This is what I use to keep the iron handles of my pots and pans from rusting.
I prefer iron handles over brass for long-handled pots and pans like saucepans, sauté pans, and skillets. Brass heats up quickly during cooking, and while this is manageable with pot holders or a side towel, I still find iron handles easier to use.
But iron has one disadvantage over brass: it rusts. If you use your copper pots and wash them, the iron handles get wet and rust can form on the surface and in the crevices. One way I reduce this is to heat the pan on the cooktop for about ten seconds after I’ve washed and dried it; the extra bit of warmth helps the last bits of moisture to evaporate away.
But the most important thing I do is periodically treat the iron surface with Renaissance wax, a specific brand of “microcrystalline wax polish” that’s designed to preserve and protect metal. It was developed for the British Museum in the 1950s to help with conservation, and the lid still carries the official seal “by appointment to Her Majesty the Queen.”
It’s a solid wax in the tub but it liquefies at skin temperature and spreads easily. I wipe my fingertips across the wax in the tub to pick up a little, and then spread it across the iron with my fingertips. It smells a little medicinal but the smell dissipates within seconds. Most importantly, it’s totally clear on the surface of the iron. On occasions when I’ve spread the wax onto the copper by accident, it wipes right off.
Here are some close-ups of the tin and label.
I prefer Renaissance wax to other methods of protecting iron. I’ve seen advice online to season iron handles as you would cast iron with applications of flaxseed oil and things like that, but it did not work for me. I tried that on a few handles and it left a sticky and unpleasant yellowish coating that I wish I could get off. Renaissance wax is undetectable to me.
I bought mine from Amazon and it looks like this little tin will last me for years. I keep it in a drawer right by my cooktop so that I can apply it when I have pots and pans set out to dry.