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How to Restore Cast Iron Cookware

Updated February 21, 2019

Well-seasoned cast iron pots and pans are revered by cooks for their ability to heat evenly and retain heat. They're nearly indestructible, easy to clean and maintain, and have a natural non-stick surface. Whether through use or abuse, cast iron cookware can accumulate caked-on carbonised grease and food deposits. Cast iron rusts quickly if not cleaned and cared for properly. Restoring the cookware requires stripping the cast iron to bare metal, then thoroughly cleaning and reseasoning it.

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  1. Place the cast iron cookware in a self-cleaning oven and run the cleaning cycle for three hours. Even the hardest, oldest caked-on accumulations will burn off, leaving only a light ash. Proceed to step 4.

  2. Coat the entire pot or pan with spray oven cleaner and place it in a heavy, sealed plastic bag. This will remove most residues within a day. Rinse and dry the cookware and repeat the process on large deposits or stubborn spots if needed.

  3. Use a brass wire brush or a power drill with a brass cup brush attachment to remove remaining accumulations. Brass is softer than iron and won't scratch the metal.

  4. Wash the cookware in hot, soapy water and use a steel wool or brass pad to remove any rust. Rinse and dry it thoroughly and set it on the stove burner at low heat for a few minutes to evaporate all the moisture.

  5. Season the cookware by coating it with lard, shortening, or bacon grease. Set it in an oven at 121 degrees Cor half an hour, then remove it. Recoat areas that appear dry and wipe areas where the fat has pooled.

  6. Put the cookware back in the oven for another two hours to complete the seasoning. Remove it from the oven, rinse it with warm water and wipe it dry.

  7. Tip

    Provide good ventilation by opening windows or doors when cleaning cast iron in a self-cleaning oven.


    Wear rubber gloves and eye protection when using oven cleaner. Wear eye protection when using a wire brush or cup brush.

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Things You'll Need

  • Self-cleaning oven
  • Spray oven cleaner
  • Brass wire brush or cup brush
  • Dish detergent
  • Steel wool
  • Shortening, lard or bacon grease

About the Author

Meg Jernigan has been writing for more than 30 years. She specializes in travel, cooking and interior decorating. Her offline credits include copy editing full-length books and creating marketing copy for nonprofit organizations. Jernigan attended George Washington University, majoring in speech and drama.

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