Is it safe to cook in a rusty cast iron pan?

Time and time again, I see people gathering rust on their cast iron pans and wondering if it’s safe to cook with the pan. This article will cover everything you need to know about safety, cleaning rust, and preventative measures.

Is rust dangerous to ingest?

Yes, it is. Rust can harbor bacteria and other pathogens, mainly when it harbors in corners of the cast iron pot. When using a cast iron pan for cooking food, be careful about storing the pan. Ensure that there are no chips or cracks on the pan’s surface that could allow micro-organisms to infect the food.

The USDA has stated that rust is not a food-safe material, so you should assume it’s dangerous.

What should I do if I have rusty cast iron cookware?

If you have too much rust, and it’s penetrated more profound layers of your cast iron cookware, then you should throw it away. Sometimes there is too much rust to salvage.

However, if you have thin layers of rust, you should be able to clean it off.

How to clean rust off cast iron cookware in your kitchen sink?

It would be best if you didn’t clean rust off of your cast iron cookware in your kitchen sink as the water may penetrate the rust and make it harder to remove. Instead, it would help if you used a heavy-duty stainless steel wire sponge.

These sponges come in hundreds of designs with different shapes, but most are round with extra long wires. They will make it easier for you to clean rust off of your cast iron cookware in all the corners.

You do not have to use one of those sponges. However, a small scrub pad with coarse cornstarch can also work well if you don’t have one of those wire sponge sponges.

Whichever product you choose to clean the rust, start scrubbing the rust off with it while the cast iron pan is dry. Using this method should help with removing all the rust.

If you still have any stubborn rust leftover, try soaking it in white vinegar for 30 minutes and then scrubbing it again.

What should I do after I’ve cleaned the rust off?

Once you’ve thoroughly cleaned it, you’ll need to season your cast iron pan again. The seasoning will add a protective barrier and prevent further rust from forming.

After you’ve seasoned your pan, make sure you take preventative measures to stop rust from coming back. Such as storing it in a dry environment, thoroughly drying it after washing, and not leaving it to soak in liquids.