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Cleaned up rusty cast iron... now what?

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I inherited a rusty cast iron grill pan from a friend. I wasn't able to scrub off the rust, so I asked my mom to stick it in her oven next time she ran the self-clean cycle (I have an ancient oven without self-clean). She did, but now it'll be two weeks before I can get it and she says that it's covered with rusty dust. What's the next step? If the next step in cleaning is complicated, is there anything she can easily do to keep the pan okay until I can get to it? Or would it be best to just run it through again right before I take it home?

I've read most of the zillions of cast iron threads, but I didn't find any reference to this dustiness that happens after running it through the oven.

Also, is there any way to get the same effect in an oven that doesn't have a self clean cycle? I have one of those drawer broilers, if I put it in there for a bit would that have worked?

Thanks very much!

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  1. Oddly enough, I just got finished scrubbing my own about 10 mins ago. I recall some instructions that came with mine that said scrubbing with a wire brush would do the trick. A brillo worked fine for me. You could try a grill brush. Mine was not all that bad, but I was surprised that it got as clean as it did. Beyond that it needs to stay layered with cooking oil to keep the rust away. Good luck, let us know how it turns out.

    1 Reply
    1. re: LiLi

      Spot on. Wire brush is the way to go. Gotta get all the rust off of it so you can re-season it. The good news is that you really can't do much to hurt cast iron that a lot of elbow grease and oil can't fix. As far as what to do till you can get to it it wouldnt hurt to throw some oil or crisco on it but what it really needs is TLC.

    2. I would think if something is rusting you would have to sand it and then put some protective coating on it to prevent the rust from coming back. If there is any rust and it is exposed to air it will just keep getting more and more rusty. Did putting it through the self cleaning oven really get rid of the rust? I would take the pan somewhere to sandblast all the rust off then reseason the heck out of it. But I am not an expert, so I might be completely wrong.

      1. If it's a Lodge piece of cast iron, call them and ask them. They'll be glad to help, I'm willing to bet.

        1. The rusty dust should just wash off. Then you can see how clean it got. If you can talk Mum into it, she could just wash it off and give it a coat of cooking oil or Crisco or lard just to keep it from rusting 'till you get to it. Then you can decide if it needs further cleaning or just seasoning.

          2 Replies
          1. re: yayadave

            Exactly, just wash the rust off and then coat with a thin layer of lard or shortening. Do not use cooking oil it will get sticky. Heat slowly either on the range top on in the oven, adding more lard or shortening on a paper towel as necessary. I have done this many times and it is a really old way of cleaning up cast iron, not the self cleaning oven but just sticking the piece in a very hot fire every few years.

            1. re: Candy

              Candy is spot on! Go to the Lodge website and it discusses *seasoning* of cast iron in detail. I have a frying pan with matching lid from the 1860s and I use it so often that I only had to season it once after I first purchased it in an antique shop. I never, ever let it soak in water. I merely clean it quickly in hot, soapy water and dry immediately.