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The Catalan forge... "Farga Catalana"


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This is fascinating, Miquel, thank you for taking the time to document this so well. Although I do not know nearly as much as I would some day like, I continue to watch your progress and findings with awe and gratitude.



Not all those who wander are lost. -J.R.R. Tolkien

-Shards of the Dark Age- my blog
-Nine Worlds Workshop-
-Last Apocalypse Forge-

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I do not know the ore you are suing but I assume it has silica in it. If silica and FeO are in proximity of each other above 1170C ( maybe even a bit sooner) they will combine and run to the bottom of the furnace. At a ratio of about 33% Silica and 67%FeO ( this is not per weight but per amount of particles) this stuff is very fluid and is the flux the Japanese sword makers use in the traditional forge.
If the ore is getting heated..it very quickly converts to magnetite followed by the conversion to FeO ( only above about 900 K) ...if this FeO is next to Silica and the temperature is below the Eutectic of the two,no problem this would be below 1450K or 1175 C... My guess is you would have less slag by going slower and slowly getting that ore to a temperature range red to orange , holding it there for a while ( you can take an example from the old timers ) and then ramp it up.
Looking at the predominance diagram above and assuming your reducing gasses are at least 85% CO.. your path to Fe is via FeO unless you have a lot of time and want run below red heat.
Much of the FeO needs to be converted to Fe before the temperature is ramped up in order to prevent premature slagging ( I think).
I brought up the clothes line topic because I had planned to move the charcoal pit to where we hang our clothes.
You may want to make some paella in that furnace....I do it over coals in a Japanese style cooker...get the coals really hot...throw some wet coals on to temporarily shield the ceramic pan so it will not crack..in about 30 -35 minutes a delicious smoky Paella..when you come this way we will serve it.
Edited by Jan Ysselstein
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From smelting to West Coast Paella... Marinera I assume?


ummm... can I get the address for when I get home?





Albert A RaschThe Rasch Outdoor Chronicles

The Best in Outdoor Adventures! (and Misadventures!)

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  • 9 months later...

The Catalan is not a furnace I have explored.


One can simulate many atmospheres and combinations using a crucible and lessen the variables.

A talk with Jeff Pringle at "Axe 'n" Sax" reminded me of my experiments 10-15 years ago which I had abandoned for other techniques.

You can work ratios or ore,charcoal and temps and stop the action to view the reactions taking place.





Here is a graph bloomery operators should have some familiarity with..especially those of us who may want to shift gears during the process,


What is missing is the conversion of Hematite to magnetite which I have in another book (which I cannot find right now). Hematite to Magnetite will happen even if the percent CO is not that high, but it does require some heat. The Kelvin scale has the same units as the Celsius scale Celsius= Kelvin minus 273 Zero K = absolute zero

This wet paste of charcoal powder and very fine iron ore keeps coming up in the literature..in some of the historic methods when the author states "a little water" I assume he/she may mean " a little water" or may be meaning "a little water and clay mixture". In the case of the Catalan forge I am sure there was lots of clean water around and the former was intended.

It is possible the paste of charcoal and iron ore was added to redirect the hot reducing gasses in the furnace and forcing them through area of the bed of mostly ore..if this creates a greater resistance to flow it would also slow down the burn rate (though that may not have been the primary intent). The nice thing about that paste is , when the water is gone and there is no cohesion left, the charcoal does not become a blocking mass but flows out with the hot gasses.


Charcoal fines, ashes and water. It’s likely that the theories are correct and we suspect so, but the behavior in a smaller scale furnace may be different.


Richard Furrer

Door County Forgeworks

Sturgeon Bay, WI

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  • 1 year later...

Hi Gang,

I wanted to thank Miquel again for sending me a great book on this style of smelting. Thanks my friend!!

At F & B, us smelters got talking about the upcoming Early iron event, where Lee Sauder, and Jesus Hernandez plan a Catalan style smelt. It was enough to get me wanting to try this again as well.

I will start a new thread while I do this, and look forward to Lee, and Jesus' experience.

I'm doing a smelt this Sunday to clear the smelting plinth of the winter stack. Post to come soon.

Mark Green


I have a way? Is that better then a plan?

(cptn. Mal)

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I am looking forward to all the experimentation going on around the Catalan Forge...Miquel has shared this information with me as well, and I am very grateful and much more informed. I have started using the principles of the Catalan process (again) and have increased my yields greatly ...in this case the term yield is based on the size of a bloom per run not per pound of carbon or ore.

Good luck with it.




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Due to a distinct lack of interest, the Early Iron 4 event has done been cancelled. But I'll still do the experiments, but probably not 'til June or so (big commission to finish, and my charcoal supply is toast).
I don't remember whether I've posted it before here is the framework I've built for the furnace--catalan frame-1.jpg

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Could someone point an idiot (namely me) towards a good starting point for researching the Catalan process a little more in depth. I have done some searching but seems to find myself lost in a maze of links that are either dead or irrelevant.

Michael Cochran

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