Saturday, July 18, 2009

Removing Rust from Cast Iron Pots

The following is a great little tip from a reader that I received in an e-mail and I’m hoping it can be of benefit to everyone out there. It’s a simple way to remove rust from cast iron pots. Special thanks to Eltexan for this tip.


I'm not sure how I ended up at your site - BUT - I did, and read with interest a lot of posts about a variety of things. I think it was last winter that some folks were talking about reconditioning old cast iron cookware. Most of it dealt with reseasoning, but I saw nothing about removing 50 years of rust.

About 25 years ago I got involved with pre-1840 re-enactors and began to build a collection of "period" cookware. At a junk yard south of Nacogdoches I found a pot-bellied cast iron pot that someone had used as a planter for something. It was full of dirt and rotted roots which, when dumped, revealed a LOT of heavy rust. I figured it would at least look appropriate, even if I couldn't cook in it, so took it home.

Then I remembered a trick an old blacksmith once told me about how to remove heavy rust from old hinges. Vinegar!

I washed out the pot as best I could and filled it with cheap, plain, distilled vinegar, and set in a dark corner of the garage. It started to work immediately. By the end of the week there was a "head" of varicolored foam sticking up about eight inches above the pot. I poured it out and filled it again. All-in-all, it took about three weeks and the inside of the pot looked almost new - pitted in some areas, but certainly usable. I reseasoned it and cooked beans and chili in it for the next fifteen years for large groups of campers.

Since that first beginning, I've re-claimed more than a dozen old pots and skillets that way. It really works.

Two warnings rolled into one: Find a protected place to do this outside. The chemical reaction really stinks and when it bubbles over it leaves a stain on concrete that will last as long as the slab.

Keep walkin' and talkin'.



Joseph said...

Just remember that vinegar is acidic!

Pleasant Peasant said...

Thanks for the tip. I immediately went out and started soaking a skillet that got rusty.

best regards,
Pleasant Peasant

SciFiChick said...

Thanks for this one... I will have to check it out!

riverwalker said...

To: Joseph

Distilled white vinegar is normally a solution with only 5% to 8% acetic acid....the stronger varieties of "spirit" vinegars are somewhat stronger at solutions of 10% to 20% acetic acid. If you've ever eaten pickles you have consumed some vinegar. Most vinegar when consumed, such as apple cider vinegar is usually mixed with a fruit juice, such as apple juice. It is not a good idea to consume vinegar directly without being in a diluted solution. Prolonged exposure to any acidic compounds can cause problems and, as such, care should be taken to protect exposed body parts. Thanks.


riverwalker said...

To: Pleasant Peasant

Hopefully this will save you some time and effort.Thanks.


riverwalker said...

To: ScifiChick

You're welcome!


Cast iron cooking utensils said...

Copper cookware is appreciated for its superior heat conductivity and brightness, but is also the most expensive. Easily becomes paler, which requires constant attention and cleaning. Copper shows a reaction with highly acidic foods like vinegar, citrus and tomatoes.

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