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5 Things to know about cooking on a rusty griddle

As most campers know, leaving cookware stored in the garage or shed until the next camping trip usually produces a couple of surprises when everything is pulled out again.

Corrosion on griddles is one of those issues, especially if the pan or griddle is an iron cast. And that ends up begging the question, can the griddle still be used, even if most of the rust is cleaned off? The answer is, yes.


Can you Cook on a Rusty Griddle

Any metal surface can be cooked on once it is made hot enough, rusty or not. That’s typically not the issue. Instead, the question is really more about whether the rusty surface creates a contamination to the food that is placed on it.

Rust, by its very nature, is a deterioration of metal. Metal, particularly iron, starts to break down by oxidation when exposed to air and moisture.

The more a griddle is used, the more exposed its surface gets, and the more corrosion can occur if it is left to sit and not seasoned or oiled for storage. That said, minute bits of rust are not going to harm anyone per se.

Bigger pieces will, of course, get felt in one’s teeth, especially if the eater has fillings (that wonderful zing experience fillings make when in contact with metal).

Of course, most folks will have scrubbed and cleaned off an old griddle first to make it as usable as possible. The rust that is left from a good cleaning is powdery, minute and barely noticeable once the cooking oil or butter is applied. 


Should you be Cooking on a Rusty Griddle?

Ideally, a clean, non-corroded cooking surface is best, but no one drags their fully-equipped kitchen with them outdoors, which is where griddles are used the most.

Again, with a thorough scrubbing, such as with iron wool, and then washing off any residue or leftover, drying and then seasoning, the remaining instances of rust on a griddle should be slight and hardly noticeable.

At that point, a griddle is very usable for cooking all kinds of foods.

Afterwards, the griddle should be cleaned off thoroughly, washed and dried to remove any leftover food residue. Otherwise, it will burn and char the next time the griddle is used. 


Why do Griddles Get Rust on Them?

Griddles, without a cooking layer, are essentially made of bare steel or iron.

If they are alloyed, some have metals in them that are non-corrosive, which helps tremendously.

However, a full ironcast griddle is just that, pure iron. And iron will start to oxidize when exposed to air and moisture.

This process becomes visible as orangish-reddish rust that eventually flakes or powderizes when the rust is serious.

Even packing a griddle in a campbag and kept in a dry garage or shed won’t help much.

Local climates tend to have changing humidity, and that moisture in the air is enough to start the rusting process.

Only seasoning the griddle will cut down the rust significantly.


How do I Get Rust off my Blackstone Griddle?

If you have a Blackstone Griddle that’s not in wonderful condition, focus on removing the hard rust first.

This is the more visible version that’s actually flaking. Using a steel wool brush on the outside and iron surfaces as well as a rough sponge on the protective cooking layer (don’t use steel wool on that).

Get as much of the rust off with some elbow grease and work.

Once it’s broken down and brushed off as much as possible, then it’s time to wash the griddle to remove the fine bits.

While washing, give the griddle another scrubbing with the course sponge.

There’s no need for soap. Once done, dry it off, and then season the griddle so if in storage the rust doesn’t set in again. 


Final Thoughts

A rusty pan or griddle is not the end of the cookware. In most cases, much of what is visible as rust can be removed pretty easily.

With a bit of care and work, some really bad griddles can be restored to working order and usable for cooking again.

Just spend some time prepping the pan before storing it, and you’ll save yourself a headache when it’s unpacked again for the next camping season.