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Is a Rusted Cast Iron Skillet Still Good?

Rusted cast iron skillet
Olek Lu/Shutterstock.com

There’s a reason cast iron cookware has been around for centuries. While cast iron skillets became popular in the 19th and 20th centuries, some of the skillets from that time are still around today—and will probably make the best cornbread and fried chicken of your life.

The old trope is that cast iron skillets can last for generations and should be passed down. But, what happens if you have a skillet that is full of rust? Is it still good?

Most of the time, the answer is yes. It just takes a little TLC to restore it.

Cast iron skillets are durable and reliable, but they can be a little finicky when it comes to proper care. They need to be heavily seasoned and cared for after each use for them to stay in good shape. That’s why a 100-year-old cast iron skillet is probably going to make better food than one you just pulled off the shelf.

But, if you’ve neglected your skillet and it’s rusty from water and wear, don’t throw it away!

Lodge 10.25 Inch Cast Iron Pre-Seasoned Skillet -- Signature Teardrop Handle

With the right care, a cast iron skillet can last a lifetime!

If you just have a few spots of rust, you can probably remove them with a scouring pad and a bit of kosher salt to act as an abrasive.

For major rust messes, try soaking your pan in vinegar. The acidity from distilled white vinegar will essentially eat away at the rust. Check it every 15 minutes until the rust starts to flake away. You can soak it for several hours if it’s a big job.

Once you see that the rust is starting to come off, wipe the pan clean with a mildly abrasive sponge, soap, and water.

When you have a clean skillet that’s free of rust, the best thing you can do is to season it right away—and after every use! Most importantly, make sure it’s completely dry after you’ve cleaned and seasoned it.

With the right care, you can get rid of rust, have a seasoned pan, and a cooking keepsake that will last for another 100 years!

Stacey Koziel Stacey Koziel
Stacey Koziel is a news writer at LifeSavvy. She's worked as a freelance writer for over ten years, focusing on family and lifestyle content. She also has a background in marketing and social media, and is always eager to talk (and write!) about the latest TikTok trends. Read Full Bio »
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