Tag Archives: blacksmith

What is fire?

English: A small fire in a backyard fire pit.

Image via Wikipedia

Have you ever wondered where fire comes from? I wondered that for quite a while myself, so I looked on wikipedia, but it was a little too scientific with all those big words. So I surfed on the web for a while and I finally figured it out:

To produce fire, three ingredients are needed: Oxygen, fuel, and a heat source. To set a piece of wood on fire, we have fuel (the wood), we have Oxygen (in the air), but we need a heat source. To do this, one way to create heat is by using friction: rubbing the fuel with another piece of wood. With enough heat, the Oxygen furiously grabs on to the Carbon in the wood, releasing intense heat. This heat causes the spot on the wood next to the rubbed part to catch fire, thus chain reacting throughout the entire piece.

The flames are created when the impurities in the wood turn to vapors, and glow as they pass up through the heated area. In matches, the phosphorus reacts with the oxygen with less heat than carbon needs, therefore matches are much easier to use.

In making charcoal, with only a little bit of heat in the process, it is enough to steam or burn out excess water and other particles that would leave a fuel much hotter than plain wood. This charcoal was perfect for blacksmithing.

  The hottest part of a wood fire, in the small cracks at the center, it has a maximum temp. of 900-1200 degrees farenheit, and just when you get to the flames above, it goes 300-400 degrees. Coal, on the other hand, is normally around 900-1000 farenheit, and a regular 1200 degrees with a small draft.



Charcoal Burning

Deutsch: Fertiggestellter Meiler. 30-40m Umfan...

Image via Wikipedia

In the middle ages, both the Blacksmith and the Smelter needed extreme heat for their work, much hotter than that produced by wood, so how can these people obtain this? The answer is charcoal.

First of all, charcoal and coal are two different things; coal is wood that was compressed and turned half to Sedimentary rock, which people mine, and charcoal is, well here’s the process:

Approximately 20 ft. of ground is cleared of vegetation and around 3 tons of wood are gathered and stacked in the shape of an igloo. The stack is then covered in dirt except for a small hole on top. The wood is then set on fire, well sort of on fire; the wood just smolders. The charcoal burners then must watch for a few days and make sure it doesn’t burst into flame. Inside, the wood smolders and smokes away all the moisture and other un-burnable stuff, and finally the charcoal burners rake away the dirt and ashes to reveal the charcoal, which is then sent away to the blacksmith, smelter, and rich people who can afford charcoal for heating.

I found this youtube video on making charcoal: