Restoring Rusty Cast Iron Cookware

rusty cast iron frying pan restored
You can make your rusty cast iron cookware look like new by following a few easy steps

Have you ever discovered that you own rusty cast iron cookware? If you’re anything like I was, you’d think that was it for your Dutch oven, pot or pan. You would think the only thing to do would be to throw it away.

Don’t discard it. Restore your cast iron cookware to its former glory! You can do that by following the very easy steps below.

What you Will Need:

  1. Dish soap
  2. Scrubber or scrubbing brush
  3. SOS pad, steel wool, or copper scrubber
  4. Vegetable oil or this coconut oil
  5. Clean cloth or paper towel for oil
  6. Oven

Now follow these directions:

1. Scrub your cast iron thoroughly.

Using soap and a scrubber, wash your pot or pan. Then grab your steel wool, SOS pad or copper scrubber and scour the pan thoroughly, down to the original cast iron. (That means taking all the burnt-on bits off) If you find your rusty cast iron is heavily encrusted, rinse it off, dry it and put it face down in your oven, then set your oven to self-clean. After the self-cleaning phase is over (My oven takes about 4-6 hours to self-clean before it unlocks again), allow the cast iron to cool, then remove and give it a quick wash and rinse to get rid of the ash on it. Dry thoroughly. Continue with restoring process.

If you don’t have a self-cleaning option on your oven, soak your cookware in vinegar and water. Use a half-and-half solution. Soak it for about an hour. If it won’t come off, soak it for longer, up to four hours. The solution will start to work on the metal once the rust is gone, so the least amount of soaking is best. Then, scrub it with your steel wool or copper scrubber.

2. Re-season your cast iron.

Pour the oil on the paper towel and rub the pan all over, inside and out. Don’t forget the handle. Remove one rack from your oven. Place your pot or pan face down in your oven on the remaining rack. Place a sheet of foil on the bottom of your oven to catch any drips and turn the oven to 350º F. “Bake” your cast iron for an hour, turn the oven off and let the cookware cool.

3. Keep it from becoming rusty cast iron again.

When you go to store your cast iron, wrap it in paper towel or place paper towel between your cookware if you are stacking it. This will absorb any moisture, which is what made it rusty in the first place. Use a good-quality cast iron cleaner or wash in soap and water, dry thoroughly and apply a thin coat of oil to the inside of the pot or pan before storing. If you have the room in your cupboard or wherever you’re storing your cookware, invest in a sturdy rack so the cookware doesn’t scratch the coating of the pot it’s resting in.

Follow these easy steps, and you will go from being the owner of rusty cast iron to cast iron that looks like new!