Big Rick Stuart
Mission Impossible? Cast Iron Rust Never Sleeps
I was a bad cast iron owner.
I left a Lodge P14P3 Cast Iron Baking Pan outside as well as the top to a Lodge L8DD3 Cast Iron Dutch Oven. I forgot about them for a long time. Things got ugly.
Lodge 14 inch Baking Pan
I have some other cast iron I keep inside the house and use the all the time. One pan stays on the stove and gets used for everything from steak, eggs, veggies, and cornbread. It has developed a superslick shiny nonstick finish after the years of use and care.
Needless to say these had been neglected! #mybad
Lodge Dutch Oven lid
I have tried a bunch of cast iron seasoning methods over the years but I have settled on Crisbee a blend of Soybean Oil, Beeswax, and Palm Oil. It was developed by a guy that bought and restored old cast iron and it works great.
With this extra shelter in place time on my hands I needed to try to restore these awful looking cast iron pieces. I know there are a few ways to get the rust off but I wanted it gone quick. I found American Canyon Stripping near me and they said yes we can do that drop it off and give us a few days.
I didn't need or want it super smooth like if you were painting something I just wanted the rust gone and good bare metal in all of it's beauty.
It was $80 to get both pieces done and they looked like this when I brought them home.
Cast Iron after sandblasting (the lid has a little iron crater in it!)
I proceeded to do a few rounds of seasoning on the bare metal by following the Crisbee directions. The reddit Cast Iron Cookware group also has a good FAQ and lots of info on the process. People seem to be fans of a specific way to do it. I have taken cast iron to bare metal a few times over the years (oven cleaning method) and then seasoned it. I have never found a better or easier way than using the Crisbee blend and directions.
I kind of like the smell of the iron and oil getting happy at 400 degrees for an hour or so but I still use my gas grill outside for this process.
After putting the cast iron on the grill I light it and get things heated up together to 200 for 30 minutes. Then I apply the Crisbee and it melts quick. A key is to try to wipe off as much as you can. I used a clean shop rag not paper towels. The paper can shred a little and come off on the unseasoned pan and I don't want bits of paper in my seasoning.
I will repeat this a few times. A thin coat multiple times is better than leaving it on thick. That will just give you a gooey sticky mess.
The grill gets kicked up to 400 and the cast iron is baked for at least an hour.
When the hour is up let it cool.
sandblasted cast iron after the first seasoning cycle
I did that cycle about 4 times and they looked great! I could feel the smooth coating starting to build up and the color was changing to that beautiful black all cast iron fans know and love.
Feeling a little brave I decided to use the round baking pan for some shrimp on the grill.
Shrimp can be a little sticky but I gave it a shot. They did just fine!
Plate o' shrimp out of the blue, no explanation. A freshly seasoned cast iron first cook plate o' shrimp (remember Repo Man?)
There is a little sign of shrimp having been cooked on the pan but I thought that would clean up and of course that would be the true test to see how it looked after the first use.
Here is the pan after cooking the shrimp and being cleaned, dried, and getting a maintenance coat of Crisbee.
after the shrimp cook seasoned and ready for more
I am so happy to have this back! It will now live inside unless it is part of an outdoor cook. My Dutch Oven once again has a top!
As with all cast iron they will just get better with use and simple care from now on.
Get to know how to use and care for cast iron. If you see some at a garage sale or thrift store go for it and give it a little love!
cast iron before and after