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I bought a rusty old cast iron cooking pot from my landlady for only $3. It was in her dark, dirty, wet basement. It is very wet down there and had not been used in many years. So you can get the idea how rusty this old pot was.
I want to clean it up to use it for soap making on my wood stove. I wanted a dedicated cast iron pot for this purpose.
So I got a fire going outside in the woods and let it burn down some. To clean cast iron cookware you just toss it onto a bed of coals and let it burn out.
When the flames were down some I put the pot on the fire along with a cast iron frying pan and my old Wok. The frying pan I had found about a year ago sitting outside and always wanted to clean it up and put it into daily service in my kitchen.
The Wok had been violated by mice last winter when I left for Australia. The mice had dirtied up the Wok which was in my off grid RV kitchen. So this has been sitting outside for a year now as well.
These three items were the perfect test for cleansing by fire.
I used a metal garden rake to turn the cast iron cookware occasionally over the fire to make sure I burnt off both the inside and out.
Once the fire was fully died down and there was only a bed of coals then the cleaning got serious. The hot bed of coals burns off all the rust, filth, oils and anything else. It turns it all do a light dusting of ash.
When the coals had burnt down I removed my cast iron cookware and let it cool outside.
This was winter so I had to be careful not to sit it down in the snow. The sudden cold would crack the cast iron instantly.
I brought in the cast iron frying pan first because it looked like the easiest to finish. It had burnt off quite well.
I used some paper towels and vegetable oil to wipe the ash out of the frying pan on both top and bottom.
You could see that the fire had burnt off most of the rust. It was just a dusting all over the pan now which had to be removed with a towel.
You could wash the pan with water and soap if you had access to running water. Then immediately put the pan in a hot oven or on the stove top to dry it off right away.
But I am off the grid in the dead of winter and have no running water at this time.
So I used the paper towels and oil. About 6 paper towels later and I had a pretty clean cast iron frying pan.
I put one more generous coat of oil on the pan to prepare it for seasoning.
Seasoning a cat iron frying pan is simply done by coating it with oil and then heating it at 300 degrees for a while. This causes the oil to seep into the pores of the pan and sort of bake in.
This creates the best, original non stick frying pan.
I put my frying pan on top of my wood stove to season it and left it overnight.
In the morning I had the most awesome, clean looking frying pan. It looked like it had just been purchased from the store. It has the perfect black color of a properly seasoned cast iron pan.
The next thing to do was to cook some eggs in my newly restored cast iron pan.
Eggs stick badly to most surfaces and make a good test of any non stick coating.
The cooking went well and the eggs did not stick to my frying pan. Success.
And breakfast was good too.
Later I will show you how to clean an maintain your cast iron cookware.