Restoring a cast iron skillet to it’s former glory involves some elbow grease and a little bit of your time.
If you had stored your cast iron skillet in your cupboard or in the shed collecting dust for a long time and decided to use it again. You will find that the outside, as well as the inside, will be tarnished with rust.
If the rust had eaten its way so far into the metal then maybe you need to save for a new cast iron skillet. Even if you sandblast away the rust, you will be left with a gaping hole and uneven surface on your skillet.
On the other hand, if the rust is just superficial then it’s worth putting the time and effort into restoration.
What you need
We need to remove any leftover polymerized fat and oil on the pan, also known as, seasoning. But, most of all, we need to get rid of the rusted parts. For this you will need something that is abrasive such as MR. SIGA stainless steel scourer.
I don’t recommend the ones with handles because you can’t apply as much pressure when scrubbing off the rust or seasoning.
For some instances, it could be hard to remove every rust. You might benefit from the help of a rust remover. It will loosen all the rust making it really easy to scrub the rust away.
Not just any rust remover though, some of them have really harsh chemicals that can do harm to your health. Anti-rust product poisoning can occur when inhaled or ingested.
Loss of vision, kidney failure, burns and holes in your skin are just some of the damaging effects with these products.
Evapo-Rust is one of the safest choice when it comes to rust removing agents. It doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals and it’s bio-degradable, making it environmentally friendly.
To remove any leftover substances.
This is to dry the cast iron skillet because they hate water.
Such as a coconut oil, ghee or lard. I use coconut oil and olive oil to season my cast iron. Research on oils high in polyunsaturated fats such as vegetable oil can turn toxic once heated to 180℃. High heat will be needed to bond the oil properly to the pan.
Pretty sure you have this at the ready.
What to do
Add detergent into the pan with a bit of water. Using a steel scourer, scrub the pan inside and out until all the rust have been removed.
Wash the pan in running water.
If the rust are hard to get off then you will need the rust remover.
Submerge the pan in a container full of Evapo-Rust. The pan must be completely covered by the solvent. Leave it for about 15 minutes then check the pan. For really heavy rust, it is recommended to leave it overnight.
When it is done, wash it off in running water. If there are still rust remaining, put it back in the solvent for another 24 hours or when you think it is sufficient. Make sure that there are no visible rust remaining in every crook and cranny of the pan.
When you are satisfied, you can either scrub again with detergent to get rid of any remaining solvents. Then wash it all off under running water.
How to season
In a previous article, I have gone over on how to season a cast iron skillet. Detailing what kind of oils I use and why. It is a more detailed explanation in seasoning and useful hints and tips.
Dry off the pan using the paper towel.
Apply a thin layer of oil inside and out of the cast iron skillet.
Leave it in the oven at 350℉ for 1 hour.
After an hour have passed, leave the pan in the oven for another half an hour or so to cool down.
Repeat as necessary.
That is all. Now you have a almost brand new, non-stick, fully functioning cast iron skillet.