I just registered with Chow but have been lurking for a while.
I noticed a lot of posts on this board about de-rusting/reconditioning
cast iron items.
Google up "electrolytic cleaning". Works like a charm.
I've used the process to clean all manner of cast iron.
The process turns "red rust" (extremely hard to remove) into
"black rust" (easily brushed off).
* 6v/12v battery charger (like one for car batteries)
* Washing soda (no, not baking soda). Hard to find stuff but get thee to
a pool/spa supply store and get a tub of "alkalinity increaser". I use
* A non-metallic container to hold enough water to submerge the item to
be cleaned. Five gal plastic bucket, trash bags, plastic tub, whatever.
* A piece of iron that you don't mind destroying. I use a piece of concrete
construction rebar. This is called the "sacrificial iron".
* Make a solution (proportions aren't critical) of water and soda (or spa stuff).
* Attach "positive" (The "+" or red one) lead of battery charger to the sacrificial
iron and place it into the container of solution.
* Attach the "negative" (The "-" or the one that ISN'T red) to the item to be
cleaned. Submerge it into the solution.
* ----> Do No Allow the Metal Pieces in the Solution to Touch Each Other <-----
* Switch on battery charger. Within a few minutes you see tiny bubbles coming
off the metal pieces. One bubble stream is oxygen, the other is hydrogen.
* I've "cooked" very badly rusted pieces for days. So don't worry about timing.
* Scrap off the rust which is now black. Scrape, rinse and repeat as necessary.
BTW, keep the solution. It doesn't "go bad" or lose it effectiveness over tiime.
My iron skillets didn't even need to be reseasoned. Adding a little dish detergent
to the solution will also help rid a skillet of the grease build up on the sides.
Hope this helps.