After a bit of research online, I determined that the skillet was made between 1937 and 1957. Wow! Unfortunately, it was so grungy, I knew I had to get it cleaned up before I could use it. After more googling, I found a ton of suggestions for cleaning and caring for cast iron. Let me show you what worked for me.
This cast iron skillet was so old, that I knew I had to take drastic measures. Cleaning it with salt, steel wool, or a wire brush was not going to cut through all the old grease and grime. These instructions are for cleaning an old cast iron skillet and then seasoning it.
Place skillet upside down in oven rack. Set oven to self-cleaning cycle and wait. My oven cleans for 2 hours and only unlocks when cool.
Remove the skillet and brush off all the ash with a wire brush. I took it outside to do this. There may be some ash on the bottom of your oven. Just wipe it off when completely cool.
Now using hot soapy water and an SOS pad or steel wool give the skillet a good scrubbing. Dry thoroughly.
Using paper towels or a soft cloth, rub the inside and outside with vegetable oil.
Place skillet upside down on the middle rack of the oven and place a cookie sheet or aluminum foil on the lower rack. Turn the oven on 250 degrees F for two hours. Carefully remove the hot skillet and wipe off any excess oil. The cast iron skillet should now be smooth and shiny.
After using a seasoned cast iron skillet, just rinse it in hot water. Don't ever soak in water or let it sit in the sink overnight or the skillet will rust. If you have baked on food, scrub the skillet with a little salt and water. Dry the skillet thoroughly. If a cast iron skillet becomes sticky or rusts, scrub it with steel wool and reseason.
Here's another look at the before and after. Amazing, isn't it?
With a little care, your cast iron skillet should last forever! I can't wait to make something in my skillet! How about a Dutch Baby (German pancake) with blueberries and maple syrup?