Even cast iron pans that have been seasoned and cleaned carefully will develop a little rust once in a while. My favorite way to tackle rust on cast iron skillets, knives, and other cooking tools? With a raw potato.
To clean rust with a potato, cut it in half lengthwise or crosswise, depending on how large a surface area you want. Dip the cut end in dish soap or baking soda and firmly rub it over the rusted area. If the end of the potato gets slick, slice it off and dip the newly cut end. Repeat until rust is removed and then rinse and dry the item.
How in the world does this work? Potatoes contain oxalic acid, which helps to break down the rust. Also, potatoes are magical.
This potato trick is so handy (and non-toxic!) and it isn't limited to cast iron — you can use it to remove rust from baking pans, knives, and other household tools.
Have you tried this or any other good rust-removal techniques?
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(Updated from a post originally published on February 5, 2010.)