How to make old cast iron pans look like new

Reseasoning cast iron pans is a must, even if you treat them well.

Alina Bradford CNET Contributor
Alina Bradford has been writing how-tos, tech articles and more for almost two decades. She currently writes for CNET's Smart Home Section, MTVNews' tech section and for Live Science's reference section. Follow her on Twitter.
Alina Bradford
2 min read
re-seasoning cast iron
Alina Bradford

Reseasoning is just like refinishing an old piece of furniture. You can do it over and over again and make even the oldest, grossest piece just like new. If you've been using your cast iron pan for a while it may be time to reseason it.

One of the best indicators that your cast iron pan needs reseasoning is a loss of shine to the pan or if there are any signs of rust. Reseasoning also works on cast iron pans that you may have found at thrift stores or received as hand-me-downs.

Cleaning for reseasoning

To get started, first you need to make sure the pan is clean. The best way to clean a cast iron pan before reseasoning is by rubbing it with salt and a little hot water. If there is any rust on the pan, scrub it down with some steel wool. Wash the pan out with warm water and mild dish soap and rinse to finish the cleaning process.

How to reseason

Now it's time to restore your cast iron pan to the non-stick wonder that it is meant to be:

  1. Dry the pan with a clean towel or paper towels.
  2. Put some vegetable oil onto a paper towel.
  3. Rub the oil all over the pan until the entire surface is covered with a thin layer of oil.
  4. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Place your pan, upside down, onto a baking sheet to catch the oil drips.
  6. Put them into the oven on the top rack for an hour.
  7. Let the pan cool before storing it.
  8. Store your reseasoned pan in a dry area.

Cleaning your pan

To make your reseasoning last, make sure you treat your pans with care. Always rinse the pan while it is still hot and only wash it with dish soap every now and then. Dish soap can strip away the non-stick oil patina. If there is stuck-on food, scrub the pan with coarse salt and warm water, a plastic scrub brush or a plastic spatula.

After cleaning, dry your pan thoroughly and wipe it down with a thin layer of vegetable oil. If you're worried about lint of dust sticking to the oil, cover it with a paper towel or store it in a cloth drawstring bag.