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Cast Iron Electrolysis Rust Removal


Gone but never forgotten.
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Joined Jul 23, 2008


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Joined Oct 20, 2015
I printed that out, I'll have to try that next time I come across another pan needing some love. Link didn't show pics for me, but I should figure it out. Thanks for bringing this post back to life.


Joined Jun 13, 2020
This is the method I have been using for the last two years:

I've cleaned maybe 3-4 dozen pieces of cast iron cookware so far, a bunch of tools as large as a post vise and lots of odds and ends. Works beautifully. Get to scrubbing and rustproofing as soon as it's out of the tank. I season the cookware with canola oil using the method on the same website.

I started out cleaning cast iron cookware with lye (spray-on oven cleaner) , a scotchbrite pad and elbow grease. It can certainly be done that way and if you have a limited number of items to clean I recommend it. (Unless you are cleaning a cornstick pan, which is the path to madness.) But the electrolysis tank is way easier once you get it set up. I still presoak every pan that looks like more than pure carbon (i.e. anything possibly greasy) in a lye tank -- a 5 gallon bucket for anything the size of a #8 skillet or smaller, clean the greasy stuff off, and then it goes into the electrolysis tank.

As far as stainless and hexavalent chromium goes, I've seen arguments for both sides -- that it might be a byproduct of the reaction and it might not. I had so much trouble keeping carbon steel donor anodes clean enough to be effective that I switched to stainless, which is much easier. But, choose your potential poison. Find a cheap source of wide, flat graphite and you may get the best of both worlds. Clean anodes with lots of surface area make for efficient cleaning.

With us, the attractive and collectible skillets decorate one kitchen wall, the interesting bakeware goes in the dining room, and anything else that doesn't get used much is given to friends and family who have yet to discover cooking with cast iron. My wife cooks and bakes with vintage cast iron 90% of the time.


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Joined May 13, 2020
i don't really think there is a debate on whether or not hexavalent chromium is created, it is. It is a question of how much. Regardless, it is toxic and I would prefer to not have it around in the event of an accidental spill and keep it away from my dogs.

Would love to get my hands on some graphite at i reasonable price, it is just not out there right now.

First time I used an automatic charger with a battery in line i didn't have any issues. This time, for some reason i have yet to figure out, the battery keeps reaching 100% and it is shutting off. Fortunately, I think I may have located a manual charger to just be done with it.


Joined Jun 13, 2020
Agreed -- it's about how much. Like there's probably some mouse poop in your Cheerios, the only question is how many PPB. I have not seen where anyone really has the answer to the levels of hexavalent chromium for stainless in an electrolysis tank. And I'm not necessarily recommending stainless anodes. I just got tired of constantly cleaning the anodes, and stainless makes the process go so much faster. You pays your money and you takes your choice.

Technically hexavalent chromium appears to be a carcinogen rather than a toxin, not that it sounds any better. All of us grillers (and presumably smokers too, to an extent) are already exposing ourselves to some levels of carcinogens that result from the exposure of meat and fat to high temperatures. How much is OK? Who the heck knows? Personally, I'll pass on cigarettes and not worry much about eating baby backs now and then.

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