Learn the secrets to Removing Rust From Cast Iron without chemicals or harsh treatments. You'll also learn how to clean and season cast iron and love cast iron.
Clean the skillet with soap and water.
Give it a 10-minute steam bath in a 350-degree oven.
When it is dry, carefully remove the pan from the oven and pour a puddle of high-heat oil (see list below) and a generous helping of kosher salt into the center.
Using a rag you don't mind getting dirty, paper towels, or pieces of newspaper, work the oil and salt into all parts of the skillet. Pay special attention to the rusty areas.
Put it on the stovetop on medium heat with a small amount of high-heat oil, and work it around with another rag. I use a pastry brush. Let it heat and "cure" for about 5 minutes.
Carefully wipe out the extra oil from the skillet using paper towels. Using another paper towel, work any remaining oil around to cover the entire surface of the skillet. Lightly oil the outside and the handle.
Make sure to remove all excess oil from the pan. There should be no puddling or obvious pooling of oil. Pro tip: if you leave too much oil on the pan, during the seasoning process in step five your pan will likely develop a sticky residue.
Flip the pan upside down and place it on the top rack of your oven. Bake for 90 minutes at 350 degrees. Some people may recommend putting down a piece of foil or a baking sheet on the rack under the skillet while it bakes.
If you removed all the extra oil like advised, this isn't necessary. But if it gives you peace of mind to keep your oven extra clean then totally do it. Pro tip: this will create some smoke in your kitchen. Make sure to turn on your vent hood and maybe crack a window to help.
Allow it to cool in the oven and then repeat step four and five until the surface is non-stick (1-4 total cycles depending on the state of the skillet when you started).
You can also use a potato cut in half to scrub the salt into the skillet. Potatoes contain oxalic acid which is a natural rust remover. Steel wool can also be used for removing rust from cast iron.