Discussion in 'The Forge' started by Bruno, Oct 6, 2018.

  1. Bruno

    Bruno Administrator Staff Member

    Anyone here have some experience with smelting steel? Either in a crucible or as a bloom? I am primarily interested in smelting in a crucible, and while I am not making specific plans yet, if there is anything non obvious I need to keep in mind, I guess it is better to know sooner, rather than later. :)
  2. RezDog

    RezDog Member

    I’m right with you Bruno. Where I live is loaded with magnetite, it is everywhere. I too would like to smelt. I have some ducks to line up before I start actually smelting. Mike Blue has experience, and I emailed with him. He recommended that I read a book entitled the Mastery and Uses of Fire in Antiquity by J. E. Rehder. I think in principle it is relatively simple, in application is where it gets tricky. :)
  3. Mike Blue

    Mike Blue Member

    Hmm, I know a guy...
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  4. cangooner

    cangooner New Member

    Yeah, we need to recruit Tim Z here! (if he isn't already...)

    I would *love* to give this a go some time too, so will be following with interest.
  5. Bruno

    Bruno Administrator Staff Member

    TBH, bloomery type stuff is probably not feasible here, but smelting in a crucible may be.
  6. Charlie Lewis

    Charlie Lewis Member

    I do not think I would like to make a habit of making crucible steel, but I would like to learn the process.
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  7. Mike Blue

    Mike Blue Member

    Crucible steel is less time and materials consuming. Modifications to your forge should be simple enough to do crucibles Bruno. The melting temperature of iron goes down as it absorbs more carbon. Testing your forge for maximum temperature may make this a possibility. Another variation on this theme is to "pack carburize" iron into steel, aka blister steel. Which produces a cool pattern in the material.

    RezDog: you can easily make noise on a violin, but playing it well requires time to master. A bloomery smelter is like playing a big wind instrument.

    The basic recipe of steel is time at temperature in a controlled environment for it to release oxygen and absorb carbon. There are several different, more or less efficient ways to get the iron hot thus containing the heat long enough to get useful work from it. Each of these ways has variations on how the environment, in the heat, is controlled to produce carbon migration. Time marches at the agreed upon rate.
    paul76 likes this.
  8. Bruno

    Bruno Administrator Staff Member

    I have a box of antique piano string pins lying around which I thought of smelting, is what I was thinking about.
    I agree with you @Charlie Lewis it's probably not something you want to do as an alternate source of 1095 or so. But it is probably interesting just for the sake of doing it and being able to say I made this steel myself.
    Plus it's one of the easier ways to end up with steel that is very high in carbon. For example, Some steel with 1.5% carbon would be ideal for making meteorite damascus, because meteorite has no carbon, and after a couple of foldings, the entire billet would be about .7% which would greatly reduce the heat treatment issues.
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