Found this. http://www.hobbyfarms.com/crafts-and-nature/cast-iron-refurbish.aspx. I remember my grandmother saying to always use shortening and not oil because it keeps things from sticking better than oil. Good luck!
Delores, check out this very same topic discussed on Hometalk not to long ago. http://www.hometalk.com/156165/how-do-you-clean-really-rusted-cast-iron-skillets-i-found-some-in-an-olld-shed-and
put it in a self cleaning oven and it will burn off all the old stuff....then wipe out and reseason with crisco or cooking oil on top of stove.
Lodge Cast Iron site will have all the tips for you. I have scoured mine out with hot water and then coated with oil. Turn upside in the oven set on 350 for 1-2 hrs. They tell you to never use soap on your cast iron only clean with hot water and a scouring brush.
Put the cast iron pan in an open fire. Wait till the fire is cold next day. Wash it with water. Season with Crisco in an oven. It should come out like new. I did this to a dutch oven that was really cruddy and it came out like new
I have also cleaned and maintain my cast iron with a bit of oil and sea salt. I rub it all over the warm pan, then wipe it out with a paper towel. Water should never touch a cast iron pan. After you use it, you should always season it with oil by rubbing it all over the pan with a soft cloth before you store it. Good luck!
Thank you for the suggestions but this doesn't answer my question because the gunk is on the outside of the pan. Very sticky and yucky, I don't want to set the skillet down anywhere because the gunk transfers easily and is very hard to remove!
PS - I inherited these pans and I don't believe they were ever seasoned properly.
You can clean the outside with the sea salt and oil rub. You might have to do it a few times until the gunk comes off. Good luck!
Off to try to reclaim my cast iron skillet.
I used vegetable oil and salt, worked like a charm on the rust!
Take on a picnic, and place directly on top open flames to burn of crustys, then take home and season it , the crustys turn to black powder..
or, you can have it sand blasted till smooth, then season.
I think it was mentioned above to throw it in the old fire and allow it to stay in that fire while all the gunk burns off. Leave it till morning, then season it again. I have done this to a few of my in-laws hand-me downs and they are like new. So what that means is you need a campfire and some patience a little elbow grease and you will be loving your old pans!