Cleaning a rusty cast iron skillet with a potato and salt is a simple and effective method
Rust is a form of iron oxide that occurs when iron or steel is exposed to moisture and oxygen. It can damage the surface and quality of your cast iron skillet, making it less non-stick and more prone to corrosion. To prevent rust, you should always dry your skillet thoroughly after washing and season it regularly with oil.
However, if your skillet does get rusty, you can use a simple and natural method to remove the rust and restore the skillet. All you need are a potato, some coarse salt, and some oil. These ingredients will help you scrub off the rust, disinfect the skillet, and re-season it.
To clean your rusty cast iron skillet with a potato and salt, follow these steps:
1. Start by rinsing out your skillet with water, and then dry it with a paper towel to remove any large gunky bits. You can also use a stiff brush or a scraper to loosen any stubborn rust or food residue.
2. Then pour a bunch of coarse salt into the skillet (about 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup, depending on how dirty or rusty your skillet is). The salt will act as an abrasive agent that will help you scrape off the rust and dirt. You can also add some vinegar to the salt to create a more acidic solution that will dissolve the rust faster³⁴.
3. Cut the potato in half and place it cut side down into the skillet, on top of the salt. The potato will serve as a natural sponge that will absorb the moisture and rust from the skillet. It will also release some oxalic acid, which is a compound that can clean and polish metal¹².
4. Scrub the skillet in a circular motion
Use the potato to scrub the skillet in a circular motion, pressing firmly and covering the entire surface. You will see the potato and the salt turning brown as they pick up the rust and dirt. You may need to cut off the dirty part of the potato and add more salt as you go along. You can also use a toothbrush or a steel wool pad to reach the corners and edges of the skillet.
5. Once you have removed all the rust and dirt, rinse the skillet with water and dry it thoroughly with a paper towel or a cloth. You can also heat it over a stove or in an oven to make sure it is completely dry and to kill any bacteria.
6. The last step is to season your skillet with oil to protect it from rusting again and to make it more non-stick. You can use any kind of cooking oil, such as vegetable oil, canola oil, or flaxseed oil. Rub a thin layer of oil over the entire surface of the skillet, inside and out, using a paper towel or a cloth. Then, heat the skillet over a stove or in an oven for about an hour, until it is hot and shiny. You may need to wipe off any excess oil with a paper towel during this process. Let the skillet cool down before storing it in a dry place.
Congratulations, you have successfully cleaned your rusty cast iron skillet with a potato and salt. You can now enjoy cooking with your skillet again, and remember to keep it dry and seasoned after each use.