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How to Easily Restore Cast Iron Skillets

How to Easily Restore Cast Iron Skillets

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Choose the Right Pan

Some cast iron skillets are coated with special compounds that make it more resistant to corrosion, regulate temperatures better and provide a non-stick surface. Never use this re-seasoning method with any cast iron products that have been treated with any additives. It can corrode the material, damage the pan and possibly release toxic fumes or create other types of hazards.


Wear Protection

This trick involves the use of lye-based oven cleaners, and these are very caustic. It’s important to follow the directions on the label and take precautionary steps. However, you should always adhere to the following guidelines as well:


Always wear eye protection, put on a surgical face mask and wear thick rubber cleaning gloves. You should also consider wearing long sleeves and jeans as well as an apron to protect exposed skin if you get splattered. Fill the bucket up with water BEFORE adding the oven cleaner. If you place the lye in first, you will create a chemical reaction that can be very toxic, messy and dangerous. Putting in water first ensures that the mixture will be stable and safe to work with.


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The Bucket Method

Fill a bucket with five gallons of hot water and add about a pound of lye-based oven cleaning powder or liquid. Specific ratios will vary from product to product, but expect to something similar to these proportions.   Mix the ingredients with a toilet brush, long wooden spoon or other similar tool. The water will become murky and keep mixing until everything is thoroughly blended together.


Grab the skillet by the handle, with your rubber gloves on, and gently lower it into the bucket. Try to let the end of the skillet rest on the bottom of the bucket before lowering the handle into the liquid. This will minimize the chances of splattering and potential injury. Let go of the handle just before it reaches the water. If you get your glove wet, make sure to immediately rinse it with warm water until it washes off. Do not take off the glove to do this, and make sure that you don’t touch any part of your body or clothing with the tainted glove. Once it’s clean, you can remove the gloves and proceed to the next step.


Cover the container with a lid and let the pans soak for about four days. Take another bucket and fill it with three gallons of water and pour in a ½ to ¾ gallon of vineger and mix. Put on the rubber gloves and retrieve the pans from the cleaning bucket and place them into the vinegar and water. The vinegar will neutralize the lye and make it safe to touch once the pans and gloves have been soaked in the water.


Let the pans soak for a few minutes before taking to the sink and to finish the cleaning process. You will notice that the vast majority of residue and grime will be gone, and most of what remains can easily be removed with some cleanser and steel wool or pot scrubber.

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The Bag Method

Take the pans into a well-ventilated area and wear the protective gear as mentioned above. Spray the pans with a lye-based FOAM oven cleaner. Make sure that you cover all of the skillet and the level of foam is consistent across the surface. Place the skillets into plastic kitchen garbage bags, one to each bag, tie them off and let sit on a concrete surface for two to three days.   Check the pans to see how much grime is left, and feel free to add another coat of oven cleaner and let soak for an additional day or two if necessary.


Remove the slimy, greasy and gooey residue that will now be present on the surface of the pans with any type of towel. Make sure that you are wearing the gloves during this process. Discard the towels immediately after use.


Fill a bucket with enough warm water to completely submerge the pans. Add vinegar at a ratio of two parts water to one part vinegar. Gently place the pans into the water and let soak for about an hour. This will help to neutralize the cleaning solution while also helping to eat away at rust and other imperfections on the pans.   Remove and wipe the pans completely dry.


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There are differing opinions as to how to best season the cast iron. You can either heat-treat the pans before applying some lard, or you can apply some olive oil to them without using the oven. Chances are that heat treating will provide a longer cure, but if you are seasoning the pans after each use, then chances are that rust will not be a big problem.


Cold oil seasoning is easy. Just take some olive oil and rub it all over the pan. Wipe away any excess until there is a slightly-moist coating all over the surface.


If you choose to heat-treat the pans, place them in a 250 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Then raise the heat to 500 degrees and let the pans sit for about 45 minutes to an hour. Turn off the oven and remove the pan. Rub the lard over the hot surface with a generous coating. The heat from the pan will cause it to smoke and break down. This is normal and part of the curing process. Wipe away any excess drippings and return the pan to the oven, upside down. Let the pan cool naturally before giving it another wipe before putting it away.


Try both of these methods out and see how these simple steps can restore almost any cast iron skillet. You will be amazed at how you can bring these items back to life without exerting a lot of effort from scrubbing and scraping.



How to Build an Electric Fence

How to Build an Electric Fence

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Basic Items

All electric fences need appropriate wire, some kind of power controller or converter box, a strong ground for the electrical current and suitable support beams to hold everything in place.  Keep in mind that you can’t use regular household wire for electric fencing.  Home wires are generally limited to around 600 volts whereas standard electrical fencing is designed to hold upwards of 12,000 volts.  You can purchase standard 12.5 guage wire or products that include synthetic material as well.  There are also different types of kits that are available if you want to make something less rudimentary.

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Installing the Box
You should be able to connect a controller or regulator box to a standard 220 volt plug, and many commercial products will also have all of the connections fitted and ready to go.  Simply attach the wires to the box and the fence will be electrified.  You can also make your own if you have some basic electrical skills.

In any case, you want to mount the box in a secure location where it will be minimally-impacted by weather.  You also want to make sure that the box as well as all connecting wires and associated components are encased in waterproof material to prevent the unit from shorting out.  Mount the box securely.

When choosing voltage, consider that a box that produces between 2-5,000 volts is enough to keep cattle contained, and many of us know the force of that shock from accidentally touching a charged fence.  You will probably need to also research if there are any regulations that limit the amount of voltage that a fence can produce in your area as well.

Wiring the Fence
There are different opinions out there with respect to how to wire electric fences.  However, you should be working with a 12 guage wire at the very least.  Some people use high-voltage power boxes and use wire that has a guage of 18 or higher.  Choose wire that best suits your needs.  You should evenly space out the wires on the fence, and make sure that they are connected properly with insulators and corner strainers.  Insulators are used when wires are attached to a stake or pole and wire strainers are used to maintain a consistent tension along the line.

However, wire strainers are not necessary for lengths of fence that are shorter than 1000 feet in a straight line in most cases.  The spacing of your fence posts will also help with keeping the line taut, and the distance between posts will depend on the length of fence as well.  Plan on attaching a wire strainer along each line at 1000-1500 foot intervals, but only attach them at end posts on shorter fences.  Do it for every corner.

To attach the wire strainer at the end post, simply feed the end of the wire through the hole on the end that is opposite the ratchet sprocket.  Crimp the wire securely after wrapping it around the post and use the ratchet to pull the wire taut.

Make sure that the fence posts are securely anchored into the ground in order to prevent them from leaning, collapsing or allowing the wires to droop.

Attaching the insulators to each post is relatively easy, but the steps may vary depending on the product that you choose.  Simply secure the insulator to the post and rest or feed the wire across the component as directed.

Wiring and Grounding
You will need an insulated ground wire that runs from the power box to the ground rod.  The ground rod should be at least five or six feet long and made of appropriate galvenized material.  Attach the wire and bury it into the ground.  You will also need two more ground stakes of equal length that are placed 10 feet apart.  Connect both stakes with an insulated wire and bury underground as well.  Take another insulated wire and connect it from the ground of the power box to the bottom wire of the fence.

Run an insulated wire from the positive connector and attach it to the wire above the ground line.  Then take another wire and connect it to the live wire before attaching it to each of the other wires using special connecting plates.  These are just little connectors that secure the wire to the other wires, and they come in many different shapes and sizes.

Once all of the connections are made, you can connect the power box to the power source and test the fence.  Make sure that all of your connections are properly insulated and secured with appropriate material in order to keep the fence running properly and minimizing problems.

You also want to make sure that you never electrify a barbed or razor wire fence.  Doing so can cause the animal to get shocked, struggle and then get caught up and cut on these materials.  They can lead to serious injury or death and they are also a challenge to clean.

Keep in mind that this is just a rough sketch of what is involved in making a useful and reliable electrified fence.  It can be applied to small properties or large ranches as long as you have the appropriate material on hand.  This is a fantastic and effective way to secure the perimeter of a property, and building one is not that difficult or expensive.  Consider how installing an electric fence can give you an excellent additional layer of security that requires minimal monitoring and maintenance.