Chef David Bancroft Serves Up Tips for Restoring Cast Iron Cookware

It’s not hard to restore your cast iron cookware. All you need is some baking soda, steel wool, and a bit of elbow grease.

Cast Iron Skillet Restoration

Using steel wool, thoroughly scrub the baking soda and water into the cast iron to remove rust.

New Exmark Prime Cuts video shares the steps to do it yourself

All of these pieces are worth restoring, especially if you love passing these things down from generation to generation.”

— Chef David Bancroft

BEATRICE, NEB, USA, November 16, 2023 / — It’s easy to see why the popularity of cooking with cast iron cookware has never been greater. Cast iron’s ability to sear meat better than other materials, combined with the seasoning that occurs over time produces palate pleasing meals time after time. And the unmatched durability of cast iron cookware often makes them family heirlooms passed down from generation to generation.

But time does a number to even the highest quality cast iron cookware. That’s why Exmark partnered with Chef David Bancroft on a new Prime Cuts video detailing how to take your old cast iron cookware and restore it to look practically brand new.

Bancroft says that, while there are a variety of methods to clean up cast iron –– electrolysis, washing powder, or sandblasting –– he prefers to go “grandma style” and clean his cast iron kettles, pans, and skillets with a simple mix of baking powder, steel wool, and a little elbow grease.

“All of these pieces are worth restoring,” Bancroft said. “Especially if you love passing these things down from generation to generation.”

The first step in the restoration process is to strip your cast iron cookware pieces, giving them a deep cleaning with baking soda and steel wool. Bancroft recommends wearing gloves to protect your hands from the steel wool.

“Dump some baking powder into the skillet, then add a little water to get it to a thick, paste-like consistency,” Bancroft said. “Then get to scrubbing the paste over every square inch.”

Once the cast iron is completely coated, the rust will start peeling off the walls almost immediately. For best results however, Bancroft recommends letting the paste soak in the skillet for three to five minutes.

“After the wait is over, this is where the fun begins,” Bancroft said. “Add a little more water and really dig into the cast iron with your steel wool, again scrubbing the paste into the cast iron.”

Once the entire piece is stripped, wash off the paste and repeat as necessary. Bancroft said it’s okay to wash off some of the built-up seasoning, since you’ll be re-seasoning it anyway.

“The re-seasoning process is easy,” Bancroft said. “Simply take a generous amount of grapeseed oil and lather up the entire skillet, making sure to get the oil into all the nooks and crannies. Then, use a disposable cloth to clean off any excess oil.”

Next, turn on your range to maximum heat and lay the skillet over it, face down. The goal here is to get the cast iron as hot as possible, until it starts smoking. Bancroft said that for folks not comfortable with this method, putting the piece into your oven for about 30 minutes works just fine. Repeat this step two to three more times, and you’ll have a pan that looks like it’s fresh out of the forge.

View this and each of Exmark’s Prime Cuts videos on the Exmark Backyard Life site. There, you can also view additional Backyard Life content, including Backyard Smart, Dream Yards, Living Rural, and Done-In-a-Weekend Projects, as well as backyard living tips and tricks from a wide range of backyard experts.

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About Exmark
Exmark Manufacturing was incorporated in May 1982 as an independent manufacturer of professional turf care equipment. Today, it is the leading manufacturer of commercial mowers and equipment for the landscape professional. In addition to designing, building, and marketing quality turf care equipment, Exmark’s goal is total customer satisfaction. All Exmark products are designed to help customers increase productivity while delivering unmatched quality. Products are sold to distributors and dealers who share the company’s commitment to customer service and quality products. Learn more at

About Backyard Life
With a focus on giving home and acreage owners tips and know-how to make the most of their outdoor experience and live more life outdoors, Backyard Life is a unique one-of-a-kind multimedia destination. Content focuses on lawn-and-garden, outdoor cooking and living, and rural lifestyles. Learn more at

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Chef David Bancroft’s Cast Iron Restoration Tips

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