I just recently found an old cast iron pan that had been in the woods for years at my grandfathers cabin. It is very rusty and pitted. I am trying to restore it for use. Will it still work? Also it has a logo on the bottom of a diamond with an '8' in it, what brand is that? does anyone know?
Yes it will work when you clean it up. As long as the metal isn't too thin, use some sand paper to sand it smooth. Someone with a bead blast cabinet can take the rust off pretty easy for you. Then reseason it.
On the flip side though, I just recent bought a brand new Lodge 10" for $11 so, while I hate to see things thrown away I would buy a new one before I spent too much $$ or time on it. If it has sentimental value to you though, spend some time and money to restore it.
Yes, it will still work if you remove the rust. This may be a very light job if the rust is thin or a very heavy job if the rust is thick. I agree with Sid Post. It is so inexpensive to buy a brand new cast iron pan ($10-20) that you have to decide if it worths your time to regenerate that old pan.
Please don't bead blast a nice, vintage skillet! It will completely destroy the patina and make it worthless as a collectible. That said, your number eight/diamond is (probably--that's the general consensus from the Wagner and Griswold Society folks) from the Favorite Stove Works Company, and was made from the 1920's to the 1940's.
If you know "shop stuff", a simple electrolysis bath (using a battery charger, a piece of steel, etc. You can Google how to make a set up) will remove ALL that rust in hours. If that's not your style, soaking it in a 50-50 solution of white vinegar and water (but watch it carefully! The vinegar will, eventually, eat away at the good metal, as well as the corrosion) should loosen the rust and you can scrub it away. Once you season it with oil/lard/Crisco in a hot oven (I cook my cast iron at 450 degrees for an hour) any minor surface rust remaining will turn nice, shiny black, instead.
I can't give you an opinion on the pitting unless I had a pic. A lot of what you see as "pitting" might, instead, be grime and baked on crud, which will come off in either a self-cleaning oven cycle, or if you sprayed your pan with Easy Off and sealed it in a plastic bag in the sun, for a couple of days,
Good blog to help you learn about old cast iron, and restoring it:
(oh, and by the way, in my humble opinion, ALL the pre WWII cast iron is better quality--smoother, finer, higher quality ore) than anything made recently. For one thing, they were true craftsmen in those days, and knew how to cast iron that was extremely light and yet still strong and durable, AND they routinely machine-polished it before it left the factory. Nowadays, you get lumpy, scratchy, heavy cast iron, in most cases....)
Unfortunately, I don't have any cast iron anymore. I have no idea what happened to it many, many years ago. That said, I would first like to ask - will they work well on a glass-top stove (I wish we had gas, but unfortunately this house is not equipped with gas)? And if so, what is the ultimate starter size I should get?
There is a concern that cast iron cookware can scratch the glass top stoves. Some confirm this finding, while others deny it. Either a 10" cast iron skillet or a 12". It really depends how many people you need to cook for. I would say 10" is more popular.
MY MOM HASN'T USED HER CAST IRON EXCEPT FOR BAKING CORN BREAD SINCE THE 80'S. BUT HER CLAD BOTTOMED STAINLESS DAMAGED HER GLASS TOP JUST THE SAME. IT ALSO WARPED HER COPPER CLAD REVEER WARE I GAVE HER. WHILE I WOULD NOT USE IRON WITH HEAT RINGS ON THE BOTTOM, AS LONG AS YOU TAKE CARE I DON'T THINK YOU'L HAVE ANY TROUBLE.
Look at this link to the history of Griswold cast iron.
Go to "Diamond Erie" and look at the picture of that skillet's bottom. If it looks like that, it might be even older than Beckyleach suggests. It might be 19th century.
Anyway, I totally agree with her. Vintage skillets are terrific. They are lighter, smoother and still great workhorses.
And its totally fine to use CI on a ceramic or glass-topped stove.