Dutch Oven Repair
December 11, 2004 3:37 PM   Subscribe

Dutch Ovens, pt. 2: Repair. How to fix chipped enamel before the iron rusts? [+]

My favorite pot is my grandmother's Dutch oven (from Holland). It's about 40 years old, I'd reckon. The other day it fell on the hard floor and got several large chips in the enamel, revealing the iron beneath. Two of the chips are on the outside of the lid, but one is along the rim of the pot, and part of it is inside the pot. I need to find a compound for patching up the enamel coating; it needs to be something that will prevent the inner metal from rusting, and it needs to withstand the high temperatures of frying, baking, etc. It obviously needs to withstand steam from cooking.

I've been to the local hardware store and Home Depot, and the paint guys at both places simply shook their heads and told me that they definitely had nothing like this.

Where can I get an appropriately durable enamel repair compound?
posted by rxrfrx to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
If faced with this problem I'd google for "high heat enamel", which turns up a couple of products.

That is, by the way, the name for what you want. Yes, it might not have been immediately intuitable.
posted by majick at 3:45 PM on December 11, 2004

Response by poster: I dunno, majick, after some more googling, I'm getting dismayed. Those "high heat enamel" products don't seem to be for food use, and question three on this page seems to suggest that paint-on, high-heat enamel won't have an appropriately durable and nonstick finish.

This guide to enamel repair explicitly states that one should not attempt to repair enameled items that will be used in cooking.

At this point I'm looking for anyone who's actually repaired this sort of thing and can say that a given repair method really would meet the necessary criteria.
posted by rxrfrx at 4:07 PM on December 11, 2004

You might not actually need to repair the enamel. Plenty of dutch ovens are made from "bare" cast iron and they stand decades of cooking just fine. You could just try seasoning the patches of metal with shortening or corn oil (you'll find plenty of cast iron seasoning instructions on google) to keep it from reacting with tomatoes and other acidic foods and it should be ok. I know anecdotal reports of people continuing to use enameled french ovens for years and years after a piece of enamel "popped" off the inside (which I guess can happen under some kinds of heat stresses).
posted by bcwinters at 4:30 PM on December 11, 2004

Response by poster: I do own and use some seasoned (well, Lodge Logic pre-seasoned) cast iron, and I hadn't even considered that idea- it's a good one. I'll have to re-oil every time I want to clean the thing with soapy water, but this sounds like what I'll probably end up doing. thanks.
posted by rxrfrx at 4:36 PM on December 11, 2004

I'll have to re-oil every time I want to clean the thing with soapy water...

Nah. Maybe the first handful of times, perhaps. But after a while, I wouldn't worry about it. Just don't SCRUB it hard with soapy water. Wiping over it with soapy water (once you've seasoned/used it a few times) won't hurt it much, if at all. My cast iron skillets are well seasoned at this point and I have no trouble wiping them out with warm mildly-soapy water and a soft sponge.
posted by Witty at 4:52 PM on December 11, 2004

Just make sure you dry it well, preferably with heat, after you wash it - I assume it might be possible for water to get under the enamel near the chips and cause rust bubbles to appear there. I always dry my cast iron on the stove on medium heat just to ensure they're completely, totally dry.
posted by some chick at 5:17 PM on December 11, 2004

If it's Le Creuset, you can send it back to the factory for free repair.
posted by Miko at 9:23 PM on December 11, 2004

Oh - and once you've seasoned bare cast iron, you shouldn't clean it with soap at all. Soap will degrease it and thus gradually remove the seasoning. The way to clean it is to pour a tablespoon of regular table salt into the pan once it's cool, and then take a clean cloth or paper towel and scrub the salt around until everything unwanted is removed from the inside of the pan. Then dump the salt, wipe the pan clean again with just the cloth, and finally wipe it one more time with a few drops of fresh oil to recoat.

This is *the way* to clean cast iron dutch ovens and skillets. Using this method, (and reseasoning in the oven once a year), non-enameled pans will stay in good shape for at least 60 years. I know because that's how old mine are.
posted by Miko at 9:28 PM on December 11, 2004

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