How to get rust off a cast iron skillet with vinegar

Lodge Rust Eraser

One of the most trusted cast-iron lines out there created its own rust remover — which is good news for the many cooks who own one of their cast-iron skillets. The Lodge Rust Eraser is $9.95 and claims to “remove surface rust and tarnish with precision.” YouTube reviewer Stephen Strawn of Cast Iron Cookware demonstrated the eraser in a video, showing how it has a bit of a rubbery flex to it.

The eraser takes away rust down to the cast-iron surface, which will need to be re-seasoned afterward. Strawn said he thinks the Lodge rust eraser is best for spot removal of rust rather than trying to do the entire surface of a rusty cast-iron item.

Also, speaking of erasers: Magic Erasers can also help with spot-removal of rust on cast iron.

Lodge Cast Iron
Lodge Cast Iron


Burn It Off

You can burn rust off from cast iron though it will need some follow-up scrubbing to remove residue. If you don’t have a fire going, you can also use the self-clean cycle of your oven.

If you want to see a bunch of different methods used to remove rust from cast iron, YouTuber BushcraftOnFire uses foil as a scrubber for a pan that was kept outside for years. She also wipes it with a newspaper, soaks the pan in vinegar, and sprays on oven cleaner. Then, she seasons it with vegetable shortening.

How to clean a rusty cast iron skillet

There’s nothing worse than discovering rust has covered your trusty cast iron skillet. This has happened because the pan has been exposed to water for too long, or wasn’t completely dry when it was stored. But, don’t worry, this can easily be rectified with a potato and some salt — yes, you read that right. 

1. This can get a little messy so lay down some newspaper before starting. 

2. Cut a raw potato in half. Make sure it’s big enough that you can get a good grip on it.  

3. Sprinkle a generous amount of coarse Kosher salt into the pan; a handful should be enough. 

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

4. Place the potato flat side down into the pan and scrub in a circular motion. Make sure you give it a good amount of pressure and work your way around. Think of it as a facial for your skillet! If your pan has grill lines, you can cut an angle on the side of the potato so it can reach between the lines and scrub in an up-and-down motion.

5. The potato should provide enough moisture for the salt to work its magic, but if not you can add a small amount of water as needed.

6. The salt will start to brown as it picks up the dirt. If you’ve got a lot of rust, you may want to rinse the salt away and continue with a fresh batch.

7. Once the rust has disappeared, rinse away the salt and follow the everyday cleaning steps to dry and oil the skillet before storing it.

Your cast iron skillet should now be looking like new again — remember to keep oiling it after every clean.

How to clean a cast iron skillet after everyday use

1. While the pan is still warm, rinse it under hot water and use a non-abrasive sponge or cast iron cleaning brush, such as the Full Circle Tenacious C Cast Iron Brush, to remove any residue. If you want to use dish soap, you can, but this could strip the seasoning, so only use a small amount of non-abrasive soap. Don’t use steel wool as this can also strip the seasoning and scratch the pan. 

2. Dry the skillet thoroughly using a cloth. Drying it is imperative as any remaining moisture will lead to rust. You can place the skillet back on the stove and let it heat to make sure any water has evaporated.   

3. Using a paper towel or cloth, apply roughly one teaspoon of vegetable oil to the inside of the skillet, coating the cooking surface. Continue to buff until the oil is absorbed and you can no longer see it.

4. Let the pan cool completely before storing.  

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

How to get rust off cast iron skillet with vinegar

Here’s the simple, step by step process for how to remove rust from cast iron:

#1. Measure out equal parts of water and white vinegar

It’s important to remember that you can’t clean surface rust with vinegar alone. Measure out a 50/50 ratio, based on your skillet, and mix together in a separate bucket, pan, washbowl, or sink.

#2. Soak your rusty cast iron skillet

Place your cast iron cooking implements in the vinegar mix, so they are totally covered. Leave to soak for up to 8 hours. It’s important to remember that rust might come away before the eight-hour period is over, so it’s important to check the skillet every half hour. If the rust has been removed, pull the pan out of the vinegar rust removal mixture.

#3. Remove your cast iron from the vinegar mix and scrub away any leftover rust

Once you’ve removed the pan, you must wash it right away. Use a soft scrub or brush, and gently remove any residue rust. Don’t scrub too hard or you’ll damage the surface. Make sure to dry it afterwards with a paper towel.

#4. Put the pan in the oven

Once you’ve dried the cast iron, put it in the oven for 30 minutes.

#5. Season your cast iron

Once you’ve cleaned the cast iron, you can then re-season it, if you need to. Here’s how to season cast iron properly. This is an excellent method when looking at restoring cast iron.

The Scrub

After the soak, the scrub is the second most important step. There a few ways to do this and will all depend on what you either have on hand or are able to buy. Once the pan has been rid of all of its rust and its seasoning, you need to give it a wash and a scrub.

While you normally shouldn’t use any sort of soap with a seasoned pan, you can today because you have removed all of the seasonings from your pan. Furthermore, you should only use a mild or natural soap and warm water. Never use a dishwasher under any circumstances.

To start this process, simply submerge the skillet in warm water or a combination of warm water and mild soap. Scrub all of the leftover rust particles and debris with a semi-abrasive sponge or scrubber.

You can use a nylon brush, plastic brush, semi-abrasive sponge, steel wool, or salt scrub. Additionally, there are many cast iron specific scrubbers out there that would work just fine. It’s just important to not use anything that is really abrasive.

However, the salt scrub is a trusty method that has been used to clean cast iron skillets for years. It can even remove rust debris, making it one of the top choices in rust removal. Once it has been cleaned, you should wipe it down immediately with a towel.

This ensures that it doesn’t start to form any rust again. Additionally, you can put it in the oven to ensure that it is totally dry. Never leave it out to drip dry in the sink, that is a recipe for disaster.

See also:How to clean Stainless Steel Cookware

Tips When Cleaning a Cast Iron Skillet Pan

Before you clean a skillet using vinegar the right way, you have to be aware of a few helpful things:

How to Remove Old Seasoning from a Cast Iron Skillet

The seasoning on a cast iron cooking component often features polymerized oil. The oil helps ensure the meals you like preparing don’t impart a bad taste on the skillet surface. 

The coating develops when you heat the pan and helps protect your meals from unusual flavors from the metal.

Lye is a popular term people use for sodium hydroxide, which works well for removing polymerized oil.

It’s a common product for various procedures, including soap preparation. 

However, such properties mean that you have to be cautious when using Lye for cookware. 

Some Lye products are strong and can cause severe chemical burns. So, find ways to handle it just like you would with a hot pan. 

While it’s a delicate substance, it works well for removing seasoning on a cast iron pan. In addition, it’s less likely to damage the pan structure or lead to pitting issues.

Heavy-duty gloves will also be helpful for this process. That is because they protect your hands from the Lye you plan on using for the cleaning.

Tips for Preventing Rust

Once you are through cleaning your pan, realize that it might be prone to rusting again. A few helpful tips to stop such issues might include:

  • Ensure you keep the pan dry thoroughly after cleaning. A good recommendation is to clean the pan after use or pat it dry with a towel.
  • Store the pan in a cool and dry place after cooking.
  • Avoid using abrasive scrubbers on your pan. A better alternative is to soak it in some warm water and then clean it using a brush with soft bristles. 
  • Avoid cleaning your cast iron cookware in dishwashers. Instead, do the cleaning process manually so that you won’t compromise the pan’s materials.
  • Avoid leaving stubborn stains from meals on your pan for long durations. Such issues can compromise the quality of the cast iron and seasoning. 

Final Thought:

I Have Tried To Cover Each & Every Angle To Clean A Rusty Cast Iron Skillet With Salt, Vinegar and potatoes.

There are many different types of the method you can use to clean up rust elements; but, believe me, these are the most effective & easy solution.

If found our cont is very helpful please share it with your friends, or even in your social media account.

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Brief Description On Seasoning The Cast Iron Skillet:

Hope you completely de-rust the skillet. Before seasoning, you just need to heat up ( at 325F- 375 F) the pan to make it moisture free. There are many types of oil may be present at your kitchen you can use it for seasoning.

Many culinary people like to use olive oil for seasoning.

But, I like to use the grape-seed, avocado oil for seasoning, it’s not a low smoke point oil.

Take one tablespoon of high smoke point vegetable oil & gently polish with paper towel; make sure each & every angle of the cast iron must be perfectly oil coated.

It will also, wipe out few rust elements from the pan.

Now take a new paper towel & wipe out everything, make sure only a thin layer of oil exist on the surface.

You can again add a tablespoon of oil & repeat the same process twice for better seasoning.

Finally insert the skillet into the oven, set the oven temperature between 400F to 450F, timer for 45 minutes.

After the time out left it for few hours; until the pan & oven temperature comes at room temperature.

Take out the pan. If you want very good seasoning must re-season it for at least two times.

 How do you Prevent a Cast Iron pan From Rusting?

  • Always keep the cast iron in a dry place.
  • Never clean up the food residues with hard scrubber & detergent. It’ damages the seasoning coating. Inundate the skillet into worm lite soapy water, left it for 5 to 10 minutes & use a paper towel instead of the scrubber.
  • Must heat up the pan after cleaning, for every time you use it.
  • If you use a cast-iron skillet on daily basis, must season it at least twice in a month.
  • Last but not in the list, never wash any cast iron kitchenware into your dishwasher.

Vinegar and rust: The final word

Using vinegar mixed with water is one of the best iron cast cleaner methods you can employ to get rid of unwanted rusting on your pans. So, if you find yourself stuck with rust, pull out the vinegar and have it shining like new again in no time! Why not bookmark this article detailing how to clean rusty cast iron for the next time you need to remove rust from your cast iron skillet?


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