While I was packing things up for our move I discovered that rain had gotten into all of our camping gear. As a result our cast iron skillet was completely rusted. I was so bummed thinking it might be ruined but I am happy to say I was able to completely restore it using these steps.
As you can see it was really bad. I started off by hosing it off outside to rinse off the excess rust.
I then grabbed some epsom salts and starting scrubbing away. You don't want to use soaps or detergents because it can soak up into skillet as it is pretty porous. I also didn't want to use anything too harsh because I didn't want to scrape up my pan so I just used a clean plastic dish scrubber and started scrubbing away. Epsom salts are larger in size than table salt or baking soda so I used that so that it would be a bit more rigorous.
After using the epsom salts I grabbed some baking soda and went through the same process. As the rust and other debris start coming out of the pores of the metal your pan will start to look a bit muddy.Just keep going and rinse periodically.
There was still a bit of residue left so I finished off with some sea salt table salt.
Afterwards I rinsed the pan with water, let it dry and then put a dab of olive oil on a paper towel and coated the pan with it. I then set it on the stove on low heat for about 30 minutes to let the olive oil soak into the pan to turn it into a natural non stick pan.
As you can see my pan has returned to it's glorious self and is reading for camping next year!
**This works great for Dutch ovens too!