Do you have an old piece of cast iron that has a bunch of crud on it? Maybe you got a piece at a garage or estate sale and you don’t even know what’s in it? We have some tips and tricks for you today that will help you get that cast iron usable again, safe and be the best thing you ever cooked in.
So the first method I’d like to talk about is the safest method and will probably take care of about 80% of the problems that most people will have with their cast iron.
If you have a piece of cast iron that doesn’t have any cracks, put it on the burner on a medium-high heat and let it get hot. Now when it begins to smoke and gets hot, it’s going to be a lot easier to clean.
Take a wire brush on a drill or maybe you have one you can run by hand and go all over that piece removing the black seasoning and build up.
Just remember folks, it didn’t get rusty in one day and it won’t come clean in one scrubbing either. You may have to brush awhile, then rinse well with hot water, go back on the burner and get it hot and brush again. This make take a few trips depending on the condition of your cast iron.
For a lighter problem, I also like to use a salt scrub. Take some coarse salt and a rag or some leather and buff the piece. The salt will help remove light build up or surface imperfections and also pull out some rust.
Pro-Tip: When we are talking about this salt scrub, I don’t like to use just fine table salt, I like to use good coarse sea salt, something with some grit to it.
For the outside of the cast iron you can continue using the drill but I also like to get a putty knife and when that cast is hot go to scraping that stuff off. Remember it has to be hot for easier removal.
Have Rust Issues? Check out our Rust Removal Video.
Now, I didn’t know they had these things for years… what is it – Self Cleaning Oven.
Pro-Tip: Now before you go any further with this, I do not recommend that you put any old or thin pieces in there ’cause there is a chance they will crack, warp or get worse and it ain’t worth the risk!
An extreme build up of crud on your cast can also cause a lot of smoking. If you have a lot of build-up, follow method 1 before using this step.
For this method get a baking sheet and put it on the bottom rack of the oven. Take your piece of cast iron, flip it upside down on the top rack. Turn the self clean cycle on and let it go. Once that has run, let the cast cool down and remove from the oven. Take a wire brush and brush it well. All that old stuff will flake off and you’re left with bare cast iron.
Now folks there is the last method and I know a bunch of them old timers will say, “This is how my Grandma done it!” That’s just throw it in a fire.
I still don’t recommend this for old cast iron, or thin cast iron.
When I was cooking on ranches in the middle of nowhere and needed to fix my cast, my old wood stove was the only option. So I would throw it in there. Please be careful, if you are new to cast iron do not use this method. The fire will purify the cast to where you are left with only bare cast iron.
You may have one skillet that has a little spot of build up, or maybe just a little bit of rust. Now for this, you don’t want to wreck all the good seasoning still left there. Try pouring a little coarse salt on that one spot and scrub, a small wire brush, or a little sand paper and see if we can just get that build up or spot gone without ruining all that other well built seasoning.
Time to Build Back That Seasoning
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. When your piece of cast is good and clean, place it back on the burner to get it warm and dry.
Now that the skillet is good and warm (but not smoking hot), I like to start with Flax Seed Oil. It becomes a great bond to cast iron and is great to build a few layers of your base seasoning.
Pour enough in there maybe as big as a 50 cent piece and get all spread good and even throughout with a lint free rag (I like to use a bandana). Slip it in the oven for one hour. Turn the oven off and let the cast cool off.
Repeat by warming the cast iron, oiling and baking again. I recommend you do this at least 3 times.
From here on you don’t have to bake the cast iron every time. For regular reseasoning you can just do it on the stove top.
If you’re new to cast iron, check out some quick start tips HERE.
Now that you have the base built, this is something you can start using and one way I like to start building that good black glossy coating with is deep frying. Deep frying is so good for brand new cast iron.
Pro Tip: I don’t like to use Flaxseed oil constantly as a seasoning oil because it can become brittle over time. After creating the base seasoning layers, I like to use grapeseed, avocado or olive oils for reseasoning.
Cast Iron Playlist
Now folks for other tips and tricks and for all things cast iron head on over to our Youtube playlist here: