How to Restore Used & Rusty Cast-Iron Cookware


Cast-iron cookware is long-lasting and durable. You can use it over an open campfire, as well as on the home stove and in the oven. When it's not properly taken care of, though, cast-iron cookware can rust. If your cookware is rusty and looks unusable, do not throw it away. With a little elbow grease and simple cleaning techniques you can restore rusty cast iron. Before you know it, the cookware will look as if it never had a speck of rust on it.

Things You'll Need

  • Newspaper
  • Wire brush or steel wool
  • Cloth
  • Water
  • Cooking oil spray
  • Paper towels
  • Oven
  • Baking sheet
  • Potholder
  • Spread newspapers on a flat working surface, such as a table. The newspapers will catch any debris scrubbed off the cast iron as you work.

  • Scrub the inner and outer surfaces of the cast iron with a wire brush or steel wool. Rub over the surface, loosening any rust while being careful not to rub too hard. Scrub the lid, as well as the cookware's bottom.

  • Dampen a cloth with water. Wipe down all surfaces of the cast-iron cookware, including the lid, to remove any loose rust particles.

  • Spray all areas of the cast iron with a cooking oil. Wipe the oil over the cookware's surface with a paper towel if the spray does not fully cover it.

  • Place the cast-iron cookware in the oven, bottom side facing up. Place the cookware and lid on the upper rack in the oven.

  • Place a baking sheet on the lower oven rack, below the cast-iron. It will catch any drips of oil as the cast iron seasons.

  • Turn the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Allow the cast-iron cookware to bake for at least one hour.

  • Remove the cast-iron cookware from the oven, using a potholder. Allow it to completely cool, and wipe the surface clean with a paper towel.

  • Spray the cast-iron cookware once again with the cooking oil. Store the cast iron in an area that is dry, with the lid off.

Tips & Warnings

  • If the weather in your region tends to be humid, place paper towels inside the cast iron while it's in storage. The paper absorbs any moisture and lessens the chance that rust will form.
  • Always dry cast-iron cookware completely before storing it.
  • Properly seasoned cast-iron cookware has few rusting problems and builds up a nonstick surface for cooking.
  • Cook severely rusted cast-iron cookware in a campfire or inside the oven for one to two hours before removing the rust. The rust turns to ash in the high heat, making it easier to remove. Season the cookware as normal.


  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images
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