Hi, I have a heavily rusted cooking skillet that I want to de-rust and season properly. So far I have used a steel brush on a drill, and a lot of sandpaper, but I’m not convinced. It’s a childhood sentiment that I am restoring for a gift. First, how do I refer to the water “sand” blaster? Second, is there any classes in it? When? If not, can some teacher “one-off” me? I know a lot of Linux software I can trade. Thanks for any tips and hints. DMS rocks!
Hello Hugo, I was your tour guide tonight, thanks for making this post on talk.
The technical name for that tool or rather the Kleenex style name of that machine is “Vapor Hone”
We normally spot train on that machine with someone who is familiar with how to use it, but the most knowledgeable users of that particular tool are probably the Chair and Vice Chair of the Metal Shop @hon1nbo and @TBJK respectively.
@Team_Blacksmithing Do you guys have any recommendations on restoring a cast iron skillet that doesn’t have any cracks or anything but is rusty?
Welcome to DMS!
There was a member doing jus that two weeks ago. The results were quite good. For excellent you should wait until after the next media change.
“Wet media blaster”, brand name Vapor Hone.
More spec info here
If said piece is just rusty, sand/media blast “at will” and re-season is what I’ve been told, but never done.Congrats on the heirloom piece; good cast iron’s getting harder and harder to find (at reasonable costs)…
If you’re looking for hints on using, I can’t recommend Cowboy Kent Rollins highly enough!
He even has a playlist on caring for cast iron, and the first video is removing rust
EDIT: dang! I type slow!
I seem to remember using Salt & a lemon to clean them up… I dont remember where.
Also the Vapor hone doesn’t require training as there is/was instructions on the machine itself. If you feel uncomfortable using it, we can show you.
I cleaned up a couple of cast iron dutch ovens for the Boy scouts a while back.They were very rusted and I used a wire brush (Kind of a “cup” brush) on a corded drill to clear out all the rust. I also used salt and just enough vegetable oil to wet out the salt ( I might use something like Barkeeper’s friend the liquid form if I were doing it again). The only problem with the Vapor hone is that it uses water. as soon as you get the skillet out of the water, its going to immediately start to rust. You would need to clean it and immediately dry it in an oven and oil it. SO the vapor hone might work and work well, but you will be fighting the rust because of the water. You need a plan to wipe it dry and then quickly get it to an stove and dry it before rust can form. The secret to keeping the rust in check is seasoning it with lard. I think you coat it and bake it in an oven about 400 degrees for an hour with an aluminum foil sheet to catch melted lard that melts off. Cast iron lasts practically forever if you keep it oiled. Good Luck!
As has been mentioned the vapor hone doesn’t need training, but I’ll be around over the weekend and if you catch me I can show you it’s usage. It needs a media change but should be operational for your needs.
You can blast it, was it off in the sink, and dry it in our oven before taking it home. I wouldn’t season it here but rather after a usual hand wash at home just for sanitary reasons.
Quote from the video: “One of those them here scratcher sponges”
Great suggested YT channel, thanks!
As a collector and user of cast iron, I suggest that you please DON’T use the Vapor Hone on your pan. Using the media blaster on cast iron will change the texture of the CI surface and ruin any collector value it might have.
I can help you clean and reseason the pan: I own well over a dozen cast iron pieces and cook with them as my go-to pots/skillets.
There are several options for cleaning/stripping CI pots and pans:
- acid (vinegar/lemon juice
- mechanical - scrubbing with a scotchbrite pad. Sandpaper/wire wheel/wire brush not recommended (too aggressive)
- Electrolysis (aka an e-tank). Car battery charger, water, and washing soda as an electrolytic.
For Gunk (cooked on food, tar from camp fire, etc).
- Lye + water (100% lye drain cleaner dissolved in water). Use PPE.
- EZ Off Oven cleaner spray and a sealed plastic bag. Spray, seal, and wait.
- E-tank (as above)
- Oven self-cleaning cycle (not recommended - can warp pans and heavily gunked pans can catch fire)
Best approach is to set up an e-tank - it’ll strip off gunk and rust and leave behind a black oxide which is easy to wash off. Plus, it’s using SCIENCE!
The only tricky part is finding a dumb enough battery charger to run the tank - “smart” chargers won’t run current through the tank.
The basic components are:
- a large plastic tub
- washing soda (sodium carbonate - not baking soda (sodium BI-carbonate)). Aids current flow in water.
- an iron sacrificial anode or two (or six). Pieces of rebar work fine
- a dumb battery charger - the black connector goes to the cast iron, red to the anodes
set up the pot/anodes so they are in the water but not touching (would cause a short).
The charge runs through the water/washing soda mix and strips the red iron off the pot and adds it to the anodes. The process works in a straight line from cathode to anode, so multiple anodes allows for a more complete stripping in one soak.
Once running should only take a few hours. Note that the process generated hydrogen bubbles, so is best done outside.
You might consider joining the Cast Iron Cooking Facebook group - they have LOTS of care tips, recipes, etc. https://www.facebook.com/groups/castironskillet
See what I was saying in the tour? If you post it on DMS you’ll have a few experts all replying within a day why they would do it their way. Now you just get the joy of choosing your best liked one, and most importantly taking before and after pictures so we can see how that method worked.
And always dispose of the solution in a fashion not including the storm drains lol.
I’ve had good luck in the past letting them sit in the fire for a while then using oil and salt. Not nearly as cool as electro etching but there’s s’mores!
A controlled fire can help burn off crud, but doesn’t do much for rust, especially heavy rust.
More importantly, a too-hot fire risks developing fire damage - a pinkish red rust (Iron III oxide) which cannot be converted back to iron and won’t hold the seasoning well - if at all. Warping and cracking are also potential complications from a hot (and perhaps uneven) fire. Many a collectable piece (like this Griswald) has been ruined by a too-hot fire.
Fair enough. Ours were never significantly rusty
If none of these suggestions work, you may try Evapo-rust. It’s available at big box stores like HD and Harbor Freight. I love the stuff. Cover your part, let it sit for 24hours and wash with water (suggest a deep clean for a food surface). No rust and doesn’t etch/pitt. It’s usually the most expensive rust removal option ($20 a gal) but you can continue to reuse the solution until it’s exhausted.
I routinely use this product to remove rust on almost anything. It works very well.
Every part that comes off my Ural motorcycle goes in it before being put back on. It lived up in Michigan with the previous owner and got some pretty bad rusting due to the road salt. After a dunk, wash, and coating in WD40, the bolts look brand new
I think the proper name is a “Spooge” tank:) I have used this many times for de-rusting old tools. Old “Dumb” battery charger is important. The metal used for the anode with the red lead on it will get pitted and covered in rust, red lead is where you want the rust to end up, I scrape it off once in a while during the process.
That IS a gtreat YT channel. Now I want some cowboy coffee.