fennel wrote:Thanks, Petro. I finally got around to trying this. It does look to be the best method I've heard of. The surface seems much more durable, though the process is really time-consuming. (There must be a business opportunity, here.)
One of my pans is a Wagner no. 12 that, I think, is at least 80 years old. The sides had a major complex of accretions that even oven cleaner couldn't address. So I tried the closest thing to a nuclear option that I have: the oven's 4.5 hour cleaning cycle. That did it – nothing left but iron, a thin powdery layer of surface rust, and fine ash.
Yeah, I was gifted a set of five pre-1940s Griswold pans & lids (Made in Erie, PA!) back in May. I spent the better part of a weekend seasoning as many as I could fit into the oven at once. It isn't like you're busy for much of the time, but I'm not about to leave the house with my oven roasting away at 500F. My winning idea was to set my air purifier right on the counter, next to the oven. It did a decent job of reducing the amount of smoke that wound up coming out of the oven.
I'd be wary of using the self-cleaning cycle with anything antique. There's a chance that the pans can warp under the high heat. If you look around on the web you can find simple directions for building an electrolysis tank for removing rust. (I'd link to the WAGS forum, but they've apparently made it members only since my last visit.)
I still need to go back and finish the ones that wouldn't fit, as well as a 15" skillet that needs to be cleaned of rust and then seasoned. That skillet is like an albatross. Too big for a home kitchen's burner, and too big for many cabinets.
FYI - to any folks that might want to do this. The Willy Street Coop carries the oil. It's in the refrigerated part of their wellness section.