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Can paint be safely removed from cast iron pan?

 
                  
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Just purchased online a cake mold that was advertised as old aluminum or cast iron that has been painted; paint flaking off.  Took a chance to go ahead and purchase.  Haven't received item yet to know its true condition but hoping to find information on removing paint and still safely using pan for baking.  Is this possible?  Any tips, wisdom, information is appreciated.
 
                                
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If it's aluminum, I don't know but if it really is cast iron, you can burn the paint off in a bonfire or even put it in a woodstove on a good bed of coals. Let it get red hot and then remove it to cool, don't cool it with water!
 
Ken Peavey
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There is a considerable difference in weight between cast iron and aluminum.  Not sure why it would be painted if it was being used for baking a cake. 

I come up with 2 scenarios that make sense
1) the pan is enameled steel
2) you got ripped off

If I'm wrong and it is painted cast iron, a good stiff wire brush on a drill can clean it up with some elbow grease thrown in.
 
Leah Sattler
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I think its a little odd that they can't tell you if its cast iron or aluminum. thats like saying I am not sure if its a rock or a piece of brown styrofoam!

you could sandblast it too. that would imo be the best way I think unless the paint is really flaking off easy.

if its aluminium its toast imo. plain aluminum is awful to bake with anyway (in general). 
 
                  
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Thanks for the input.  Didn't sink much money into this deal but still hoping for a pan that can  be used. 
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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I'm guessing it was painted to produce a folksy art object.

In addition to the methods mentioned above, a chemical stripper, like orange oil, would probably work. It should also work for aluminum.
 
                            
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if it is lighter than a quart of milk it is aluminum. If it is considerably heavier than a quart of milk, it could be cast iron. 220 grit wet sand paper (black sheets- can get at Walmarts or most hardware stores), or  if the paint is really flakey, one of my favorite weapons  is the white block nail buffer at Sally's Beauty Supply. If it is aluminum, please reconsider using it for baking food in. Aluminum pans leach aluminum into your food, and way much evidence is available connecting excess aluminum in ones food  to alzheimers. If you really can't tell what the pan is made out of take it into an Ace hardware store or a specialty store  that sells nuts and bolts or tools, and ask.
 
Ken Peavey
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Put a magnet against the pan.  Aluminum is not magnetic, iron is.
 
Leah Sattler
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if it is aluminum and you decide to try and use it, don't cook anything acidic in it. only use it for baking bread, cake cookie type things. singly ply aluminum with no air between sheets tends to burn the outside of stuff like that anyway. let us know what you end up with !
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Aluminum holds up better in acid than in alkali.

Ferrous alloys are the opposite: acid attacks them, base protects them.

Every alloy has its own range of pH at which is is relatively protected against corrosion. In case anyone's really curious, these are systematically recorded in documents called Pourbaix diagrams.

Lye can completely destroy an aluminum object, and by "destroy" I mean "transform into a damp white paste." Phosphoric acid can leach some aluminum away, but that's a special case: it's safe to use with every other food acid I'm aware of.
 
                                
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So...if I had occasion to boil up some Coca-cola, I should avoid aluminum pans for that?
 
Leah Sattler
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Joel Hollingsworth wrote:
Aluminum holds up better in acid than in alkali.

Ferrous alloys are the opposite: acid attacks them, base protects them.

Every alloy has its own range of pH at which is is relatively protected against corrosion. In case anyone's really curious, these are systematically recorded in documents called Pourbaix diagrams.

Lye can completely destroy an aluminum object, and by "destroy" I mean "transform into a damp white paste." Phosphoric acid can leach some aluminum away, but that's a special case: it's safe to use with every other food acid I'm aware of.


thats interesting. I was under the impression that the acid would break it down faster. several cheese making sites I have read have mentioned to avoid aluminum pots because of this but I suppose its just faulty info passed around just like I did! or it is somewhat of a distortion on the reality and there is some reason not to make cheese in aluminum pots it just isn't the acid. I think it was fankhausers cheese page where I first read that.

edit - ok. now I am curious. is the acid/alkali and aluminum differnet when it comes to practical cooking purposes and the aluminum getting into the food? I'm finding qite a bit of reccomendations to not cook tomatoes or other acid things in aluminum or at least wording that implies that (if you are concerned about aluminum in the diet). not that the quantity of faulty info changes the fact that it is wrong! I'm just wondering if there is more to the story in practical applications.

"uring cooking, aluminum dissolves most easily from worn or pitted pots and pans. The longer food is cooked or stored in aluminum, the greater the amount that gets into food. Leafy vegetables and acidic foods, such as tomatoes and citrus products, absorb the most aluminum." http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/iyh-vsv/prod/cook-cuisinier-eng.php yeah yeah I know a gov. site it looks like. just coming up with some examples so you can see what I am running into. if anyone can clarify this issue its you!

"Uncoated aluminum is vulnerable to damage from acid foods like tomatoes"
http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Cookbookots_and_pans

 
                            
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I had this experience so I will throw it  into the pot. On the basis of information I had about aluminum leaching from cookware into food, I dumped all my aluminum cookware  years before my daughter was born. My daughter is gluten intolerant. When she was little I was buying gluten free bread from the health food store. She developed upper respiratory problems that upon testing turned out to be aluminum toxicity. We traced it to the bread I was buying having been baked in aluminum pans. Stopped buying the bread. Detoxed daughter from aluminum. No more upper respiratory problems ever.

Thanks to Ken for the magnet test reminder : )
 
Ken Peavey
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I've worked in restaurants for years.  Aluminum is used throughout the food service industry because it is cheap and easy to clean with a stainless steel scrub pad.  A 5 gallon stock pot in aluminum is 80 bucks.  In stainless steel that same pot is $250.  Do the math of scaling it up for a bakery that uses hundred of loaf pans.

For my pots and pans at home I use stainless steel, cast iron, and a few teflon items still hanging around because they are not yet torn up and I'm too cheap to throw them out.  Bakeware is glass, anchor hocking or the OLD pyrex. 

I have a small 1 quart aluminum sauce pan I use for boiling water and making gravy.  I dont care for it much.  As soon as I find a suitable stainless replacement and shoot the lock off the wallet, its out the door.

 
                          
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aluminum is also now thought to have a conection to alzhiemers
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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It'd be great to hear back from Jack, and what's happened with that pan.

I was searching for another thread talking about using the oven cleaning cycle to clean cast iron, and found "vintage cast iron cookware how to tell if it's been painted," http://www.permies.com/bb/index.php?topic=2011.0, which has good links to info on using the oven cleaning cycle, and some helpful follow up comments by Leah.

So now I'm wondering, if it's an old pan, and painted to be a folksy art object, would burning that paint off in the oven cleaning cycle or in your fireplace create toxic fumes?

Ken, I HIGHLY recommend throwing out the teflon! My co-worker was using teflon, at low heat only because she knew about the risk, and both her cockatiel and parakeet died one night after dinner. The birds' lungs filled with blood.
 
                          
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So now I'm wondering, if it's an old pan, and painted to be a folksy art object, would burning that paint off in the oven cleaning cycle or in your fireplace create toxic fumes?

old lead based paint would certainly be a worry
 
paul wheaton
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It definitely would. 

Ernie and Erica have a technique for prepping a steel drum that has been painted.  The make a clay slip and then put newspapers through the slip and plaster it all over the drum.  Then they build a fire in the drum.  The paint burns more completely so there is less pollution.

I think that is mighty smart.

 
                          
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that's clever
 
Leah Sattler
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I wouldn't burn it off since there are so many unknowns. I especially wouldn't burn it off in my oven! definitly an outside jobber if there ever was one. maybe a propane torch?
 
                            
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have to agree with Leah. a pan is considerable less surface area to have to deal with than a drum- I'd first take a single edged  razorblade and see if the paint can be skinned off the inside - it may not be into the pores of the cast iron on the inside of the pan, and a soy based stripper for the outside of the pan.
 
                          
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as an old painter, if it is lead paint i would toss the pan and source another one anyway. may be a waste of of a top name pan but ive seen the damage lead can do, not worth it in my view
 
paul wheaton
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I was thinking of an outside bonfire.

But what bird just said gives me enough of the willies that I would probably follow ... uh ... his/her advice.

 
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