How To Clean You Cast Iron Fireplace Grate

Everybody loves a good fire, especially at night when it’s cold and you can sit together with your family watching the flames crackle. But it’s not all fun and games. After a while, your fireplace grate will accumulate a coat of soot and ashes.

How should you go about cleaning it?

There are three types of fireplace grates: steel bar grates, grate heaters, and cast iron grates.

So, specifically for this article, how do you clean your cast iron fireplace grate?

Cast iron

Cast iron is a durable and robust metal used to make stoves, tools, among other items. One of the main reasons manufacturers use it to make grates and stoves is cast iron’s relatively low melting temperature. So it can withstand the heat of the fireplace pretty well.

However, cast iron is extremely vulnerable to corrosion if exposed to moisture. Fortunately, that’s not a big likelihood in the fireplace environment. The metal often has a coating of, say, wax or paint, to keep it from rusting.

Cleaning the cast iron grate after installing:

Fresh from manufacturing, cast iron fireplaces, inserts, grates, or baskets, are coated with an application of iron paste. Iron paste is a material closely resembling pencil lead/graphite. It protects the iron from corrosion by moisture.

When the grate is new, use a shoe brush to polish it lightly. But whatever else you do, never use a wet cloth to clean your cast iron fireplace grate.

Regular cleaning:

Before you begin, get yourself these items:

  • Newspapers
  • A wire brush
  • Vinegar
  • Piece of cloth
  • Stove paint
  • Safety goggles
  • Rubber gloves
  • Chemical paint stripper paste
  • Grate Polish
  • Nonflammable linseed oil

You should do the cleaning outside. Since you will be applying paint and chemical paint remover, you should be in a space that has good ventilation.

Although this video is not 100% related, but you can certainly relate.​

Lay down the newspapers on the floor outside, and work on top of them. Put on the rubber gloves and safety goggles before you begin.

1. Use a wire brush to scrub the buildup, rust, debris, and dirt from the iron. How long the process will take you will depend on how often you clean the grate.

2. After thoroughly scrubbing down the cast iron to the bare metal underneath the coat of soot, rust, and debris buildup, apply chemical paint remover paste to the iron. You have to remove the layers of old paint and rust so that you can apply a new protection layer to the grate. Ensure you are wearing your gloves and goggles while doing this to protect yourself.

3. Check the paint remover’s instructions for use. After applying it to the iron, wait for the duration given in the product instructions, allowing the remover to do its job.

4. Next, scrub the grate a second time using your wire brush.

5. Rinse cast iron grate using vinegar water. You can make this by mixing vinegar (a small amount) with water in a spray bottle. The solution will help neutralize the paint remover. You could also use mineral spirits to do this, but vinegar is a more eco-friendly choice.

6. Let the grate sit in the sun for no less than two hours. After that, use a piece of cloth to wipe it down and remove any trace of rust that might have performed.

7. Spray your grate with stove paint. Not just any paint, mind you. Ensure this is paint made to withstand high temperatures. Check the paint can’s instructions on how long you should wait, and allow the paint to dry. The paint layer will protect your cast iron grate from corrosion.

8. After the paint has completely dried, apply grate polish. Also, use a soft cloth to apply nonflammable linseed oil – this will seal the surfaces of your cast iron grate, further protecting from moisture.

9. Reinstall your grate in the fireplace. The first few times you make a fire you will notice the grate emits a strange odor. After that, everything will go back to normal.

I know it sounds like a lot of work, but that’s what it takes to clean your cast iron fireplace grate. Fortunately, you don’t have to do it too often. Once or twice a year is, I think, sufficient.

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