The importance of a good bellows

Ancient civilizations fascinate me. Ten thousand years ago, laws governing inheritance, property rights, adoptions and more were carved in stone on the Isle of Crete — literally carved in stone. Making multiple copies would have been quite a chore.

There were gods for every occupation, and I’ve always appreciated the Greek and Roman gods of blacksmithing.

A recent coincidence has convinced me I should be thanking one of them.

To get a hot enough fire to heat iron to the point where it loses its tensile strength (1,400 degrees Fahrenheit), you need to either use charcoal or coal.

Charcoal is made by burning wood at a temperature that leaves the carbon and eliminates elements that burn at lower temperatures. Then the charcoal is used to heat iron.

It was the making of charcoal that led to the deforestation of much of Greece and led to its use of stone in building, but that’s not the point.

The point is that whether you are using coal or charcoal, you need to blow a lot of air onto it to get the most heat out of it.


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