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Oct 11, 2011 06:02 PM

Cleaning rusted cast iron pots

This is an interesting way to clean one's rusted cast iron pots. I have 3 rusted pots.

What do you think about this?

I just can't figure out the stanchion's material or even how it is positioned.

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  1. It's a fire brick, and it's standing on end

    13 Replies
    1. re: Dave5440

      It looks a bit precarious with nothing to support it. Wondering: do fire bricks come in standard lengths. I think perhaps if it is 2-3" thick, that laying it down for a support of 2-3" think would not be tall enough from the floor bottom of the oven. (My oven coils are covered.)

      1. re: Rella

        It may look precarious, but it didn't fall over so it was supported, yes they come standard sizes and different densities. I'm not sure what you mean it wouldn't be tall enough? My guess is you just want it off the bottom so air can move all around it. It also says in the article you can use a brick or coffee mug.

        1. re: Dave5440

          Thanks, Dave. Yes, I wanted the air to move around, but I believe the convection is always on in oven cleaning, so that would contribute to the airflow.

          Whoa! A coffee mug? Well, it would have to be a high-fired mug :-)) I think that would necessitate the knowledge of one's own coffee mug's composition.

          1. re: Rella

            You don't need to use a fire brick. You can use the original oven racks if you don't mind the rack get discolor.

            Depending how much rust we are talking about, I don't think this is a good method for trace amount of rust found on a cookware. You will have to re-season the pan using this oven because it removes all the seasoning surface and loosen the rust.

            If the cookware are badly rusted, sure.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              Badly rusted to the point of now return, I'm thinking.

              1. re: Rella

                How old are these/this pot? If you can return it I'm guessing not that old. I would return it/them and start over.

                1. re: Dave5440


                  The one pictured is very old. The one pictured is a dutch oven pot; the largest of the three. I'm guessing that it hasn't been used for over 50 years.

                  I have two others that have minor rust that should be no problem. But I would like to save badly rusted one, if possible. I know that all I can do is try it; but just wondering before-hand what others may think.

                2. re: Rella

                  You will have to do a good job cleaning the rust out. If not, any seasoning applied will not last and will peel off.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    ah, ha! I should have said that the rust is on the bottom of the pot. The rust on the inside is minimal and not eaten into the iron.

                    The bottom appears to have been - for lack of a better explanation/description - eaten out in those places I have shown in the picture. The rust does cover a medium-sized portion of the bottom of the pot.

                    1. re: Rella

                      Great. A better situation. Still, clean off the rust as much as you can, and then season it outside and inside the cookware.

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        I am surprised (just a little) about seasoning the pot on the outside. I am just wondering to myself: did I ever do that in the past?

                        1. re: Rella

                          Some people do it, some don't. It is really up to a personal preference.

              2. re: Rella

                Whoa! A coffee mug? Well, it would have to be a high-fired mug :-)) I think that would necessitate the knowledge of one's own coffee mug's composition.

                Hey I didn't write it, it was in the article you linked. I work in industrial ceramics I've no idea what tableware gets fired at , but i'm sure it's higher than a self cleaning oven temp

        2. All I know is that lots of people do this. I think the beautiful skillets sold on ebay must have been stripped the same way.

          I suppose any sort of brick would do as a holder. I've often wondered what you would place the pot on if you didn't use your oven rack.

          I am leery of doing this, but apparently many people do. And as has been endlessly pointed out, the skillet will be stripped naked. But what sort of functional seasoning does a rusty skillet have anyway?

          2 Replies
          1. re: sueatmo

            I wouldn't use a regular brick myself they aren't fired very hot and are usually damp, but report if you ever try one. And what? Youu bake it to get rid of the rust , THEN reseason it.

            1. re: Dave5440

              "Youu bake it to get rid of the rust , THEN reseason it."

              My point exactly. Others have cautioned that stripping the pan gets rid of the seasoning. Well, yeah.

              I won't do thisprocedure. I would rather scour something down for days, than put a rusty pan in my oven. If others want to do this--go for it!

              I do have access to old bricks that were used to line brick kilns. Presumably they would be able to endure the heat of a self clean cycle. But again, I'd never do this.

          2. I've had really good luck removing rust from cast iron with a vinegar solution. Soak in a 50-50 solution of white vinegar and water for 2-3 hours, then scrub with some steel wool. I've used this method with rusty skillets from the flea market and totally brought them back to usable life. The cast iron collectors don't recommend using a self-cleaning oven as the high heat may cause damage, so I'm told.

            14 Replies
            1. re: lawhound05

              "The cast iron collectors don't recommend using a self-cleaning oven as the high heat may cause damage, so I'm told."

              I wonder 'how' it would damage.

              Thanks for you reply.

              1. re: Rella

                I have a hard time beleiving the heat from a clean cycle will damage something that was poured at 2200 deg F and heat treated at 1600 deg f

                1. re: Rella

                  The extreme heat may warp the item.

                  I (not a collector, just a cook, but I don't want my CI warped) have cleaned everything off by immersing the CI in a lye solution. This works GREAT. Some people will spray with oven cleaner (lye-based, also) and enclose in a plastic bag for a while.

                  1. re: eliz553

                    It would only warp if it was thrust into extreme heat when cold, a self cleaning cycle they would start at the same temp and very unlikely to warp , and i wouldn't call a self clean cycle as extreme heat

                    1. re: Dave5440

                      If you use a self cleaning oven you may fill your home with smoke from whatever is going to burn off your cast iron. I hear it is not a good idea. Also heard that back in the day they would place the pot in an open fire or pile of burning leaves to burn off the old stuff once a year.

                      1. re: dmacken1

                        You use the self clean cycle to burn the crap off the inside of your oven that is the source of most of the smoke, if your CI has that much in it,,,well give up using CI .
                        These CI pans are used to cook in fire on a regular basis and that is a (if you have too burn off the seasoning) good way to start over, but i'm not sure why people think they need to be done over and over, I have one pan that i've had for 20yrs and have never needed to reseason

                        1. re: Dave5440

                          I think CI pans can accumulate too much burned on gunk if they aren't carefully maintained. I seem to be able to keep my skillets clean, but I do remember my mother's skillet being covered in gunk. You have to put them away cleaned, and if necessary, oiled, and wiped down good. At least that is my strategy.

                          1. re: sueatmo

                            Sorry I just assumed everybody cleaned their pan, I use a plastic scraper from pampered chef if need be, dryed over heat and oiled while hot

                            1. re: Dave5440

                              Yes, plastic scraper. Mine cost a buck at BB&B I think.

                              1. re: sueatmo

                                Can you give me an idea what partcular plastic scraper you are referring to? An Amazon link? Pretty please?

                2. re: lawhound05

                  Hmmm. Vinegar is an acid, and it would take off the old seasoning. But it takes off rust and baked on stuff? I'll remember your tip.

                  1. re: sueatmo

                    On steel baking pans that have some meat drippings, or other drippings baked on, sticky and hard to get off even with a scratch pad. I will use vinegar sprayed onto a paper towel and let it sit wet on the bad spot. I don't know that it would take off rust, though. Particularly rust that has eaten into the bottom of a pan. That seems pretty amazing. But who would not give it a try?

                    I use vinegar and/or baking soda for most cleanup in my kitchen. FWIW My husband who has had a life-time experience with rust (shipping and motors, etc.) has never heard of anyone ever using vinegar to take off rust.

                    1. re: Rella

                      Most things that rust aren't used to cook with so they can have rust removed with chemicals that you wouldn't want to consume.

                      Vinegar would work on a large scale but would present different problems in large quantities.