The metalworking industry is full of interesting, scientific processes. One of these processes involves metal smelting, which many modern industries use. Learn more about metal smelting through these six interesting facts below.
1. The Difference Between Melting and Smelting
People who aren’t familiar with metalsmithing terminology might use the terms melting and smelting interchangeably. However, these two processes are not the same. In the melting process, material shifts from its solid phase to a liquid phase. Smelting is the process in which a metal is obtained from an ore by pushing it beyond its melting point. In other words, smelting requires temperatures beyond the melting point of a material.
2. The First Smelted Metal
The first metal smelting process likely occurred in the ancient Middle East as early as 5000 BCE. The first metal to be smelted here was copper, followed by tin, lead, and silver. Because smelting requires temperatures that exceed melting points, they achieved the elevated temperatures with furnaces that had forced air drafts.
3. Common Smelting Metals
Iron is one of the most common metals used in smelting. Steel is another well-known smelting material that requires a mixture of iron and carbon. When the resulting iron contained more carbon than was necessary for making steel, manufacturers created pig iron. Aluminum, bronze, silver, and copper are all other common examples of metals used in smelting.
4. Metals That Are Easiest to Smelt
Some metals reach their melting point faster than others. This means that metals with lower melting points are easier and more efficient to melt and smelt. For example, mercury, lithium, tin, and lead are some of the metals with the lowest melting points.
5. The Many Applications of Metal Smelting
Metal smelting isn’t used exclusively in blacksmithing. There are many other industries that utilize the process of smelting in their day-to-day tasks and manufacturing. Smelting is primarily used in the production of steel, which is a crucial manufacturing material for countless industries. Steel is utilized in the construction industry very heavily. Many of the products and gadgets we use daily wouldn’t be the same without steel materials.
6. Anyone Can Start Smelting at Home
This comes as a surprise to some, but smelting is an easier process than you might think. Home and hobbyist blacksmiths use smelting often to create products like fine pieces of jewelry and accessories. With the right materials, you could even set up a smelting kit right in your backyard.
If these fun facts about metal smelting have piqued your interest in the craft, consider learning more about the smelting process. Once you’re ready to try your hand at smelting and creating metal pieces, stock up on all the smelting supplies you need here at Cast Master Elite. We carry metal melting furnace kits and all the blacksmithing accessories you’ll need.