If your cast iron cookware is not properly seasoned or cleaned it can get rusty very quickly. getting rid of the rust will allow you to start over seasoning and cooking with your cast iron. This is a guide about removing rust from cast iron.
If cast iron is rusty, use steel pads to remove rust and wash in hot Dawn detergent really well. Dry cast iron. I use cooking oil to season the cast iron; using paper towel, rub oil generously onto cast iron, inside and outside. Place a heavy duty piece of foil on the shelf of the oven and turn thermostat to 350 degrees F. Place cast iron top side down and season for 1 hour. This will allow the excess oil to drain off the cast iron. Allow to cool and wash with warm water. No soap.
My first item cooked in my iron skillets, is a pan of cornbread. I place 2 tablespoons of oil into the skillet and heat to slightly smoking and pour the mix into the skillet and bake at 400 degrees F. It slides right out. No sticking.
By Grandma Ree from VA
We had several old iron cooking pots and pans, that had been left in storage for many years. They were rusty, and really corroded.
I put them in a plastic garbage bag, soaked a towel with ammonia, and left it tied in bag for several days (maybe 4 days.) As I took each one out to wash and clean, I left the others in the bag. They clean well with a little elbow "grease". They looked almost new.
I had a dutch oven, a huge skillet, a large pancake griddle, and several pans with handles. I used steel wool on some and scraped residue off with a knife, then washed and dried them. I used Crisco and rubbed each one with a paper towel. I set them in the oven for several days when not in use. They looked like new and would have been discarded as useless.
How do I clean a rusty iron skillet?
February 26, 2011
Put the skillet in the oven on a sheet of foil and run the oven cleaner. Then reseason.
By patricia 1
We use a cast iron pot filled with water on our wood stove for humidity. Rust has formed on the pot and I am not sure how to clean it. Any suggestions? Thank you.
By Patricia from Dansville, NY
February 21, 2010
Sprinkle salt in the pan and rub with a paper towel. Works like sandpaper.
By Terri 1
How do I remove rust from cast iron skillets?
By Terri from Medford, OR
June 19, 2010
Cast iron pans can be cleaned with a homemade paste of course salt and cooking oil. Rub vigorously with a dry cloth or a plastic scrubber and do not use any water.
By monica 2
How do I get rust out of cast iron pans and also off a cast iron lamb mold?
November 17, 2013
Cut a medium sized potato in half. Pour kosher or sea salt in your pan and rub with the potato, wiping clean with a paper towel, old shirt or rag. Add more salt until finished. Season immediately.
How do I remove rust from a cast iron Dutch oven?
How do I remove rust from a cast iron Dutch oven?
By Jeanne C from Cortez, CO
Don't use fancy chemicals to clean rust off of your old cast iron. Simply dunk in a solution of half water and half plain vinegar.
I have a cast iron wash pot that was my grandmother's. She used it to heat water for her laundry. The pot has a lot of rust on the outside of it. Is there a way to remove this?
I have been told to build a fire around it and that would removes the rust. Is this safe to do? I don't want to damage it. The pot is well over 100 years old. Thanks for any help.
Pat from Texarkana, TX
You can clean the rust with a mechanical method. You can buy a product made by 3M Co. and is available at automotive stores. It is called Scotch Brite. You can buy it in a sheet about the size of a 9 by 11 inch sheet and use it by hand or buy the product in a disc form with a back up pad to be used in a drill. The product is made from a nylon web and is impregnated with a grit similar to sandpaper. It is water proof so it can be used with water. (06/23/2008)
Just do a search for seasoning cast iron on this website. You will get lots of good information. (06/23/2008)
By G R I T S
I got a cast iron griddle out of the "free" pile at a yard sale because it was full of rust. I scrubbed it with a Brillo pad, rinsed, dried, and then coated it with plain, old vegetable oil. It came out looking like new and I still use it to this day.
But, I also have some very old family cast iron skillets that the build-up on them is so bad that they are kind of bumpy. I know that no amount of scrubbing will clean them up, and I wouldn't want to take the risk of damaging them by using something as abrasive as a Brillo pad on them.
Just try rubbing some vegetable oil onto your grandmother's wash pot with a soft rag and see how it looks. I love my grandmother's cast iron skillet with all of its lumpy, bumpy build-up and wouldn't give it up for anything. Please share with everyone what technique you do use and tell us how it worked out for you.
Good luck, Paula (06/23/2008)
Removing Rust Stains:
Use Tang, Lemon Crystal Light or Lemonade Powder
First wet the pot, then take a some Tang or some instant powered Lemonade mix and sprinkle this on to the rust, now scrub it a bit with a scrubbie brush, or vegetable brush. Scrub just enough to mix it around, now leave it sit for about half an hour. Then sprinkle more Tang or Lemonade mix on and scrub again until the rust is gone. The rust should be all gone.
The Tang or Lemonade mix works because of the citric acid. You can always buy plain citric acid if you like. I've seen it sold at most "ethnic" type grocery stores, especially East Indian stores. It's super cheap and adds tang to fruit puddings and pies, if you like 'em a bit sour (like I do!).
This rust removal technique also works on rust stains inside the toilet, or bath and counter tops, also on cement floors, too. You can use it around pools (from metal pool furniture) or garages floors. I saw this tip on "Queen of Clean" TV show on DIY several years back. (06/23/2008)
To clean a cast iron pan or pot I put them into a self cleaning oven and they come out looking brand new. Then season as normal. This works for me. (06/28/2008)
Can you get rust off a cast iron pan and use it again?
Melinda from OKC
Easy. Just use steel wool and water. It works well and I just did this yesterday when my sister gave me a cast iron pan. (02/17/2009)
After you steel wool it, spread a thin layer cooking oil on it and store it in the oven, that will keep it primed for the next use and bake on a coating that will help it to be non-stick and protect it from any rusting. (02/17/2009)
I don't care for steel wool so I take dry salt and put some in the skillet and use a paper towel to scrub the pan till the rust is gone. Then I put a little oil on it and put it in the oven to store (02/18/2009)
By Marcia S
The easiest way is to toss it into a fire (fire place or campfire). This burns off all the residue. Then just coat it with Crisco and bake in the oven to reseal it. (02/19/2009)
Do the oil trick and don't wash your pan in soapy water ever, removes the coating that you have built up over time and then you get rust.
I have had the same cast iron frying pan for (oh my gosh) 30 years. I never had to do more than wipe it out with paper towels, or at one time in the middle of no where, grass, still came up good as new and still not sticky.
This is called seasoning a cast iron fry pan.To season a pan, preheat your oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Remove the rust with either salt or steel wool. Then preheat the pan on the stove top.
When warm, coat the inside surfaces of the pan with vegetable oil or lard. I prefer good old solid Crisco. Sometimes using liquid oil can leave a sticky finish.
Continue to heat just until you see ripples appear on the surface of the oil. At this point, pour off any excess oil, give it a quick wipe with a folded paper towel held in a pair of kitchen tongs, and then put the pan into the oven for 45 to 60 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and allow it to cool to room temperature.
Seasoned pans should not be washed in the dishwasher or scoured with abrasive cleaners or pads, as this will remove the coating. Wash in warm water with a small amount of dish soap and dry immediately. I place mine for a short period on a gas jet and feel it after cooling down to assure dryness.
Eventually the seasoning will wear off in areas. You can tell that this has happened because food will start to stick or rust spots will appear. When this happens, clean the pan well using a steel wool pad, and then re-season it.
I still use my mom's iron skillets from where she used them when I was a small child, and I'm 52. I wash my iron skillets like any other pot, soap and water and all. Rinse really well, then dry with paper towels, (because they get black), then I air dry them before I put them away. Now for the rust, that has happened to me when they were stored somewhere damp. By the way if you're going to store iron skillets, rub some cooking oil all over them, and wrap them in newspapers, that will keep them from rusting.
But, I have had the chance to inherit old rusty iron skillets because someone thought they were ruined. I take an old fashion metal pot scratcher, like the kind you buy at the store with silver or copper colored ones. I run some hot water in the skillet, and be where you can clean a mess up. And scrub and scratch that skillet with the scratcher, even if you have to hit the bad spots with a knife. Scratch it until you are down to bare iron skillet. (messy job)
When it's all clear of rust, wash it. Now to "season" it, so it will stay clear, and you have a useful cooking skillet. (I do all my cooking just about in iron skillets, and iron pots). Rub it down with cooking oil, inside and out. And put it in an oven at low heat oven, like 200 - 300. You don't want it to smoke. And bake it for at least 3-4 hours. If it tries to come out rusty, take it out, let it cool, then rub it down in oil again, turn it over on a newspaper, and let it finish "seasoning".
I know the old timers did this in a fire, I've never had that chance, since I was a city dweller. I love cooking in my iron skillets, and since I learned to wash them like any other pot, just make sure they are rinsed well, and hand dried well, and most of all, air dried well, before putting away your iron skillet. If it does rust a little, get out the old metal pot scrubber and some hot water, and scrub it, rinse it, dry it, air dry it, and oil it. But, I only oil it if I see a small spot of rust. The only time you really have to "season" it, is when it is covered in rust, or mostly covered, and hasn't been used in a long while.
It's hard to kill an iron skillet, I haven't been able to ruin mine in any way in 34 years of marriage. Some folks rub a little oil, and put a paper towel in their iron skillet to stack them for everyday use. I just paper towel dry mine, then air dry them, and stack them up. But, I use mine on a daily basis. Hope this helps. (02/19/2009)
I am a southerner and I inherited my mom's cast iron. Whatever you do, "never" wash with soap and water.
Anyway, to get back to your question of rust. When I was younger, I didn't use the cast iron right. I washed with soap and water and would go for eons before using. I thought I had ruined mom's piece. I found out that if you have a self-cleaning oven, this will do the trick. My mom's pan had rust and large areas of thick rust build up. I put it in the self cleaning oven (probably easier than a fire, if you have the self cleaning oven). I set it for about a 2 hour clean cycle. This removed the thick build-up stuff and about 98% of the rust. I then used a steel wool pad to remove the rest of the rust by just scrubbing.
Once it was smooth and clean, I began the re-seasoning process. Many people use vegetable oil, but this is what makes cast iron get sticky. Use only lard, and you will "never again" have problems with your cast iron. Coat the entire surface of the pan with lard. Place in a 200 degree F oven for about an hour. Remove and repeat this process once or twice more. Then, to get the really good seasoning in, use on the stove to cook in. I just put a lot of butter in and fry my eggs for several days; cook bacon, etc. Just cook anything with a lot of fat to help build up your non-stick surface.
To clean after you've gotten it de-rusted and re-seasoned, use spatulas to remove anything stuck, which may happen until the really good seasoning is on it. Then, I use a paper towel to wipe off the inside of the pan. Once in a while, if it has a lot of cooked on food, I only use a damp washcloth (no soap) to wipe it out, then place on the stove with the unit on to completely dry the pan out.
Finally, after mild wiping, I spread more lard in and around. I always store my pans in the oven (I have since found a couple small ones in thrift stores and done the entire de-rusting, re-seasoning process with them). Good luck and happy cooking! (02/19/2009)
My mom has had her skillet since 1954 when she got married. She washes it with soap and steel wool when needed and has never had a problem. She stores it in the oven because that's where she has room for it. She doesn't oil it or anything else, but I can say that they aren't made now the way they were then. I had one purchased in 1977 and I never could get the quality use out of it that she gets from hers. Luckily, her's will be mine one day. (02/19/2009)