I acquired a Griswold “ERIE” second series skillet no. 9. This is a very old pan; manufactured between 1886 and 1892 by the Griswold Mfg. Co. in Erie, PA. The “ERIE” skillets are highly prized; they have lovely thin walls, heat rings, and are great cookers.
When I obtained the pan, it looked like this:
We put the skillet in the lye bath and let the lye work its magic on the crud-encrusted pan. Linda is our post-lye-bath cleaner, and she worked on this pan at least twice. Oftentimes, when pans are particularly cruddy, Linda will let the pan soak for a while (sometimes weeks), pull it out and rinse it, then scrub with stainless steel brushes or scrubbies and Dawn blue dish detergent. Rinse again, and back into the lye for the lye to finish removing the crud. It is not unusual for this process to be repeated many times. Linda is very particular about the pans she cleans; she is proud of her work and wants her work to reflect that pride.
Once the pans are finished being bathed and scrubbed by Linda, they are off to the electrolysis tank for rust (and stubborn crud) removal. You can learn more about electrolysis here.
After electrolysis, I again use elbow grease, Dawn, and necessary tools to clean the pan. Rinse well, dry thoroughly, and season. You can find more information about my cleaning and seasoning process here.