Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >
May 18, 2014 01:13 PM

Cast Iron

My cast iron pan starts to show rusts in the cooking area. Is it still safe to use or time to dump it?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Never dump it. Clean rust with a piece of fine steel will then re season.
    If it has rusted it is not being properly dried.

    4 Replies
    1. re: magiesmom

      Living in Hawaii can be muggy and kept the pan in the lower part of the cabinet near the sink contribute to the rust, I think. Thanks for the advise... will the rust come back?

      1. re: roro808

        If you don't properly season the pan, the rust will re-form.
        There are literally dozens of threads on this board about how to season and maintain cast iron. Your time would be well-spent if you use the search box at the top right of this page to search for, then read, some of them.

        1. re: roro808

          Hi, roro: "...will the rust come back?"

          In Hawai'i nei? Ae, very likely, even if you season it well.

          My suggestion is that you consider either: (a) mounting a low-wattage light bulb; or (b) mounting a gunsafe dehumidifier (Google "Goldenrod") inside your storage cupboard to drive out the moisture. Also, if you lid anything while in storage, roll up a paper towel about the size of your finger to put between the pan and the cover to allow some air exchange.

          Solace yourself with the fact you live in Hawai'i--you gotta take your ukus with your uhane.


          1. re: kaleokahu

            I've been living in tropical countries for the last decade. My cast iron has never rusted and I don't bother with any dehumidifier tricks in my cupboards. Is rust really that much of a problem for some people? I figure my seasoning is just good.

      2. No need to dump it. It sounds like your pan has some light rust or flash rust. You can easily remove these thing rust with just a soft brush with water, or a papertowel...etc. After you have removed the rust, quickly dry the pan with either a papertowel or heat it up on a stove.

        Now, you can do a very quick seasoning (no need a full blown seasoning) on the stove.

        You are now good to go.

        1. roro:
          Howzit! I live on the windward side of Kauai, about 1 mile in from the ocean..rust and mildew I get...plenny.

          My strategy for cast iron and carbon steel here in the corrosive zone is to make sure it is well seasoned. If you have some surface rust, clean it off with one of those green scratchy pads, and preseason it. (There's plenny methods, I use the Sheryl Canter method here:


          Once seasoned I store with the lightest coat of cooking oil. I put a small amount in the pan, spread it around with a paper towel, and then wipe it out.

          After I use the skillets, I wash them WITHOUT SOAP, put them back on the stove, heat them up to insure they are totally dry, then wipe them out with the oily paper towel..then store them.

          FWIW, that's what I do with my carbon steel woks as well.

          If you wipe the pan out with one paper's not greasy, but there is enough of a thin film of oil to prevent rusting. I have a whole kitchen of Griswold cast iron, DeBuyer carbon steel and carbon steel woks. Rust is not a problem if you are conscientious and take these simple measures.

          1. CI is pretty much indestructible!! A little rust can be taken care of with a scrub of cheap-o salt and hot water. A few minutes over burner, and a dab of bacon grease (what my grandmother always used) and you're good to go.

            When I first got reconnected to CI (and started collecting), several pieces lived in oven. They'd stay there while baking/roasting and rust started popping up... from food moisture, I guess.

            Think it's KEY to USE the stuff as often as possible.

            1. Rust is not harmful. Just clean it off. Once your pan is properly seasoned, it shouldn't be rusting.

              11 Replies
              1. re: GH1618

                Thanks to all --- specially my cuz and brada from Hawaii... you and I got da kine same problem..... Hopefully these info will help all of us.....LOL

                Mahalo to all.

                1. re: GH1618

                  Hi, GH:

                  You lived in Hawai'i?

                  I once made a full (10-pc) set of custom carbon steel knives handled in irreplaceable lowland Kaua'i koa, inea and kauila wood to put on display with a brah in Kapaia for custom orders. Put a good coat of conservator's carnauba wax on them, too, knowing what the salt air and humidity can do. Still started rusting within a year... Kaumaha au!


                  PS: Wabi, you know the place, hiki no?

                  1. re: kaleokahu

                    Kaleo...I drive by that place every day.
                    I live Kapaa, and work Lihue. My wife is a Hanamaulu girl. We both work Wilcox Hosp. So you know what we drive every day...

                    1. re: wabi

                      Oh, man, you deal with the cones every day? Auwe!

                  2. re: GH1618

                    It will rust even if properly seasoned in the right (or wrong would be more appropriate) climates and if unused for a period of time 1-2 months is sufficient for rust to begin forming.

                    I don't understand why you insist on saying it will not? My pans are properly seasoned, yet I know they will start to rust if I leave them unattended for a couple of months because it has happened in the past more than once.

                    The best way to prevent rust in humid climates (I assume Hawaii is similar to Hong Kong; hot and humid), is to coat the pan in a thin layer of oil after using it, not necessarily every time, but once in a while, and to keep using it frequently enough. Also, make sure it is properly dry before putting it away.

                    I just run a dehumidifier in my kitchen overnight in summer now, it provides additional protection.

                    1. re: Sirrith

                      I said it "should not," not "will not." This statement is based on my experience. I have a small cast iron skillet which I've had and used for about 40 years is several states, including central Ohio (very humid). I've never had a rust problem with this pan. I recently acquired another cast iron skillet which hasn't been used or maintained for about 40 years. It has no rust on the cooking surface and only a little superficial rust on the outside. This is not a big problem. One of these days I will clean it up, season it properly (with Crisco shortening), and use it. I don't expect to have any rust problems after that.

                      I accept that if you store an iron skillet in a humid climate and don't use it for some time, it may acquire some rust if it was not properly seasoned. If so, just clean it off and use it. It isn't harmful. As you say, if you are using a pan regularly and treating it properly, it shouldn't be a problem.

                      1. re: GH1618

                        Hi, GH:

                        The difference may be attributable to roro living in Hawai'i, and Sirrith in Hong Kong. Unless central Ohio gets a lot of marine air. ;)


                        1. re: kaleokahu

                          I don't know what "roro" means, but Columbus was so humid my envelopes would glue themselves shut. I was glad to get out of there.

                          The seasoning on the pan is the most significant factor, I think.

                            1. re: GH1618

                              Our envelopes don't come with glue for just that reason. We get glue separately and apply when needed.