Seasoning cast iron…you see lots of ways out there, but many of them are for ‘new’ cast iron and the old time or very rusty looking ones. Last year I won at auction for less than $20 including shipping a cast iron waffle maker with the original wooden handles. Really cool, very old, original Wagner…problem was it had been painted on the outside (guess someone thought it would look ‘pretty’ that way) and the inside was a rusted mess…now here’s the thing about ‘rust’ and cast iron…you do the best you can to remove it and then go ahead and season it…best practice for removing heavily rusted cast iron is to use a steel brush and elbow grease…now I know some people go overboard and use sandblasting, oven cleaner (um, excuse me but that stuff gets INTO the cast iron and you will be eating it) and other extreme measures that are not necessary. You don’t have to remove all the rust!!! Do the best you can and move on! If you feel that you need more than soap and steel wool or a steel brush you may safely use salt or baking soda…I used soap, baking soda and a steel brush (for the inside and fire ring). It took several go arounds to get it decently de-rusted and to remove most of the paint from the outside but I got it done…I used soap only along with the steel brush to clean two small ‘egg’ pans that I recently found on the cheap at a thrift shop. They a tad bit of rust but some crusty stuff in/around the bottom rim of the pans.

After cleaning it is important that you HEAT them up before seasoning them…I just used the stove top on a low temperature setting…no oven (and YES I have a glass top range and YES its okay to use cast iron on these stoves, just be sure to PICK THEM UP to move them around, do NOT slide otherwise you will get scratches on the surface). It is important to dry them out by heating for two reasons, first, you want to make sure all the water is gone before coating with your choice of oil/fat so that they are less likely to rust again and secondly, by drying them out thoroughly using heat you open the ‘pores’ to readily absorb the oil deep into the cast iron which helps prevent future rust and less sticking to occur.

After drying these out well on the stove I allowed them to cool down enough to handle, they were still very warm, but not hot. And this is were I diverged on how I ‘seasoned’ them.

The small egg pans I used a very light coat of olive oil rubbed on with a paper towel and then popped into a pre-heated (350 degrees) oven. I kept these in the oven until all visible signs of the oil was gone. Took about 2 hours. Allow to slowly cool down before storing.

The waffle maker was another story. Since I couldn’t remove the handles I had to season on the stove top using a burner on a very low setting (I used the number 2 setting on the dial). You want to use a very low setting to keep the wooden handles from splitting. I was able to lightly rub on oil on the fire ring and on the outside of the waffle maker, but because of the groves on the inside, I got out the Pam spray and put a quick, light coat on the inside of the waffle maker..then onto the stove top they went…originally I put it together and just used one burner, but the fire ring was done well before the ‘maker’ part of it was so I broke the waffle maker down and put each side on its on burner (see pictures). It took about 6 hours for the waffle maker pieces to completely absorb the oil I had sprayed on, but it was well worth the extra time and effort! I now have a working cast iron waffle maker…and was able to save the original wooden handles! Again, allow to slowly cool down before storing.

Alternately you can also clean this way:
From VaCreepinoutdoors

Some simple rules for cast iron:
Do NOT use chemicals to clean them…the cast iron will absorb the chemicals and then you eat them when you use them.
Do NOT be afraid of using steel wool or a steel brush to clean them up the first time.
Be sure to reason your cast iron if you insist on using soap and water to ‘clean’ them after using them.
Every time you use soap and scrub you are removing the ‘seasoning’ and you will have to reseason the pot/pan.
Be sure to use A LOT of oil or fat when cooking using cast iron or if using a dutch oven type cast iron pot, low heat, long cook time to avoid burning food to the bottom and sides.
You don’t have to ‘clean’ after each use…a quick wipe out with a rag or simply wiping with a rag and water is all you need to do in between uses…this keeps the seasoning in tact and adds to it.
NO you won’t get sick if you don’t ‘clean’ them. Just WIPE clean with a cloth…if you use water be sure to reheat to prevent rust.
Remember, cast iron will pick up smells from where you keep them for long term storage. Avoid storing in an area with strong smells unless you don’t mind it.

Have fun and get cooking with cast iron! You can use them anywhere, fire pits, stove tops, ovens, woodstoves, grills, rocket stoves…you name it, versatile cast iron is great to use and as a bonus will add minerals and flavoring to anything you cook in them.