If you’ve been following the Primitive Technology channel on YouTube, you know that it follows a man around the Far North of Queensland, Australia. The man never identifies himself, but he is constantly building and creating things with nothing more than his hands and the elements around him.
In a recent video, the man, often called “Prim,” stumbled upon a method of creating iron. It came after he created a furnace out of clay.
“My intent was not so much to make iron,” he says from his blog, “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.”
Still, it is amazing to see him create a method of iron extraction out of nothing but the basics.
He gets to work with his bow-drill blower and clay forge, first collecting orange iron bacteria (iron oxide) from the creek. He mixes it with powdered charcoal and wood ash, forms it into a cylindrical brick and fires it in a charcoal oven. The result is a melted iron ore slag with tiny, 1mm-sized specs of iron in it.