By: Camille Simmons
A cast iron skillet is one of the most essential pieces of cookware in any kitchen. Don’t be intimidated by this flavour-boosting pan’s need for extra care and maintenance against rust. With some simple precautionary steps, you’ll prevent or eliminate rust and prolong the life of the skillet.
Use this simple seven-step method to remove rust and clean the cast iron effectively.
- After you finish cooking in a cast iron pan, let it come to room temperature.
- Use a non-metallic utensil (such as wood, silicon or plastic) to remove any grease or burned leftovers.
- Rinse the skillet with warm water only. Do not use soap.
- Create a paste of 1 tablespoon of baking soda, about 15 millilitres (1 tablespoon) of lemon juice and a little water. Use a non-metallic sponge and scrub in a circular motion, working the mixture around the skillet until it’s covered.
- Depending on the severity of the rust, let the lemon/baking soda mixture sit for 15 minutes or more.
- When the skillet has finished soaking, simply rinse with warm water and pat dry.
- To prevent oxidation, immediately coat the skillet in a light cooking oil (like olive, canola or grape seed) — the less fragrant, the better.
For a natural alternative, simply use a lemon. The acidity in the juice will do a similar job. Squeeze the juice of 1/2 a lemon into the skillet. Use the other half to scrub away any rust or residue.
Seasoning Your Pan
Now that you have removed the rust residue, it’s time to protect the skillet so it can be used for years to come. Seasoning your pan is the key to keeping it in good shape over time.
- Preheat the oven to between 65-95 C (150-200 F)
- Using the same oil you applied after cleaning, evenly cover the pan and dab away any excess oil
- Place the skillet on the top rack of the oven and leave it to bake for 1-2 hours, which opens the porous surface and allows the oil to soak or settle in, protecting the pan.
- Once the skillet is finished, place it back on the stovetop and let it come to room temperature.
- Once cool, store in a dry, cool place and enjoy your fully restored cast iron skillet
Whether you buy a brand new skillet or come across a great vintage find, both proper cleaning and seasoning will keep it in great condition for years to come!
Camille is a Bay Area-based planning and decorating expert. She is the creator of Planning Pretty, a lifestyle site dedicated to sharing easy, affordable and pretty ideas for everyday living.