If you’re anything like us, you probably have an old, rusty cast-iron skillet hiding somewhere in your home. Well, thanks to a recent Instagram Reel from Brandon Pleshek (@cleanthatup), you can make that cast iron look brand-new — and all it takes is half a potato, salt, and some oil to season.
While there are many methods out there for cleaning up rusty cast irons, Brandon notes that this one has been particularly successful for him, and it’s really rather simple. He starts off the reel by showing off a cast-iron skillet that has apparently been in a box inside a garage for the past five years.
“I grab half a potato and scrub in coarse kosher salt and work my way across the pan,” he explains. “After a bit of scrubbing, I do like to switch out the salt with a new batch.”
After scrubbing with the potato for a bit, Brandon switches to a towel to ensure the corners are adequately scrubbed as well.
Brandon gives the cast iron a quick rinse in the sink and uses another towel to dry it off. Luckily for us, he also includes a quick tutorial on how to season the like-new skillet.
“I applied a thin layer of high-smoke-point cooking oil to the entire area,” he says. “I then placed it in my oven at 450 degrees for about 30 minutes.”
He repeats the process three times to ensure the surface of the cast iron is nonstick and that no rust finds its way back onto the pan.
How it’s helping
It’s no secret that cast irons can be tricky to maintain. But Brandon’s hack not only saves us from tossing out rusty skillets, but it also saves money. While there are many commercial products to maintain your cast iron, it’s pretty likely that you already have some salt and a potato at home. And if you don’t — one potato and a bag of salt are definitely cheaper than a bottle of name-brand cleaner.
Those marketed cleaners can also be harmful to the environment. The Environmental Protection Agency warns that chemicals in cleaning products often biodegrade slowly or even biodegrade into more toxic, persistent chemicals. You don’t want to be washing that down the drain into our waterways.
What everyone’s saying
Like us, other Instagram users were rather surprised at the potato’s cleaning properties.
“Potato?!” one person exclaimed. “But then I googled it and voila: ‘Potatoes excel at removing rust from cast iron pans because they contain oxalic acid, a non-toxic acid which forms compounds with the iron ions in rust.’”
“Wow!” one person said. “I am going to try this on my cast iron ASAP! 💥 🍳”
“Wish I had known this before I threw away a skillet,” someone else lamented. “My bonus son left water soaking in attempt to clean stuck on food!!!”
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