Then rinse VERY well to neutralize the vinegar, warm in the oven to dry, and season as you like. I prefer lard since I use mine all of the time.

Offthehook 12-10-2012 03:20 PM

No one has said this yet I dont think but I heard a good way is let them soak in oven cleaner over night in a plastic bag. I had a Griswold that had so much caked on stuff, I used a razor blade to scrape it off.

mbshop 12-10-2012 03:51 PM

on pagw 2 of this discussion you will see a nice simple setup to clean any ci product.

Beef 12-10-2012 04:58 PM

I am lazy. I use electrolysis with a automotive battery charger, and a solution of washing soda and water.
Attach black lead to your submerged cast iron, and the red lead to a sumberged piece of scrap steel. DO NOT let those two touch.
Plug in the charger and let it 'cook' for a day or so and check the progress.

Works for me

Google the washing soda electrolysis approach for the recipe.

chicagokp 12-10-2012 05:17 PM


Originally Posted by Bluesman (Post 2293493)
While we're on the subject. I have some Lodge pans and I wash them in just hot water after cooking. When I wipe them out I get a black residue on the paper towel. Did I not season correctly or what?

That's pretty normal. Once you pan is really seasoned in hard you may not notice that anymore. But what you describe is fine.

seattlepitboss 12-10-2012 05:38 PM

Before you resort to any heavy methods, start with what you can do easily. Warm the pans up with some oil in them and wipe them out. Often on pans this will get nearly all the rust off. What more there is I'd take off when warm, with edible mineral oil, and 0000 steel wool and elbow grease.

Sure, you can sandblast, or do electrolytic derusting, or otherwise strip it to completely bare chemically clean iron. Which will nearly instantly rust again. Don't use anything with phosphoric acid in it (naval jelly) because of possible poisoning.

I bought a Griswold lamb cake mold off ebay once that was rusty when I got it, just like your pans. A little heat, a little oil, and the rust wiped right off. That lamb cake mold looks like new today.


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