Cleaning Cast Iron

by April Reinhardt
(last updated October 8, 2012)

Usually when we think of cleaning an item made of cast iron, we think of cookware. However, there are other items made of cast iron that need to be cleaned, as well. Fireplace grates and wood-burning stove grates are made of cast iron and need periodic cleaning. As with cleaning all cast iron, the premise is the same: clean down to the bare metal and then treat the iron. Follow these steps to clean cast iron grates or cast iron yard furniture:

  1. Plan to work outside on a sunny day. Spread newspapers on the ground and weight down the corners.
  2. Working atop the layer of newspapers, scrub all of the iron remove buildup, dirt, debris, and rust. This may be a long, arduous process, requiring hours of time, depending upon the amount of cast iron you need to clean.
  3. Once you've scrubbed the iron down to the bare metal, use a chemical paint remover and apply it to the iron. Use rubber gloves and safety goggles when using chemicals.
  4. Allow the remover to stand for the length of time instructed on the product directions, and then scrub the iron again with a wire brush.
  5. Rinse the iron with vinegar water to reduce the acid and neutralize the caustic remover.
  6. Allow the cast iron to sit in the sun and air dry for at least two hours, and then wipe down with a cloth to remove any rust that may have formed.
  7. Spray the grates with stove paint, purchased at your home improvement store. Use paint specially formulated for high heat, and then allow the grates to dry for the allotted time suggested on the product directions.
  8. Paint the iron yard furniture with paint formulated for cast iron, and then apply a thin coat of wax once it is thoroughly dry.
  9. Reinstall the grates in the fireplace and know that the first few lightings may emit a strange odor.
  10. When not in use, cover your cast iron yard furniture with a tarp to prevent rust.

To clean a piece of cast iron cookware that has heavy buildup, rust, and carbon, spray it with heavy duty oven cleaner, and then place it into a thick plastic garbage bag and tie it shut. Allow it to sit inside of the bag for at least two days and then, using rubber gloves, remove it from the bag and scrub it all over with a wire brush. If some of the buildup won't budge, repeat the oven cleaner process, and then scrub again. Rinse the piece thoroughly, apply a coating of shortening, and place it in a 300-degree oven for forty-five minutes. Wipe it down with a paper towel, and then return it to the oven for an additional thirty minutes. Your cookware is now clean and seasoned, and ready to use.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...

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