Recent (October, 2012) Iron Smelt at Tunnel Mill

Last Revised: March 8, 2015


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Smelt Pix
Here's where the Smelt was held

We have watched and participated in a number of other iron smelts over the years, with variable results.
So John Adams and I eagerly jumped on the chance to learn more about smelting iron by watching Lee Sauder and his team in action at the 2012 ABANA conference in Rapid City, SD.
Lee provides complete instructions for smelting iron ore to iron on his website and also offers a very helpful DVD.
John took advantage of both of these resources.

When John and I got home from Rapid City, we (mostly John) began preparing for a smelt down at Tunnel Mill. He rounded up all the needed materials and got a team together to run the smelt during the annual early October Tunnel Mill Fall Gathering.

I made a couple of furnace forms following the directions from Lee Sauder:
The OD of the FORM is about 10 1/2 inches at the bottom and about 10 inches at the top.
Iron Smelting Furnace Form Complete Iron Smelting Furnace Form Construction Detail
The form is about 4 feet tall, but the finished furnace will only be about 38" tall. It will be totally burned away during the curing of the furnace.

The whole thing went very well and the weather cooperated superbly.
We got about 7 pounds of high quality bloom that needed hardly any consolidation. We also got about another 4 pounds of material that we think we can work with sometime in the future.
According to Lee Sauder's method, we should have gotten about twice a much iron, but we are in contact with Lee to figure out how to improve our output next season.
The furnace stood up very well and we think we can follow Lee's repair directions to get at least one more run from it. All in all, though, we were very happy with the results.

Chunks of Cooled hardened Slag
Chunks of Cooled hardened Slag

The Smelt Site while the Furnace is being Cured
The Smelt Site while the Furnace is being Cured

The Furnace in operation
The Furnace in operation

Bar of wrought Iron we made with Ore in the foreground
Bar of wrought Iron we made with Ore in the foreground

Slag Tapping
Slag Tapping

Testing Carbon Content of the Wrought Iron
Testing Carbon Content of the Wrought Iron

Record of the Smelting Data
Record of the Smelting Data

Coppwe Tuyere
The Copper Tuyere (There's a removable Sight Glass at the other end)


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