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The Vinegar Method - Restoring a Cast Iron Griddle
March 17, 2011: This was given to me today in order to fix up. I don't have to give it back until around July; I was told to take it camping this July, throw it in the fire, and burn the rust off. But I think I'll fix it up and have it ready for use before then. Between this and the other grill I got last week, I'll have lots of cooking space to share this summer.
It measures 11 1/2" x 17 ". Now I get to be a douche and try the vinegar-and-water trick.
Update, later today: I had no pressing business this afternoon, so I went out and found a plastic tub that would fit the grill. I'd been wanting to de-rust a pan since I was bitten by the cast iron bug a couple of months ago, and I figure I'll be using this method on other pans in the future. I bought a gallon of vinegar at Wally World for $2.18; white vinegar instead of cider vinegar, but I think that will be fine because it still says 5% acidity, the same as cider vinegar. It's covered and sitting on my porch. In about a week or so I'll work on it with a wire brush, and see what happens.
March 19, 2011: After two days of soaking the grill, the white vinegar has become rust-colored and there are some bubbles on the top. I didn't dilute it with water, because the label on the jug said, "diluted with water for 5% acidity. That's the standard for grocery store vinegar; as an acid it's very weak. I'll leave it in the solution until next weekend, I think.
March 26, 2011: I started soaking it in white vinegar on March 17th. On March 26th, nine days later, the vinegar has turned a deep rust color and the bubbles are still there.
So I took out out and began working on it with a wire brush. Cost of the vinegar: $2.18. Cost of the wire brush: $2.00. And here is the result:
HOLY CRAP, DOES THIS LOOK GOOD OR WHAT?!? The silver color is a reaction to the vinegar; I saw a similar silvery taint like that on the bottom of my cast iron skillet last week, after I made deep dish pizza with tomato sauce and sliced tomatoes. But WOW, I like it!
However, my celebration was short-lived…sort of. After the grill dried off, a rust color returned its surface.
But apparently, that was mostly surface rust coming out of the pores in the metal. After another 15 minutes or so of working on it with steel wool, using kosher salt and vegetable oil – no vinegar – almost all of the rust was gone once again. I coated both sides of it in oil, and put it in the oven to bake at 350 degrees for the maximum on my microwave timer – 99 minutes, 99 seconds (1 hour, 40 minutes, 39 seconds).
And here's the result – right out of the oven after seasoning:
There's still a bit of rust on the front of the grill, but the back looks excellent. I might give it another going over with steel wool and kosher salt at another time, but on the whole this looks like it's done. Now that it's seasoned, it will be a perfectly functional cast iron grill. This means that I'll be able to bring TWO cast iron grills and share them for a great outdoor feast!