[Sca-cooks] Period dutch ovens

Terry Decker t.d.decker at att.net
Wed Dec 9 17:07:42 PST 2009

The problem with producing cast iron is getting pig iron hot enough to burn 
out 1 or 2 percent more impurities.  This uses a lot of fuel, which if you 
are using charcoal is very expensive.  The first foundry in England shows up 
in 1161 (IIRC), but cast iron in quantity doesn't turn up until Tudor times, 
when the first deep shaft coal mines occur.

Abraham Darby's contribution isn't so much a process to make better cast 
iron, but the process to turn coal to coke, which produces a a hotter fire 
with less fuel.

I haven't gone looking at the Chinese processes, but I bet they were using 
surface coal (likely with an improved draft furnace).


> I'm not aware of the technology being available in Europe to cast an iron 
> pot of any significant size. I'd think that if the ability to cast large 
> iron pots of any depth and structural integrity existed in period Europe, 
> it'd have been a LOT easier to build cannons than it apparently was. Iron 
> pots made in panels have survived from both our period and antiquity, but, 
> again, I'm not aware of any cast iron pots that have survived, or even 
> text references to them (versus lots of text references and actual pieces 
> for pots of earthenware of various sorts, brass, bronze, copper, tin, 
> pewter and even lead).
> I haven't made an in-depth study of this; perhaps you can point me to 
> something more concrete...
> Adamantius

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