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Cast iron restoration: tutorial/pictorial message has embedded images

Platinum Egger

Posts: 2153

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Posted by: Focker on 2012/04/03 15:33:42  

DISCLAIMER: I am not creating new techniques, just regurgitating what I've learned in countless hours from the restoration professionals over the years. Hopefully, by my trials and errors, you can take a rough, stored family heirloom piece and bring it back to life on the egg.

ANOTHER DISCLAIMER: I am no grammar/english major. Please bear with me.
Click on any of the smaller pics for a larger view. we go folks.

You find a piece of cast iron in similar shape as this.

I recommend stripping any piece of cast iron to its original condition, regardless of its current condition. With these pieces being almost a century old, you don't know where it's been, or what it has been used for. One of my #3 skillets was used to soak nuts and bolts for an engine restoration.

Basically there are two methods to achieve this. Lye and electrolysis. Both are effective, electrolysis gets the nod because it removes carbon and rust in one step. Lye is preferred because it is cheap and simple to setup for one piece to several pieces.

We will discuss my preferred method...lye.

Commonly found at your hardware stores' and big box stores' plumbing departments. One pound is $4.50 at True Value as of last week. Lowe's has 5 pound containers at $13.50. RESPECT THE LYE. This stuff is very caustic and dangerous. PPE is a must. Chemical resistant nitrile gloves and safety glasses. The recommended concentration is 1 lb of lye to 5 gallons of water. Use a container large enough for the entire piece to be submerged.

I no longer measure and just add what I feel is appropriate. Add some, check the piece to see if it is removing the carbon. You can adjust the concentration as you see fit. Start with small increments. Pulled the griddle out after 8 hours for documentation.

And this is after 12 days.

You can see there will always be a few stubborn spots. Just put it back in and wait.

15 days in the lye bath and scrubbed the spots with 00 extra fine steel wool.

Remove from lye when ready, dry, scrub with hot water and Dawn Power Dissolver. Scrub again with hot water and DPD, dry.

Now we are ready for the second part. Rust removal. Barkeeper's Friend is a great, cheap product to help. Using a cleaning sponge and a slurry of Barkeeper's friend, lightly scrub the entire piece.



Wash, scrub with hot water and DPD. Repeat. Dry.

Seasoning. Wow, many ways to skin a cat. I have tried shortening, canola, EVOO, bacon fat, and my preferred oil....Grapeseed. Not going to get into oils and smoke points. Just sharing what I find is effective.

Less is more when it comes to seasoning a pan. Trust me on this, especially for the vintage stuff. For the griddle, I used a teaspoon. Coated surface with a washcloth. Then, using a dry kitchen towel, wipe the oil off. You will have enough oil on the piece to season. If you leave too much oil on a Griswold this is what you will see. The excess oil sweats from the cast iron pores and hardens.

Nothing against Lodge, but you will not notice this because their pieces are not machined like Griswolds were. Heck, even bead blasting or sandblasting a lodge might actually improve its surface.
Blasting with any media is frowned upon on the vintage cast iron. You will see why in just a minute. Bear with me.

Set oven to 500. If your oven goes higher. Thats great. Prefer the oven over the egg for a couple of reasons. Ash is not floating and landing on the finish. Temp and environment is more controlled. Let the egg get a little too hot when seasoning a #10 skillet, it burnt the seasoning off.

So 500 for 1 hour. Shut it off and cool.

Recommend repeating at least 6 times before use. Here is the griddle after 5 seasonings. Also look at the machined surface shown in the flash of the camera. That is why Griswolds are the best cast iron out there. Period.

The last seasoning I did move to the egg and increase the temp to 600. For the egg, I used the lightly saturated washcloth with Grapeseed and wiped the surface every 30-40 minutes. Then followed with a dry towel. This is after over a dozen seasonings.

It's really just letting time and the chemicals do their thing. Seasoning correctly takes time and patience. So worth it though.

Griswold and the BGE will make you

Thanks y'all

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