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Cast Iron Cleaning and Seasoning Help With and Tips & Techniques For Cast Iron Cookware Restoration

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  #1  
Old 07-29-2014, 01:41 AM
KatT KatT is offline
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Default E-tank vs. Vinegar bath?

I started my first reconditioning project a couple of weeks ago: Right now, I have 6 (most of which were heavily-crudded) pieces that have been marinating in oven cleaner since I began this adventure, and I have reapplied the oven cleaner as necessary to treat the worst of them. Tomorrow is the big day, and I'm ready to finish the process and season them. As far as I can tell, none of the pieces have substantial rust on them, so I'm prepared to do a vinegar bath and apply a little elbow grease to get them ready, but it seems like electrolysis is the gold-standard among serious collectors. What is the consensus on this?
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  #2  
Old 07-29-2014, 10:52 AM
Ken Davis Ken Davis is offline
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Default Re: E-tank vs. Vinegar bath?

Electrolysis is more efficient and thorough but for minor jobs, the vinegar bath is often adequate. You have to ask yourself, "Is it really worth setting up the e-tank?" And, "What am I going to do with it once I have it set up?"
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Old 07-29-2014, 11:22 AM
John E John E is offline
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Default Re: E-tank vs. Vinegar bath?

What finally made me cave and set up an electrolysis tank was pieces with tight angles. It can be really frustrating to put elbow grease to something like a muffin pan to scrub the rust off from the vinegar bath. Regular skillets, dutch ovens, and the like are no problem, just hit it with a stainless steel brush and some steel wool. I also got tired of scrubbing really rusty pieces four or five times.
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Old 07-29-2014, 11:30 AM
SueB SueB is offline
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Default Re: E-tank vs. Vinegar bath?

I agree. It only took trying to get rust off one popover pan and one cornstick pan to convince me that I needed an e-tank. It's so much easier.
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  #5  
Old 07-29-2014, 07:34 PM
KatT KatT is offline
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Default Re: E-tank vs. Vinegar bath?

Well I didn't get as many pieces finished today as I would have liked, but overall it was a good learning experience: I was able to trouble-shoot some issues as they arose, and for the most part, I feel confident about the seasoning process when I'm ready to give it another go. The main obstacle I faced today was that the really cruddy pieces still didn't come completely clean even after the over cleaner treatments. Several pieces, while otherwise down to base metal, still had some patches of thick, stubborn crust that couldn't be scrubbed off. So I re-treated them with the over cleaner and sealed them back up, but I'm concerned that if the patches are mostly carbon-based, that e-tank may be the only solution. What do you guys think?
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  #6  
Old 07-29-2014, 08:20 PM
Doug D. Doug D. is offline
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Default Re: E-tank vs. Vinegar bath?

There are sometimes going to be those "warts" that just don't seem to want to budge. Extended electro sessions may take them off, but only to leave a flat, black stain that also doesn't seem to want to budge. Stains will blend in over time, but the "warts" won't. I have a 1" wide steel putty knife I sometimes haul out when these "warts" arise. You have to be very careful, however, keeping the leading edge of the blade flat against the iron, working slowly and with a sure grip so as not to slip and allow a sharp corner of the blade to make a scratch. A good idea is to file the blade corners round and smooth before use on a valuable piece.
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Old 07-29-2014, 08:53 PM
KatT KatT is offline
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Default Re: E-tank vs. Vinegar bath?

Doug,
Thanks for the advice. I honestly wanted to take a putty knife to them today because of how thick they are, but was afraid of damaging them since I didn't know if that was an orthodox method or not. When scraping the warts, is it advisable to leave the oven cleaner on to make them more pliable? If so, I'll take every precaution to not contact the chemical, but if not I'll rinse them off first. Also, do you file your putty knives by hand or use a grinder?
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  #8  
Old 07-29-2014, 09:35 PM
Doug D. Doug D. is offline
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Default Re: E-tank vs. Vinegar bath?

A file works fine. I actually would advise the piece be more dry than wet, and certainly not wet with anything as slippery as a lye-based product, causticity notwithstanding. Holding the tool at about a 45 angle to the work, I place the blade edge flat against the metal at one edge of the wart, and just slowly work forward into it, pivoting it a bit, all the while maintaining the leading edge flat and in contact with the iron. You're trying to make the wart crumble and release in bits as you work through it, not pry or scrape it off in one piece. On curved surfaces, work with the curve so the leading edge of the blade can remain flat against the iron. Your best success will be on factory polished surfaces. On as-cast surfaces, don't be as aggressive or you may end up burnishing the high spots at the expense of getting off last bits that really don't matter.
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