Learn how to remove rust from cast iron pan and season it properly on stove top. All it takes is just 15 mins of your time on stove top to season the pan. Also learn how to season an unseasoned new cast iron pan before you start to use it.
I've always thought using a cast iron pan on a day to day basis is hard and time consuming. This, despite me having watched my Grandma use several cast iron pans for her cooking on a daily basis.
And whenever someone bought a new iron pan from Sandhai and requested her with “Pazhagi kundunga” (season this), she was happy to do so and gave it back to them after seasoning telling them, “sonnaaa sonna madhiri varum” which translates roughly to “the pan will obey your command”.
Last year this time around, my friend’s hubby lugged few Lodge cast iron pans for her, her mom and me all the way from US. I cooked in it once and since I had ligament tear in my elbow following an accident, I was unable to handle the weight of the pan, so quietly kept it aside.
After 3 months, when I took it out to cook I was horrified to see several rust spots inside the pan. Obviously, I had not dried it properly before storing and considering that it was an Iron pan, it had started to rust.
I panicked and searched online to restore the pan back to its original glory. Almost several sites suggested to bake the pan in the oven for almost an hour to season it after removing the rust. 1 hour… but why and moreover how will people who do not have an oven get to restore it?
And most importantly, I do not remember my grandma using an oven to season the pans. She did not even have an oven in the first place. All she had was 2 stoves that used wood and charcoal as fuel and a kerosene stove.
I recalled what she used to do with the pans and decided to apply the same thing to my cast iron pan and check if it works or not and it did, fabulously so. After that I started following the same procedure every fortnight to reseason my pan and keep it in top shape.
During such a time, last month when I had asked my Instagram peeps, if they would like to know how to season the pan, a whopping 99% of them voted “Yes”. But since I had already seasoned the pan, I did not want to take a video of seasoning an already well seasoned pan which sounded lame. So I had to let the pan rust first to shoot a video that showed the proper results.
How to Remove Rust and Season a Cast Iron Pan:
The following video shows how to restore and season an already seasoned pan. Remember that the Lodge Cast Iron pans comes pre seasoned and they are ready to use immediately as soon as you bring it home.
To remove rust, you will need:
- Steel wool scrubber
- Dish wash detergent (liquid or bar)
- Rock salt (if your pan is heavily or completely rusted)
If your pan is heavily rusted, the first step is to rinse the pan. Sprinkle rock salt generously and scrub well with a steel wool scrubber. Rinse. Repeat this 2 more times, till the rust is completely gone. Now squeeze some dish wash detergent and scour well and rinse. Repeat this twice or till the water runs clear. If the outside of the pan is rusty, apply the same treatment to the outside area as well.
If your pan is lightly rusted like mine was, (the bottom surface was smooth but only the sides were rusty), skip the rock salt treatment, just scrub well with dish wash detergent twice or thrice till the rust is gone and the water runs clear. If the outside of the pan is rusty, apply the same treatment to the outside area as well.
How to Season a Cast Iron Pan:
You will need:
- A clean and scrubbed, rust free cast iron pan
- Cold pressed vegetable oil (groundnut or coconut) - 1-½ tsp to 2 tsp
- A silicone pastry brush or a coconut fibre brush (any other brush will melt in the heat of the pan)
- Place the washed cast iron pan on the stove, and let the flame be on high.
- The water will start to dry up. Remove the pan and place it upside down on the counter. Drip few drops of oil and apply all over the outside area using the silicone brush.
- Return the pan back to the stove. Add ¼ tsp to ½ tsp oil and apply the oil all around the inside of the pan using the silicone or coconut fibre brush like how you would paint on a canvas.
- After 2 or 3 mins, it will begin to smoke well. Let it be for 1 more minute.
- Simmer the flame completely and when the smoking reduces once again add ¼ to ½ tsp oil and smear it all around the inside of the pan.
- Let it simmer for another 2 to 3 mins.
- The insides of the pan will have a glossy look and the oil added will be shimmering in the heat.
- Once again, increase the flame to high, add ¼ tsp oil, smear it all around, bring the pan to a smoking point and let it smoke for 1 to 2 mins.
- Simmer the flame completely and when the smoking reduces once again add ¼ tsp oil and smear it all around the inside of the pan.
- Let it be on simmer for 5 to 6 mins this time.
- When you look at the pan now, you can see the all the oil has been absorbed by the pan and the insides of the
- pan will look opaque.
- Switch off the stove and let it cool completely on the stove itself.
- Once cool, when you run your fingers inside the pan, it will not be sticky and the pan will feel like a non stick pan.
- The cast iron pan has been seasoned well and ready to cook.
Here is a "Before" and "After" Picture of the cast iron pan.
How to Maintain the seasoning of the cast iron pan:
So, you have successfully removed the rust off the cast iron pan, seasoned it well and ready to cook in it. But how to maintain it daily. This is what I do.
Once I have finished cooking in the pan, I immediately transfer the contents to a bowl, rinse the pan under running water. If there are any food particles sticking to the pan, I gently scrub using a fibre scrub pad.
I do not use any dish wash detergent. Rinse the pan and place it on the stove with the flame on high. Once it is dry, I switch off the stove and leave it as such. I do not apply oil once dry on a daily basis. But do so, if you do not want to reseason the pan.
But every fortnight, I scrub off all the oil build up by scrubbing the pan with liquid detergent and follow the steps I mentioned under "How to season a cast iron pan".
How to Season an Unseasoned New Cast Iron Pan:
As I was really happy with how well and easily I can care for my lodge cast iron pan, I bought a new cast iron tawa in a Metal Expo which I attended with my husband.
It was a 12 inch tawa which I bought for a song and I couldn’t wait to start making dosas in it. But it was an unseasoned pan and it had to be seasoned properly before I could use.
What you will need:
- A new unseasoned cast iron pan or a regular iron pan
- Starch water after cooking rice.
- Rock Salt
- Place the cast iron pan or tawa on the stove on high flame.
- Pour the starch water into the pan or tawa and bring to a boil.
- Once it comes to a rolling boil, switch off the pan and let the pan cool completely.
- Discard the starch water in the pan, rinse and keep it aside. No need to scrub.
- Repeat the same thing for 2 more days.
- On the third day, after discarding the starch water and rinsing the pan, sprinkle rock salt and scrub well using the steel wool scrub.
- Rinse and repeat it one more time or till the water runs clear.
- Place the pan on the stove and repeat the procedure for “How to Season a Cast Iron Pan”.
After the pan is seasoned, you can start making dosas right away. But make sure that you make the first 2 or 3 dosas, slightly thicker (like an uttappam or pancake) and take care not to spread it around too much. After that batch, you are good to go.
- The cast iron pan will be extremely hot, so take necessary precaution to hold it safely when moving it around.
- Cold pressed oil is preferred as the viscosity of the oil is slightly thicker than that of refined vegetable oil. If you do not have it on hand, you can use melted dalda or vanaspati (vegetable shortening).
- Note that the starch water is “rice cooked in it” and not "rice rinsed water".