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repairing/re-surfacing enamel-coated cast iron

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schipperke Feb 14, 2011 10:36 PM

I have a wonderful old Danish dutch (oxymoron?) oven, which my mother-in-law brought back from Europe about 50 years ago. Unfortunately, my son let it boil dry for a LONG time, and the interior enamel has a large chip. Can it be repaired or re-surfaced? I really love this piece. I don't know the manufacturer - only "Denmark" is legible on the bottom.

Thanks!

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    luvsummer RE: schipperke Feb 15, 2011 03:18 AM

    From everything I've read, it can't be repaired. The enamel is applied under very high heat. However, just keep using it anyway as if it was a non-enameled cast iron. Eventually that spot should get seasoned. You may want to avoid using it for tomato- or acid-based foods, but as long as the chipping doesn't continue, and the chips end up in your food, I'd keep using it.

    1. BiscuitBoy RE: schipperke Feb 15, 2011 05:46 AM

      For cooking use - not practical to repair....Not even sure I'd wanna use it as the possibility of the chip fracturing further and contaminating what's being cooked. It'd make a cool cookie jar tho, maybe use as a centerpiece, fill with nuts, etc, or poke a few holes in the bottom and use a planter

      2 Replies
      1. re: BiscuitBoy
        hobbybaker RE: BiscuitBoy Feb 15, 2011 05:44 PM

        BuisuitBoy, Are you sure a cookie jar, not a biscuit jar ?

        but I like your idea. it is a bit heavy but ya, why not ? Cute planter also good but I have no one poking holes for me....

        1. re: hobbybaker
          c oliver RE: hobbybaker Mar 9, 2011 09:06 AM

          A nail and hammer makes a great hole poker :)

      2. Chemicalkinetics RE: schipperke Feb 15, 2011 06:00 AM

        From what I read, it is "possible" to repair, but it is very expensive and it is questionable if it will work the same after repaired.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Chemicalkinetics
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          mikie RE: Chemicalkinetics Feb 16, 2011 10:59 AM

          I would think you would need to strip the entire piece and then re enamel it as if it were new. The enamel melts and solidifies, so to reheat enough for it to flow to a smoth surface would mean it's all going to flow. I can't imagnine it could be done for less than a new piece, probably much more.

          1. re: mikie
            Chemicalkinetics RE: mikie Feb 16, 2011 11:33 AM

            I agree, well, at least that is my understanding too. Now, it got me thinking... can we put tin on cast iron cookware like we put it copper cookware? My guess is a "no" otherwise someone would have done it.

        2. I used to know how to cook... RE: schipperke Mar 9, 2011 09:17 AM

          Hi schipperke,

          My only thought is *perhaps* a vintage stove restoration company could help.

          Among other things, they re-do the cast iron burner grates. It involves sandblasting the old finish completely off, then coating with porcelain. That tells me they couldn't simply repair the chipped interior.

          Whether that would be worthwhile I don't know.

          Lucy

          4 Replies
          1. re: I used to know how to cook...
            kaleokahu RE: I used to know how to cook... Mar 9, 2011 10:23 AM

            Hi, Lucy:

            I think you're right and this is a good suggestion.

            There is a product called Porc-A-Fix that is marketed mostly for fixing enamel chips on appliances. They have a high-temp version for fireplaces, BBQ grates, etc., that they say is good to 425F. See, http://www.find-a-fix.com/product_inf... I do not know if it is approved for food-handling equipment or cookware. And it may not last very long. On the other hand, it's $8.

            I've used the high-temp version on my 1950s range, at the edge of the burner rings, and it has held up well.

            1. re: kaleokahu
              Chemicalkinetics RE: kaleokahu Mar 9, 2011 10:27 AM

              Kaleo,

              You do know this can also work for your Le Creuset too... maybe.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                I used to know how to cook... RE: Chemicalkinetics Mar 9, 2011 11:06 AM

                Hi you two,

                I just took a little walk on the Internet to check out Kaleo's suggestion. Porc-A-Fix is similar to a product I used many years ago. Basically it's like nail polish. I doubt it would hold up in a cooking vessel.

                That said, in my wanderings I came across two sites that have to do with repairing Le Creuset. I believe the first link is in response to the situation covered in the second.

                Here are the links:

                http://www.enameledcastiron.net/2010/...

                http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/go...

                Hope this helps...

                Lucy

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                  kaleokahu RE: Chemicalkinetics Mar 9, 2011 12:00 PM

                  Chem: It *could*, but the bigass chip on my LC is on the outside of the pan, and it has a hairline crack running through the wall. So I think the pan is a poor candidate for any fix.

                  BTW, my chip looks an awful lot like the one shown in Lucy's 2nd link--maybe a little bigger but also a little less jagged.

            2. s
              splinter747 RE: schipperke Sep 16, 2012 06:41 AM

              Hi, I would not use any chem, you can check a potter and see if he can re-fire it in a kiln. OR ,,,I came across a large set of those beautiful old French orange pot sets the out sides were beautiful the inside was toast. lucky me I have a sand blaster at work and also a glass beader. I did a small area with the sand blaster but found it to aggressive so I used the glass beading machine. it took off everything, the inside looked like a new C/I pan then I seasoned it like you would a black C/I skillet. works great the trick is to do a good job seasoning it takes time and the right temp.

              Splinter747

              2 Replies
              1. re: splinter747
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                ccdiane RE: splinter747 Jul 15, 2013 11:25 AM

                Splinter747,
                I have the same problem with a pot I inherited from my Mom. What kind of business to you work at? I'm wondering because Id like to see if anyone in my area has a glass beader machine and would fix my pot.
                Thanks!
                ccdiane

                1. re: ccdiane
                  c
                  citywoman RE: ccdiane Jul 19, 2013 02:47 PM

                  Me too. I have a beautiful Le Creuset pot and gradually the enamel is chipping away. Splinter747 are you near LA at all?

              2. p
                Patsy001 RE: schipperke Apr 6, 2014 07:51 PM

                I know this is an old thread, but maybe i can help others who stumbled across this post just as I did while searching for "how to salvage a chipped enamel cast iron dutch oven".

                Mine started chipping whilst heating oil to saute some garlic... I noticed bubbling in the pan before anything was added. All of a sudden a flake of hot enamel popped from its place and landed on my cheek... OUCH! so I discontinued use of the DO for months while I did rigorous research. (I did not want to inadvertently eat any of the said enamel) My research pretty much told me to abandon all hope, and plant flowers in it.

                What I did: (do all of this at your own risk, as I am not responsible for any injuries, damage to personal property, human life and or limbs/appendages)

                1. get chipped enamel item, in my case it happens to be a dutch oven "classics" brand, originally paid approx $50 US (a cheapie I'm guessing).

                PUT ON EYE PROTECTION NOW!
                AND IN NO CIRCUMSTANCES DO NOT LEAVE ANY OF THESE STEPS UNATTENDED!

                2. Heat enameled cookware dry, just short of the smoke point of cooking oil. Add about 1.5 to 2 cups of (tap water temp) cold water to base of pot... It will boil almost immediately... let it evaporate... make sure item is back up to temp, and repeat the process with white vinegar, try not to breathe the fumes, (I dont know if it is unhealthy, but I can assure you that it is not comfortable.) After this let cookware cool down on its own

                3.Returning to the now cooled cookware, we will now boil about 2 cups of water for 10 minutes.... after boiling water for 10 minutes, dump out water then add enough cheap vegetable oil to cover the entire bottom and return to med-hi heat.

                PUT SAFETY GLASSES BACK ON NOW!
                Look for evidence of other chips cracks that have formed, you would see bubbling (such as something frying). If this is the case watch pan carefully to see if anymore enamel "gets loose", if not dump oil out, and wash out cookware and repeat the vinrgar process... (for me, repeating the vinegar process showed me all kinds of different places that I had enamel penetration, via very fine rusty line) cool pan.

                4. All of the items I used I already owned... I used a 4-1/2" angle grinder fitted with a DEWALT twisted brush made for angle grinders.

                BEFORE YOU PROCEED TO THE NEXT STEP, I NEED TO STRESS SAFETY. YOU NEED AT THE VERY LEAST EYE PROTECTION (PREFERRABLY DUST PROOF GOGGLES) AND SOME TYPE OF MASK, AT THE MINIMUM, (I RECOMMEND A CARTRIGE RESPIRATOR) GLOVES TOO, IF YOU ARE CAPABLE OF WORKING WITH THEM.

                All of the above mentioned items can be obtained in the AVG americans budget... I already had these items for other reasons, you may too.

                I used the dewalt wire twisted wire brush, in hundreds of different angles while slowly eroding the chipped area... keep twisting, turning, tryind different angles, back and forth patterns, until you find something that works for you.

                In my instance it took approx 3 hours of wire brushing to complete, but I stripped the inside of the DO to raw shiny cast iron. I also found that forcing the tool omly makes stainless bristles shoot off into your fingers.

                5. After you have removed all of the enamel down to raw metal, take back to your kitchen, wash with detergent, and dry, then wipe entire raw cast iron surface with white vinegar and let it evaporate on its own. Keep applying vinegar until paper towel's color is no longer changed by wiping.

                6. Season the inside as you would season any new cast Iron. I used 7 thin coatings of bacon grease,(you can also use shortenng) applied cold, baked upside down , in a foil lined oven, at 500 degrees F. Grease cookware, place into cold oven upside down, turn on oven to 500 deg. once temp has reached 500, open all windows and let cook for 3 hours. turn off oven let cool on its own. Repeat as many times as you want, I recommend at least 5 times, but I did mine 7.
                Now the inside of mine looks like "black enamel", and nothing sticks.

                @

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