Monday, March 6, 2017

Mosaic Monday - Restoring a Cast Iron Fry Pan

I have been looking for a cast iron fry pan for a while. I have been checking the thrift stores but the prices seemed high based on my budget. After checking out new ones, the second hand prices became more appealing and were likely going to be better quality. I should have done some research on line before buying but I lucked out.

Here's what it looked like when I brought it home with a price within my budget. The surface was very rough and black.  I liked the weight in my hand and the size at 8 inches was perfect
I started scraping the inside and came to realize that there was a layer of crud which could be scraped off.  The bottom was even worse.
There was some writing on the bottom that I could barely make out.  Taiwan was one of them.

Upon checking several places on line the verdict seemed to be not favorable for these made in the east. I realized that these were from vintage resellers who were collecting on brands made in the west before 1960. There were a couple places that had restored them and the users were very happy with the pan.  

Encouraged, I then searched on-line for the process and the tools required. 

A plastic table cloth to protect my working surface, plastic gloves, steel wool, and paper towels.  I used a old butter knife as a scraping tool but I see it missed appearing in the photo.

Check out that crud!!

Caring for a cast iron fry pan requires immediate cleaning after every use.  I recognized that I would have to season this pan once I was done.

As you can see, this one has been allowed to rust sometime in its life.  It took me 3 hours of very hard work to get back down to the metal.

I suspect this one was used on an open fire which would explain the very heavy layer of crud on the bottom.  The inside was quite a bit easier to clean.

It received 2 baths in boiling water in hopes of softening this layer of crud.  I covered it completely in hot water and let it soak for 10 minutes then let it cool.  I worked on it some and saw results so after a scrap especially on the bottom I soaked it for a second time.  Between the knife and steel wool I was getting down to metal.

I was making progress!
The next step was a scrub with coarse salt and a bit of water applied with steel wool.  I applied this treatment twice to the inside and twice to the bottom.

As the metal surface was emerging the remaining layers of crud were being revealed. I took time between treatments to scrap the tougher bits.

It was starting to look like it might have when it was new.

I was not able to completely get rid of the rings in the center.  But it was looking pretty!

I headed for bed late in the night.

Seasoning would be on the agenda for the next day.

The seasoning process involves covering the pan with a thin layer of vegetable oil inside and out.  Then placing it in a 350F oven for 1 hour.

The pan underneath is to catch any drips.

After the hour, just turn the oven off and allow the fry pan to cool in the oven.

The result is a really smooth cast iron fry pan.  It feels really nice.

I look forward to using it.  I hope i will get a good sear on a steak, a nice color on Welsh cakes and who know what else.

It was a very interesting experience and very worthwhile.

My body is telling me that it was not happy to have worked so hard and repetitively on this project.  
Sharing with Maggie at Normandy Life for Mosaic Monday #30.

I`ve made pancakes, fried steak, and stir fried veggies in it so far! Excellent.

The original numbering system for old cast iron fry pans equated to the eyes (holes) in a wood stove. You would removed the cover to the hole and placed the fry pan directly in the hole which provided direct access to the fire in the stove.  Some had ridges on the bottom to help that process. The old fry pan typically have very smooth interiors and are much lighter in weight than those made in after the mid 60s.
I know more about these now so I will take that along during my thrifting.  There are a couple in my world who are on the hunt.  I will do what I can to help them out. 


  1. Congratulations on making it to the end of the process. You will love the pan for cooking - I have several. One is a round 10" frying pan - called a chicken fryer - it is 5" deep (I don't deep fry my chicken but it makes a grand pot for chili or stew or soup), a square 8" one which is my most used. There is a flat round griddle, perfect for grilled cheese sandwich, a patty melt or pancakes and a 6" round one for an omelette. I use all of them all of the time. When I was growing up my mom had an oil burning cook stove (just like a wood stove, but had been converted to burn oil instead) and she would take the round lids off the top of the stove and set her cast iron pans right over the fire - made a mess of the bottom of the pan, but cooked wonderfully. I'm happy to just cook on my electric stove, the oil stove was too much of a pain to maintain.

    1. JoAnn, That is exactly how they were designed to be used. There was a lot carbon on the bottom of this one, so maybe it spent time over the flame of a wooden stove. I`m super happy. Sylvia D.

  2. A well-seasoned cast iron pan is a joy to cook with! It will be worth the hard work.

    1. Lorrie, I`m looking forward to many years of great cooking from this pan. Sylvia D.

  3. I didn't even know it was possible to restore a cast iron fry. Great job, Sylvia!

  4. I don't use mine much any more but this is good to know! Thanks!

  5. Wow!!! good job
    have a nice week

    much love...


Thanks for visiting. I love to read your comments.