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My Kepler Bb people live in a part of their planet saturated with iron. But not in the metal form. Rather in an oxidized form called an ore. Every time they dig a chamber, each person finds at least 1 iron ore. But in order to get further in their technology, they need to use the iron ore somehow. Iron ore by itself is fragile and 100% iron is too soft for most tasks.

Ironically, to make iron from iron ore, they need iron in the metal form.

This is a problem, They need iron to advance technology but they need iron in the metal form to make more iron. So how are they going to get iron if they don't have iron(not in a metal anyway)?

Iron ore Iron ore-> Iron Iron

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    $\begingroup$ Basically, chuck iron ore (rust) in a clay pot with some coal and bake at a couple thousand degrees until cooked... serve with your favourite toppings $\endgroup$ – Samwise Nov 17 '16 at 21:32
  • $\begingroup$ "1 iron ore" - wait, it's a game? $\endgroup$ – Mołot Nov 18 '16 at 15:29
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    $\begingroup$ I live in a planet saturated with iron. It's not so big a issue. $\endgroup$ – Ginasius Nov 19 '16 at 8:14
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Referring to 1 iron ore is somewhat silly. That picture is a solid brick of the stuff, but generally it just comes out of the ground as an iron-oxide rich aggregate. You have to crush it up into gravel and wash the dross out with water at the mine before you take it to be processed.

You do not need iron in metal form to make iron ore. Obviously this cannot be true, since at some point before there was metal iron available, someone invented smelting. Methods are various and described by Wikipedia, but in general you heat the metal in a ceramic furnace to de-oxidize the iron by reaction with carbon monoxide from incomplete combustion of charcoal. Then you want to liquefy impurities as slag and pour off the slag. You can add flux (a limestone, silica or borate sand, or dolomite) to turn impurities into chemical compounds with lower melting points to help get rid of them.

Keep in mind, you won't liquefy the iron itself, that takes too much heat, you just need to get it hot enough to drive out impurities. Then you take the hot mass of iron and pound it into whatever shape you want. You'll have to do the first pounding with a nice hard rock, until you can make iron hammers to do future pounding with.

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    $\begingroup$ Entirely correct, all that i would add is the Questioner should just read the wiki article on Wrought Iron. This describes the way that mankind first processed and utilized this wonderfuly useful metal. $\endgroup$ – padleyj Nov 17 '16 at 16:47
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You don't need iron to make iron from iron ore, just a blast furnace that can get to 900 C, which will liquefy the iron. The earliest blast furnaces existed in China from about 1st century AD. They had clay walls and used water power to pump the bellows.

Iron ore is usually high in oxides and silicates. To refine it place iron ore, coke (a pure form of carbon) and limestone into the furnace. The oxides bind readily with the carbon and the resulting carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide are released through a chimney, and the silicates bind with the limestone to make a slag on top of the iron.

If you leave the silicates in then you get wrought iron, which was used since ancient times by blacksmiths to make tools and implements. Wrought iron is strong and at the same time malleable. Since it still contains silicates it is not a pure form of iron.

With the silicates removed you get pig iron, which can be mixed with other things to make various forms of steel.

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  • $\begingroup$ You can use the bloomery method, which was used the world over before the blast furnace method came around. The temperature requirements are lower, so it is easier to use, though it makes a lower quality product. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Nov 17 '16 at 16:08
  • $\begingroup$ @kingledion Sure, but why do that if you have the option. We don't really know what tech level there is available, and a blast furnace could be done very easily with really basic tech. You don't even need the water wheel, just a bunch of people to pump the bellows and an understanding about how carbon takes out impurities which could be stumbled on by accident; a furnace is built with the ore and fuel mixed to try to melt it better, or coal falls inside while trying to fuel the furnace, and the iron comes out stronger and better. $\endgroup$ – AndyD273 Nov 17 '16 at 19:53
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There is an old saying:"You need money to make money." which suggests that making money isn't possible without either having, finding, or stealing it. This is wrong, of course. What is meant that most rich people started with much less, and built their wealth gradually. The old fable about a paperboy, earning money by delivering newspapers, saving most of that and then investing that, and continuing a slow but accelerating process of increasing his net worth is very similar to the way iron could be produced. Initial efforts would be crude and inefficient, subsequent processes would become more and more refined, more and more efficient, and on larger and larger scale. Start with ore and a campfire (bonfire), and go from there.

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  • $\begingroup$ You can start with copper ore and a campfire, but you wont get very far with iron until you can make a furnace. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Nov 17 '16 at 17:26

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