Once a year, polish your cast-iron wood stove with “stove polish.” Also known as “stove black,” it’s a simple graphite paste which is very easy to apply: wipe on with a rag, and buff to a dull luster. Polishing gives the stove a handsome black finish, and prevents rust. Clean up is simple with soap and warm water.
Working with a cold stove, first remove all the stove anatomy that is not made of cast-iron: nickel plated parts, glass or mica sheets in the front window and clean them separately.
The rest of the parts may be easier to polish if they’re separated from the stove, so remove any doors or burner plates and set them aside. Clean all the surfaces to remove ash, dust or oils and scrub away any rust there may be.
Liberally apply polish to the iron with a rag and let dry for about 15 minutes. Then with a dry rag, buff off any excess.
Replace all the stove parts and fire it up. There will be some minor smoking and a smell that may evoke childhood mischief: melting crayon. This will pass shortly and the polish will be set.
William’s is a fine brand to choose, and their formula hasn’t changed in over 100 years. One tube was enough to polish the Reba Washington #118 pictured here.