The most likely place to encounter a cast iron pipe is leading up and out of a cast iron stove. Cast iron is prized for its ability to retain and radiate heat, making it an excellent cook surface and a very efficient method of heating. Cast iron pipe tends to be self-cleaning because of its debris-sloughing seasoned patina. It's still a good idea to maintain your cast iron piping by disconnecting the stove or extinguishing the fire in it, waiting for the iron to cool, and then removing any accumulated dust, soot and debris. This helps to maintain the patina and also to maintain the heating efficacy of the cast iron pipe.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Clean cloths
- Soft-bristled nylon brush
- Nylon-bristled bottle brush
- Pipe cleaners
- Plastic spoon
- Lemon or lime
- Long-handled barbecue fork
- Wire brush
- Vegetable oil
Wipe down the cast iron pipe, inside and out, with a damp cloth. This should remove any loose dirt and debris.
Scrub any stubborn dirt or deposits away with a soft-bristled nylon brush. Especially difficult spots can be scraped at with a plastic spoon. If the pipe is too narrow to get your hand into for scrubbing, use a thick, nylon-bristled pipe cleaner or bottle brush.
Sprinkle salt on any remaining dirt or grease deposits. Slide a lemon or lime in half and use the open, cut face of the fruit as a scouring pad. Scour in circles over the salt-covered spot of soil, then rinse clean with plenty of warm water. To reach spots on the inside of smaller pipes, sprinkle the salt in and then skewer the cut lemon or lime through the back with a long-handled barbecue fork and use this to help you reach into the pipe and scrub.
Scrub any rusty spots away with a wire brush.
Dry the pipe, inside and out, with a clean, dry cloth. This is critically important because if left to sit with water on it, the pipe will rust.
Dip a clean rag in vegetable oil and wipe a thin coat on to the pipe, inside and out. This helps protect the cast iron from moisture and maintain the patina that keeps dirt and grease from sticking.
Tips and warnings
- Never use dish soap or conventional detergent on a cast iron surface; this will strip away the seasoned patina and invite rust.
- If a part of your cast iron pipe was rusted, be warned that it may smoke as you heat it up again after the vegetable oil coating; the smoke is a sign that a new seasoned patina is developing.