Charcoal iron

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This article is about a type of semi-refined elemental iron (the metal itself), for the heated device use to press clothing, see clothes iron.

Charcoal iron is the substance created by the smelting of iron ore with charcoal.

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,[1] 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.[2] 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.[3] The last working furnace at Backbarrow converted to coke in 1922.

In Western Australia, pig iron was made using charcoal between 1948 and 1981 at Wundowie.[4] It was probably the last place that charcoal iron was manufactured in commercial quantities in the developed world.

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  1. ^ Bartholomew & Metz, p. 31
  2. ^ Williams, p. 316
  3. ^ 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
  4. ^ Relix & Fiona Bush Heritage and Archaeology. "WUNDOWIE GARDEN TOWN CONSERVATION PLAN" (PDF). Wundowie Progress Association.