Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Why Bloom Iron ?- one

(day 4)
The Project centres on the use of Bloomery Iron.

Right now I am in the 'shop re-organization and equipment set up' phase. This of itself may not be that interesting (although I will cover these aspects in later postings).

Bloomery iron is made by the direct reduction process, which is quite different than how our modern metals are made. This results in a metal which is also distinctively different than our modern alloys.

How modern mild steel is made:
The Bessemer Blast furnace : post 1855

How 'antique' wrought iron was made:

The Blast Furnace : post circa 1600
Specific product shown is high carbon 'cast' iron.

How 'historic' wrought iron was made:

Introduction of Water Power, post circa 1000
Actually a two step process, A 'finery' used for removal of excess carbon

How 'ancient' bloomery iron was made:

'Short Shaft' Bloomery Furnace, circa 600 - 1000
Product is spongy metal with slag inclusions.
(Image by P. Halasz)

The method that has been researched (through much trial and error) is based on this last 'ancient' furnace technology. The raw materials for this Project have been created using these methods.

There is a direct Canadian historical connection. The very first iron produced in Canada was made at L'Anse aux Meadows (Vinland) by the Greenland Norse about 1000 AD (late Viking Age). For more information on the early research into this specific process, see 'An Iron Smelt at Vinland'

The image above shows me working with staff from Parks Canada (Mark Pilgrim, left) and my own Dark Ages Re-creation Company (Dave Cox, centre rear) at L'Anse aux Meadows NHSC in 2010. A full re-creation of that original iron smelt was mounted, using all Viking Age tools and methods.

The other images above sourced over the open internet

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February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

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