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I found a very old pot in my very old house. I suspect it to be carbon steel, for the following reasons:

  1. It's rusty
  2. It's magnetic
  3. It looks a lot like the carbon steel pans that were stored with it, except it's the shape of a pot

I would like to use it for the same purposes one usually uses a pot: cooking rice, boiling water etc.

I am wondering how that works though:

  • If I follow the same processes as with a carbon steel pan, I would always have a thin layer of oil on the walls and bottom. Can one cook rice or pasta in such a pot, with boiling water?
  • If I season but I don't add a thin layer of oil everytime, I am afraid the pot will rust very quickly

Does anybody know how to use such a pot?


Side note on why:

I am well aware that using another pot would be simpler. The reasons why I am asking this question are the following:

  • The goal is to use the pot over a wood fire. The aforementioned pot used to be used in such a setting, thus wouldn't be dirtied by doing so. Conversely I don't have other pots whose cleanliness I would be willing to sacrifice
  • The goal is also to give a new life to this pot, which is probably a century old, and use it the same way the previous inhabitants of this house did
  • More generally, I am interested to know how cumbersome it would be to use it

Thanks in advance for the help

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  • Sounds like a ton of work to end up with a worse end result.
    – eps
    Commented Aug 3, 2022 at 18:13

2 Answers 2

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You can use that pot for almost anything except high-acid foods, if it's properly prepared.

First, remove all of the rust and clean it thoroughly. Next, you'll want to season it the same way you'd season a cast iron dutch oven. Because you're planning to boil wet things in it, you'll want to apply at least seven layers of seasoning. You need to be really exacting about getting each layer of seasoning on well; any "sticky" patches of seasoning will detach when boiling. You'll also want to apply a restorative layer of seasoning after each use. One tip is to heat it low & slow to make sure the walls of the pot heat as well as the bottom.

(Other commenters are correct in that this probably isn't worth the trouble; this is why you don't see carbon steel pots around anymore.)

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  • Thanks a lot for the answer! So if I apply a restorative layer of seasoning after using it, do you think I should also add a layer of oil after it, or the added layer of seasoning would be enough to protect from the rust? Commented Aug 4, 2022 at 21:15
  • You'll want oil on the outside as well, to protect from rust. Is that what you're asking?
    – FuzzyChef
    Commented Aug 7, 2022 at 4:13
  • no, I was wondering about the inside. Should I also add a layer of oil after a layer a seasoning after each use? Commented Aug 9, 2022 at 12:27
  • No, you shouldn't. That extra oil will just become rancid.
    – FuzzyChef
    Commented Aug 9, 2022 at 20:25
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It will be somewhat of a pain to maintain, but yes, certainly rice or pasta can be cooked in it.

What you'll want to be more careful of is the many things which prefer a non-reactive pot due to the food reacting with the metal of the pot. A bare steel pot is the opposite of non-reactive. Tomato sauce, jams/jellies, pretty much any acidic food...

Unless you have no other pot and no way to get another pot (such as a secondhand store if cash is tight) I would suggest not bothering, but folks cooked in cast iron kettles before our time, so you certainly can cook in plain steel. Some foods may discolor, and you'll need to promptly clean, dry and oil the pot after every use in the battle against rust.

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  • Thanks a lot for your answer! Just to be very clear: I should season the pot, and after every use I should clean it, dry it and oil it, and thus at the next use the pot would keep an oil layer on all surfaces, while water is boiling inside. Did I get it right? Commented Aug 3, 2022 at 20:37
  • Practically speaking, no, the oil layer won't really stay in place while boiling water. It just keeps the pot from starting to rust between uses. Otherwise the "clean/dry/re-oil" steps would not be so critical. I reiterate the suggestion to get a different pot if at all possible.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Aug 3, 2022 at 22:05
  • Ok thanks. Regarding the alternative of using another pot, I have added explanations on my motivations to the question Commented Aug 4, 2022 at 21:20

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