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Rust in your pan: here's how to prevent it and get rid of it

18 May 2023

That's a bit of a scare: your favourite pan has rust spots. Don't panic: with a few simple steps, the rust from your pan will be gone like snow in the sun.

Is rust in your pan dangerous?

A little rust in your Skottsberg pan can't hurt. You can still cook with it just fine, it won't make you ill. Don't have a Skottsberg, but a pan with a synthetic non-stick coating in which rust has formed? Throw that pan away then. As when rust forms, parts of that non-stick coating can come off, and they contain substances you'd rather not get in your food.

How does rust form?

Rust forms when your pan is exposed to moisture for long periods of time. Do you let your pan air dry after washing up? Don't! Always make your pan bone-dry before storing it.

How to remove rust from your pan?
Step 1.  Remove rust with a scouring pad, fine sandpaper or steel wool. You can also soak an old cloth in vinegar and rub it over the rust spots.

Step 2. Is your pan free of rust? Continue cleaning the pan with warm water, a dish brush and some washing-up liquid if necessary.

Step 3. Dry the pan well after cleaning.

Step 4. As you have used coarse methods in removing the rust, you have also damaged the natural non-stick coating of your pan. Therefore, always season the pan again after removing rust. Wondering how? You can read about this here.

How to prevent rust?

Prevention is better than cure, right? So take a moment to read the tips below on how to prevent rust in your pan. That will make your pan happy. And it will make you happy too, because it does save you some extra work to get your pan rust free.

Tip 1. Keep toothpicks, key rings and staplers in your pan, but definitely not food. As if you keep food in the pan for a long time, it can corrode the patina layer and the pan may rust.

Tip 2. Use as little (or preferably no) washing-up liquid as possible if you want to get your pan nice and clean after cooking. Washing-up liquid contains an acid that can damage the patina layer, or cause rusting.

Tip 3. Never put your cast iron or carbon steel pan in the dishwasher!

Tip 4. Do you have a stainless steel pan? If so, never clean them with ammonia or bleach. These products react with the metal, which can cause it to rust. Do you want to use detergent? If so, always use a product specially designed for stainless steel.

Tip 5. Always dry your pan thoroughly and store it in a dry place.

Tip 6. After cleaning, grease the pan with a very thin layer of oil (not olive or nut oil) and rub it out with a paper kitchen towel. This helps against rusting.