My existing cast iron pans came to me
in bad condition (they were very old frying pans from my mother and one
from a rummage sale). My husband hand sanded them until smooth and
removed the burnt coating and rust. I then seasoned the pans.
now my favorite frying pans and I wouldn't trade or loan them to anyone!
They are especially great for "searing" meats and seafood.
Using a wire wheel
brush on a drill to clean cast iron pans from Wes Chitwood of Atlanta,
Just a quick note about cleaning cast iron frying pans. Using a wire
wheel brush on a drill or other tool will clean rust and other "nastys"
of the skillet very well. I use a bronze wire wheel, but brass works
just as well. You can't damage the pan as with sand paper or sand
blasting. The wire wheel will flex if you attempt to put too much
pressure on it and brass or bronze is softer than the iron. Of course,
the pan will need to be re-seasoned.
I found some very old iron skillets in a barn at a friends farm. They
were hanging on nails for who knows how long and were pretty rusty. He
said they were there he bought the place and I could have them as they
were no good anymore. ( I just grinned and took the "junk" off his
hands.) Trial and error led me to the bronze wire wheel on my
grinder. Those pans, one 18-inch, one square 12-inch, and one 10-inch
looked like new ones when I finished with the wheel.
I have a
cast iron skillet that was looking pretty rough. The black
coating on the inside was beginning to flake off. My husband
took it to work and sandblasted it. It now looks like
aluminum!! Is this normal or has it been ruined? I have put in
the oven coated with lard to try and re-season it at 200 degrees
for an hour. Is this the right method? Thanks for your help!!
- Judy (12/17/05)
Your pan is still ok. It takes
repeated cooking to obtain the black color again. When you
re-season your pan, you need to use high heat. Check out
some of the different ways to season your pan on my cast
iron web page.
I have a couple questions pertaining to seasoning cast iron pans.
First I was wondering if it would be a good idea to use oils with a
higher smoking point than Crisco shortening? For example avocado oil has a
smoking point almost 200 degrees higher than Crisco. I'm not
entirely sure what the advantage to using a fat with a higher
smoking point would be, but I was thinking maybe if you were baking
with your pan or cooking with it, it'd be less likely to smoke then
and add unwanted bitterness to the food.
Then again, I came across another site where somebody claimed to
have called Lodge and gotten a recommendation for using a 500 degree
oven to season their pans. The smoke is actually said to help in the
seasoning process. If this is true, couldn't you just use a bbq
outside to prevent having to vent your kitchen? Do you know what
exactly the seasoning process consists of? Is it fat, or the smoke
and cooked fat that helps make a pan non stick?
About the bottom of the inside of the skillet, is it unwise to sand
it smooth with 80 grit sandpaper before seasoning? I just can't help
but feel that a smoother surface would be more beneficial for
cooking things like eggs. Anyways, thank you very much for your time. I appreciate any answers
you can offer. - Rick (12/7/05)
I see no reason you
couldn't use avocado oil when seasoning your cast iron pan. I have
even used coconut oil. Let me know how your pan turns out.
The seasoning process is a combination of the fat and the high heat.
I have never tried using my barbecue, but since some people season
their cast iron pans in a wood fire, I would think a bbq would also
My husband sanded my old cast iron pans with 80 grit sandpaper to
remove the crud and make it smooth. It worked wonderfully!
acquired a small cast iron skillet from my husbands grandmother. UNFORTUNATELY, I put it in the dishwasher, now I know I should not
have done that.. Is there anything I can do to correct the error I
made? It is "brown color" inside and out. There are a
few spots with black. This is a Wagner 6-inch skillet. - Julie
sounds like you need to sand your cast iron pan and then season it a
couple of times. Your pan will turn black with use.
THANK YOU FOR THE
SUGGESTION! I WILL TRY THIS. I'm just hoping I haven't ruined it!
Your website is one of the most comprehensive I have
found on cast iron cookware. I recently purchased a new pan that
came "pre-seasoned." I washed it with soap and hot water and
seasoned it anyway but have found that it has developed several pits
on the inside. My only explanation is that I cooked with something
too acidic (soy sauce) before it was fully seasoned. Should I leave
the pits, or do I need to sand the entire pan and re-season? Is
there any hope for this pan? - Katharine Spehar
Are the pits
causing food to stick? Why don’t you try re-seasoning your pan a
couple of times first. If that doesn’t help, then I would suggest
Thanks for your reply.
Actually, I am having general sticking problems so I guess more
seasoning is needed. I am more worried the pits are caused by rust
so I have sanded lightly with steel wool and am now re-seasoning
with lard. I am going to try cooking only bacon and other fatty
meats in the pan until it is good and seasoned. :-)
She might try
using PAM cooking spray when using this particular pan. The various
cooking sprays on the market tend to help to fill the pits a little
better than say Wesson or Crisco. If it is very fine pitting, this
could have come from the quality of the original casting. Newer cast
iron is some bit rougher than the polished iron of say 40-50 years
ago. Hope this helps…
should used in sand blasting any cast iron. I have heard of some
using walnut hulls to sandblast cast iron with. - Duke
Gilleland, Wagner And Griswold Society (WAGS) (1/15/06)
I found your site while desperately trying to figure out
what to do with my newly acquired (grandmother's) cast iron. Let
remember she and my mother cooking on these kinds of pans, but I
have no idea for life of me, what to do with them. The
bottom/sides are caked with a carbon looking substance - even
the handle has a little bit of it. I used a non-scratch utensil
to scrape most of it off, but a good bit of it remains.
There are what appears to be knife marks in the middle of the
pan, almost as if a knife cut through the seasoning. The inside
edges seem to hold a lot more oil/seasoning than the cooking
surface. I've cooked in it one time (on an electric stove)
and the bottom caught on fire! Of course my husband
says "why would you want 50 years of baked on food to seep into
your food?'' - Bless his heart, he's just a man!
Can you tell me what my best
options are. I have carpel tunnel, so scrubbing a lot
isn't really my answer. Unless of course I can "persuade"
my husband. I read the part on your site about a self
cleaning oven. Do you think that is safe? I would
hate to ruin it after she had it forever. Thank you so
much for your help. -
Your pans look
just like how mine did when I first got them, Have your husband
help you and do what my husband did:
My husband hand sanded them until
smooth and removed the burnt coating and rust. I then seasoned
the pans. They are now my favorite frying pans and I wouldn't
trade or loan them to anyone!
have never tried the method of cleaning in them in the
self cleaning oven. It wouldn’t hurt to give it a try.
Please let me know how your pans turn out. Just remind
your husband that if these were his grandmother’s pans,
how would he feel.
Thanks for your
help. I was almost so scared I'd ruin them that I didn't
want to do anything to them. I'll let you know!
Just found your site and have read quite a few similar tales.
I dove into rust removal before thinking.. and was
wondering.. you buy a skillet and it is black. is there
a coating on it that is required to be there?? I pulled
out the angle grinder and 100 grit sanding wheel and
sanded off the rust... and black. so now I have this
shiny silver skillet. Will seasoning take care of it
from here or do I need to have it recoated?? I'm about
to throw it in the oven now.. what do you think? -
When you purchase a "new"
cast iron skittle, they are not black. They are a gray
or silver color. The black comes from using your pan
over and over. I would suggest that you season your pan
"several" times to help get the coating back. It might
take awhile, but the pan is still ok to cook int. the
more you use it, the quicker it should start turning
I found your
website and it has sort of answered my questions but not quite.
I recently 'found' one of my grandmothers old skillets, it's
quite large and I have to use both hands to lift it (it's about
the size of a round BBQ grill). It's no wonder it's been packed
away for at least 30 years and she's had it probably at least 30
years before that. Of course it's severely rusted now, inside
are what is the safest method of cleaning the layers of rust
off? Would it be safe to use an air pressure sander? What grade
I have three
iron skillets, the other 2 are 9 inch and I use them all the
time. The big one and one of my small ones have a ring around
the bottom of the pan, grandma used them on her old wood burning
stove when mom was little (60 years ago) and it would break my
heart for anything to happen to them. Mom cracked one of my
other ones, it was a 12 inch, when she put pine sol in it
instead of vegetable oil.. My pans are safe now, she's not
allowed to cook! Thank you for any advice, it's greatly
appreciated. - Lora (9/20/05)
use an air pressure sander, as it might do too much sanding. My
husband used a hand orbital sander, because he had more control
that way. He thinks he used sandpaper of 70 or 80.
My cousin asked that I bring my 2 cast iron frying pans
to our family reunion--one is still OK, but she scraped even some of the
black finish off the one I inherited from my mother. What to do?
Thanks in advance for your help!
Here is a picture of the pan, hope you
have some ideas.
- Linda (8/5/05)
Your cast iron pan
doesn’t look that great! My favorite cast iron pans that I use all
the time looked a lot like yours at first. My husband hand sanded them
until smooth and removed the burnt coating and rust. I then seasoned the
pans. Give this a try.
Hello…. I just purchased some cast iron fry pans and I an
having a problem seasoning them. No matter what I use to apply the
solid shortening to the pan… it leaves lint with the shortening. Any
suggestions? Do I have to smooth them out first?
They are brand new... I tried
"seasoning" them like you suggested but everything I used from a
paper towel to a dish towel (lint free supposedly) left lint in
with the shortening. The pans feel a little "rough" (very
slightly) but I thought that would be "normal" with your
description of the "rough" portion that needs to fill in with
seasoning. I was wondering if I need to use a scouring pad on
them to see if that would "smooth" them out a bit but I don't
want to harm them. I did put the Crisco on with just my fingers
but I think I put too much on... the grease turned kind of
golden... maybe I had it too hot?... or baked them too
long?....and they got sticky. Thank for all you help! Thanks
for your interest... I LOVE your web site! - Diane (7/13/05)
If you pans
feel a little rough, how about sanding them a little? The
roughness is my you are getting the lint. I always want my pans
to be smooth. My husband used a his electric sander to smooth
mine out. If the grease turned golden, just use some paper
towels and wipe it out. If it is sticky, try washing the pan
with soapy water, but don’t leave the pan in the water. Repeat
Thanks again so much Linda... I
will try a little light sanding then. It has been YEARS since
I've had to deal with new cast iron pans. These are for my 27
year old son. He wanted mine but I said "No way!". I wish you
great success in your web site. It was a good feeling to know
the information was out there. I will give my son your site for
the maintenance of the pans. Again Thanks so much!
Hints and Tips from Stephanie (4/19/10):
My hint is to either
wash and dry her hands and then use her hands to apply the
oil or to place the liquid oil of her choice into a small
spray bottle (the kind they sell for a travel sprayer in the
drugstore) and just spray it on. Either of those methods
will apply a nice thin layer of oil to the pan.
She can have the oven door open
and ready to just pop the pans into it just prior to this
process, and a paper towel sitting nearby to grab after
putting the pans into the oven and that way she won't get
grease on the oven door handle nor will she have lint in her
I read your article about restoring cast iron skillets.
I recently found one very badly rusted in one area of the pan. Water had
been sitting in it with the pan at an angle. After removing the
rust at work with a bead blasting unit, I have found an area is pitted
quite badly. Is it necessary to sand the bottom of the pan smooth
in this area? This would cause a low spot in the pan where
a fair amount of the metal would have to be removed. Your help will be
appreciated. - Stanley Coleman (10/20/02)
Because my husband is the one who sand-blasted my cast iron pan for me,
I asked him your question. He said: "Because
the pits are on the bottom of your pan and not inside, and you have
removed the rust on the pan, the pits will not hurt."
I hope this helps you and I am understanding your question correctly.
I read the segment on cast iron skillets. I
acquired a cast iron skillet that has rust inside and outside. My
question is after I scrub off all of the rust do I season the outside of
the skillet as well as the inside to protect the outside for rusting
again? The skillet is entirely covered with rust, top to bottom,
inside and outside. Thank You. - Kendra Simmons (7/31/03)
Season both the inside and outside of your cleaned cast iron pan. Do it
Hi! I just stumbled across this
website as I was looking for help with my cast iron skillet. I
left my much-loved, used-daily skillet on a hot burner and threw a
plastic microwave lid in it. The plastic melted to the surface of
the skillet. I was able to scrape most of the plastic out while
the skillet was still hot, but now I have a fine layer of plastic on the
bottom of the skillet. Have I ruined the skillet forever?
Help! Thanks, Sarah Steen (8/26/05)
I would do some more
sanding to remove the layer of thin plastic. Once sanded, re-season your
cast iron pan.
Thanks so much!
I reheated the pan, then wiped and wiped as much as I could then
sanded lightly. I didn’t actually end up losing too much of the
carbonization, so when I re-seasoned it looked great. Thanks again,