Removing Rust from Cast Iron Cookware: A Step-by-Step Guide

Cast iron cookware is cherished among cooks for its durability and heat retention. However, over time, rust can form if your pan is not properly seasoned or stored. This guide will walk you through a step-by-step process on how to remove rust from your beloved cast iron cookware, helping you restore its original glory and ensure it provides many more years of service.

Gather the Necessary Materials

Before beginning the rust removal process, make sure you have all the necessary materials on hand. You will need:

  • White vinegar or lemon juice
  • Water
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Steel wool or a scrub brush
  • Clean cloth or paper towels

It is important to note that you should never use soap when cleaning cast iron cookware as it can strip away the seasoning and cause rust to form more easily.

Step 1: Scrub with Salt

Start by scrubbing the rusted area with salt using a clean cloth or paper towel. The abrasive texture of salt will help loosen up the rust, making it easier to remove in the following steps.

Step 2: Create a Vinegar or Lemon Juice Solution

Mix equal parts water and white vinegar or lemon juice in a large container. You will need enough solution to submerge the rusted area of your cookware.

Step 3: Soak the Cookware

Place your cast iron cookware in the vinegar or lemon juice solution, making sure the rusted area is fully submerged. Let it soak for at least 30 minutes, or longer for stubborn rust spots.

Step 4: Scrub with Steel Wool or Brush

After soaking, use steel wool or a scrub brush to gently scrub the rusted area and remove any remaining rust. Make sure to only use gentle pressure to avoid damaging the surface of your cookware.

Step 5: Rinse and Dry

Rinse your cookware thoroughly with water and dry it completely with a clean cloth or paper towels. It is important to make sure there is no remaining moisture as this can lead to rust forming again.

Step 6: Re-Season the Cookware

After removing the rust, it is important to re-season your cast iron cookware to protect it from future rusting. Coat the entire surface with a thin layer of vegetable oil, then heat it in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour. Let it cool and then wipe off any excess oil.

Related: Maximizing Cookware Lifespan: Effective Cleaning Tips

Bonus Tips

  • To prevent rust from forming on your cast iron cookware, always dry it completely after washing and store it in a dry place.
  • If the rust is particularly stubborn, you can try using a commercial rust remover specifically designed for cast iron cookware.
  • Regularly seasoning your cast iron cookware will help create a natural non-stick surface and prevent rust from forming.
  • Avoid leaving acidic foods in your cast iron cookware for extended periods of time as this can also lead to rust formation.
  • If you notice any small rust spots forming, remove them immediately before they have a chance to spread.

Now that you know how to remove rust from cast iron cookware, you can keep your beloved kitchen tools in top shape and continue to enjoy the many benefits of cooking with cast iron. Happy cooking!


Proper maintenance and care of your cast iron cookware is essential to prevent rust from forming and ensure it lasts for generations. Remember to regularly clean, dry, and season your cookware, and promptly address any rust that may form. With these simple steps, you can keep your cast iron cookware in excellent condition and continue creating delicious meals for years to come. So go ahead and bring out your cast iron cookware with confidence, knowing that you have the knowledge and tools to remove rust and keep it looking and performing its best. So here’s to many more years of cooking with your trusty cast iron pan!

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