Restoring Cast Iron Pans

You Can Restore Old, Crusty Cast Iron Pans There’s nothing quite so beautiful as the blackened, shiny patina of a well-seasoned cast iron pan. There are a few specific rules in keeping your pans in pristine condition. If you do, they’ll reward you with good service for many, many years
I have collected cast iron pans from Estate and yard sales. I'm not put off by rusty, crusty appearances because I know, they can be restored.
This is the only time you should wash your cast iron with hot, soapy water - when you're preparing them to be cleaned.
place your cast iron in your oven on the 'clean' setting for two hours. The built up residue will cook off. Clean off with hot water and dry thoroughly.
I've decided to use the seasoning method that recommends Flaxseed Oil. The method recommends seasoning the pan in a hot oven for about an hour or two and to repeat this process a number of times. The Flaxseed Oil creates a polymerized bond with the cast iron pan.
The top three brands that collectors desire include - Griswold, Wagner and Erie. Lodge makes a very wonderful cast iron pan too.
The most common size in cast iron pan is the eight. The sizes can range from 0 to 20!
I love collecting and using cast iron pans. If cared for properly, they will reward you with good service for years to come.

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Kathy R

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

3 questions
  • Sam
    on Jul 26, 2016

    Hello so let me get this straight 1) wash cast iron pan in soapy water 2) place in over on clean cycle for 1h 3) wash again in soapy water 4) coat with oil is this method correct?

    • Kathy R
      on Jul 31, 2016

      Clean and scrub as much as possible off your Cast iron in hot, soapy water. Dry completely with absorbent paper towels. Place in the Oven side by side and set the oven to ‘Clean’ for 2 hours. Allow pans to cool down. The residue can be scraped off with a scraper or the side of a butter knife. Wash thoroughly again with hot, soapy water. Dry thoroughly Check both the inside and the outside of the pan for any remaining seasoning or build-up. Try to clean it away with steal wool or 100 grit sanding paper. You can also use a metal scouring brush with a hand drill. You want the inside of the pan to be as smooth as possible. Place the cleaned pans in the oven and heat to 200° to warm the pan. With paper towels thoroughly rub in a thin coat of Flaxseed Oil. Flaxseed Oil creates a very hard polymerized surface. (Flaxseed Oil can be found in the Health Food Section of your store – refrigerated) Return the pan to the oven set at 500° for one hour. Let cool in oven. Remove and wipe down any residual seasoning. The pans will at this stage absorb a lot, but you’ll be surprised at how much you can still remove. Repeat. You can read Sheryl Canter’s explanation the reason to use flaxseed oil and of the process to season your cast iron here. Once again, wipe any residue. Your pan is now ‘seasoned’. I’d recommend repeating steps 5-8 at least three more time Sheryl Canter recommends six times. You’ll be rewarded with a black, lustrous cast iron pan.

    • Jeniel Chatralia
      on Feb 2, 2017

      I have stripped my cast iron skillet. And washed it in soapy water but now when I wipe on the oil with a paper towel there seems to be this endless cast iron coloured grime coming off of the pan. I've rewashed and gone through about 15 paper towels and it's still super dirty. What is the cause and any suggestions?

    • Kathy R
      on Jan 19, 2018

      Did you place your cast iron in the oven to bake off excess coating and residue? You may need to use steel wool to completely clean the pan before doing the process to recondition the pan.
  • Ann Powers Goetzman
    on May 3, 2018

    Our home flooded and by the time we dug the pots out they were rusted Do I follow same rules for rusted

    • Kathy R
      on May 3, 2018

      Hello Ann. So sorry to hear this. Yes! You can still restore your cast iron pans if they're rusted. You'll want to wash them thoroughly to get all of the loose rust and debris you can! I've experienced a flood in our home before and I know how it is to go through the rooms to figure out what is salvageable. I hope all else is well! Let me know if you try it or need any further help!

  • Barbara
    on May 10, 2020

    I have cast iron pans that have built up on the outside of them. Does anyone know how I can clean that off. It looks like they were cleaned on the inside of the pans but not the outsides of them. Help!!!

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  • James smith
    on Sep 24, 2016

    My mom did hers out side on dad's bbq pit bild a good fire coat cast iron with lard cook about a hour then put a big spoon full in the pot let them cook for a nother hour let cool wipe out with a clean towel

  • Nellie
    on Oct 24, 2016

    It works in gas barbecue . same time and washing.

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