How to Remove Rust from Pots and Pans

Four Methods:Using SaltScouring the PanUsing Potato ScrubsUsing Vinegar or Lemon Juice

Rusty pots and pans don't have to go straight to the trash can. Most of them can be easily salvaged with a little bit of patience and elbow grease. However, if you pan is warped or cracked, dealing with the rust likely isn't worth your time, and the pan should be discarded.

Method 1
Using Salt

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    Gather up table salt, and a brown paper bag. The salt acts as a gentle abrasive, helping you to easily scrape up the rust without damaging the pan.
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    Pour the salt in the rusted pan. Pour enough to lightly cover the area you need to rub off with a thin coating.
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    Scour it with the brown paper. If the salt gets really rusty, dispose it and add fresh salt.
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    Season the pan to avoid future rust. Pan seasoning is especially important for cast-iron pans, as it protects them and makes them easier to cook and clean in the future.

Method 2
Scouring the Pan

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    Use steel wool to remove thin layers of rust from most pans. If your cookware isn't stainless steel, try scouring the rust off with fine steel wool.
    • Use a little bit of dish soap when scrubbing. This can prevent major scratching to your pan.
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    Use gentle scrubs, like Bar Keeper's Friend, for stainless steel. If steel wool is unavailable or your cookware is stainless steel, try scouring the rust off with Bar Keepers Friend and a plastic scrubbie.
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    Use all-natural scrubs for any pan, rubbing hard to remove the rust. If you need a more natural or earth conscious solution, try the following scouring options that our ancestors used to scour off rust:
    • Horsetail Rush- plants in genus Equisetum.
    • A paste made from equal parts lemon juice and cream of tartar.
    • Fine grained sand (not on stainless steel though).

Method 3
Using Potato Scrubs

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    Cut the potato in half. Any potato will do. This method is gentle, but is only suitable for thin, surface level rust marks.
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    Coat the potato in baking soda. Place potato cut side down in some baking soda to coat the flat side lightly with baking soda. You can pour a little bit of baking soda on a plate dip the potato in as it rubs off.
    • If you don't have baking soda, some people say the plain potato will work, or you can use the potato with a little bit of dishwashing liquid on it.
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    Rub the cut side of the potato on the rusted item to remove rusty areas. Rinse pan to remove loosened rust.
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    When the potato gets too smooth to remove any more rust, cut off a thin slice of potato and go back to step two.
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    Repeat steps 2-5 as needed to remove all rust. Again, this is only suitable for thin layers of rust. If you have serious issues, return to one of the earlier methods.[1]

Method 4
Using Vinegar or Lemon Juice

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    Use gentle acids to remove rust. You can soak pans or pots overnight in an acidic solution to weaken the rust, then remove it later. Some options include:
    • Baking Soda and water
    • Vinegar
    • Lemon juice.
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    Soak the pan overnight in the acidic solution. You can mix in a little water too to cut the acidity. Add 1-2 tablespoons of salt for even better results.
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    Scrub the rust in the morning. You can use steel wool for bigger patches of rust, but a lemon rind is actually one of the best scrubs you can use for gentle washing.
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    Repeat again if there is any more loose. Be sure to rinse the pan out between soakings however, as the vinegar could damage the finish if left on for too long.[2]

Article Info

Categories: Pots and Pans