A cast iron fireplace can last a lifetime with proper care. Cast iron is very durable but since a fireplace is exposed to high temperatures for prolonged periods of time, some care is needed to keep them looking their best. Moisture and the resulting rust are the worst enemies of cast iron and prevention is easier than repair.
If you have purchased a new cast iron fireplace, it needs to be seasoned similar to the way that cast iron cookware is prepared. Rub the stove with oil being sure to get oil in any cracks and crevices on the fireplace to protect the finish and prevent rust. If your cast iron fireplace is not exposed to moisture you will not need to do this very often. Once or twice a year should be sufficient but it is fine to oil the stove as often as you wish. After you have used the fireplace for awhile you may want to apply stove blacking or heat resistant paint to renew the cast iron’s glossy black finish.
If you are purchasing a fire pit or chiminea for use outside you will have to be more vigilant to prevent rust. The first thing you should do to protect your cast iron fireplace is to purchase a cover to protect it from the elements and use the lid, if your model came with one. Oil should be applied frequently or a protective coating sprayed on. WD-40 is used by some to prevent rust but it has to be done frequently. Be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions for care of your particular fireplace.
Whether your cast iron fireplace is inside or outside your home, there is one issue that you will have to deal with: ashes. Some fireplaces have a slide out tray that is easy to empty, but some will require you to sweep them out after use. After the majority of the ashes have been removed, take your vacuum and vacuum the rest out to get it thoroughly clean. Make sure there aren’t any hot embers before disposing of the ashes or using the vacuum.
Your fireplace will be a focal point in your home for entertaining and for quiet relaxation. With just a little care, it can become a treasured family heirloom. Rust should be dealt with quickly, to prevent further damage. If you see a little rust on your fireplace, don’t despair, you can sand the rust out and paint it or apply stove blacking and it will look good as new.