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Rusty Cast-Iron
Credit: Premyuda Yospim/Getty

Almost exactly a month after my college graduation, I found myself moving into a one-bedroom apartment in Birmingham, Alabama. After my mom and I finished assembling IKEA furniture, hanging family photos, and filling the fridge with groceries, I announced that I had to go get a cast-iron skillet. My mother, who typically cooked with stainless steel, stared at me for a moment. She's dropping her 22-year-old off at her first solo apartment and cast-iron is her urgent request? Even though I would be working nowhere near the Test Kitchen, I had decided that this was something needed to start my fellowship at Southern Living. Off we went to Target and I bought myself a 12-inch Lodge skillet. 

Right away, I was dedicated to the cause. I watched YouTube videos on how to clean your cast-iron, I did my own experiments with different oils for seasoning, and I gave my precious pan it's own permanent spot on the stove. I had worked too hard for that shiny finish to hide it away in a cabinet. 

Jump ahead a few years, and I am still head over heels for cast-iron. For daily use, I've pivoted to a 10-inch skillet with dual handles and it's by far my favorite piece of kitchen equipment. From shakshuka to taco night, there's nothing this pretty little pan can't handle. And I clean it perfectly every time, or so I thought. 

Around the holidays, I noticed that while I had been taking care of the interior of my skillet I had neglected to check underneath. I discovered that the bottom of my pan was slowly turning reddish brown. I quickly searched "How to remove rust from a cast iron skillet?" but found the multitude of answers too overwhelming and simply put my pan on the back burner. 

A few days later a well-timed Instagram post gave me just the answer I had been looking for.

Almost immediately I ordered my own Lodge cast-iron rust eraser and told my skillet that help was on the way. When it arrived about a week later, I was surprised to learn that the $10 tool felt like a heavy-duty version of an eraser that you might use on paper. 

I simply pulled out my dry, cool pan, flipped it over and went to work on the cast-iron skillet rust. The process felt similar to sanding, as the reddish brown finish rubbed off like dust with a few pressured strokes from the rust eraser. I'd recommend starting this project near a trash can and in an area that can easily be swept or vacuumed. 

After the rust had disappeared, I used the oven to give my skillet a generous re-seasoning with a bit of moisturizing oil. One hour later and my favorite kitchen tool was as good as new. If you too have committed this kitchen sin and need to know how to get rust off your cast-iron skillet, this eraser will save you.