I figure someone else besides me might find this useful.
A friend came to me a few years back with an old 10" CI Skillet (her late mother's pan, circa 1940's) with LOTS of old buildup on it, and asked if there was anything I could do with it.
So I fired up a 120kbtu cajun cooker gas burner, and essentially burned it clean, to a dull orange hot, cooled it down, and gave it a good wire brushing.
Next I dropped the heat to medium, and using a rolled up bar towel soaked in canola oil I began rebuilding a patina of carbonized/polymerized oil ...
And presto ... not too shabby.
Hope that helps somebody.
Incidentally, proper care of cast iron cookware involves periodic use, cleaning up with warm soapy water and a non-abrasive sponge, then reheating the pan to drive any moisture out of the pores, giving it a light wipedown with a little oil, letting the pan cool again, and then buffing off all the excess oil, just like an old shoe. You also want to thoroughly preheat a CI pan just, from edge to edge, just to the smoke point, before cooking in it, as this helps 'set' the polish you left from the last use, and further grow the patina. If you preheat properly beforehand, and cleanup and repolish properly afterwards, you'll slowly build up a beautiful black non-stick patina as the years go by. Do NOT skip the buffing step, otherwise excess oils and residues can build up over time into the mess you see in the first picture of this thread.
Final tip: dont cook acidic foods in old fashioned cast iron, unless its porcelain coated.
I have an old 13" hand-hammered carbon steel Indian Karai pan that I got as a rusty hulk for $6 about 10 years ago, and reconditioned it into a real beauty ... lemme see if I can find a pic.
Last edited by ISI-Society
on Thu May 02, 2013 4:57 pm, edited 4 times in total.