Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Reader's Question: Cleaning Off Rust

Great things are done by a series of small things brought together. ~Vincent Van Gogh

Today I wanted to share this question and answer from last year because I had such good reader's tips sent in afterwards. I thought it was a great topic.

Hello, I have a question about restoring old metal cooking utensils. I have a double bladed hand chopper in particular that has spots of rust on the blades. Do you have any idea how I can safely clean the rust off and use the chopper for daily kitchen work? I also have several old metal cake pans. Is it safe to use these old pans? One is a covered pudding pan. The bottom is rusted but the top "shell" is rust free.

You really shouldn't use pans or kitchen knives with rust, but you can try to remove it with steel wool. Don't use one of the pieces with a cleanser on it, but just plain steel wool or a small wire brush. Rub until the rust is completely removed, then wash it in soapy water and dry it. Then you should coat the item with vegetable oil and rub it in with a rag. If the rust is really bad you can try soaking the item in white vinegar, then use a paste of baking soda and water after soaking to scrub the area. If you can remove the rust completely you should be okay.

A few years ago we forgot about our cast iron Dutch oven after a camping trip and when we got back to it had rusted all over the inside. At someone else's suggestion I filled it up with Coca Cola. We were told that only Coca Cola will work, but haven't tried other sodas ourselves. I let it soak for a few hours and the rust was very nearly gone. Only a very thin layer remained in some places that was easy to scour off with steel wool. It definitely worked better than soaking the cast iron in vinegar.

My father has told me that when he was at sea they used Kool Aid to clean the air craft carrier decks, so I've thought that might work too, but I haven't tried it. I haven't tried either of these on rusty steel pans, but I'd think they'd work on that, too. ~V. West

I have another way to rid utensils of rust for Susann. It's called Instant Rust Out. I bought it at Menards(WI) and have used it on my can opener which I could never get rust free. It works great. You can use it in the bath, kitchen, clothing, carpet, exterior surfaces and more. The one I have came in a 16 oz. spray bottle and cost a few dollars. Nothing I've tried has ever worked as good as this. There is a website on the back and phone number 1-800-654-0791. This is my new miracle cleaner! ~Kim

Rust is a common problem, for cooks, as well as in the surgical field. Surgical instruments are exposed to extremes, that no kitchen item is ever exposed to. Yes, surgical instruments can get rusted and that is a definite NO-NO! I learned when I worked in surgery, the best way to save an expensive surgical instrument, when it got rusted, was to use the old-fashioned Bar Keeper's Friend cleanser! It works, almost 95% of the time. There are those times, when the rust is simply to invasive too save anything, OK? It is the mildest of the cleanser, meaning it is non-abrasive and is highly recommended by many manufacturers for their products. I am thinking of brass, copper, bathroom and kitchen sinks, tile, counter tops, china, ceramic, drinking glasses, so on and so forth. It is simply a GREAT product! Here is the website: ~Mickey

I do know that Coke, Straight, will eat rust off metal. You'll have to submerge the entire item in Coke. It may take a day are two maybe even three days. I'd advise using it one day, then see how it has done. I do know leaving a small bolt in Coke for three days will eat the bolt up completely. And we wonder what it does to our insides. LOL Fortunately our insides are of different elements. ~Dan

We have tips on OFL about caring for and using a Dutch oven:

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