All ironmaking blast furnaces were fueled by charcoal until Abraham Darby introduced coke as a fuel in 1709. The more economical coke soon replaced charcoal in British furnaces, but in the United States, where timber for charcoal was abundant, charcoal furnaces lingered much longer. Even after the introduction of anthracite smelting to the US in 1839, and the development of American coke production later in the century, charcoal iron continued to find favor because of its heat-resistance, toughness, and malleability. The last charcoal furnace in the US did not close until 1945. The traditional Japanese tatara furnace uses charcoal and ironsand to produce a mixture of iron and steel.
In Britain, the penultimate furnace built was Alderwasley in 1764, followed by Warsash Furnace in 1869. The last working furnace at Backbarrow converted to coke in 1922.
- Bartholomew & Metz, p. 31
- Williams, p. 316
- Ridden, Philip A Gazetteer of Charcoal-fired Blast Furnaces in Great Britain in use since 1660 Merton Priory press, 1987, 2nd edn 1993 ISBN 0-9520009-1-1
- Bartholomew, Craig L.; Metz, Lance E. (1988). Bartholomew, Ann, ed. The Anthracite Industry of the Lehigh Valley. Center for Canal History and Technology. ISBN 0-930973-08-9.
- Williams, Michael (2003). Deforesting the Earth. University of Chicago Press. p. 316. ISBN 0-226-89926-8. Retrieved 2007-12-23.
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