Based on information from a lot of places, see References page for background information. Some friends and I have been wanting to try to smelt iron for a while, and finally did it!
We made a base of cinder blocks, placed firebricks around a cardboard tube, and covered the whole thing with cob (clay mixed with sand and straw). We built a tap arch (visible in these pictures) but did not end up using it. Construction Details.
We started using a hand crank blower, then switched to air from an old vacuum cleaner. Added charcoal and ore for about 8 hours. Details on running the smelt.
Breaking open the smelter, pulling out the bloom and initial consolidation! We got a nice bloom and initial consolidation went pretty well. We have had difficulty consolidating the bloom into usable iron, but I think that's largely due to inexperience. Details on Consolidation.
For more information on smelting, see References.
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