How To Restore and Season Cast Iron

Slowly, but surely, we've been growing our collection of cast iron cookware.  Scouring flea markets, thrift stores, antique shops, in this area, has become one of our favorite winter past times.   Sure, I could head over to one of the big box stores and pick up a new pan for about $15, but I wouldn't have the love and history cooked into each piece.  I dream of all the holidays, birthday celebrations or everyday sit down dinners that pan has cooked for.  I also find great satisfaction in giving something old and discarded, a new life.  If you have a cast iron skillet that has rusted and are afraid it's ruined, don't worry.  With just a little bit of elbow grease, it will look and work just like new.

Benefits of Cast Iron...

::  Versatility.  You can use it on a stove top, on the grill, in the oven and on the wood stove.  This is so important for us, as we have extremely limited space and need to keep things as simple as possible.

::  Food cooks more evenly  

::  If seasoned, it has a natural, non stick surface.  Easy to clean.  Inexpensive

::  Easy to clean.  Just wipe out with a paper towel when you're through.

How to restore Cast Iron...

::  Remove all of the rust.  We used a steel brush attachment for the drill because it's a lot faster and easier on our hands than steel wools scrubbies.

::  Wash cast iron with mild soap and water to remove dust particles.

::  Thoroughly dry cast iron or it will rust again very quickly.

::  For cookware, you'll want to season your pan with oil before using.  To do this, lightly coat the pan  in oil.  Don't forget the bottom and handle.  Animal fat works best, but any vegetable oil will work.  {I would avoid olive oil, it made my first pan tacky.}  Next, place your pan in a 350 degree oven, upside down, for one hour.  You may want to put tin foil under it to collect drips.  Turn the heat off and let it cool.  It's now ready to use.

::  In case you're wondering... To finish our cast iron boxwood stove, we sprayed it with a matte black paint designed for stoves and grills.  You don't want to use regular spray paint, because it won't be able to withstand the heat.  Let it dry for 24 hours and it's ready to use.  I do suggest performing a test burn with the windows open.  The first time you heat it up, a foul odor is given off by the paint.  After that, you're good to go!

Be sure to stop back Monday to see the finished results of our cast iron pans.


  1. I asked this question on YouTube, but thought I'd ask here too. When making the little hearts and you cast on for the second time repeating the first few rows, do you cast onto the needle with the stitches you already made or do you cast on to the empty needle? I'm just learning to knit! Thank you!

  2. This is great, I had no idea you could restore cast iron like this. We have quite a few things kicking around the place that my f.i.l brought back from various places during his time in the army. I'm going to get busy making them beautiful again!
    Looking forward to mondays post.
    Have a good weekend

  3. How wonderful that you have such a well traveled collection of cast iron.

  4. Somebody SomewhereJuly 22, 2015 at 7:34 AM

    You say "Sure, I could head over to one of the big box stores and pick up a new pan for about $15,.." but the problem with that is you are not getting a very usable utensil. The vintage pans are smooth in a way that no new pan can match. Manufacturers used to care about their products.

    If you feel a new cast iron pot or skillet, they are very rough and will never be able to give you the "non-stick" benefit of old iron. We have an extensive collection of old iron including Griswold and Wagner Ware among others.

    We just bought an 1850's box stove (looks to be close to the size of the one in your pics) that we are bringing back to life. We are hand cleaning and then using traditional Stove Black to restore it. It is a very ornate stove made by the Excelsior Stove & Mfg Co, Quincy Illinois. On the top it says
    "Fame" and "No 281". Can't wait to get it done, set up and burning so we can cook on it.

    If you have pictures of your stove restoration as completed, please post them. I am interested to see it.