Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Everything old is new again...Reconditioning Cast Iron

  A couple of months ago I was looking for a small cast iron skillet that I thought we had around here somewhere and, lo and behold, I found the mother lode of cast iron cookware hidden way back in a kitchen cabinet.  There were four skillets of various sizes, and two dutch ovens. Ok, maybe not exactly "the mother lode" of cast iron, but I had certainly forgotten their existence.  None of the pieces were in good condition - in fact, they really looked like they might be beyond help and destined for the scrap heap.  Fortunately, a little googling around led me to this post at  Black Iron Blog about restoring cast iron.  Wow!  I've been slowly but surely reconditioning my pieces and I'm so happy to be able to use them again.  I started with the small skillets and just finished with one of the dutch ovens and I thought that I'd post about my latest project here.

Here's what I used: oven cleaner, vinegar, heavy duty plastic bag, 000 steel  wool
(Ignore the container of ammonia on the left - it was NOT used in this process.)

Here's the grody dutch oven and lid. Is that white stuff mildew? Gross.
Ok, I got my trusty kitchen gloves on, moved to a well -ventilated area, put the D.O.w/L in the large bag, and sprayed it down with the oven cleaner.  I then set the whole thing into an old roasting pan and left it for a week.  That's right. I left it alone. Did not touch it. At all. Practically forgot about it. Then today I pulled it out and scrubbed it down with hot soapy water and a scrubby sponge.  The old coating mostly came off. It came completely off the inside, but there were still areas that didn't come off of the outside.
Here's the DOw/L stewing in the oven cleaner. 

What they looked like today after I scrubbed off the oven cleaner.

Since the D.O. didn't have very much rust on it, I simply rubbed off the rust with the steel wool. The lid got to soak in the vinegar/hot water bath (1 quart vinegar/1 gallon hot water) for about 20 minutes, then I rubbed it down with the steel wool as well.

Here's the lid taking its bath.
I followed Black Iron Dude's instructions for oven temp, rubbing the heated cast iron with oil, etc., and ended up with this:

TaDa!  Lovely almost like new reconditioned Dutch Oven.

I'm cooking our supper in my "new" cast iron dutch oven.


  1. Well, first of all, I have to say that not only am I sufficiently surprised that you have started your own blog, I am very happy about it.

    Secondly, your DOw/L or whatever you were calling it looks amazing! You were much more patient than I think I would have been.

    Welcome to the blogosphere, Sister of mine! : )

  2. Yeah, I'm also pretty surprised at myself. :)

    Thanks for following're my Lone Follower.

    I never really expected much when I first started the reconditioning process, but it has turned out so well with these pieces I have that I've actually started looking for old, rusty,cruddy looking cast iron that I can fix up. Oh, well. I guess everybody needs a hobby.

  3. Wow! I'm flabbergasted! It's hard to believe those pictures are of the same dutch oven! I would think that you could actually have a lucrative hobby: finding icky cast iron at thrift stores and such and fixing it up to sell. Even if you kept it - you would have a fantastic collection! I don't have one cast iron piece. Sigh.

  4. Well, just get yourself down to the local junk store and look around for an old, cruddy looking cast iron skillet. I bet you can buy one for a song. I think Black Iron Dude picked up the skillet he reconditioned for $9.00. Cast iron is wonderful to cook with, it's environmentally friendly, and it will last forever.

  5. I am so looking forward to next week when I can hit the thrift stores. Woo hoo!