Chemical reactions: Rusty cast iron cookware

Nobody likes rust. It ruins metal. It looks bad. It takes no prisoners. What is rust?

Corrosion is when the metal’s metallic properties are lost due to oxidation. When iron corrodes, it causes rust.

Rust is the red flakes you see on the iron. Those flakes can flake off and eventually the iron metal will develop a hole.

The chemical composition of rust is Fe2O3.nH2O. It occurs when Fe (iron) contacts 02 (oxygen) and h20 (water).

For example, this occurs with cars, which are exposed to the elements, and cast iron cookware.

Cast iron cookware can rust if not seasoned and taken care of properly. It is different than stainless steel or nonstick pans.

Let’s take a look at how to do that to avoid Fe2O3.nH2O and a way to restore or repair that dutch oven or skillet.

Rusted to pieces?

Many people will recondition a cast iron skillet that has been neglected and has rust. Below is a 19 minute YouTube video from a guy who explained how to restore cast iron skillets.

It is pretty amazing how he uses the self-cleaning oven to get the gunk off a skillet.

Cleaning, seasoning new pan

When you get a new cast iron pan or dutch oven that is not seasoned, you want to wash it with soap and water. (Some manufacturers all ready season dutch ovens and skillets this site notes.)

A Brillo pad with soap works well. Once the skillet has been seasoned, you won’t use soap again.

It needs to be dried completely before seasoning. To start seasoning, use a solid shortening and wipe the shortening over the inside and the outside of the skillet.

After adding the shortening, place the pans upside down on an aluminum covered cookie sheet and let them heat in the oven for an hour or so at 350 degrees F. Turn the oven off and leave the pan in the oven, where it can cool.

Now that the pan is well-seasoned, you don’t want to use soap when cleaning it from now on. You should use hot water. After washing, set the pan on the stove-top to air dry completely before putting away. When putting away, don’t put a lid on the pan because it can trap moisture, which will cause your pan to rust.

Before cooking that lovely T-bone in your pan, consider cooking a few high-fat meats first. High fat meats like bacon will continue to improve the seasoning of your pan.

Seasoning will keep the pan in good shape. Cast iron will last a lifetime. Although there are plenty of companies that make new cast iron cookware according to this site, there are plenty of forums and groups of people who seek out older cast iron skillet brands that are made in the USA.

It is tough to say which is better getting a inexpensive, second-hand skillet or spending a lot of money on a new one. Both have their merits and detractors. Either way, keep the rust at bay.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *