Used cast iron purchase, is this bad?

Discussion in 'Cooking Equipment Reviews' started by natural, Feb 16, 2012.

  1. natural

    natural

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    I am new to cast iron. I know people sand them and make them good as new, but I thought I was buying one not needing labor like that. I don't have the time or tools or energy or patience for that. Did I get ripped off by the seller? It's hard to photograph but there are little indented areas of silver where the black stuff has chipped away. With work, it looks as if more black flakes off. Are these spots extra prone to rust?

    [​IMG]

    The pictured spot is the biggest, then you can see numerous smaller ones and there are more not shown. They are mostly on one side and in one area of the wok. It is Lodge brand. I know other brands are better but I wanted a traditional shaped wok in medium size.

    I hope the answer is just reseason it and use it!
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2012
  2. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    It's a failure of the seasoning patina. Either poorly done initially or mistreated somewhere along the way. They'll be more likely to rust, yes. I don't think you got ripped off. I've had this develop in one of my skillets and you can fix it.

    The general approach to such things by cast iron fans is to strip the seasoning and restart. And I agree in this case as you'll always have difficulty with flaking after this in my opinion and that was my experience with that skillet I mentioned.

    You can scrub it off, but that's a lot of work. You can burn it off on an outdoor grill, then reseason while it's hot, or burn it off in an oven on a self cleaning cycle. The oven  is easiest.. You can also look up a local place to have it bead blasted. I've done all three and if you can find one close by, bead blasting is a fast and easy solution that is easy to reseason without all the cooling time from burning off the patina

    My preferred seasoning method is to rub it with oil and put it in the oven upside down for an hour at 500. You put it in upside down so the oil won't pool in the wok/pan. You might want to put a sheet of aluminum foil underneath to catch any oil drips, but any drips usually fully carbonize away before you're done. Turn off and let cool. If your oven has a time bake feature, set this up as you go to bed and it will be nice and cool in the AM.  Repeat a time or two if you want. This will produce smoke so disable your smoke detector if you do in the oven.
     
  3. natural

    natural

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    Thanks. I am disabled so it's hard to do any of it. Even seasoning seems hard, if that produces smoke.

    Right now I wish I just bought a new one. I didn't save money. I just thought an older one would be smoother and well seasoned, and it has a long handle. Once it's fixed I hope I'm glad I bought this one. It might be higher quality because it's older.
     
  4. azusena

    azusena

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    I'm new to iron cast pan as well and it can be confusing.  I had purchased my new and preped the pan, but my question is how to I clean it.  I read so much different views on cleaning and I am at a lost.  I've read after you use for cooking one shouldn't submerge in water for cleaning.  One shouldn't use soap to wash off.  After cooking, one should use a clean cloth and wipe off and prep with oil. 

    Now I don't know about you but when I use this for cooking, especially morning bacons, food gets caked up very well so swiping with a clean cloth isn't going to do much in cleaning the pan. 

    Can someone tell me how to clean an iron cast pan? 

    Thank you.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2012
  5. azusena

    azusena

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    Also, if the pan does get rusty, how can you save the pan or is a lost battle?
     
  6. natural

    natural

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    Most of the cleaning instructions seemed consistent to me. Never water or soap. Mostly people seem to wipe it off and that's all, if they have a good non-stick seasoned surface. And some use salt to scrub it.

    With rust, people sandblast or use other industrial machinery to smooth it, or sometimes sand it off by hand.
     
  7. azusena

    azusena

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    Most of the time when I use it, the food really gets stuck and form a build up that a simple swiping off doesn't cut it.  I wind up washing it off and repeat the seasoning processes. 
     
  8. natural

    natural

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    My chicken is getting stuck, but I know mine doesn't have a good seasoned layer. You probably need to season yours a different, better way.
     
  9. Iceman

    Iceman

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    I agree w/ phatch in remedies, particularly the "bead blasting". Any decent auto-parts store that does any machining should do that for you for less than $5. They may call it "sand blasting". After that, just season it properly and you're good to go. After a little fix'em'up you'll have a nice cast pan looking for something to cook. 

    As for stuff sticking ... A lot of times that is from trying to move or flip things before they have caramelized properly and released themselves from the pan. 
     
  10. natural

    natural

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    That cheap? Wow. Actually I cooked in 3 times since the pic, and I can't see the silver indentions. I know to get a non-stick surface, I need to bead blast, and season it properly.
     
  11. natural

    natural

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    That cheap? Wow. Actually I cooked in 3 times since the pic, and I can't see the silver indentions. I know to get a non-stick surface, I need to bead blast, and season it properly.
     
  12. thatchairlady

    thatchairlady

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    Got reunited with good old cast iron a few years ago when I found 3 skillets (a Lodge, Wagner, and Griswold) at a yard sale.  They were totally crusty with unknowns gunk, so I did what purists would probably say is unthinkable.  I used spray oven cleaner on them!  It took SEVERAL applications to get the crud off, but only had to scrub when it was almost all off.  I used steel wool.  Remember one was soo clean it was almost silvery.  Then I reseasoned well and USE as often as possible.  If I cook something that won't just wipe out, I use a lot of cheap salt to scrub, lots of HOT water to riinse, and back on stove top till really hot... then a dab of bacon grease... that's what my Grandmother always did.  CI is pretty much indestructable.  If a little rust develops, just scrub out with hot water and salt and reseason.  I think the key is to USE it as much as you can.  The more it's used, the better the surface will become.
     
    shawn sisler likes this.
  13. azusena

    azusena

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    Thank you so much i'll try again.
     
  14. shawn sisler

    shawn sisler

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    The best way to season cast iron is the oldest way. Use lard if you can't then use shortening not oil, and heat it in a low temp grill for at least five hours. Yes there will be blackening on the outside, it's supposed to be there, just clean it off using only water never soap. I have a collection of cast iron that has been passed down through four generations of women and have hand written instructions from my great grandmother on how to care for it. She had skillets specifically for breakfast that she seasoned with bacon fat, skillets for meat that were seasoned with both pork and beef, and skillets she used for everything else as well as two dutch ovens and baking dishes that were seasoned with straight lard. I love these pans and am very particular on how to care for them.
     
    just delicious likes this.
  15. azusena

    azusena

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    These are great suggestions.  I will take all into account.  I've been reseasoning by iron cast constantly and I am growing less and less intimated by this product.  I guess constant use will do that. 
     
  16. scubadoo97

    scubadoo97

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    Natural, even a new Lodge pre-seasoned pan would do well to be re-seasoned before using.  The picture you posted shows a pan that was most likely not seasoned properly to begin.  If you have a self cleaning oven that is the best way to burn off the seasoning the re-season with the faintest layer of oil.  I've been using organic flax seed oil and using the Sheryl Canter method.  So far excellent results

    http://sherylcanter.com/wordpress/2010/01/a-science-based-technique-for-seasoning-cast-iron/
     
  17. just delicious

    just delicious

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  18. just delicious

    just delicious

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    I would absolutely strip anything used down to the metal and start over; eBay warns of the possibility that some skillets offered for sale have actually been PAINTED black. :-/
     
  19. jimbo68

    jimbo68

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    I season a few old CI pans each year, and would disagree with some of the statements.  For one, low temperature is not the way to go.  You want the oil or fat to polymerize, which requires temperatures above the smoke point of the oil.  I put a very thin coat of oil on the pan, put it in the oven cold, heat to 500 degrees for an hour and let the oven cool on its own.  Repeat as as often as necessary. 

    There are several ways to remove old residue.  IMO blasting is not one of them.  Burning off the seasoning in the oven or grill works, as does oven cleaner.  Oven cleaner may require several applications.  Heat will burn off nearly all the crud.  My preferred method is immersion in a bucket of drain cleaner (lye) for a couple of weeks.  I've never had a problem with rust.  Usually it will come off with those curly steel wool pads and a little vinegar.  I do not buy pans with any rust other than surface.

    You did not get ripped off unless you paid more than the skillet was worth.  It is an easy fix.  If you buy new, I believe that the pan should be further or re seasoned.
     
     
  20. mikelm

    mikelm

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    Hope I'm not too late to warn you about SAND blasting as opposed to BEAD blasting.  They are not at all the same or equivalent. Their only common characteristic it that the stuff (called "media") is blown out of a "gun" by compressed air. 

    SAND blasting will probably ruin your cast iron piece: the sand has sharp corners and points on it and will seriously pit the cast iron wherever it's applied.  This media is called "sharp sand" for a really good reason.

    BEADS are tiny spheres of glass and they will remove paint, rust and burned-on crud  (also your seasoning) handsomely but will actually polish the underlying metal instead of pitting it. On completion of the BEAD blasting you will have to reseason. On completion of  SANDblasting you will have a handsome doorstop, but not a usable cooking utensil because it will be virtually impossible make the rough, pitted surface non-stick.
     

    I have pretty extensive experience with both these types of media.  There are quite a few other media materials - crushed walnut shells, baking soda among them - but I have had no experience with any of these others.

    Many places that do SANDblasting also offer BEAD blasting. Just be dang sure the service understands which one you want applied to your pot.

    Mike