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Dutch Oven Maintenance

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Didn't want to high jack the other thread.


A couple of tips for those who have cast iron cookware, including DO's.


To clean a DO, fry pan, etc. that's in bad shape, toss it into your self-cleaning oven. Put on rack upside down. Run the cycle. Let cool completely before opening oven door. The cold air could damage the cast iron!


Before you get too mad, it will look terrible when done, and terrible is an understatement!


Take it out and wash with water, scrubbing it down as much as possible to get the rust off. Wear old clothes. Use steel wool or 3-M scrub pads!


Depending on your usage these are the three options:


1) For pieces that get a lot of usage and very little storage, season with vegetable oil.


2) For pieces that get little usage and long term storage (up to 1 year), season with olive oil. It doesn't go rancid as fast as vegetable oil.


3) For pieces that get minimal usage and extended long term storage (1 year+), season with beeswax. A stored beeswax cast iron piece can be stored in a damp place for 50 years and never go rancid or rust.


The only difference with beeswax is that to apply a storage coat on the piece after usage, clean as you normally would, and then heat up. Rub the block of beeswax in the bottom and with paper towel coat all the cast iron. Let cool. You can always tell which pieces are beeswax because they are opaque and not shiny like oil treated pieces. And if you've stored it for any length of time, the smell will tell you as well.


All DO's store with a wad of paper towel between oven and cover to get air inside. Stacked fry pans do the same thing. Pots with covers again, the same thing.


Store in dry place.



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Never had to use steel wool on cast iron.


Anything "burnt on" will soften when boiled, and rust should be able to be heated, loosened and if on the inside would flake/wipe out when heated. Some may take a metal spoon to loosen.


If it's rusty on the outside, it never has taken more than a couple heat cycles and soot from the fire to get it clean.



My gran used folded burlap scrub pads (very cheap) after boiling out burnt food. I got the Troop a couple.(This message has been edited by dg98adams)

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Steel wool comes in many grades. I prefer Chore Boy Stainless Steel scrubbing pads, hot water. For old rust that will not scrub away, I have used Coca Cola to remove rust. Rinse with plenty of hot water, dry, reseason with thin coat of vegetable oil (upside down but catch dripping with bake tray, 350deg oven, 15-20 minutes).


I have not heard about olive oil or beeswax, thanks for that tip.


My $0.02(This message has been edited by RememberSchiff)

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I use Equal amounts of salt to water to make a gritty substance and steel wool (like choreboy).. I just read someone saying equal amounts of salt to oil.. Don't know if that is better with the rust removal, or not. If you need to take off rust, you need to reseason anyway, so shouldn't worry about removing the current seasoning.


Warning about setting it to the self-clean. I have heard people doing it, and the oil on the cast iron starts a fire, and they can't open the oven to do anything about it. So beware!!!


I will take the oven temp up to 500 to bake in the oil, but I wont do self-clean.

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I believe that the original poster meant to put the DO in a self cleaning cycle without any seasoning on it, just the burnt on food or rust you,re trying to remove. As I understand it, self clean takes the interior temp up well above five hundred degrees.



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Oh I am sure it is above 500 degrees. IF your pot is just rust and no build up of seasoning from past use maybe, but I would do something to try to strip the seasoning off if you have any on the pot, old -new or whatever. For me I will stay away from self-clean. Theres other ways to clean rust.

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Hmmm, off on a tangent here.



"To clean a DO, fry pan, etc. that's in bad shape,..."


I'm not talking about general cleaning of a DO, I'm talking about the DO you get at the antique store, the DO that was found in the back of the garage that Uncle John used to own and no one's used for 20 years, the DO that has been stored way too long and the rancid smell will gag you when you lift the cover. Okay? Got the picture in your mind? These are usually foul smelling and rusted in about 95% of the surface area. You know the ones I mean.


These are the DO's, fry pans, etc. that you wish to take back to their original condition and restore!


The steel wool is used only on the UNSEASONED cast iron that has come out of the self-cleaning oven. Then to get the rust off which will now be about 100% of the surface area, use a wire brush, steel wool or anything else you can think of to get it down to as much metal as you can without grinding. If you use water for this process you might want to heat it up when you're done to get the water out of all the little pores.


Then put all metal grinders, brushes, pads back in their storage and don't use them again until you need to restore some cast iron!


Then when it's all clean, now re-season using the appropriate material, veg. oil, olive oil, or beeswax depending on how you are going to be using the piece. Then clean as you would after you cook normally.


I use only the 3-M green scrub pads on my cast iron which I use every day. My DO's get used every couple of weeks, some are in long-term storage because of their specialty status.


As far as the fire in the oven is concerned. I have restored some fry pans with a heavy coating of chipped "varnish" that has accumulated over many years and never had a problem. I would not heavily oil a piece I was planning on restoring before putting in the oven.


I have seen people clean off old oil and restore using the campfire, but regulating the cooling off process is a wee bit trickier. Cooling too fast can crack the piece. Same for pouring cold into a hot pan.


Sorry for the confusion.



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