Making Iron

2 days

Materials used
90kg bog iron ore, 90 kg charcoal

12kg usable iron

This exploration revisits the origin and refinement of a material to experience how processes work that we take for granted. In a process that shows pre-industrial metal extraction raw iron ore is transformed into usable steel. The visibility of rescources and time that is required for this process mediate the actual value of this common material.

Bog iron ore that is used in the process is found in the fields where special conditions prevail. It is a product of Iron-oxidizing bacteria that metabolize iron. This type of ore has been used for refinement in furnaces before modern smelting furnaces were invented.

The exploration comprises a demonstration that lasts for two days. It shows the process from building a furnace through to the natural creation of forgeable iron. Porous pig iron that is created throughout the process is then further processed into forgable ingots that can serve everyday porposes.

© 2021 Heinrich Ehnert