A rotary fan from pieces of bark, a fan cover and spout made from unfired clay, a bow drill to power it, and a mud furnace to concentrate the heat. Watch how Primitive Technology constructs a forge blower from wood, bark, bark fibre, and clay to smelt iron.

I collected orange iron bacteria from the creek (iron oxide), mixed it with charcoal powder (carbon to reduce oxide to metal) and wood ash (flux to lower the melting point) and formed it into a cylindrical brick. I filled the furnace with charcoal, put the ore brick in and commenced firing. The ore brick melted and produced slag with tiny, 1mm sized specs of iron through it. My intent was not so much to make iron but to show that the furnace can reach a fairly high temperature using this blower. A taller furnace called a bloomery was generally used in ancient times to produce usable quantities of iron and consumed more charcoal, ore and labour.

Watch more Primitive Technology, including making a cord drill & pump drill from sticks & rocks. Plus Britain’s Longest-serving Blacksmith.

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