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Old 10-31-2012, 09:24 AM   #1
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Revitalizing Cast Iron Pot?

Hey guys! New to the forum...I have been given this great 10 gallon cast iron kettle...would like to use it to cook jambalya's, chili, stews, etc...HOWEVER, you can see it's rusted...there are no cracks or holes.

So, the question is, can it be revitalized where it's safe to use for cooking. Thanks for any input.

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Old 10-31-2012, 09:33 AM   #2
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You have to get ALL the rust off. Consider having it sand blasted. The interior especially should have a smooth even surface. Then season it with lard/shortening/oil to provide a rust barrier and non-stick cooking surface. The problem will be in finding an "oven" that's big enough to cure it.

I'm sure it's too heavy to move around easily.
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Old 10-31-2012, 09:44 AM   #3
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Certainly, assuming no cracks. That doesn't look to bad. Wash it out thoroughly, first, to get off any oils, old food, etc. (I suspect that one has none and hasn't seen use for a long, long time.)

Use an escalating range of methods on the rust, until you get to what works. Sand paper. If it's a bit too much for that, wire brush or wire brush on an electric grinder or drill. I suspect it won't take more than that. You can also start rust removal by filling it up with a 50/50 vinegar solution and letting it sit for a while. Muriatic acid from the pool supply will lift any rust, and someone may recommend it. But I find it seems to change the surface so that it instantly rusts again. If it's really stubborn, a product like Lina-a-Way should finish it off.

When the rust is gone, and it's shiny, wash it again and dry. You can now move on to seasoning. There are many descriptions of seasoning methods on the Internet and many people to argue which way is best. Simplest is to get it hot in a 250F oven and wipe on oil while hot, and if it looks clean and free of rust and such, back into the oven and go up to 500F for an hour. Inspect again. Repeat application of oil and 500F oven until it's slick and hard. It's ready to cook on.

Of course, that's if all goes well. Now, the likely reality. With that sort of iron pot, the surface may well be a bit rough. Just the way it was cast. A wire brush may not get all the rust. In that case, find someone to sandblast it. Ask an auto body shop, if you don't know where to find one. (Personally, I would have it sandblasted without even trying anything less. It's just so thorough, and someone else is doing the work. It really gets it cleaned off.

When it's sandblasted, be ready to jump on it with lard or shortening, or the rust will appear like magic, quicker than you would ever have imagined.

If it's too big for your oven, you may have to do something like this. Hang it over a vigorous charcoal fire or gas burner. You will only be able to get one section at a time up to full heat, but you can turn it and hang it in different ways until you give all of it enough time.
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Old 10-31-2012, 02:22 PM   #4
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Get it sand blasted. While it is being done build a fire. After blasting wipe it out, coat with cooking oil and put over the coals.

You might want to get this calculator


Its an excel spread sheet to get you started with the right ratios.
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Old 10-31-2012, 05:01 PM   #5
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Coca-cola will remove the rust. If you can't fit it into your oven to season. Try using a clean trash can as an oven. Just like the Boy Scouts use to make "Trash Can Turkey".
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Old 11-01-2012, 09:07 AM   #6
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There might be another approach, but these days, it might be tricky.
If you know of anyone locally that raises and slaughters their own hogs...offer the use of your freshly sandblasted and cleaned big old pot for rendering the lard. I realize this is a vanishingly small prospect, but it can be an effective way to season a pot that big.
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Old 11-01-2012, 11:47 AM   #7
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The following has worked great for me

First wash off all the stuff and dry
Then put a handful or two of kosher salt and a few Tb of vegetable oil and scrub in circles hard with paper towels. Refresh materials and rinse and dry as needed between scrubbing. This always works for me.
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Old 11-01-2012, 01:59 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by salt and pepper View Post
Coca-cola will remove the rust.
Really? Excellent tip.
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Old 11-01-2012, 02:06 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Alix View Post
Really? Excellent tip.
Auto body shops use Coke to clean the engines and parts. Take a glass of coke, drop a penny in it, and see what happens over night. Makes you think twice the next time you buy it.
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Old 11-01-2012, 03:08 PM   #10
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Sorry this is getting so off-topic , but I doubt they use Coke when there are cleaners available that don't leave a sticky residue behind. It sounds like you're implying that the acid in Coke is harmful to ingest. The acids in your stomach are stronger than Coke. From Snopes.com:

"... all the insinuations about the dangers these acids might pose to people who drink Coca-Cola ignore a simple concept familiar to any first-year chemistry student: concentration. Coca-Cola contains less citric acid than does orange juice, and the concentration of phosphoric acid in Coke is far too small (a mere 11 to 13 grams per gallon of syrup, or about 0.20 to 0.30 percent of the total formula) to dissolve a steak, a tooth, or a nail overnight."
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Old 11-01-2012, 04:22 PM   #11
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Sand, or bead blasting is the most effective method for removing corrosion from metal. Bead blasting, with dust size glass beads is the method I used to remove corrosion from metal when I worked for Lockheed. It was super effective.

If that isn't available to you, a wire wheel, attached to a drill will work. If you don't have that, coarse emery cloth, again attached to a drill will work. I think I would wet sand, using cooking oil to wet the emery cloth. If you don't have a drill, you can even use a rotary tool, such as a Dremel tool, or something like it. If you have no electric tools, you can block sand it, with a rounded, or flexible block, again with emery cloth, or use a wire brush to remove the rust.

The above methods for removing the rust are listed from easiest method, to the most work intensive method.

To season, you are going to have to find a way to bring the metal up to at least 350' for an hour or better. Of course, the hotter the heat source, the faster the metal will heat to the point that the fat will turn into that wonderful seasoning that protects the metal from corrosion, and insulates the food from the bare metal. Also, the seasoning, which I suspect you already know, will make cleaning the pot easier.

A pot that size probably won't fit in your oven. An outside fire will work. All metal must be coated with fat, whether you use cooking oil, lard, or shortening. Don't use butter. It has solids in it that will burn and leave a bad tasting residue in the pan, before the fat has a chance to turn into an effective coating.

If you have any friends with a wood fired pizza oven, or something similar, that will get you pot hot enough. You may have to get creative.

Barring the availability of a kiln, wood fired large brick oven, or somethign similar, hang the pot over and very close to a blistering hot bed of coals. After an hour or so, turn the pot to expose another side to the heat.

I would season that pot outside, as the seasoning process will probably generate a significant amount of soap.

I think that about covers your options. Oh wait, one more really good option, take that pot to a machine shop and ask them to remove the rust. They will charge you, but they will also be doing the labor. If they have a way to season it with food grade oil, all the better. If not, maybe you have a friend with a turkey fryer. You can use that burner to season it, again by hanging the pot over the flame. A sturdy tripod with a chain should handle the hanging chore.

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Old 03-24-2013, 12:02 PM   #12
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Sandblast it! Its definitely salvageable.
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