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RLM
Hi,

I was just wondering if you guys always remove the old seasoning from used cast iron found at thrift stores, flea markets, etc.?  The thing is I found a nice 9 inch skillet that after 3 soaks in lye oven cleaner for several days still has some very hard black crust along the edges and bottom that will not come off no matter what.  It's substantially thicker than regular seasoning.  Most of the actual cooking surface is clean however, but some crust remains along the edges.  Would you just season it up and use it, or is it very important to remove every last bit of crust before using it?  I guess what I'm saying is will it make me sick or anything?  I really like collecting the old cast iron when I can find it cheap, which is rare these days, but it just takes so much work and time to get clean and usable.

Thanks,

Rob
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JMull
ROB: I once cleaned a griddle and three different size frying pans at the same time by putting them in the oven as my wife was ready to turn on "self-clean" mode.  They all came out perfect, and there was no damage to the oven.  She was worried the cast iron would break something, it didn't... but I was worried for at the full 40 minute cycle. 
JIM MULL - from Jersey: #7 in Sears, #115 in Turds, #1948 in Mil-Spec, #48 in BernzOmatic, #1 in Cecilia's Heart.
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mikew
A friend of mine recently used electrolysis to clean off a case iron griddle.
Mike
"... at evening time, it shall be light." Zechariah 14:7

Slant Saver #05; Milspec Ops 0045
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Oldbiker
I've cleaned several pieces like Jim did. In the oven on self cleaning.
Robert W. from TN.
If it's been done before, I can do it. Maybe not as good as some, but I can do it.
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Muzzleloadin
Self cleaning oven works if you have one, I put them over my camp stove, start with low heat and slowly crank it up, to fast and it will crack, run it until it burns off, also I have used a wire wheel on a grinder to break the big chunks off
BernzOmatic Appreciation Club #021 
275 Appreciation Syndicate Member #0183
Coleman slant saver #23

Justin

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Majicwrench
Electrolysis removes it for me.

That said, if the cooking surface is clean, what else matters??

No, it ain't gonna kill you.
Keith
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gootsch
My trick is to bury the cast iron pan at least 1 inch deep in the ashes in your wood stove and to leave  it there for about a week in the winter with a continuous fire in the stove. The pan will come out clean with no elbow grease on your part.

Gootsch
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nomis1
I think you'll be fine using it as is. Just be sure its rinsed thoroughly from the oven cleaner then do your own seasoning method. If you are really obsessed with getting it off then you can go further with some of the above suggestions. Are you sure that whats left isn't pitting of the metal?

Simon
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Oldbiker
Unless previously owned by Jeffrey Dahmer.
Robert W. from TN.
If it's been done before, I can do it. Maybe not as good as some, but I can do it.
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SteveRetherford
the put in the ashes is because its wood ash that they make lye from , i like to soak in lye to remove all the old crud . oven spray also works good if left in a plastic bag for a day or so .
[DrSteve2]    Steve , Keeper of the Light !!!
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JohnnyMac
I drop them into a covered plastic tub filled with a lye solution (1 lb lye/ 5 gal water) and ignore them for a week or two.  Take them out and rinse off.  If there is some rust, or really stubborn films (sometimes they've been coated with stove polish), I then use the e-tank.

Caution about using the campfire method.  Depending on the heat, and type of wood, you CAN inadvertently "case harden" the surface of the pan, which makes seasoning difficult, or impossible. You'll sometimes find pans that have been through a house-fire, that have what looks like an odd-colored rust, which is caused by this effect.

If anyone would like a critique of my work, ask MOWGOD's wife, who went home from Gettysburg with several pans I have restored.
Accidental Member of the 237-B Club
"When all else fails, turn it into a Frankie!"
Lancaster Lanterns 400 CP "Toasted Retinas" Club 
"Why would someone make a 1000 CP lantern?  Because they CAN!"

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curtludwig
Depends on what the "stuff" is. My wife's grandmother gave me a cast iron pan that had some kind of non-stick coating on it. It wouldn't take seasoning worth a hoot and food stuck to the coating like crazy.

That crap would flake off on the food during cooking, I boiled water with baking soda in it which is my normal method of seasoning but that didn't touch it. I tried everything I could think of and finally just used the angle grinder with a wire brush which tore it all out double quick. Its a good pan now and beginning to really season up well.
Curt

2017 ICCC Convention Host

BernzOmatic Appreciation Club #019

http://www.youtube.com/c/lanternlabs
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JohnnyMac
I restored a cast iron griddle for my sister, that originally had a "non-stick" coating which had peeled in places. E-tank floated the coating right off, leaving nothing but iron.
Accidental Member of the 237-B Club
"When all else fails, turn it into a Frankie!"
Lancaster Lanterns 400 CP "Toasted Retinas" Club 
"Why would someone make a 1000 CP lantern?  Because they CAN!"

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Stan_D
If you used the "no fumes"oven cleaner, it won't have as good of an affect as the full strength stuff.
Einstein, when describing radio said "Wire telegraph is like a very long cat. You pull his tail in NY and he meows in LA. And radio works the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."
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bmoore
I'm with JMull. Put it in the oven on self clean. Brush the ash dust off it when cool. It's ready to be re-seasoned with no chemicals and no mess.
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xvz12
After my father died, I inherited all of his dutch ovens, they had sat for many years in an open shed, so not only the seasoning was in sorry shape, they were quite rusty as well.  I brought home a pickup load of oak scraps from a local church furniture store, buried them in the mound of scraps, & set fire to it.  Burned all day, nothing but ash & pristine grey cast iron by the evening.  Brought them in & seasoned them in the normal manner oft discussed here, & they've served me & our local scout troop well for many years.   DISCLAIMER:  Although this works well for cleaning up neglected cast iron, one must be careful, uneven heating and/or cooling can result in warped/cracked iron.
Wynn - xvz12

ICCC#1560
MilSpecOps Syndicate #77
Coleman 275 Appreciation Syndicate #0150
Looking for almost anything kero...[wink]
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Oldguy896
The self cleaning cycle on an oven will work great, with one word of caution. The smoke may make the spouse irritable. Trust me on this one.

Dewey.
Deweyt. Coleman 275 Appreciation Syndicate #0140

Looking for lanterns 6/55, 6/81, and 12/84
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Miller Light
I won't lie, I use lye. Drain opener, sometimes it takes a week or more.
All my lanterns are stenciled "CW''
Sometimes the fountain of knowledge flows from the mouths of long neck bottles.
Born to lose. Live to win. Lemmy Kilmister
Miles.
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james1095
I used the self cleaning cycle on my oven exactly once for the intended purpose of cleaning the oven. Never again, it smoked up the house, smelled terrible, made it 85 degrees in the kitchen and the exhause from the (gas) oven made a big brown streak up the control panel that took some scrubbing to get off. I talked to a guy once who had worked for an appliance company, he said the self cleaning feature is real hard on the oven but they keep offering it because people insist on having it.
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Majicwrench
I'm with James on that, never liked the oven heating itself that high.
Keith
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dpatten
I've used the self-cleaning feature once on about a half dozen pans.  It worked great, no warping etc.  I DID however, have to replace the bottom element in the oven and the house stank for a week.  Irritable spouse ALMOST begins to describe it. not to mention the $40 element.

I've found that Lye based oven cleaner, the cheap stuff in a plastic bag, is only just OK on light crust.  

To really get bad stuff off, I use straight lye in a 5 gallon bucket with a lid with a large rock on top of that, that I sit out in the sun to get nice and hot.  In a couple days the pans are free of crust.  After that, I repeat that process with citric acid to remove rust.  Scour it after that with soapy water and some 0000 steel wool and season.
Dennis the Peasant

ICCC Member #1337 (Thanks Dean!)
Coleman 275 Appreciation Syndicate #0086

"One of the sanest, surest, and most generous joys of life comes from being happy over the good fortune of others."
-R.A. Heinlein-
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RLM
This is the kinda stuff I'm dealing with, seems hard as a rock.  I'm not sure if my oven has a self clean mode, it's a small apartment with one of those half size type ranges, but might have to take it over to my parents.  I also like the wire wheel idea, do you guys just lock the pan up in a vice and go at it?  On this particular pan I just went ahead and used it, cooked some bacon for its first run.  Does anybody else just fry up a half pound of bacon or so and just eat it plain?  Makes a great meal.  I do have several other pans that need attention, and in the past it's taken me a week or more to get them in a usable state, usually involving a ton of elbow greese.  Rob

[27698980175_7cae8399f4_z]
[27598118162_745e94c844_z] 


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SteveRetherford
lye may take a week or so , but that would be gone ....... oh ya , love me some bacon - long time . :-)
[DrSteve2]    Steve , Keeper of the Light !!!
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Majicwrench
Electrolysis would take that off too. Ya just gotta do it.
Keith
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Muzzleloadin
I have clamped it in a vice to wire wheel it, but I have also done it just on my work bench, doesn't take much pressure, I've done whole pans that were like that all over in about 10 min. Would recommend a dust mask if using this method, makes a lot of nasty dust
BernzOmatic Appreciation Club #021 
275 Appreciation Syndicate Member #0183
Coleman slant saver #23

Justin

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bluepen61
Using my Weber charcoal grill, I light up a pile of briquettes and after they are burning hot, place the skillet or oven on top of the coals. I then place the CI on the leveled coals for an hour or two. Using mitts and tongs, I will flip over the CI and allow it to bake for a while. And never using the lid to the Weber grill, allowing full ventilation for the burning coals.

When I think the CI has baked long enough, I carefully remove and place it on a couple of bricks to cool. I prefer doing this on a hot day in the summer. All the time keeping the coals spread for an even heat.


John L. Kemmis ICCC #703
Bernz Appreciation Club #007
I collect the Coleman 290 series
and the usual unusual ones.
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mpetey
I just took a cast iron Wagner Ware skillet and wiped it down with Crisco and put it in the over at 350 for a little over an hour to bake it in.
PBS
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Gunhippie
Every girlfriend I ever had could remove all the season from a cast-iron pot or skillet in one cleaning. I don't know their secret--but they were sure proud of how "nice and shiny" they could make my Griswolds.
It's priceless until someone puts a price on it.
Walk a mile in a man's shoes before you criticize him--then you're a mile away, and he has no shoes.
Texan's last words: "Y'all--hold my beer--I wanta' try sumptin'."
Timm--Middle of nowhere, near the end of the road, Oregon.
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mmriley159
I got to vote for electrolysis.it is simple, non toxic, works like a charm. I had a cousin bring me a pan with decades of crud on it and after a few days soak it fell right off.
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Phat_Daddy35
I have been successful using the gas grill. Setting it as hot as it gets for an hour or more comes out ready to re-season.
Chad
As my good friend Tom says " I'll leave the light on for you" (242 in my case)
Coleman 275 Appreciation Syndicate member #3535
MilSpec Ops #0350
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AllanD
According to my grandfather even possessing a Brillo pad within 10 feet of
a cast iron skillet was a "hanging offense", getting a cast iron skillet wet was another.

"Washing" one was to be accomplished with a DAMP (Not wet) half of a retired hand towel
by wiping the pan while it was still hot, to remove oily residue prior to the wet rag was to
wipe the Pan briskly with the dry half of a similar hand towel bunched up and pushing 1/4
cup of salt around the pan.

His preferred oil for seasoning was Bacon grease. from old school bacon. not that stuff they
sell in stores now, the old kind you'd store by hanging it from a hook in your pantry!

That reminds me I've gotta place my order with Broadbents!
Allan

Don't ask where the burn marks on my workbench came from...

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Yosemite John
Wire cup brush on a drill works for me.
Then a thin coat of oil and onto the charcoal grill with the lid closed for seasoning.
A Happy Camper
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Dubblbubbl
I’ve used a lye bath in a 5 gallon bucket to strip old cast iron to bare metal. Especially one griddle that gave strong iron taste to anything cooked on it, I think it was used for cooking livermush for so long that everything had that flavor.

I’ve also used easy off oven cleaner to spray the piece and wrap in plastic garbage bags for a few days. That works pretty good too.

Haven’t tried electrolysis yet.
Rob in NC
MilSpecOps Syndicate #1962
Coleman 275 Appreciation Syndicate #1962

Sometimes we are the windshield, Sometimes we are the bug...
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ke4ljh
I Use Curt's meathodology. Get an angle grinder with a wire brush or a sanding disk on an electric drill. Get all that old stuff off to make it like new.

The method used generally has to do with what tools we have available. An angle grinder or a sanding disk on an electric drill will clean it up nice. Then season it. I agree with others there is no real necessity to knock off any more than the big chuncks and it's good to go.

I have picked up some cast iron so rusted and crudded over they were in disguise......Got two Griswalds and a Wagner because you couldn't see the manufacturer until after it was cleaned. I used a rotory sanding disk on a drill after a steel wire brush then finer sandpaper on the electric drill then finished it off with some stainless steel, steel wool found in the kitchen cleaning section of wally world. Then I seasoned it in the oven three or four times before use.

I keep ss steel wool in the shop and one in the kitchen just for the cast iron. After seasoning it I found a light cleaning with stainless steel steel wool after each use keeps the finish smooth. Just reseason with bacon grease or butter when ever you cook something and in time will get as slick as glass. That's the magic of the SS steel wool on cast iron. Just not too much......The re seasoning process looks like this.....Just cook with butter.

Stephen - Florida
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LakeGeorge
I use Dollar Tree oven cleaner on my "new old" cast iron. Just got one this week. Wear rubber gloves! Do this in your garage or outside! Spray the oven cleaner onto the cast iron piece, then place it into a regular shopping bag or two. Let it sit overnight. Crud will wipe off with a paper towel. May take several cycles depending on the crud. Flip skillet over, do it again, upside down, until all the crud is off.

A pretty cheap method for $1.00. Works!
Gary Coleman, I am.
I.C.C.C. #1035
11th Annual East Coast Coleman Convention, June 5-9, 2019. Gettysburg, PA
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AllanD
Putting the Cast Iron Pan over a low burner filled with Lye crystals is supposed to work well.

The only way I've ever personally cleaned one was leaving it hanging in a big Rotissary 
Caustic steam cabinet normally used for cleaning bare engine blocks and transmission cases

But I no longer have access to that machinery
Allan

Don't ask where the burn marks on my workbench came from...

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staylit
I've been doing several pieces of CI here lately and my new preferred method is to run them through the self cleaning cycle of my oven (it's 3hrs at 500 degrees), then a cupped wire brush on an angle grinder, then depending what the piece looks like I may do a quick vinegar bath (no more than 20 or 30 minutes), then season 3 to 6 coats with flaxseed oil, each coat is baked 1hr at 500 degrees then turn the oven off and let it cool in the oven for 2hrs, repeat, repeat.......it's a very time consuming method but the results are unbelievable in my opinion anyway.
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