How to Restore and Season Cast Iron Naturally

How to Restore and Season Cast Iron Naturally Main

I’d wanted a cast iron skillet for a while.  But every time I looked at the prices online and in retail stores, I was reminded why I didn’t have one.  New cast iron can be so expensive.  Then I stumbled upon hidden treasure at my favorite thrift store.  I snagged a 10-inch and a 6-inch skillet for $7.49 total.  The cast iron skillets had seen better days.  Here are the steps I took to restore and season my pre-loved cast iron naturally.

I assessed the damage.  The 10-inch skillet was scratched and somewhat rusty.  There were no cracks, so I knew this would be salvageable.

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The 6-inch skillet looked to be in better condition at first glance.  There was no rusting and it seemed to be seasoned pretty well already.  However, there was a greasy, sticky, green goo that coated the inside bottom of the rim.  I had my work cut out for me.

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Thankfully, all of these issues could be solved with a two-step process of restoring and seasoning.

How to Restore Cast Iron

First, I applied salt to all surfaces of the pans.  I used sea salt, but any salt will do.  The salt not only removed the green goo, but it completely annihilated the rust.  Even some of light scratching.was gone after I scrubbed with the salt for only a few minutes.  My pans only had minor surface issues, so this step was a cinch.

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  • Bonus tip:  If you use your bare hands to do this step, you’ll have perfectly smooth, exfoliated, and glowing skin when you’re finished.

How to Season Cast Iron

The next step is called seasoning. I liberally applied olive oil over the entire surface of the pans.  It was nice and shiny.  I then wiped it off with a paper towel.

Heat helps the oil permanently coat the iron, so I placed the pans in the oven and then heated it to 350 degrees for an hour.  I turned off the oven and let the pans cool in the oven overnight.

You can use coconut oil, flaxseed oil, or whatever cooking oil you like.  Simply heat the oil to it’s smoking point so the non-stick coating can develop.

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The next morning my used cast iron was ready to help me start the day.

I decided to make a very large, perfectly baked cast iron skillet chocolate chip cookie.  What a delicious way to celebrate my success!

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Cast Iron Care Tips

  • New and restored cast iron can take several seasoning coats to achieve a smooth, non-stick surface.  Be patient.
  • Don’t use abrasive, metal scrubbers to clean the cast iron.  This will scrape away your seasoning.
  • Dry the cast iron completely immediately after washing.
  • Re-season with cooking oil about once a month to maintain your seasoning.

This was my first attempt to restore and season cast iron.  It was so easy and fast.  I hope this encourages you to scour the bargain bins and garage sales to find your next little restoration project.

Do you have a different, natural method to restore and season cast iron?  Leave a comment to let us know.

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5 Comments:
  1. Here’s my story. I am from Romania and we have been using cast iron dutch ovens for hundreds of years. We don’t use skillets as much, but we have some…. not sure how to call them. They are bigger, like dutch ovens, but we use them on the stove. We cook stews, chicken, we deep fry stuff in them. The best homemade fries / fried wings are always made in them. We also have some huge ones that can be used over a camp fire, to make a delicious stew / goulash (this is actually a Hungarian recipe, called bogracs). One of my favorite dishes is similar to the Italian polenta. We use the same ingredients, water, corn meal (usually coarse one) and salt, but we make it very thick and dense. After you remove the polenta, there is a crust forming on the walls of the “dutch oven”. We leave that on the stove (low heat), we add some more of the polenta and pour some milk on top and let it get warm. I like to add sugar, too. It might sound weird, but it is delicious. My husband tried it and loved it (he’s American).

    We never season any cast iron product, but they might be made in a different way? I am not sure. We had some skillets here that were very old and rusty and we made a camp fire and let them burn for a while. That worked great and we were able to use them again.

  2. Thanks for the tutorial! We just snagged two 10 inch cast irons for FREE that someone left out on the curb. Given the great price, they are actually in pretty good condition, but I’m looking forward to seeing them after they get a salt treatment.

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