Lewis “Early Iron Making in America”

Once wood began to not meet the needs of industrialized society, iron became the most prominent metal to create everyday use items. In the early days, wrought iron was made by heating up iron and hitting it into the desired shape for the needs. Places that produced slabs of wrought iron (blooms of wrought iron) were called bloomeries. Bloomeries were small and could only supply enough iron for a small blacksmith to produce enough goods for local people. Despite their small production, they only needed simple things to produce this wrought iron (only a fireplace, bellows, and tools) and the wrought iron they produced could be made into practically any item.

The need for larger iron works sparked new inventions. These inventions included the blast furnace, which could melt large amounts or iron ore. The process of reducing the iron ore to a molten state is called smelting. Smelting these large quantities of iron only needed the iron ore, charcoal, and limestone after the blast furnace was installed. The blast furnace was a lot easier to use to change iron ore into its purer form to make materials yet needed much more experience to use and was a very large installation process. Iron produced from a blast furnace was named pig iron as the process of removing steam from the furnace resembles a litter of piglets.

For most of the colonial period in America, pig iron and wrought iron were sufficient enough to supply the needs of the citizens. However some things needed a harder material, where steel comes into play. Steel is a product of iron and a small amount of carbon. It was frequently used in items like swords and other weapons of combat.


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