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Community production of iron

 
Posts: 93
Location: Lapwai, ID
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This really interests me, is anybody else out there into small-batch smelting?

[youtube]https://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=F3rjjpuhCLI[/youtube]

 
Posts: 567
Location: Mid-Michigan
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I've gone to two smelts. We used some Michigan "black sand" and some hematite. We burned up a prodigious quantity of charcoal over the course of about eight hours.

For the bloom of steel we made, it was outrageously, wastefully expensive. It was also awesome. Awesome for the experience and the skill. Not necessarily for the final product, which was good, but not better than storebought.
 
pollinator
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Location: New Brunswick, Canada
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It does produce real wrought iron, though, and that's rare. It may not be as strong as steel, but the slag inclusions help it be more weather resistant than mild steel. It's very cool to see.
 
Ben Johansen
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I've helped out with a bloomery smelt and two crucible steel smelts, all of which involved electric blowers, industrial firebrick, beer, and lots and lots and lots of burning carbon (coke). I enjoyed myself, but felt a little greasy after taking part in such dirty, industrial processes. In my mind's eye, I'm seeing the whole process revamped to include more community involvement, as well as removing the fire in favor of solar heat from a parabolic mirror/ Fresnel lens combo. I think I'll still include the beer, though... DIY organic free-range beer? A community of like-minded individuals with the clean production of iron and steel, either forged into tools and such onsite or sold as a raw material to eco-savvy blacksmiths, as a common goal. Nail-making, iron gates, etc., with a forest garden backdrop. Can I get an A-men, bothers and sisters?
 
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I use a tatara (Japanese smelter made of clay) for smelting, it works very well and since it uses bellows for air introduction it isn't electricity dependent. The charcoal burns well but it does take a lot of it for a good sized smelting run.
 
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I could see making giant, peg type nails for use in timber frames or post and beam stuff. Regular nails are so cheap and the quality is very consistent.
 
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