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I Forge Iron

Can cast iron be used as iron source when smelt?

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Smelting is taking ore and making metal from it. A lot of folks online confuse smelting with melting and foundry work. Please don't be one of them!

(Is this a translation issue?  Does Finnish not differentiate between smelting ore and melting metals?)

The typical bloomery used for smelting is designed for the direct process where the input is ore and the output is iron/steel. It is designed to remove oxygen from the ore, not carbon!  So cast iron won't work.

In the indirect process you take ore and smelt it and produce cast iron, which then goes to a finery forge to be decarburized into wrought iron. 

Nowadays you take cast iron produced from ore in a blast furnace and convert it to steel using the Bessemer process or one of it's offshoots, open hearth, BOF, etc. (BOF Basic Oxygen Furnace being the big one...).

So using the terminology correctly:  cast iron can be used in a cupola to make iron castings or be decarburized in various ways to make steel.  It is not a good ore to make wrought iron from.


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I know several languages where "coal" and "charcoal" get mixed up---like Spanish & Italian; so I was open to the possibility of other languages other term mixups.    It does strongly annoy me when Americans mix up smelting and melting which is common on the net and fairly often on IFI.  I guess many of them think that smelting is a fancy or archaic term for melting---which is funny in that the early bloomeries didn't melt the metal produced!

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