Old 08-08-2012, 10:02 AM
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Vancouver Island
Posts: 6
Default Old Iron is good iron; cookware that is!

Just reading a comment on cast iron cookware reminded me that some folks might not have thought of sourcing older cast iron ware. The fact is that a lot of the older designs and wares are no longer made, and in general the molding, casting and finishing was of a higher quality "in the old days". The iron also tends to be of a finer, more consistent grain. And of course the iron was also more often "virgin": uncontaminated by other metals and substances that are found in recycled iron, especially when cast overseas.

I have a nice selection of griddles, pans, waffle irons, dutch oven etc., almost all of which I have bought at flea markets and garage sales. Often this old iron is covered in congealed dirt and oil and sometimes rust, and many people think it is impossible to clean as a result. In fact, it's very easy to make this old iron as good as new. I recently cleaned up a very finely molded 12" frying pan with pouring spouts and a tubular metal handle. This pan must be at least 80 years old.

I put it and a nice waffle iron (the base isn't shown) I picked up in the oven and set it on a clean cycle. This burns off all the old oil and dirt, then I sand blast the pieces, wash in very hot water and dry them in the oven. It takes a LONG time to sand blast off anything that has any "softness" or "give" in it as the grit bounces off it. This includes thick grease & oil deposits etc., but after a trip through the oven, there is nothing left but fine ash and the iron blasts clean almost instantly.

If I want to make any "improvements" to the castings I do that too, with files, grinder, sander etc. For example, glass range tops can easily be damaged by even a bit of roughness on the bottom of a pan. I smooth the bottoms of pans, irons & griddles etc. with an angle grinder fitted with an abrasive pad.

After a wash and dry, coat with oil and into the oven at 325 for a few hours and you get a perfectly seasoned, ready to use antique! This kind of ironware is almost immortal. For example even rusty old pots used as planters for years can be brought back to usable condition quite easily. There are very few consumer products that last as well.

Nothing makes waffles like a well-seasoned cast waffle iron, and AFAIK, they not made anywhere now.

For cooking over a fire, camping or elsewhere, nothing stands rough use and evens out the inconsistencies of the heat as well as cast iron.

Sorry if I'm preaching to the converted here!
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Last edited by Salvager; 08-08-2012 at 11:41 PM.
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Old 08-09-2012, 10:00 AM
Neil2's Avatar
Il Pizzaiolo
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Vancouver Island
Posts: 1,374
Default Re: Old Iron is good iron; cookware that is!

Reduce, recycle, reuse.

It is good for your Karma.

I too haunt thrift shops and garage sales for cookware.
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Old 08-10-2012, 12:22 AM
Bacterium's Avatar
Master Builder
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Adelaide - South Oz
Posts: 560
Default Re: Old Iron is good iron; cookware that is!

Agreed on the old stuff, must keep my eye out there as well but not much so far

I hunt our local cheaper end department stores during end of season sales, picked up some good Lodge brand stuff, decent width solid handle (not timber screw on) for as little as $20.. Seems to be that plain cast iron is not popular like all the fancy coatings and materials they flog for more $$$...... suits me though

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