If you love to cook, you are probably aware of the resurgence in popularity of cooking with a cast iron skillet or Dutch oven. You may have inherited a cast iron skillet from your grandmother, or you may have seen cast iron skillets at garage sales or estate sales or flea markets. Maybe your son was in Boy Scouts years ago, and his troop used a Dutch oven to cook over a campfire. Instead of buying a new cast iron skillet or Dutch oven, you could restore an old one.

Maybe you think that restoring your rusty cast iron skillet or Dutch oven is too difficult for you to attempt. Maybe you thought the rusty iron skillet you saw at a garage sale or estate sale or flea market was too damaged to be restored. You were wrong! With a few simple items and a little elbow grease, you can make these items as good as new.

To restore a cast iron skillet or Dutch oven, you will need a scouring pad (SOS pad) or fine steel wool, vegetable oil (e.g., Mazola oil), paper towels, warm water, dishwashing soap (e.g., Dawn), a soft towel, a large cookie sheet, aluminum foil, and an oven.

Below are the directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Using a scouring pad or fine steel wool, scrub off rust from pan and lid,
  3. Wash in warm, soapy water.
  4. Dry thoroughly with a soft cloth towel.
  5. Coat inside and outside of pan and lid with vegetable oil (e.g., Mazola oil). Use a paper towel to spread oil around.
  6. Wipe off excess vegetable oil with a clean paper towel.
  7. Put aluminum foil on a cookie sheet and place on the bottom rack of an oven to catch drips.
  8. Place pan, upside down, on top rack of oven. Place lid, right side up, on top rack of oven.
  9. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.
  10. Turn off oven. Let pan and lid cool in oven. Remove pan, lid, and cookie sheet.

Store Dutch oven with a folded paper towel between one side of pan and lid to allow air to circulate.

—By Karen Centowski

To see a video about how to restore a rusty cast iron skillet or Dutch oven, go to How To Restore Rusty Cast Iron Cookware at

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