Monday, June 23, 2014

Restoring Old Cast Iron

I was inspired to go out into the old cabin and find the cast iron we had.  It was in pretty bad shape, and I was wondering if I could fix it.  A bit of googling, and I decided I could try. 

I sprayed both pieces liberally with oven cleaner.  I do have a self-cleaning oven, but the last time I used the function, the oven box developed holes.  I don't want to make the problem worse, so I am stuck with the oven cleaner and trash bag method. 

This did work very well with the Griswold small frying pan which only had surface rust and not much gunk.  The skillet is much more gunky and I had to re-apply the oven cleaner several times.  I am considering a wire brush if I can't remove the gunk with a rag this evening. 

For the frying pan, I sprayed it twice and let it sit for about 24 hours.  I rinsed it off and then let it soak for about an hour in a vinegar and water solution and scrubbed it with Hawaiian salt to remove the rusty bits.  I heated the pan over the stove and then rubbed it with coconut oil and popped it in the oven.  I had two different directions open - one said 450 degree oven, and the other said use the smoke point of the oil.  I went with the later, which meant an oven at 350 for 45 minutes, with an additional couple of hours in the oven with the heating element off, but still warm. 

The pan came out black and the scrambled eggs I made for dinner didn't stick at all!  I am pretty proud of my self, and I hope I can have a similar success with the skillet. 

I did a little research on my pan, and I am figuring it was made somewhere between 1920 and 1950, which is pretty darned cool.  I haven't braved the thick coating of oven cleaner on the skillet to find its providence, but we'll see tonight. 

I feel guilty that I let them sit out there for 10 years (!) without a second thought.  I never had good results with cast iron - thing stuck to the pan and I didn't quite know how to clean them properly, but after research, I kind of got excited about the whole subject.  I do have a Dutch oven made of cast iron that I really like, but I have been having mixed results with taking care of it.  I live in a rain forest and there is a lot of environmental moisture, which complicates matters.  I am looking forward to reseasoning it with coconut oil rather than olive oil (it kind of stays tacky and sticky) and seeing if I have better results. 


Barry said...

I just got a Costco "barrel" of coconut oil, and I previously sidelined my old cast iron skillet due to the sticky olive oil seasoning I gave it a couple of house-moves ago (one of only a few things that made it through each move!). Is the pan less sticky after using it? I plan to de-gunk our barbeque this summer, so maybe I'll do a coconut season on that pan. Thank you for this post.

NancyDe said...

Barry, I was really happy with the coconut oil - not sticky after using it at all! It looks like my skillet is going to be great, too. I think I can finish it up this evening when I get home from work. I think that these pans might be from the 1930s, which is really cool.