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DIY Old Cast Iron Skillet Rehab

For this week’s craft, I decided to tackle a DIY project that’s been on my to-do list for a few years. I picked up this old, rusty cast iron skillet at a yard sale a while ago, with full intentions to figure out the right way to bring it back to working condition. I only paid a few dollars for the pan, and liked the overall skillet size. It’s not a vintage skillet that will ever be worth much, but I feel it’s still worth the effort to remove the rust and create something that can be used in the kitchen again. Also, I looked forward to the challenge of figuring out the correct process to banish the iron oxide and season this skillet back into its former glory. 

Rusty
My rusty cast iron skillet
Rusty

After reading several how-to’s online, I found this one from thekitchn.com that seemed pretty straight forward. On a rainy Sunday afternoon, I reread the tutorial, collected my supplies and dug out the old skillet from its dusty storage spot in my garage. Below I’ve detailed the process I used to rehab this old rusty skillet. 

Rusty
Check out the rust on this cast iron skillet

Old Skillet Rehab Materials

Rusty skillet

Fine steel wool

Dish detergent

Vegetable oil

Cookie sheet

Aluminum foil

Old Skillet Rehab Instructions

1 Add a small amount of water to your steel wool. Using small, circular motions begin removing rust from your skillet. Don’t forget to scrub the skillet handle and back. Rinse the pan as you go, to clear away any freed rust.

Skillet After Steel Wool
Skillet After Steel Wool Scrub Back

2 Use dish detergent and a hefty sponge to provide the cast iron skillet with a heavy scrub.

Washing

After scrubbing my skillet with soap, I was able to see any areas that still had rust. Hit your skillet with the steel wool again, if necessary. Repeat dish detergent and sponge scrub afterwards. 

Skillet After Soap Scrub
Cast Iron Skillet After Soap Scrub Back

What a difference a little elbow grease can make! Remember the original closeup?

Cast Iron Skillet Up Close After Scrub

3 When your pan is free of all rust, dry thoroughly with a dish or paper towels. 

4 Pour a small amount of vegetable oil onto a paper towel, and mop over the entire surface of your skillet. Be sure to cover the handle and back of your skillet.

Oiling

5 Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cover your cookie sheet with aluminum foil, and place on the bottom oven rack. Turn skillet upside down and place in middle rack of the oven, and bake for an hour. When the timer dings, turn off your oven and allow skillet to cool in place.

Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet Front
Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet Back

Voila! Your old rusty cast iron skillet is now ready to report for kitchen duty. 

Cast Iron Skillets

Want to know more about cooking with cast iron? Check out this post from our archives, written by Marti Davis.

  • About Jackie Richardson

    Jackie Baird Richardson is an interior designer, editor at The WON and avid junker. Watch for her design tips and occasional crafting ideas, bringing the outdoors indoors.

     

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