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How to Remove Rust from Cast Iron Cookware

How to Remove Rust from Cast Iron Cookware

When not stored properly, the moisture in the atmosphere leads to formation of rust on the surface of cast iron. This article will tell you how to remove rust from cast iron.
Bidisha Mukherjee
There are several benefits of cookware made of cast iron, also known as CI, as it is said that it lasts for a lifetime. However, it is possible only if you handle it with proper care. Sometimes, due to improper storage, cast iron gets oxidized and is no longer fit for use. Instead of discarding the rusted cookware, you should gather some information on how to remove this rust and implement it on your cookware. Here, we have shared such tips with you in the following sections.

Rust Removal
  • Mild Rust Removal:
    Before you start removing rust from CI cookware, you should dress yourself with proper protective gear, like rubber gloves and goggles, as most of the cleaning products are harmful for the skin and the eyes. You can use an oven cleaner to get rid of mild rust from the surface of the cookware. Spray some oven cleaner generously on the cast iron, put it in a large-sized zipped plastic bag, and seal it. Keep the cookware in that condition for one or two days. It is kept inside the bag so that the cleaner does not dry up and continues to be effective in clearing up the rust. Then, take it out from the plastic bag and scrub its surface well with the help a fine wire wheel on an electric drill. Rinse it with a mild dish washing soap and warm water.
  • Thick Rust Removal:
    We often find it difficult to remove rust from a cast iron pot, as it forms a crust on the surface. You can get rid of this type of rust with the help of distilled vinegar. Begin the task by washing the utensil thoroughly. Prepare a mixture of equal quantities of water and vinegar, and soak the pot in it for a few hours. Store the cookware in this condition in a dark corner anywhere outside your house. The garage is the safest place for this purpose.

    This cleaning process should be carried out in an outdoor place for two major reasons. First, the chemical reaction that goes on between the vinegar and iron gives out a foul smell. And secondly, the resultant foam of the reaction can stain the surface of the floor permanently. Do not soak the pot in the vinegar for too long, as it can cause corrosion to the iron surface. Afterwards, soak the pot in a mixture of water and mild dish washing detergent for a few hours so that all the acid gets neutralized. Scrub the pot well to get rid of the rust and wash off thoroughly. You can repeat the process a number of times if required.

When the cast iron cookware is free from rust, you have to season it up. Seasoning of CI will prevent the formation of rust on the cookware all over again. Another reason for which cast iron is seasoned is that it helps give a nonstick surface while cooking. For this, the cookware is mildly heated for a few minutes by placing it on the oven. Then, you have to apply a little vegetable oil with a brush on the cookware to form a thin layer of oil on it. After application of oil, you have to place the cookware on the oven again and heat it at 225°F for half an hour. Apply another coat of oil and heat it again at the same temperature for another half an hour. Remove it from the heat and wipe off all the excess of oil. Initially, you have to season the cookware by following the same procedure after every use.

Cleaning a Cast Iron Pan

Potato is effective in scrubbing out rust from a cast iron pan. First of all, put some oven cleaner on the pan. Cut the end of a potato and rub it vigorously on the rusty surface. Continue to rub the pan till all the rust is cleared. Then, wash off the liquid with a mild dish-washing detergent and water, and let the pan dry up thoroughly. Another cleaning option is to sprinkle 2-3 spoons of salt on the pan and then pour the same quantity of vegetable oil on it. Scrub the pan with a thickly-folded paper towel after this. Rub more intensely on the areas that have rust. In case the rust is severe, you can scrub it with steel wool. When all the rusted spots are gone, wash it off with liquid soap and water. Dry it thoroughly and season it using the same process as has been discussed in the previous section.

After rust removal, you should store the pot or pan in such a way that it does not oxidize all over again. For storing, the right method is to put a paper towel on the cast iron to absorb the atmospheric moisture. Do not cover it up with lids while storing. Also, do not keep two cast iron cookware in direct contact with each other while storing them.
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