Posting before we leave for Church to test if anyone in the ward reads the blog - or they can read along to see how I stray from my notes:
|Nantyglo, Brynmawr, Wales. 19th Century "Refiner's Fire"|
"After melting down the pig-iron as quickly as possible, which took me thirty minutes, there was a pause in which I had time to wipe the back of my hand on the dryest part of my clothing (if any spot was still dry) and with my sweat cap wipe the sweat and soot out of my eyes.
For the next seven minutes I "thickened the heat up" by adding iron oxide to the bath. This was in the form of roll scale.
The furnace continued in full blast till that was melted. The liquid metal in the hearth is called slag. The iron oxide is put in it to make it more basic for the chemical reaction that is to take place.
Adding the roll scale had cooled the charge, and it was thick like hoecake batter. I now thoroughly mixed it with a rabble which is like a long iron hoe.For twenty-five minutes while the boil goes on I stir it constantly with my long iron rabble. A cook stirring gravy to keep it from scorching in the skillet is done in two minutes and backs off blinking, sweating and choking, having finished the hardest job of getting dinner. But my hardest job lasts not two minutes but the better part of half an hour.
My spoon weighs twenty-five pounds, my porridge is pasty iron, and the heat of my kitchen is so great that if my body was not hardened to it, the ordeal would drop me in my tracks.