Chinese Inventions; Cast Iron

Sanae Martin & Hannah Jeon

Cast Iron

China, Forth Century BCE. By having good refractory clays for the construction of blast furnace walls, and the discovery of how to reduce the temperature at which iron melts by using phosphorus, the Chinese were able cast iron into ornamental and functional shapes. Coal, used as a fuel, was placed around elongated crucibles containing iron ore. This expertise allowed the production of pots and pans with thin walls. With the development of annealing in the third century, ploughshares, longer swords, and even buildings were eventually made of iron. In the West, blast furnaces are known to have existed in Scandinavia by the late eighth century CE, but cast iron was not widely available in Europe before 1380.


By: Asia Society ©