How can I reuse or recycle an old cast iron casserole dish/pan?

Good friend (and bully ;) ) of Recycle This and The Really Good Life Su has emailed with a question:

Me again! With an actual, proper reuse question!

My much used enamelled, cast iron casserole dish has died. Proper died, a large section of the enamel has come off the bottom & I dropped the lid on the stone flagged kitchen floor & it broke into 3 pieces!

Me & that casserole have been together a long while & been through many culinary adventures, I know that I could put a plant in it, but wondered if you or anybody else had any idea how I might reuse it?

You might be able to get a replacement lid – I see branded ones popping up on eBay regularly – but I suspect the enamel coming off is the bigger issue. There seem to be a few enamel repair products for chips on ranges or stoves but which wouldn’t be suitable for cookware. Some people on Chowhound recommend continuing to use it if it’s not flaking – the cast iron will eventually season like non-enamelled cast iron – but I could understand other people being unwilling to risk contamination.

Away from cooking, unfortunately the wear to the enamel would stop it being useful as a small dye bath or a soap making pot since the newly exposed iron would react with the dye or raw soap. (The latter is a particular shame as the heavy iron would be useful to help maintain the desired temperature during hot process soap making.)

I can completely understand Su’s desire to keep it around – it’s one of those things that seems like it would be really useful – but I’ll admit to being at a bit of a loss about what I’d do with it, other than for storage (a fun fruit bowl? or for craft bits or knick knacks?) or the planter than Su mentioned.

What would you do with it? How would you reuse or recycle it?

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10 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle an old cast iron casserole dish/pan?”

  1. Beth Revels says:

    You could turn it into a swag lamp/light fixture.

  2. anna says:

    You could coat the chipped part of enamel with Sugru. It would also tolerate some heating, but I’d probably not use it for cooking then. I did repair a quarter-size chip of enamel on my bathtub with Sugru, and it’s worked great for over a year. The coat would make it stronger, so whatever use you’d have with the dish it’d be more protected. If it’s a pretty pot, I would find some way to display it. With flowers, plants, crafts tools etc.
    More about Sugru

  3. Andrea says:

    Use it for a humidifier during cold weather. Fill with water then add a cinnamon stick or lemon peel or whatever….simmer on the back of the stove, place near a heat vent or put it on the woodstove. It will smell nice, humidify the air and it doesn’t matter if the finish is ruined, right?

  4. RAven says:

    i use all old pots and such, as planters for my house plants.. they look homey

  5. A bit off-beat, but I can’t help imagining the pot upside down on the top of some snowman – the carrying handles making ears, and a face painted on the front. If you have children it might be fun when the snow falls.

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  7. John Mondin says:

    I have used old cookware as home planters and they have served me well. I only use them for normal house plants and flowers and wouldn’t suggest using them for any consumable herbs or fruits as the coating on some of these cookware are toxic.

    If your cookware is healthy, you won’t have this problem. Here’s a list of healthy cookware:

  8. Thanks for the topic. I face the same problem too. This was really helpful. Thanks everyone.

  9. Lisa Miller says:

    I used it for plants in my house too.

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