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Old 01-10-2013, 11:11 AM   #1
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Stripping Cast Iron

I need your suggestions for stripping cast iron. I just got a new to me chicken fryer off of eBay. It is going to be perfect once I get it stripped and reseasoned. It has so much build up on the sides of the inside that its thick and cracked so I really would like to start from scratch. I only buy old cast iron so this pan will be nice.

Anyway, I have it sitting in a plastic bag with oven cleaner in it. We just got back from camping and I didn't have this then so no way to stick it in a fire. I suppose we could build one in the back yard but it's in the 80ís here. Any other suggestions to getting that thick build up off? It's been in sitting for 24 hours and it's still really thick. No self-cleaning program on my oven although I can ask around my friends if anyone else has it.

Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. I probably need to just exercise a little patience.

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Old 01-10-2013, 11:15 AM   #2
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If you have a gas grill, put the pot and lid in the grill close the top and turn the grill on high. Come back in an hour or so and it'll be clean. This method keeps all the smoke outdoors.

You can also do this with the cleaning cycle in your oven.
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Old 01-10-2013, 11:29 AM   #3
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I was going to say about the cleaning cycle, but it will get smoky and stinky. If that doesn’t work there is always sand paper and lots of elbow grease, unless you have a commercial sander and air compressor.
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Old 01-10-2013, 11:35 AM   #4
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Be patient. The oven cleaner and plastic bag method should work. Reapply oven cleaner every day or so. It may take a week or ten days for it to eat through all the gunk. More info can be found here: Black Iron Blog: Easy Cast Iron Skillet Reconditioning
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Old 01-10-2013, 12:17 PM   #5
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It's too bad you didn't have it while camping.

My grandmother used to put hers in the fireplace about once a year.
It worked well.
I still use them 50 years later and still toss em in the fire now and again.
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Old 01-10-2013, 01:27 PM   #6
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Take it to a 'sand blasting' business. They don't just use sand BTW. They'll tell you to leave it until they are using a less' aggressive' 'bead' than maybe sand. They'll blast it completely clean for twenty bucks. Then start seasoning the fryer with a pot full of a thin slurry of cheap oil and any cheap salt on medium heat for a couple of hours. Then wipe the fryer with the oil/salt mixture and go through a few high heat treatments. Better to this outside for sure! Cast iron is very very porus. Food sticks to it b/c it gets into all those millions of tiny craters. The salt fills the craters. That's why you never wash a cast iron pan/pot/fryer with detergent. It dissolves the salt and you must start all over. So does any acid.
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Old 01-10-2013, 01:39 PM   #7
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Thanks all! This gives me more additional ideas. I just can't wait for it to be done so I can season it and use it.

We are making progress:


It is back in the plastic bag now with additional oven cleaner on it.
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Old 01-10-2013, 06:32 PM   #8
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"stick it in a fire. I suppose we could build one in the back yard but it's in the 80ís here. "

o gee. I had to look on genieology dot com and googel and see if we are close enough related for you to invite me over and show you how to do it. Guess so. But then, I think the TSA has a thing about disposable lighters, blow torches and a bundle of sticks in one's carry on luggage.

My best advice is shoot us another pic tomorry and again the next day until you have some fried chicken cooking in your new pan. Yum.
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Old 01-10-2013, 09:22 PM   #9
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For a old CI pan I had to clean up I used a wire wheel and grinder. Wear eye protection. Seriously.
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Old 01-11-2013, 08:04 AM   #10
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"I think the TSA has a thing about disposable lighters, blow torches and a bundle of sticks in one's carry on luggage."

I have always wanted to own a blow torch.

I haven't checked it this morning yet. It's that bottom edge around the sides that is the most crusty and is going to give me problems. I am almost ready to pull out the power tools.
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Old 01-11-2013, 08:09 AM   #11
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Get it sand blasted Oven cleaner etc is just filling up a very porous metal with toxic chemicals. You may get rid of the 'surface' crap but the chemicals will still be in those millions of tiny craters.
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Old 01-11-2013, 09:24 AM   #12
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I would not use sandblasting, sand paper, or any abrasive. You can harm the pan. I season several a year, and clean with a lye bath.

Go to a hardware store and get a can of lye drain cleaner. You will also need a 5 gallon plastic bucket. I use the ones that restaurants throw away. Mix the lye according to the directions. Attach a wire coat hanger for a handle to the pan, dip, cover, and forget it for a couple of weeks. Your pan will emerge clean. If you have rust, clean with vinegar. Rinse well, and you are ready for seasoning.

The lye bath can be reused over and over.
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Old 01-11-2013, 09:28 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by puffin3 View Post
Get it sand blasted Oven cleaner etc is just filling up a very porous metal with toxic chemicals. You may get rid of the 'surface' crap but the chemicals will still be in those millions of tiny craters.
A lot of collectors who season dozens a year would disagree with both these statements.
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Old 01-11-2013, 09:30 AM   #14
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Yeah I chose the oven cleaner method for the lye. It should only be a couple more days now.

Here is today's progress:


There is some really thick stuff on the bottom and sides. It's coming slowly though. Next time I will either stick it in a fire or get a stronger lye. This is a long but great method for cleaning CI recommended by many and it works pretty well. I am just anxious for it to be clean so I can season it and start using it.
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Old 01-11-2013, 09:44 AM   #15
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I have to assume you're enjoying this lengthy process.
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Old 01-11-2013, 10:16 AM   #16
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I have to assume you're enjoying this lengthy process.
Lol! I have to admit it is fun getting up in the morning to see my progress. So, yes, maybe a little
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Old 01-11-2013, 10:19 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by VitaWright View Post
Lol! I have to admit it is fun getting up in the morning to see my progress. So, yes, maybe a little
That's good. Once you get it clean and reseasoned you'll be able to enjoy it.
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Old 01-11-2013, 10:35 AM   #18
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I used a wire wheel and hand grinder on mine, too, but mine was all rusty.
For as far along as you are you could pick up a welding wire brush at a hardware store and take care of that last bit. It's a simple hand tool and pretty cheap. It will double as a grill cleaner.
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Old 01-11-2013, 01:26 PM   #19
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A lot of collectors who season dozens a year would disagree with both these statements.
I assumed the poster was interested in actually using to fryer....not hanging on a wall. Pretty hard to imagine a cast iron fryer being "harmed" from a trip to a sand blaster. What's going to happen? The 'sand' is going to makes holes in the fryer? LOL Sand for sand blasting is formulated NOT to erode or "harm" what it's 'blasting. There's dozens of different types of 'sand'. You can 'sand blast' 24K gold with finely ground goose feathers if you want to and not "harm" it.
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Old 01-11-2013, 01:58 PM   #20
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Aside from the expense if you don't do it yourself, sandblasting either will not get to the gunk in the pores, or it will remove metal to do so. In addition, sandblasting can leave the surface rough. Either way, you are better off with removing the old seasoning and gunk with chemicals or heat. Heat has the possibility of warping or cracking the pan, although if the heat is applied evenly, the chances are small, and I have used heat on some pans with no problem. A self cleaning oven will heat evenly as it is started cold and the pan warms up all at the same time.

The chemicals used, i.e oven cleaner or lye, are not particularly toxic in residue form. Lye is used in food processing, particularly to remove outer layers in corn for hominy. Oven cleaner, if that toxic, would not be used for cleaning ovens.

Most cookware collectors that I know do use their kitchen equipment, be it copper, CI, or old electrical devices.
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