Is this a good deal for old cast iron pans in need of some TLC?
February 18, 2015 3:14 PM   Subscribe

Inspired by reading this post regarding acquiring and restoring old cast iron pans, I thought I'd check my local Craigslist for deals. And I might have found one!

Is this good deal? I bet I can talk them down to $40.
posted by starscream to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

The end.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 3:22 PM on February 18, 2015

Sure. A spare afternoon and a power drill are all you really need.
posted by bonehead at 3:25 PM on February 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'd buy them in a heartbeat, even if I couldn't persuade the seller to give me the 20% discount.
posted by key_of_z at 3:27 PM on February 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

If and only if you check for cracks first. Use your oven's cleaning cycle and you'll strip them all at once.
posted by supercres at 3:28 PM on February 18, 2015 [3 favorites]

Check for cracks and deep pits, but if these are in reasonable condition, it's a great deal.
posted by quince at 3:30 PM on February 18, 2015

That is an excellent deal!
You can also remove the old seasoning by sticking them in a wood fire, if you have access to such a thing. It will burn off easily, no scrubbing or chemicals required.
posted by Adridne at 3:33 PM on February 18, 2015



This is one of those things that makes me sad to live where I am. Like when I hear about people in the midwest buying houses for $100k.

$50 for twelve pans?

If you don't appreciate how good a deal that is, I will come back from the grave and haunt the kitchens of you and yours for ten generations. Your souffles will fall. Your stir-fries will gently braise. Your milk will curdle and your meat be tough and dry.


Okay, re-reading what I just wrote, I realize I may have taken slightly too much cold medicine.
posted by d. z. wang at 3:37 PM on February 18, 2015 [42 favorites]

Best answer: If you're in need of *squinting* 3 10" pans, 2 12" pans, a cast iron ashtray, and some misc crap that you can't use, I believe you won't find a better price than this.

OTOH if it was me I'd take my $40-$50 to Amazon, get a 10" and 12" skillet shipped to me, and skip the meeting a stranger and the wire brush work.
posted by ftm at 3:45 PM on February 18, 2015 [6 favorites]

I'd take my $40-$50 to Amazon, get a 10" and 12" skillet shipped to me

New cast iron has a slightly pebbly finish, unlike older cast iron which is usually quite smooth. As long as the pans are not cracked, I'd buy and reseason the lot and give the extras as gifts.

I want that sectioned pan to make cornbread in.
posted by cabingirl at 3:54 PM on February 18, 2015 [6 favorites]

It's hard to be definitive but most/all of those pans are modern, but rusty, Lodge items. Certainly the cornbread pan is.
posted by ftm at 3:59 PM on February 18, 2015

hell. yes.
posted by j_curiouser at 4:06 PM on February 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm going to be the lone urger of caution here. In addition to checking for warps and cracks, look for makers' marks on either the bottom of the pans or, with some makers, right on the top side of the handle, where the handle meets the body of the pan. Avoid anything that is made in Korea or Taiwan, as they are probably new pans that have been poorly treated, and therefore they look vintage but are actually crap.

It's hard to identify these pans from the pictures, but: In the 7th picture, the pan at the 4:00 position is a piece of Wagner Ware. (The '8' on the handle identifies it.) You can date it by whatever is on the bottom -- might be a logo, or it might instead say "8-in skillet" or some variation thereof, in small, blocky letters. A ton of Wagner is unmarked, but still identifiable. Some hints here.

To its left, in the 10:00 position -- that one with the square-ish handle is a newer pan, and isn't worth anything. It *might* be a Lodge, but is more likely foreign-made. It might be a perfectly good pan to cook with, but it's not one to invest in.

The cornbread skillet is collectible if it's a Wagner or Griswold or an older Lodge. Check the bottom for a logo. If you find a logo, play dumb and tell the person who's selling that you don't want to pay much for it because of the rust (which you can remove with 50% vinegar/50% water and a scotch brite pad; then season).

In picture six, the little bitty rusty one is probably foreign made, and possibly a novelty ashtray, but there's a slight chance that it's a little Wagner egg pan. I have one that's almost that size, but I think it's a touch bigger. I obviously don't carry it to work with me, and can't check just now.

I rehab and sell collectible cast iron on eBay. Honestly, judging from those pictures, the only pan I'd automatically pay more than $5 for is the Wagner Ware with the 8 on the handle. They sell for $20 - $50 on eBay depending on condition and on which of Wagner's various logos is on the bottom of the skillet. The cornbread pan is a maybe, depending on the maker, but it's going to be a PITA to clean. (The many corners and right angles suck. Trust me.)

As a lot, though, if the pans sit flat, don't wobble, aren't cracked, you're willing to clean and season them, and you want to cook with them, $40 wouldn't make you an idiot. :) But, there is a LOT of cleaning in that lot of pans, and I'm not sure it would be worth it. I'd haggle for the Wagner, and possibly the cornbread pan, and ignore the rest.

P.S.: With all due respect to lovely mefites here, please don't clean any of them with a drill, a self-cleaning oven cycle, or your grill. You'll find lots of advice advocating each of those methods, but they're all brute-force methods that can actually damage your pans. The oven and the grill, particularly, can make the pans crack in half -- like, two actual pieces. A wire brush on a drill can leave scratches that you won't be able to get out, and that no amount of seasoning will ever be able to fill in. It's best to be gentle and loving and to treat the pans like a family member who will be with you for the long haul.

Good reference info and more help on identifying the pans can be found at Do note that, as I said, a lot of the collectible pans don't actually have their maker's logo. There are other things you need to look for (i.e., does the pan have a fire ring, and is it notched, or a full circle?).

(And if you want tips on cleaning them up and seasoning, drop me a line.)
posted by mudpuppie at 4:21 PM on February 18, 2015 [128 favorites]

Make sure to confirm with the seller that only food has been cooked in those pans if you're going to use them for cooking. I've heard of old cast iron pans being used to make lead shot for reloading shotgun shells. Obviously that wouldn't be good to eat from. Otherwise, looks like a great deal for cast iron pans and some sweat equity cleaning them up.
posted by FelineoidEntity at 12:52 AM on February 19, 2015

Best answer: OTOH if it was me I'd take my $40-$50 to Amazon, get a 10" and 12" skillet shipped to me, and skip the meeting a stranger and the wire brush work.

I'd rather spend the $40 on a cleaned up vintage pan on ebay - last I looked you could still find Wagner and less-collectible Griswold pans, ready to use, for about that. Either would be far superior to anything you could buy new.
posted by mr vino at 6:14 AM on February 19, 2015

Response by poster: Thank you all so much for your replies to my question! Mrs. Starscream and I weighed the pros and cons suggested here and I think she decided that we'll follow the path of least resistance and spend our $40 on Ebay or Amazon on a pan or two that require a lot less work.

Mudpuppie, I read pretty much the entire text of yesterday and I now feel very capable of choosing proper pieces for our long-term use :)
posted by starscream at 10:21 AM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

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