Some Old Names Around Steel and Iron
|This is just a
collection of some names one encounters around iron and steel. Many of these
names are a bit strange and that's why I try to look into the etymology, the
meaning and history of these names, as far as possible.
I'll cover English and German names because there is often a relation. I'll keep alphabetical order.
|Blister steel is what you get by the cementation process. The steel is full of blisters "because of the gases involved". That is a bit very general for an explanation. It seems that nobody has looked into the issue. My guess is that some "hydrogen blistering" mechanism was at work.|
|Anyway, modern steel aficionados are making blister steel again, and here is what it looks like:|
|A bloom is what you get in a bloomery: A spongy piece of iron / steel with pieces of charcoal and other dirt plus plenty of slag. Here are pictures.|
|The etymology is easy: bloom = rough
mass of wrought iron," from Old English bloma "lump of metal;
mass". Unknown origin and not related to blooming flowers
("Blume" in German) .
The German term "Luppe" is just as mysterious (see below)
|Same as bloom; nowadays also called "Schwammeisen" = sponge iron. In French it is a "loupe" and now we have an interesting etymology. First it should be noted that in old German other names are used, too, for example: "Deul" (in modern German: Teil = piece)|
|Now we have a wealth of possible
meanings. If we first assume that the word did not come from the French we have
|If the word did come from the French, we have
|In other words: forget it!|
|Whatever remains deep down in a blast furnace that can't get out during tapping. In German the Ofensau (literally furnace pig) is also known as "Härtlinge" (= hard ones) or Wölfe (= wolves) and that relates to a second meaning: Ofensau = Luppe (= Bloom).|
|The proper English word for Ofensau is "salamander" or "deadman's foot". It denotes all liquid and solidified materials in the hearth of a blast furnace, or just about any smelter, stuck below the tap hole.|
|I have dealt with Osmund iron already in the backbone. Here are a few more pertinent facts:|
|Osmund iron is also known as osmond and osborn iron; in German perhaps also as osemund. Once more, the etymology seems to be unclear. One enterprising German scholar suggested in 1725 that the name goes back to "Asmuntz", the son of the giant Gulla in some Northern mythology. Not very helpful.|
|However, there are those who are convinced that the "Osemund" iron / steel used in the Sauerland / Germany, in particular for wire making, has nothing to do with the Svedish "osmund".|
|Osmund iron was made in Sweden or
Scandinavia form early pig iron produced in
blast furnaces. It is mentioned in custom accounts in England as early as 1325.
It was shipped in irregular pieces but secondary industries, for example around
Lübeck in North Germany, forged it into bar iron and traded it on. It was
usually described as soft wrought iron but that cannot be the complete truth as
we know now, after osmund steel has been found.
Gustav II Adolf of Sweden prohibited his subjects from exporting unfinished iron in 1620, and all trade in osmund ceased.
|The stuff coming out of a blast furnace. Pig iron, in other words, is the cast iron made in blast furnaces.|
|There are two explanations for the
|"Sarschachstahl", literally "shear-things steel" or steel for shears and other cutting tools like chisels, knifes and swords, was the top-grade steel made in the Alpine valleys we know from "Ferrum Noricum" by the local specialists from around 1500 to almost ever since. The raw iron / steel came from the big blooms of the Stückofen, or the cast iron made on purpose in the "Flossofen" the "flowing furnace", in somewhat later times.|
|The smith then and there could sort
various steel qualities (fracture properties and the appearance of fracture
surfaces was essential in this) and reforge the stuff into steel bars of
various carbon content and quality. Sarschach Steel embodied the top qualify.
It was used for producing all kinds of top quality iron /steel things that were
traded far and wide, or as raw materials for the specialists who made armor,
for example in places like Augsburg, Regensburg and Nürnberg in South
Germany. Besides the "Sarschachstahl" there was also
|To say it with Vagn Buchwald (Book II, p. 563): It's Blister steel (see above) that has been improved by faggotin.|
|The name arrives from the use in the cutlery trade|
Books and Other Major Sources
Invention or Discovery?
History of Carbon
10.5. Iron and Steel in "Modern" Europe. 10.5.1 From Bloomeries via Stückofen and Catalan Forge to the Blast Furnace
10.5.3 Making Steel after 1870
Osmund Iron in the Gdansk Museum
Antique Texts Concerning Crucible Steel
10.5.2 Making Steel up to 1870
Old Sagas, Heroes and Swords
Blooms and Bloomeries
The Goldilocks Principle
King Richard "Lion Heart" meets Sultan Saladin
© H. Föll (Iron, Steel and Swords script)