How Iron Was Made

Iron making evolved over a few thousand years. Using the ancient "bloomery" method, iron ore was converted directly into wrought iron by heating the ore while at the same time melting the ore's impurities and squeezing them out with hand hammers. This is also called the "direct process." By the 1100s water-powered hammers replaced hand hammers for forging out bars of iron.

Learn more about the specific stages in the process by selecting one of the stages below!

 

Iron Making Process

  • A person standing in front of a brick structure holding a rake-like object over several troughs.

    Introduction

    An overview to the process and some background on how iron making came about.

  • A stone furnace topped by a wooden bridge and open-air shed on bottom.

    Smelting

    The blast furnace is where bog ore was smelted to create cast iron "pig" bars.

  • Stone wall with large air bellows and wooden wheel.

    Casting

    The casting shed at the base of the furnace is where the cast iron and slag waste were removed from the furnace.

  • uniformed park ranger with metal rod poking hot coals in a forge.

    Refining

    Workers in the forge converted brittle cast iron "pigs" and "sows" into malleable wrought iron by carefully removing excess carbon in two se

  • wooden structure with large wheel on a hill overlooking a river under a blue sky.

    Rolling and Slitting

    Merchant bars were further worked to create other semi-finished products that blacksmiths could use - such as flats and nail rod.

Last updated: February 16, 2022

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