Where does Iron come from?
There’s no doubt that iron is crucial to the process of metal casting. Iron is known for it’s strength and flexibility, making it one of the most common materials used when creating castings. Iron can almost be taken for granted by foundry folks, but have you ever thought about where iron comes from and where the use originates?
It is theorized that the reason planet Earth has so much iron is largely a result of the way the core was formed. The Earth is relatively large when compared to other planets, and it is believed that the large size contributed to the high pressure and temperatures of our planet’s core. These properties in Earth’s core created different types of iron in both the core and mantle.
The use of iron dates back almost 5,000 years. Archeologists believe that iron was discovered by the Hittites of ancient Egypt somewhere between 5000 and 3000 BCE and was used in fairly simple ways. They found and extracted it from meteorites and hammered or pounded the metal to create spearheads, tools, weapons, and other trinkets. Though Iron had been used at this time, it was seen as an inferior metal by many due to it’s lack of durability when compared to bronze. It was also not very popular due to the high level of skill that was required to work with it.
The Iron age had begun sometime between 1200 and 600 B.C. During this time, Europe, Asia, and Africa began producing iron weapons. Owning various types of iron showed class and superiority depending on its carbon content. Iron became even more popular once people realized they could heat it with carbon to create steel. It is said that the country that is now known as Turkey was the first to utilize iron to make steel.
Though many may associate mass production with the industrial age, the Chinese have been creating things in a standardized way for a long time. The Chinese were amongst the first to begin using iron to create castings. They began pouring molten metal into molds around 645 BCE. China is credited as being one of the first ever countries to utilize iron castings around the year 1034 BCE when four statues were created to go in front of the Zhongyue Temple in Dengfeng.
Photo credit: Trans Asia Discovery. https://chinadragontours.com/zhongyue-temple-in-dengfeng-zhengzhou.html
Iron has been utilized for thousands of years and will continue to make its mark in the modern world, due to the availability, durability, and price.
Australian General Engineering (2023). The History of Iron Casting. https://www.austgen.com.au/the-history-of-iron-casting/
History Editors (2021). Iron Age. https://www.history.com/topics/pre-history/iron-age
SEI (2019). Common Materials Used for Metal Castings. https://seicastings.com/blog/common-materials-used-for-metal-castings/
Texas Geosciences (2017). Finding the Origin of Earth’s Iron. https://www.jsg.utexas.edu/news/2017/11/finding-the-origin-of-earths-iron/