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Cast Iron Skillet Refurb

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by rufus, Sep 23, 2013.

  1. rufus

    rufus State of Jefferson Well-Known Member

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    I have a skillet that's been abused and now needs refurbishing. I've read that they used to machine the cooking surface smooth during the manufacturing process, but now they just cast, sand blast, season and package, leaving a rough cooking surface.

    Before I bother re-seasoning the skillet, I'm thinking of taking my angle grinder to the cooking surface so it's smooth like the ones of old, like this:

    [video=youtube;IJQX5Bt5oec]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJQX5Bt5oec[/video]

    Thoughts?
     
  2. jbett98

    jbett98 NW Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    I like vintage cast iron skillets.
    Almost every estate sale I go to has a couple for sale, and the quality is far superior then the Chinese junk they make now.
    They generally cost less then $10.00 per skillet.
    You might flatten the bumps, but it will still be too porous with all of the pitting.
     
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  3. OFADAN

    OFADAN Brownsville, OR Well-Known Member

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    rufus, I'm not a cast iron expert but I do refurb a lot of pieces and it is the only cookware I use. I'll share with you what I know....

    One of the reasons cast iron works so well and is so effective is the pores of the metal surface are filled with carbon from burnt particles of food. Over time the more carbon that builds up creates the hard, solid, "Teflon-like" non-stick surface we all desire. So granted while it will be rough for a period of time, food will stick (which is a good thing initially) and you must use a metal spatula to lightly scrape the surface...but over time you'll notice food will no longer stick as the carbon begins to build up and eventually you'll have a smooth solid beautiful sheen surface to cook from. Food cooked even with very little oil will slide around like its on ice or cooking with Teflon.

    Our forefathers/mothers cooked/lived with this technology for a really-really long time. I bet they never took a side grinder to the surface of any of their iron - even those poorly cast!

    When I get a new to me (used) skillet or Dutch Oven I start to cook a lot of starchy foods for awhile (potato's) to build up the carbon faster. This is why you should never use soap on cast iron as it breaks down the carbon and you have to start the process all over again.

    My suggestion is this...strip the pan if you must, then season it properly (I can walk you through this via email) and then start cooking with it a lot. Expect it to stick and for food to hang up for the first dozen or so times. Lightly scrape the surface with a metal spatula, and only clean with water. Oil it after each use and eventually it will be slick, slick, slick.

    One note of caution is some folks like to melt lead in cast iron to create fishing weights or cast bullets - so be careful about what was used in it - I like to know a little about its history before I cook dinner in it.
     
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  4. BoonDocks36

    BoonDocks36 Oregon, in the boondocks Christian. Conservative. Male.

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    rufus, very good question, and a great approach, HOWEVER !!!!!!

    before you spend time doing that, turn cast iron over, look for where it was Made !!!!!!!

    Never, ever cook with Chinese Produced Cast Iron ..... They have no quality control within their cast iron, and it Most Likely is contaminated with lead... Repeat: LEAD

    I cook only on American Cast iron, and the last two I bought were at Good Will, and a total of $5.00 they needed only steel wool to clean them up, a good washing, dried over propane heat, then seasoned.

    After that, unless my cooking goes bad, they are good to go.

    I make "griddle toast" and recently lost my train f thought, and instantly had charcoled toast!!!
    I simply picked up thegriddle with a hot pad, and. Held it under cold water, while scraping off the remenents with my spatula... First oops in a long time, re buttered the pan, did my toast, then a couple eggs.... Dinner. Done.

    Hope that helps,

    philip, cooking on cast iron, since 1959 ..... But only a year plus, in the BoonDocks.
     
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  5. rufus

    rufus State of Jefferson Well-Known Member

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    skillet_zpsb97dcc1c.jpg

    It is a Chinese import marked Benjamin & Medwin, about 25 or so years old. I used it a lot before someone "borrowed" it last year for a camping trip and this is the result. It was very well seasoned at one time but the surface never did get smooth. My grandmother used to have some great cookware and I remember how smooth the cast iron skillet was. Figured I have nothing to lose so might as well break out the angle grinder.

    I've looked for a good used one for some time without luck, people here snatch 'em up. I'll keep looking but in the mean time... :bawling:
     
  6. rufus

    rufus State of Jefferson Well-Known Member

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    Been doing some looking and the older B&M cookware was made in the USA. This skillet does not say China on it, but it does not say USA either. Hummm.

    Thanks for the help fellas.
     
  7. GOG

    GOG State of Jefferson Well-Known Member

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    Just a suggestion for you if you have a self cleaning oven.

    Place the skillet in the oven upside down and turn on the self clean operation. It may very well clean it up and smooth it out enough for you to wash it and re-season it without any grinding. If it doesn't, no harm, no foul.

    Keep us in the loop. :thumbup:
     
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  8. deen_ad

    deen_ad Vancouver, WA Well-Known Member

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    My mother used to collect Griswold cast iron cookware. Wish I'd have taken it all when she asked me if I wanted it. My mother was elated when on of my cousins bought it, (keeping it in the family). Years later we found out she then sold it on eBay.
    I did keep a few pieces though. Now, if I could just keep the grandson and wife from putting it in the dishwater all the time!

    Deen
    NRA Life Member, Benefactor Level
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    "A gun is like a parachute. If you need one and don't have it, you'll probably never need one again!"
     
  9. rufus

    rufus State of Jefferson Well-Known Member

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    My plan is to perform the grinding just to get a nice smooth surface, then soak it in a 50/50 mix of white vinegar and water for about two hours to remove any rust and scale, rinse it well then oil her up real good and bake upside-down in the oven at 350ish. Most likely will do that last step a few times.

    Then I can start the long process of cooking lots of bacon and pork chops and other good things to build up that wonderful surface that makes cast iron so great. That's the fun part, the cooking and eating. I'm good at eating.

    Now, if I can just find the time...
     
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  10. bruzer

    bruzer Grants Pass, OR Well-Known Member

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    Funny you should be asking about cast iron. Bought a #9 Griswold Skillet this week. Placed it in a lye and water bath for a couple of days to completely strip all the old crude off. Then a good rinsing and scrubbing with a stainless steel scrubber and Bar Keepers Friend. Followed by 4 grape seed oil rub downs and 500 degrees in the BBQ. If I get up early enough it will be cooking eggs tomorrow.
    Good luck, stay safe and may God bless us all,
    Mike

    Griswold #9 001.jpg

    #9 Griswold & steel griddle 003.jpg
     
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  11. rufus

    rufus State of Jefferson Well-Known Member

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    bruzer, that looks great. If you don't mind me asking, where did you find it? If I could find one like that I'd turn the one I already have into a 100 yard gong for my handguns.

    I gotta get out more...
     
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  12. EZLivin

    EZLivin SW of PDX Well-Known Member

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    I prefer cast iron cookware for most cooking tasks, and have a lot of Lodge, both old and knew. One of the newer pieces is a "smooth finish" pan that the factory claimed would stick less than the rougher stuff. From my experience they were wrong. The rougher, seasoned pieces are about as non-stick as anything can get, but that "smooth finish" piece never has taken on the non-stick characteristics the rough surface ones have.
     
  13. Allfat

    Allfat Marion County Active Member

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    I did this once with a dutch oven that was not treated nicely (another borrowed camping trip...). I did what you suggested, oven self clean, and it took the finish all the way down to the cast iron. Re-seasoned it, and it is ready for use once again. Just make sure to re-season it right away, because it will rust fast if it is just bare cast iron.
     
  14. BEN LILLY

    BEN LILLY Lincoln City, OR NRA LIFE MEMBER Bronze Supporter

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    Cast iron is the only cook ware my mother would use. My two sisters are the Sam e way.
    Cast iron is the only way to cook cornbread and to fry chicken or fish.
    Just goes to show how old I am. My mom only used steel wool for clean-up.
     
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  15. BEN LILLY

    BEN LILLY Lincoln City, OR NRA LIFE MEMBER Bronze Supporter

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    Grunwald can be found in most antique shops. Estate sales are also a good place e to look.
     
  16. deen_ad

    deen_ad Vancouver, WA Well-Known Member

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    Never heard of "Grunwald" cast iron!



    Deen
    NRA Life Member, Benefactor Level
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    "Having a gun is like a parachute, if you need one and don't have it you may never need it again"
     
  17. deen_ad

    deen_ad Vancouver, WA Well-Known Member

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    My mother had the cast iron cornbread pans. They pans even made the cornbread look like a small corncob. Problem is that after you took them out of the oven they continued to bake the cornbread. Last time she made cornbread you could have used them for tent stakes they were so hard. Wife and I still laugh about it!


    Deen
    NRA Life Member, Benefactor Level
    "Defender of Freedom" award
    Second Amendment Foundation Member
    Washington Arms Collectors Member
    Arms Collectors of SW Washington Member


    "Having a gun is like a parachute, if you need one and don't have it you may never need it again"
     
  18. bruzer

    bruzer Grants Pass, OR Well-Known Member

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    rufus,
    Got the skillet from craigslist for $25 and a no name #9 round griddle for $10. I have a friend that has been getting #8 skillets from the thrift stores for $10. #8 measures about 10 1/4 inches across the top of the pan. #9 measures about 11 1/4 inches.
    The Griswold did OK this morning cooking eggs. Eggs stuck a little at first but not bad. Everything cleaned off with only a paper towel rub down. More cooking and it will get better and better.
    Good luck, stay safe and may God bless us all,
    Mike
     
  19. rufus

    rufus State of Jefferson Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the info. Yesterday afternoon I mentioned to my wife that I want to go thrifting for cast iron. Being the professional shopper that she is, she says "I know where there is a lot of that stuff in Grants Pass" so we hopped in my truck and headed into town (from CJ) after first striking out at the local thrift stores.

    The place she was talking about is the trading post place near the fairgrounds on the 199, the one with the horse on the roof. Sure enough, they have lots of cast iron. The only problem is they know what they have and it's priced accordingly. Oh well, my time is money so I picked through the goods and ended up with a number 10 Wagner. They wanted $50, I offered 30, we settled on 40. Paid more than I wanted but you cannot win 'em all.

    It is in great shape but it looked like it had 100 years of patina and the grease that was caked on was rancid. Yuk. It spent the night in a lye bath and this morning it looks almost brand new. Washed it real good with soap and hot water, dried and oiled her up. Here it is:

    castiron_top_zps7da38996.jpg

    castiron_bottom_zpsf4f35136.jpg

    castiron_logo_zpsdb577a5d.jpg

    We are going to get clobbered with a storm any minute, so the seasoning process may have to wait a day or two. Can't wait for some pork chops ! My old skillet is destined for the gun range.
     
  20. rufus

    rufus State of Jefferson Well-Known Member

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    Now I don't feel so bad. The exact same skillet sold for $65 on fleabay recently out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Shipping would have been a bit hit. Guess I did okay after all.
     
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