A carbon steel wok needs constant cleaning and maintenance to keep it non-stick for long. Seasoning it before and after every use ensures the patina is never damaged. Many people prefer this wok material for their ability to conduct heat quickly to give you even cooking. If not properly taken care of, a carbon steel wok gets prone to rusting. Water is the main cause of rust. For this reason, if you leave it exposed to moisture, you will have to deal with rust. Here is how to clean a rusted carbon steel wok.
What you will need
- A rusted carbon steel wok
- Mild liquid dish soap
- Steel wool
- Soft sponge
- Baking soda and vinegar
- Kosher salt
Effective Process: How to Clean A Rusted Carbon Steel Wok
1. Soap and water
This is the common method of cleaning any utensil. It removes any dirt and sometimes stubborn ones too. If the wok has a few rusted spots on its surface, water and soap will clean it faster.
Place the wok and add some little water onto it with some dishwasher soap. Let it boil before turning the heat off. Allow to cool and then scrub the rust off with the solution. Dry and then season.
2. Steel wool
Rinse the wok with warm water, and then take a bowl of steel wool. Using the dish soap, scrub the affected areas with steel wool. Scrubbing with steel wool will make the patina come off, but you can always re-season after cleaning. Rinse after every scrub with hot water until all the rust comes out.
Dry the wok with dry paper towels or a kitchen towel. Place the wok on the stovetop and let it continue drying on medium heat. When all the water has evaporated, add two tablespoons of oil and add them onto the wok. You can also add an unsalted fat like lard and put it at the bottom of the wok.
Let the fat melt and then swirl around the surface of the wok to cover the sides. Take out from the heat. Allow to cool, and then wipe off the excess with paper towels. You do not need to use it regularly. It shouldn’t be your everyday tool unless the rust is stubborn and needs aggressive scrubbing.
3. Using salt
Another way to cleaning a rusted carbon steel wok is by using kosher salt or regular salt. Place a few tablespoons of salt in the wok and heat for a minute on high heat. With a spatula, spread the heated salt around the rusted surfaces of the wok. Allow the wok to cool down before scrubbing. Use a clean kitchen cloth and scrub off the rust with the salt.
When you are satisfied with how clean it looks like after scrubbing, put the wok back on the heat. Please put it on high heat until it starts to smoke. Remove from heat and add oil while using paper towels to spread it to the wok’s sides. Let the wok cool, and then rinse it with hot water. Please put it back on the stove to dry on a lower heat.
4. Salt with oil
Sometimes you could add oil instead of water to create a mixture. With the wok on the stove, add a few tablespoons of salt and cooking oil and heat for a couple of minutes. Please continue with the same steps above to wash and dry it.
5. Using bamboo wok brush
A bamboo brush comes in handy as alternatives for steel wool. It’s gentle on the wok compared to steel wool. It will keep the carbon steel clean while steel keeping the non-stick properties of the wok.
Rinse the wok with hot water and then put a mild dishwashing soap to cover the rusted surfaces. Scrub the wok gently with a bamboo wok brush on the rusted surfaces. If the wok is completely clean, rinse it with clean hot water. Wipe it clean and dry appropriately and the season before storing.
6. Baking soda
Rust can be little or extreme. Baking soda will help clean the wok if it has mild rusting. Baking soda is one of the home remedies that are readily available in your kitchen pantry. Place the wok on high heat. Add a little water with a few tablespoons of baking soda to form a paste. Allow the mixture to boil before turning off the heat.
Let it cool for some minutes. Scrub the rust with a scouring pad gently until the wok becomes clean. Rinse it with hot water and pat dry. Please put it back on medium heat to finish drying on the stove until all the water evaporates.
How to prevent future rusting
Cleaning a carbon steel wok can be hard sometimes. After you get it cleaned, it’s important to keep it from rusting again. These preventive measures can help protect the wok from rust and having to deal with it.
Prevent rust from forming in your wok again by thoroughly cleaning it. Ensure you remove all the rust to restore it to normal. Take care of a wok regularly.
Always dry the wok until there are no water droplets left on it. Moisture will cause rusting when left unattended. Use microfiber cloths to pat the wok dry and then complete the drying process with a wok on heat. Avoid waiting for it to dry itself by air drying the wok.
One major cause of rust in carbon steel is forgetting to season. The unseasoned wok will always get exposed to rust. Season the wok after cleaning when you think you might accidentally remove the coating. Apply a thin layer of oil coating before and after every use.
Read more: How to Clean a Non-Stick Wok with Burnt Food
A rusted carbon steel wok lacks seasoning. When you cook and use metallic spatulas, you can scratch on the patina. When you clean and forget to season or store it with water droplets, you expose the wok to possible rusting. Any of the above methods will work to restoring the look of the wok. You can use one or incorporate multiple of these methods into your cleaning routine. It all depends on the degree of rusting. If you use the correct supplies cleaning stubborn rust will be a lot easier.