Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >
May 23, 2010 08:37 AM

Cast Iron Pan Problem

I tried removing the rust from my cast iron skillet with vegetable oil and salt. It rubbed the rust away, but also the black, i'm down to a silvery layer...I thought the whole thing was black! Is this a problem? Do I need a new skillet?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. That sounds to me like it's not a cast iron skillet at all. Hopefully others will comment.

    1. Your pan is fine. You just got down to bare cast iron. It will blacken over time with seasoning and use.

      1 Reply
      1. re: SanityRemoved

        I guess I thought cast iron was black (or at last dark grey). So if I were to cut one in half, it's going to be silver inside? (Not that I would.)

      2. Here's a blog link that will help you maintain your cast iron cookware:

        1. Yes, I guess most people have never seen a raw cast iron pan these days because most of them are sold "pre-seasoned". If you scrape past the seasoning, you will be at a silver/gray substrate. I would recommend taking this opportunity to sand the whole cooking surface smooth and slick before you re-season it.

          1. Freshly exposed cast iron has a silvery-gray appearance. If it is a small area, just rub some shortening in and use the pan -- it will over time turn a honey color, then russet, then brown and finally black, matching the appearance of the rest of the pan.

            If it is over a big area, give the whole pan a once over with steel wool scouring pad. Wash with hot water and dry immediately on the stove. (Dawdle, and it will rust.) With the pan still warm, smear the entire pan with shortening. How much? The pan should have a wet look, but absolutely not be dripping.

            Place upside down on a gas grill and let the pan season on medium heat for an hour. You could do this in a 450F oven, but best to do outside where smoke is less of an issue.

            4 Replies
            1. re: MikeB3542

              Mike and others, how long does it take the rust to form after contact with water? I have Lodge pre-seasoned pans and seem to get in a vicious cycle. The pans more often than not have come with some rust on them. So I remove the rust with steel wool, which removes the seasoning in that area down to the bare iron, then rinse in hot water to remove the steel dust, etc. But the newly bare iron once in contact with water seems to brown (and rust?) within seconds, before I can dry the whole thing off with a towel and then on a stove. So I'm back to to steel wooling the pan again, rinsing, seeing rust form AGAIN, etc. -- in a never-ending cycle.

              The brown looks and smells like rust - but is it possibly just the iron? I assumed it was rust, until I read Mike's post above re the iron turning to a honey color, then russet, etc. (In fact, the bottom of my fairly new pans are closer to russet than black, and I've assumed the whole time it was rust!).

              Can rust even form when water is still running over it? If not, can it form within 15-30 seconds after removing from water, before one can fully dry the iron? II'll rinse the newly exposed iron under hot water, and the instant I take it out from under the faucet the iron appears to be a tad rust/brown colored.

              Also, if it is indeed a thin layer of newly formed rust, is it okay to just leave it and season over it since I can't figure out how to get out of this vicious cycle?

              Many thanks in advance! This is driving me nuts.

              1. re: iyc_nyc

                Just based on the chemistry of rust, being iron oxide, it reacts instantly to good oxygen sources like water. After getting rid of the rust and rinsing and drying, season it. Don't worry about a little bit that seems to form during drying. Just grease it up and start the seasoning process; I like to use shortening.

                1. re: Jemon

                  This rust discussion reminds me of Neil Young's album "Rust never sleeps."