If you bought a Japanese cast iron teapot -- or tetsubin -- and you're concerned about orangish rust that has developed inside it, you could follow the way of connoisseurs and revel in the subtle way the rust enhances the flavor of tea. Or you can dissolve the rust with acid. Don't be alarmed by the idea of putting acid in your teapot; tea itself is full of tannic acid, which is strong enough to handle rust. Vinegar, which contains acetic acid; cola, which contains phosphoric acid; and lemon juice, which contains citric acid, can also dissolve rust from your cast iron or enamel teapot.
Cast Iron Teapots
Most cast iron teapots have an enamel coating on the inside, but even with that coating, rust sometimes develops. One strategy to prevent it is to boil several batches of water, allowing the minerals in the water to form a whitish layer that prevents rust from forming. Before doing this, you may want to remove the rust that has already formed:
Things You'll Need
Pour out anything in the pot, rinse it out with clean water and dry the inside thoroughly with a paper towel.
Brew a strong pot of green or black tea in a separate pot, bring the tea to a boil and pour it in the teapot. Let it cool for 20 minutes.
Discard the tea, but save the leaves in case you want to repeat the procedure. The tannic acid actually combines with the rust to form a protective coating on the inside of the pot.
Maintain the pot by rinsing it with hot or warm water after every use, drying the inside with a paper towel and turning it upside down on your countertop to allow it to air-dry.
Tannic acid has a color of its own that resembles rust, so don't confuse them. A regularly shaped brownish stain inside the pot -- such as a ring -- is more likely a tannic acid stain than a rust stain.
Using Vinegar, Cola or Lemon Juice
The acids in vinegar, cola and lemon juice also dissolve <ahref="https: www.cleanipedia.com="" in="" odour-stain-removal="" how-to-remove-rust-rust-stains"=""> </ahref="https:>rust, but the compounds they form don't necessarily add to the taste of tea and must be rinsed well. Both have the advantage of working well without heat -- just fill the pot with a 2-to-1 solution of vinegar or lemon juice and water, or pour in cola straight from a bottle or can, leave the pot overnight and rinse it in the morning. Remove any discoloration that remains with a paper towel.
The protective coating that forms on the inside of a cast iron teapot is fragile. Scrubbing it with steel wool scratches it, salt corrodes it, olive and coconut oil contaminate it and detergent compromises it. Avoid all these commonly recommended cleaning options.
Chris Deziel is a contractor, builder and general fix-it pro who has been active in the construction trades for 40 years. He has degrees in science and humanities and years of teaching experience. An avid craftsman and musician, Deziel began writing on home improvement topics in 2010. He worked as an expert consultant with eHow Now and Pro Referral -- a Home Depot site. A DIYer by nature, Deziel regularly shares tips and tricks for a better home and garden at Hunker.com.