Restoring Cast Iron Cookware

Restoring Cast Iron Cookware

“I was eyeballing this brilliant looking cast iron frying pan. I liked it, but there was no way I was going to pay for it. I looked around to make sure nobody was watching me and proceeded to stroll casually past, swooping down and grabbing the pan in one swift motion. Nobody was any the wiser.”

Ahhh roadside rubbish collection. Everyone wants to dig around for treasures, and everybody looks like criminals when they are doing it.

This is the level of gunk we are talking here...

This is the level of gunk we are talking here…

So I got this frying pan home and washed it up; then I washed it again. And again. The muck just wasn’t coming off! Not to worry, I’m sure there are a few of you out there who have a camp oven or pan overcome with rust or other stubborn filth; so with the Great Aussie Camp Oven Cook Up coming along in a few months, what better time to show you how to clean them up!



  1.  First thing you want to do is give it a wash in good hot water to remove as much grease as you can. You don’t want your wire brush clogging up with cooking grease.
  2. Clamp your item down to a work bench. Make sure it’s not the kitchen bench. Actually don’t do this in the house, or even near it if you can avoid it. This exercise was MUCH messier than I expected!
  3. Choose your method of cleaning. If you’re just looking at a bit of surface rust, a piece of steel wool will remove it easy. If like me you have an extra 2 kilo’s of rust and grease built up, better go for a wire brush or sanding disc attachment in a drill or angle grinder.
  4. Rub away at any rust patches with your bit of steel wool, a bit of water might make it easier. If you are going all out like I did then just attack it right back until it’s no longer black. I didn’t wear a dust mask. If you are doing it my way you probably should. On the positive side; I did get to smell the last two decades of meals cooked on this thing. Mostly sausages I think.
    Barely looks like the same pan hey?!

    Barely looks like the same pan hey?!

    Now that it’s all back to bare metal, it has to be seasoned. Seasoning your cast iron cookware has a few benefits. Firstly it prevents rusting, and most of the time rust is caused when the seasoning is removed by excessive scrubbing. Secondly; the better you season your item, the better it’s non-stick properties will be! Sounds too good to be easy right? Well it’s actually more simple than cleaning the item up in the first place.


  1. Now that your cast iron is free of all rust and build ups, you need to give it a good wash in hot water again to remove the last bits of dust or grease.
  2. To season, you need some serious heat. The best way to do this is with a hooded barbeque if you have one. You can use the oven in your house, but it’s going to smoke and stink a lot. Or just throw it on the campfire. Whatever you choose, get it to about 250ºC.
  3. Use a piece of paper towel soaked in olive oil to lightly coat the entire item. You can also use spray oil if you prefer. Whichever you chose, only coat it lightly.
  4. Heat it up for about 60-90 minutes and watch it turn a lovely black. One coating should  be fine if you have just removed a little surface rust, otherwise repeat the process at least two or preferably three times.
  5. Give it a last wash in hot water to remove any oil that may not have baked on, and you should have a brand new piece of cast iron cookware that looks something like this:

DSC_6657That’s another roadside collection win for me!


Alex Garner

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  1. EVO
    May 25, 16:29 Reply
    thats a great idea !!!
  2. Linda
    May 25, 18:45 Reply
    I'll be checking the roadside verge collection more thoroughly next time (21/22 June if you're interested in some NOR spoils)
    • Alex Garner
      June 03, 09:56 Reply
      Thanks Ben, amazing what a bit of elbow grease can achieve hey?
  3. rolly
    October 18, 21:32 Reply
    I have a couple here for you to do Alex,I will drop them off for you to do, great work Alex

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