How to remove rust from cast iron

How to remove rust from cast iron

Removing rust from cast iron might seem daunting, but it's actually a straightforward process if you follow these steps. Here's a detailed guide to help you restore your cast iron cookware or items to their former glory:

1. Gather Your Materials

Before you start, ensure you have the following items:

  • A stiff brush or steel wool
  • Washing-up liquid
  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Kitchen roll or clean cloths
  • Cooking oil (e.g., vegetable, canola, or flaxseed)
  • Oven (for re-seasoning)

2. Scrubbing the Rust Off

  • Dry Scrubbing: Begin by using a stiff brush or steel wool to scrub off the dry rust. This is often sufficient for light rust.
  • Soapy Water: If dry scrubbing isn’t enough, wash the pan with warm, soapy water and a scrubber. This can help loosen and remove more persistent rust.

3. Using Vinegar Soak (For Stubborn Rust)

  • Prepare a Soak: If the rust is stubborn, mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a container large enough to submerge your cast iron.
  • Soak the Item: Submerge your cast iron in the vinegar solution. Check regularly and do not soak for more than a few hours, as prolonged exposure to vinegar can damage the iron.
  • Scrub Again: After soaking, scrub the cast iron with a brush or steel wool. The rust should come off more easily now.

4. Rinse and Dry Thoroughly

  • Rinse Well: After removing the rust, rinse the cast iron thoroughly under running water.
  • Dry Immediately: Dry the cast iron completely with a towel. To ensure it's fully dry and to remove any remaining moisture, you can heat it on the hob for a few minutes or place it in a warm oven.

5. Re-season the Cast Iron

  • Oil It Up: Once dry, apply a thin layer of cooking oil all over the cast iron, inside and out, including all handles.
  • Heat It: Place it upside down in an oven preheated to 180°C. Place a sheet of aluminium foil or a baking sheet on the lower rack to catch any drips.
  • Bake: Bake the cast iron for one hour, then turn off the oven and let the cookware cool in the oven.

6. Maintenance and Care

To prevent future rust, always dry your cast iron thoroughly after washing and apply a light coat of oil before storing. It’s also good practice to regularly season your cast iron to maintain its non-stick properties and prevent rust.

By following these steps, you should be able to successfully remove rust from your cast iron items and keep them in good condition for many years of use.