Micah Burgin

The "Happy accident" iron bloom

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So, this is going to sound strange, but I recently lined my forge with what I THOUGHT was clay... but in reality was some form of iron ore sand. When my coal started ceasing randomly in the center of my fire, I mixed it up and found a small bloom. Of course, I had to see what was up, so I layered coal and the clay-like ore in my forge, and I got this.

DSCN6303.thumb.JPG.0ea18aa333c0d0b31fd60

You can see a small face in the bottom most visible part of the bloom in that picture, it's been ground down and sparks flew when I was doing the grinding. This lump of bloom probably has a lot of sulphorus inclusions, because it was refined through anthracite coal, but it actually did reduce the metal through some chemical process (Possibly the sulfur burning off, because the tell-tale blue flames were around the edges of the firepit throughout burning it down.) and this is only a part of what I got. In the future, I'll probably bake out the impurities of the clay-ore stuff, but I'll be testing a lot of things to see what does and does not work. Who knows, the clay could have an inclusion that allowed the iron to be reduced in spite of the dirty environment.

 

The nugget weighs 5 1/4 ounces and is quite dense, plus it survived some real hits from a 2 pounder, so I'm sure it's the real deal. 

 

Anyways, I need a new forge, preferably one that doesn't have walls made out of iron ore that will randomly decide to turn into blooms. While that's fun, it's really impractical.

I'll post some pictures of it on the thread once I pull it into an ingot form.

 

(I don't really know if this goes here, but ore refining seems to go with foundry and casting)

Edited by Micah Burgin
Unit mix up

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You do know that some folks are pulling their hair out trying to do what you have done "accidentally", right?

Good for you!

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Haha, I'm sure "They" are! I'm doing some more testing, but I am consistently getting some sort of iron oxide or sulfide residue binding pieces of coal, which means I'm going to need to burn it in the presence of limestone if I remember correctly in order to convert it to iron oxide or do something similar to that.

 

Also, seeding with a bit of rebar was really helpful and allowed more beads of metal to collect as opposed to just the sulfides. I didn't get a proper bloom like last time, but I still have more to sift through before I'm sure I didn't just miss it.

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No limestone is used to replace iron in the slag.  We never used it in the 20 years of bloomery runs we did as we were not producing much slag.  Sulfides will make the bloom hot short, the cleaner your fire the better!

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If your chemistry book does not have a several hundred pages on the subject then it's not telling all the details and possibilities!  It may be looking at commercial systems using the indirect process instead of the bloomery process for instance If it does have several hundred pages on the iron smelting process GIVE ME IT'S NAME I WANT A COPY!

Did it mention Abraham Darby for instance?

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Oh it was just an example reaction for balancing, nothing more. Anyway, I've got sulfur burning around the edges of the fires so I'm fairly certain it's reducing something. I need to get a stack so I can charge it properly but once I do that it'll probably work better.

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Alright, I'm not going to get very far with this testing until I have a proper baking drum for cooking the ore prior to dropping it in the bloomery and I need some sort of sifting tool as well, so what do you say I use one of my flat-rate USPS boxes to send you some of the stuff to test? I've got a huge seam of it and if it's hematacious earth you can probably get something out of it and help with processes for me to use. I've got quite a few boxes lying around and I can package up 5-6 pounds so you can really test it out. 

My best guess from the coloring is that if it's an iron ore pigmenting it, this is hematite based, so 30% of whatever content it has would convert, correct? By that metric, we can see exactly how much other stuff is in there.

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The big problem is: does your small scale method of extraction get more iron from the ore than the slag does?

  There are a lot of Colonial era ironworks that made use of bog iron ores in New England through New Jersey  ("Ironworks on the Sagus" a book on an early one in MA IIRC and of course Allaire in New Jersey...)  Your state Geological Survey should be able to help you identify what you have and they may also have analysis on hand from earlier work done on them.

I apologize as I keep thinking of my experience with charcoal smelting where sulfur is not a big issue.  Lime may be a help if you are using coke!  And sulfur burning around the edges of the fire is not indicative of reducing; just sulfur containing fuel; you want CO burning around the edges and over the top of the fire!

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Alright! I've been smashing up some of the slag and getting little globs of iron out (Magnet to extract) so at least I can get the iron back. I'll post some pics of the slaggy masses I've been getting. I have not gotten a chance to burn down a slag pile all the way, but the slag actually lights pretty easily (The coal in it has been mostly burnt) so I can just keep on burning it bits at a time if need be. I can't believe I forgot to check the geological survey, should've done that first! I'm going to dig down through the seam to see if I can find some sort of stone bearing iron or something that may be leaching up through the ground/had been weathered down to form the claylike deposit. I live in a coastal area (Within walking distance of the beach, no less) so that opens up a lot of mineral wash-up possibilities if my geology isn't as rusty as I thought, so the survey may not have anything on it.

 

I'll be back with some pictures of the slag and what the survey has to say about ore concentrations in warwick.

There's the trick! It's washoff of cumberlandite! 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cumberlandite

 

Apparently, my state is so cool, it has its own iron ore, XD

On a more serious note, geography aside, I'm in the Narragansett bay area (I live off of the bay itself, that is) so this is probably some sort of weathered clay that came out of that rock. Hopefully some more digging (Both information and dirt) will help me get to the bottom of this. 

I also have a friend in cumberland, so we're going prospecting next time I'm at his house... :3

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I'm from Arkansas; we have a diamond mine and it's open to the public.  Also Magnet Cove  where magnetite abounds!

 

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Nice! I'm going to go down to the nearby beach and see if I can pick up anything from the sand. Nice part is, it's on the side where the runoff is coming from (I'm on a peninsula, and we have beaches on both sides, so I can see which is best) so it's likely to have something there.

 

On to the exciting bit: There's magnetite in the dirt! Tiny bits, sure, but there's some sort of magnetite deposit under the clay or something like that! 

Considering that the geological survey says that our quartz is all mixed up with the three oxide ores of iron (I can attest to this, there's always black stains, yellow inclusions, and rusty bits inside of any sort of quartz you find here) and there are some magnetite mines somewhat near me, so it's at least believable that I'd have some under my house, but now I at least know there's something to look for.

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So, I made a magnet sluice, and it works great. I'm going to set up a slurry maker (Bad term, I know) which can filter the rocks out of the dirt and then I'll cycle the water (Let settle and siphon with a pump) in order to keep from wasting it. The slurry will probably get run through the magna-sieve two or three times just to be certain all the magnetite is out and then I'll just use it as clay (Which it appears to be... A low temp clay that melts really easily) from there. Hopefully as I get deeper the magnetite concentration will get greater (Sampling the dirt from different layers has suggested this will happen) but I have gotten a fair bit of the stuff already (Not much, but considering dirt from my backyard is the source of it, a lot for twenty minutes of work)

 

Hopefully, I can set up a well oiled system from ground to bloomery, and hopefully this clay will work for bloomery outer walls. The inner will need to be some sort of non-melty clay though.

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My apologies, ThomasPowers; Micah Burgin mentioned in the original post that he was going to make an ingot, that's what I was referencing.

However, I didn't realise that an ingot had to be cast. I had always assumed that an ingot was just any conveniently sized piece of stock. 

The more you know, the more you know how much less you know. :)

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On ‎12‎/‎6‎/‎2015 at 7:00 PM, ThomasPowers said:

I'm from Arkansas; we have a diamond mine and it's open to the public

Ive been their! I didn't find a diamond though :( just a lot of interesting rocks.

                                                                                                                           Littleblacksmith

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Sorry about dropping off of the face of the earth for a few months there.

I was going to billet it (Which I believe is the correct term for ingots forged from blooms) but my lack of tongs struck again... Channel locks did not help very much. Sill, I got it reasonably well formed before things started burning and I decided proper tools are pretty much necessary. 

 

Anyways, I'm currently working on setting up a fire clay bowl for my forge and getting some charcoal to light it a bit more easily but once that's done I'll be getting back in the swing of things with summer coming up.

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Any break throughs? This story is pretty neat and it's making me want to try to out sand in my forge, haha. 

Good luck,

Brent 

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