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I Forge Iron

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Wrought iron is a composite material composed of often a good clean iron, often a really lousy iron, and everything in between mixed with ferrous silicate spicules AKA slag.  The finer grades can have over 1000000 strands per sq inch.  When forging you need the ferrous silicates to be molten or else the material starts to fray out.  

How you tell: there is an acid test, wrought iron will stay bright longer than mild steel when a drop of acid it put on it.  There is the notch and break test; wrought iron will have a greenstick fracture rather than the granular fracture of modern steels.  There is the visual test: wrought iron that is rusting has lineations or even a stranded look compared to the round pitting modern steels get and there is the historic knowledge test:  anything that predates the Bessemer/Kelly process of making mild steel dating to the 1850's is most likely wrought iron or wrought iron derived steels.  Even in the 1890's real wrought iron was still a common material for smiths and you start finding materials where real wrought iron and steel have been busheled together and so pieces of mixed properties. (Specifications for high grade work often gave a limit as to how much steel could be in a bushed piece of wrought iron.)

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