How to Clean Rusty Cast Iron Skillets

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To clean rusty cast iron skillets, use salt and vegetable oil to remove rust safely. Keep your cast iron skillets rust-free with help from a chef in this free video on cookware.

Part of the Video Series: Cookware
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Video Transcript

Welcome everyone! My name is Thanitra Pichedvanichok, otherwise known to my students as Chef T. I'm a Personal Chef, Caterer and Culinary Instructor at Tspoons, my boutique cooking school in Ladera Ranch, California. In this clip, we're going to show you how to clean a rusty cast iron skillet. So, what I have here is my old rusty skillet. So, as you can see we definitely have a lot of rust that's built up on the skillet overtime. What we're going to need to clean our skillet is some paper towels, some salt and it could be any type of salt and some vegetable oil. Oh, and of course, you'll need your tongs. Now, what we're going to first do is we're going to turn on the stove top just to heat it up a bit. It's going to help to loosen up any of the old particles and grime that's still stuck on your pan there. There we go, I think it's on there. Now, while it's heating up, I'm going to go ahead and get my oil ready and my paper towels. Now, as you can see, I'm going to use my tongs with this because it is going to be hot and I want to make sure that I'm cautious with this and protect my hands. Now that it's heated up, I'm going to go ahead and turn it off. Next, I'm going to drizzle some vegetable oil into the pan; so, a generous amount of vegetable oil just to coat the bottom of the pan. That looks pretty good. Now, I'm going to take my paper towel and tongs and go ahead and rub all of that oil into the pan there. This will help to remove any of the rust that is on the surface of the pan there. We're going to give it a little bit of a deeper clean in a minute here; but, the vegetable oil is a good start. You can also use any type of oil; it could be olive oil as well. So now that I've rubbed in our vegetable oil into our skillet, I'm going to go ahead and sprinkle some salt into it. Let's get a new piece of paper towel here. So, that looks pretty good. So, as you can see we've, I've already removed some of the rust in the skillet there. Okay, let's toss that out. Now, I'm going to sprinkle some salt into the skillet. Not only does this work as an abrasive, but, it also helps to season your skillet for its next use. Get another piece of paper towel and the pan is still hot; so, I want to be careful. So, I'm again going to use my tongs and just really work the salt into the pan there. Okay. And we'll really just at this point, rubbing out all of the rust. You can start to see that some of the rust is actually coming off here onto the paper towel. Okay. You can actually see the salt turning a little, a little rusty color there because it is picking up all that rust in there. Okay. That's looking pretty good. I think I got most of it out already. Let's go ahead and give it another good scrub there. And by now, the skillet should have cooled down; so, let me just give it a quick check because I want to take it over to the sink. So, I think we're good. So now, I'm going to go ahead and rinse it out with some hot water to make sure I get rid of any off the residue that we were able to get off earlier. Go ahead and rinse it out. And now, we're going to go ahead and take it back to our stove top. So, now that we've rinsed out all the reside that was left behind, we're going to go ahead and just dry it out a little bit. I'm just going to use my paper towel and just dry it off. Make sure you get the sides as well. I'm actually going to also turn on my stove top just for about a minute to make sure I've dried it off completely. There we go. I'm going to leave it there for about a minute just to make sure that we completely dry out our skillet. The heat of course helps to dry it out completely. And while I'm waiting for that to dry out, I'm going to go ahead and take my paper towel and again, because the skillet is hot, I'm going to use my tongs. It looks like our skillet is dried out pretty good now; so, I'm going to go ahead and turn it off. So, what I'm going to dip now is a little bit of vegetable oil. I'm going to go ahead and squeeze all of the vegetable oil out into the skillet. Goodness, I think I need another bottle of vegetable oil here. Let's see what we have here. Okay. So, a little more vegetable oil here. Go ahead and give it a good drizzle there to coat the bottom. So, now I'm really going to work that vegetable oil into the skillet. Make sure you really just rub the sides and the bottom. You want to really just coat the entire skillet with the vegetable oil. This actually helps to prepare it for its next use and now, you have a nice rust-free cast iron skillet. And that's how you clean your rusty cast iron skillet.

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