Cast iron’s ability to retain heat makes it a popular pick for home cooking. And when properly maintained, this is one durable material that will only get better with age.

Take it from Rachael Narins, the author of Cast-Iron Cooking, who has collected dozens of vintage cast-iron pans over her tenure as a chef. “Treat it well and your great-grandkids will use it,” Narins tells mbg.

The key to keeping these pans in cooking condition is maintaining their protective outer coating (aka seasoning) so their base iron layer doesn’t fall prey to pesky rust. Here’s the best way to clean, maintain, and refresh them.

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