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Thread: Minerals into metal

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    Default Minerals into metal

    One thing so far I haven't seen mention of (keeping in mind that I am new to to these forums) is metallurgy. Did you know that if you are in the mountains and are able to identify the right minerals you can smelt minerals into ore?

    Tin and lead minerals can be melted into metal with just the heaat from a campfire. Not exactly strong enough metals for a knife but the lead would be great for replenishing some ammunition in some rifles and tin would be great for arrowheads, as well as containment vessels for drinking water for example.

    Copper and Iron ores can be smelted off the land, however you would need to construct a clay "kiln" in order to turn wood into coal, and then construct a clay "bloomery" (basic primitive furnace for smelting ore) in order to acheive high enough heats to melt the ore.

    WARNING: A clay bloomery obviously acheives very high heats in excess of 2200C and is extremely likely to crack apart on the first use. I do not suggest trying this unless you have a wide clearing away from flammable material, and have done alot of CROSS-REFERENCING research on how to make one properly. And even then I recommend extreme caution in its use as you are dealing with molten metals which depending on what else could be mixed in with your ore, might not stay in a calm puddle either.


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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    Only if those minerals are available, and they are not available everywhere, and only if you have enough rescources available to devote the time to smelting instead of finding your next meal. If that is the case you are no longer surviving, you are just living in a different environment.

    The ammount of charcoal needed for one firing is almost overwhelming. It is said that Scotland was a heavily wooded land until the industrial revolution. The land was stripped of trees for charcoal production in the iron industry.

    You must have the ore, limestone and the fuel in close proximity. Having all three available is a scarce thing.

    Yes, at one time it was done and people made fortunes in the local markets.

    http://www.explorekentuckylake.com/lbl/iron.htm

    If you are smelting metals you simply have hot opened you eyes and looked around. There is enough junk metal out there to last a post apocoliptic civilization 1,000 years. A simple forge and a few pounds of charcoal at a time will allow its conversion into some very useful articles.
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    Senior Member Winter's Avatar
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    I've seen the videos of people making white steel and tamahagani. It's pretty amazing.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDy1jx6mLgs
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    Senior Member Sparky93's Avatar
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    I saw these videos a while back and thought they were awesome. These videos show the steps taken by a group of experimental archaeologists went through to make a billet of iron from raw materials.

    First video shows the construction of the smelting forge.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_mTg..._order&list=UL

    Second video shows them feeding the furnace.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URxbE..._order&list=UL

    Third video shows the removing the iron bloom.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjMan...der&playnext=1

    Fourth video shows the forging the bloom into a iron billet.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7nzm..._order&list=UL

    I thought these videos were cool, I guess that makes me a metal nerd lol....
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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grizzlyadam View Post
    One thing so far I haven't seen mention of (keeping in mind that I am new to to these forums) is metallurgy. Did you know that if you are in the mountains and are able to identify the right minerals you can smelt minerals into ore?

    Tin and lead minerals can be melted into metal with just the heaat from a campfire. Not exactly strong enough metals for a knife but the lead would be great for replenishing some ammunition in some rifles and tin would be great for arrowheads, as well as containment vessels for drinking water for example.

    Copper and Iron ores can be smelted off the land, however you would need to construct a clay "kiln" in order to turn wood into coal, and then construct a clay "bloomery" (basic primitive furnace for smelting ore) in order to acheive high enough heats to melt the ore.

    WARNING: A clay bloomery obviously acheives very high heats in excess of 2200C and is extremely likely to crack apart on the first use. I do not suggest trying this unless you have a wide clearing away from flammable material, and have done alot of CROSS-REFERENCING research on how to make one properly. And even then I recommend extreme caution in its use as you are dealing with molten metals which depending on what else could be mixed in with your ore, might not stay in a calm puddle either.
    Do you have any pictures of the smelting you have done from minerals you have found in the mountains? I'd love to see your set up and some of your finished products.
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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    Not to mention the fumes that come off of smelting. Just smelting copper can release arsenic, sometimes referred to as arsenic bronze. Arsenic and copper are often found in close proximity and repeated inhalation of fumes can have some nasty unintended consequences.

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    Quote Originally Posted by crashdive123 View Post
    Do you have any pictures of the smelting you have done from minerals you have found in the mountains? I'd love to see your set up and some of your finished products.
    Nope. Sorry, I haven't gotten around to the experimental stage yet. I've mostly been doing reading taking notes and watching youtube videos. When I finally do get around to it in preparation for my big trip I'll definately be doing alot of "bushcraft" recording.

    One thing I have to say though that dissapoints me about some of these youtube videos, is that noone really gives a proper explanation on how everything works, they all seem to have a peice of vital information missing. Though, through watching many videos and doing alot of reading I beleive I have been able to fill in the gaps.

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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    Not to mention the fumes that come off of smelting. Just smelting copper can release arsenic, sometimes referred to as arsenic bronze. Arsenic and copper are often found in close proximity and repeated inhalation of fumes can have some nasty unintended consequences.
    When they did toxology on Ottsie the iceman from 3000 bc they found high levels of arsenic in his hair and nails, indicating he had been working in a copper smelting shop. Copper melts at less than 2000 degrees and you can obtain that with only charcoal and a bellows.

    It is believed that the Native Americans were the first humans to smelt and work copper. Imagine that, the first to actually work a modern metal but they were still using stone tools 6000 years latter. I suppose that is what happens when you live in a land of plenty. You do not invent what you do not need.

    Grizzly, if you look into the metal smithing of the Indonesian natives you will get a full description of simple iron smelting. I did a paper on that 25 years ago. I found a step by step anthropological report complete with color photos. They use natural ores in small crucible kilns no bigger than a dutch oven, with bellows pumps made using bird feathers, of all things!

    The report also took one from the smelted metal to forging a parong.

    It took you from crushing the ore to finished product. Measured time expended for a parong and the calorie output for production and how long it took the user to recover his expendature through use.

    And I am sorry, I do not remember the book I pulled it from. You would be really surprised when you get out of the wilderness survival, prepping and "outdoor section" of the library and get into the anthropology and history sections.

    They even have studies showing how many calories one can forage using hunter gatherer techniques in various parts of the world. They you check the population density of these United States and tremble in fear at the thought of a bug out bag.
    Last edited by kyratshooter; 02-11-2012 at 05:12 PM.
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    I watched a show on PBS some time back about the metal artists in Japan that smelted the metals that were used to make the war swords used by the sammuri(spelling?) centuries ago. Some are still doing it in modern times. This program followed the process from start to end. Ore to finished blade. Looked like alot of work to me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by oldtrap59 View Post
    I watched a show on PBS some time back about the metal artists in Japan that smelted the metals that were used to make the war swords used by the sammuri(spelling?) centuries ago. Some are still doing it in modern times. This program followed the process from start to end. Ore to finished blade. Looked like alot of work to me.

    Oldtrap
    I remember seeing that as well.....and yeah a lot of work.

    So, if I were to spend my time living in the mountains, mining and smelting metals (from ore..not into ore) would be real low on my list of activities in my quest to stay alive.
    But that is just me.

    Better get to those experimental stages before heading out.
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    Quote Originally Posted by grizzlyadam View Post
    Nope. Sorry, I haven't gotten around to the experimental stage yet. I've mostly been doing reading taking notes and watching youtube videos. When I finally do get around to it in preparation for my big trip I'll definately be doing alot of "bushcraft" recording.

    One thing I have to say though that dissapoints me about some of these youtube videos, is that noone really gives a proper explanation on how everything works, they all seem to have a peice of vital information missing. Though, through watching many videos and doing alot of reading I beleive I have been able to fill in the gaps.
    Well, I guess you'll just have to do it the old fashioned way. Get out and do it. Why not see if you can find a small operation near you that might take on an apprentice. Doing sure beats the heck out of reading and vids. Don't get me wrong - both are important, but there is nothing like doing. I read a lot about knife making and watched a lot of videos, but doing and then doing again are how I have improved upon my errors.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparky93 View Post
    I saw these videos a while back and thought they were awesome. These videos show the steps taken by a group of experimental archaeologists went through to make a billet of iron from raw materials.

    First video shows the construction of the smelting forge.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_mTg..._order&list=UL

    Second video shows them feeding the furnace.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URxbE..._order&list=UL

    Third video shows the removing the iron bloom.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjMan...der&playnext=1

    Fourth video shows the forging the bloom into a iron billet.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7nzm..._order&list=UL

    I thought these videos were cool, I guess that makes me a metal nerd lol....
    Just watched these all the way through...excellent.

    FYI just watching the equipment used in this primitive operation.....liked the first one where rocks were used a hammer stones.

    Metal axes for cutting wood.
    They used bellows...sides were tacked on, it looks like.
    An iron bar, for poking into furnace.....iron tongs for taking it apart
    Iron/steel hammers for processing the bloom.

    Anvil and many different hammers, tongs, mandrels for finishing the spear point.

    So if these mountains had a location with rich enough ore to process and considerable amount of tools, fuel, (not sure if it was wood or charcoal), if charcoal was used, processing of the wood is necessary to make it.

    To say nothing of a 4 to 5 man/women crew that eat, drink, poop and sleep somewhere.

    Just an observation.

    P.s sparky tried to give you some rep, says I gotta spread it around.
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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Yeah, well if'in your gonna tell on me again......don't cut a ferro rod in half with a hacksaw....unless you are away from flammable stuff....yeah, got interesting for a min or two....again.
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    Senior Member Sparky93's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hunter63 View Post
    Yeah, well if'in your gonna tell on me again......don't cut a ferro rod in half with a hacksaw....unless you are away from flammable stuff....yeah, got interesting for a min or two....again.
    LMAO, I think they got tired of using the rock as a hammer at some point along the line lol. I first saw these videos as a response, on a blacksmith forum, to a guy that asked what he needed to get started blacksmithing. I can't wait till I get my forge up and running so I can try and turn some railroad ties into something useful.

    But like Kyrat said earlier,there really is no need to smelt your own metal when there is such a large supply of scrap. Unless you are just doing it for fun and for the experience. It would be kind of cool to have a knife that you could say you made from only stuff you gathered in nature.
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    I have to agree, unless you are in the middle of nowhere, there is probably all kinds of whatever metal you may need everywhere as scrap especially in a TEOTWAWKI event.
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    True. While it may be a neat skill to have, I don't see it as high on my priority list at the moment. I thought from the OP that he had done it before by the way I interpreted the post.
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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by crashdive123 View Post
    True. While it may be a neat skill to have, I don't see it as high on my priority list at the moment. I thought from the OP that he had done it before by the way I interpreted the post.
    Most likely googled it.
    Add to the list......
    Build stone house for free.
    Dig wells anywhere with a shovel.
    Go to the mountains and make your own metal.
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    Oh, yeah. The stone house guy. I forgot about him. That was pretty good.

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    interesting vid's but I think it would be low on my priorties

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