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Old 03-25-2012, 08:25 PM
elfkin477 is offline
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Common household items made of iron?


This is a simple question that is surprisingly hard to google. What are some common household items (though I'm thinking more of items found in a boarding school and on the grounds of it than a literal household) typically made of iron? I've come up with cast iron cookware and wrought iron railings. Oh, and old-fashioned bedframes and horseshoes. What else?

Just iron, please, not steel.
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Old 03-25-2012, 08:30 PM
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Fireplace tools.
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Old 03-25-2012, 08:40 PM
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Does it have to be iron, or can it be steel?
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Old 03-25-2012, 08:40 PM
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I'm getting a bit of a historical vibe to this question, say turn of the century-ish? If so there are vast numbers of things, iron was the wonder metal of the 19th century and almost everything that could be made of it, was. As a start:

Nails.
Saws, Hammers, Drills, in fact pretty much all hand tools
Pressed "tin" Ceilings.
Hinges.
Doorhandles.
Window latches.
Window frames.
Gas lamps (I'm thinking of the wall-mounted ones here)
Electrical conduit.
Water pipes.
Gas pipes.
Chair and Sofa frames.
Andirons.
Fireplace grills.
Stoves.
Quote:
Originally Posted by beowulff
Does it have to be iron, or can it be steel?
OP says:
Quote:
Just iron, please, not steel.

Last edited by Askance; 03-25-2012 at 08:41 PM.
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Old 03-25-2012, 08:47 PM
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If we're talking about old timey stuff, don't forget irons.
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Old 03-25-2012, 08:53 PM
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Drain pipes in houses.
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Old 03-25-2012, 09:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Askance View Post
I'm getting a bit of a historical vibe to this question, say turn of the century-ish?
Sorry, I should have addressed this in the first post. Modern day. I'm trying to determine a list of items one would have to find replacements for if you couldn't use anything made of iron.
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Old 03-25-2012, 10:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elfkin477 View Post
Sorry, I should have addressed this in the first post. Modern day. I'm trying to determine a list of items one would have to find replacements for if you couldn't use anything made of iron.
:slightly off topic:
I think one of the reasons for the move to steel vs cast iron has to do with the manufacturing processes involved. Steel being easier to work with, than cast iron.
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Old 03-25-2012, 10:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elfkin477 View Post
Sorry, I should have addressed this in the first post. Modern day. I'm trying to determine a list of items one would have to find replacements for if you couldn't use anything made of iron.
? Steel is iron (w/ a small fraction of carbon), and may include various other metals for alloys.
How would your idea work if you didn't have iron? - no iron, then no steel (and steel is used quite a lot in the home)

Last edited by SirRay; 03-25-2012 at 10:21 PM.
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Old 03-25-2012, 10:23 PM
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I remember my parents had an actual iron made of iron. You know, for ironing clothes. It was a small relic from c. 1860. Shaped the same as today's electric irons, apparently you had to place this one in some sort of heat source to make it hot enough to run over your clothes.
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Old 03-25-2012, 10:25 PM
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if you eliminate things made of iron because of supposing the nonexistence of the element iron then you would also not have anything containing iron.

if you suppose the nonexistence of steel making technology and still allow things made of iron.
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Old 03-25-2012, 10:26 PM
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In my household:

Griddle pan.
Le Crueset.
Bacon press!
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Old 03-25-2012, 10:28 PM
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don't forget about a 9-iron!
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Old 03-25-2012, 10:47 PM
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The cast iron drain pipes I mentioned upthread would be found in some modern homes.
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Old 03-25-2012, 11:07 PM
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Quote:
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supposing the nonexistence of the element iron then you would also not have anything containing iron.
Well without elemental iron there wouldn't be any human beings (in our current formulation, anyway...)
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Old 03-25-2012, 11:20 PM
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How about things like electric motor components? Transformers? Car parts (engine blocks, brake rotors/drums, etc)?
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Old 03-25-2012, 11:44 PM
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I'm guessing that the OP is thinking of fey, who according to legend can't abide iron. So iron the element would still exist in the world, and iron alloys and non-iron things made using iron tools would still be allowed.
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Old 03-25-2012, 11:54 PM
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Iron supplements.

A lot of modern merchandise labeled cast iron or wrought iron is actually made of steel. The terms are used as descriptive of the style rather than carbon content of the metal.
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Old 03-26-2012, 12:04 AM
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The crankshaft of a car's engine may be forged iron for roughly the same reason that the cookware is made of cast iron. Iron is porous, and oil will soak in to help maintain a layer of lubrication (Of course, the oil in a skillet isn't replenished, so it's baked on instead.)

Last edited by cornflakes; 03-26-2012 at 12:05 AM.
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Old 03-26-2012, 12:16 AM
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(Of course, the oil in a skillet isn't replenished, so it's baked on instead.)
It sort of is, right? Every time you cook in cast iron, you add some oil.

Some magnets are made of iron (or, mostly of iron)
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Old 03-26-2012, 12:26 AM
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Wrought iron is not the same thing as cast iron, BTW. Cast iron is an alloy of iron and a very high percentage of carbon, from two to six percent. This is higher than tool steel and makes the product very brittle, but easy to cast and machine. If it were liquid and you blasted oxygen into it, you would drive off some of that carbon and have found a way to make steel suitable for other applications and your name would be Bessamer.

Wrought iron is formed by working nearly pure iron, repeatedly folding and welding it so that it is layered with silicates (and can be welded without flux). It isn't made anymore, having been replaced by mild (AKA low carbon) steel, and is rather coveted by blacksmiths.

FWIW,
Rob
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Old 03-26-2012, 12:39 AM
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Note galvanized iron -- iron with a zinc protective covering electroplated. "Tin" cans were mostly iron with a water/organic acid resistant tin coating.
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Old 03-26-2012, 02:36 AM
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Pigs.
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Old 03-26-2012, 02:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
I'm guessing that the OP is thinking of fey, who according to legend can't abide iron. So iron the element would still exist in the world, and iron alloys and non-iron things made using iron tools would still be allowed.
That's my WAG as well, but many urban fantasy writers count that as meaning "cold iron" but not "steel", and their definitions have very little to do with metallurgy; many seem to think that if it's black it's "cold iron" and if it's shiny it's "steel". Iron salts and complexes (such as hemogoblin) aren't a problem; steel is or isn't depending on the writer's mood, the phase of the moon and the amount of chocolate in the vicinity of the smithy.

Last edited by Nava; 03-26-2012 at 02:44 AM.
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Old 03-26-2012, 02:47 AM
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Trivets
Door stops
Drain covers (besides manhole covers, that is - sometimes the small covers for roof drain soakaways are cast iron)
Barbecue grills
Chimeneas
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Old 03-26-2012, 03:28 AM
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Iron wih very high carbon content is pig iron. I don't know of any use of pig iron except as a raw material for the other types of iron. Depending on how much carbon you suck out of it, you get:

1) Cast iron has a carbon content in-between steel and pig iron. It is harder than steel but less tough.

2) Wrought iron has lower carbon content than steel. It is less hard than steel but I don't know if it's tougher.

3) Steel is the Goldilocks' option of iron types: Not too much carbon, not too little, just right. It doesn't deform easily yet also doesn't fracture easily. Hence, nearly nothing today is manufactured in wrought iron or cast iron even if it's called such for marketing reasons. The most you'll get in most cases is either low carbon or high carbon steel, depending on whether you want to optimize for hardness or toughness.
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Old 03-26-2012, 05:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
I'm guessing that the OP is thinking of fey, who according to legend can't abide iron. So iron the element would still exist in the world, and iron alloys and non-iron things made using iron tools would still be allowed.
And you are correct
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Old 03-26-2012, 10:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Siam Sam View Post
I remember my parents had an actual iron made of iron. You know, for ironing clothes. It was a small relic from c. 1860. Shaped the same as today's electric irons, apparently you had to place this one in some sort of heat source to make it hot enough to run over your clothes.
You would typically have a set of 2-3 of these. The handle was wooden, and clipped on. When the iron you were using became too cool to be effective, you swapped it for the one you had heating on the stove . (wood or coal stove, also made of iron) That way you could keep ironing without having to wait for the iron to re-heat.

Most of these I have seen have been re-purposed as door stops, which is another iron household item.

Still lots of cast iron radiators in use.

My grandmother used a treadle powered sewing machine on into the 1970's. It was mostly cast iron, both the machine proper, and the stand/treadle mechanism.

All manner or railings were iron, along with hinges, door handles and knobs...lots of iron pulls on drawers and cabinets.
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Old 03-26-2012, 10:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Siam Sam View Post
I remember my parents had an actual iron made of iron. You know, for ironing clothes. It was a small relic from c. 1860. Shaped the same as today's electric irons, apparently you had to place this one in some sort of heat source to make it hot enough to run over your clothes.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevbo View Post
You would typically have a set of 2-3 of these. The handle was wooden, and clipped on. When the iron you were using became too cool to be effective, you swapped it for the one you had heating on the stove . (wood or coal stove, also made of iron) That way you could keep ironing without having to wait for the iron to re-heat.

Most of these I have seen have been re-purposed as door stops, which is another iron household item.
My parents had just the one. I believe they picked it up in an antiques shop or aflea market. No wooden handle, but that may have come off over the years. I seem to recall it had a little iron stand, the inside of where you would put hot coals to heat the iron up with. And I recall it had a five-pointed star on it, which my father said stood for the Union.
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Old 03-26-2012, 11:17 AM
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The OP understands that the distinction between 'iron' and 'steel' is pretty arbitrary, right? Wrought iron has less carbon than steel which has less carbon than cast iron, and the dividing point between what's called 'steel' and what's called 'iron' is based mostly on how iron was smelted in olden times, not on any clear distinct chemical difference.
(and then there are alloys like stainless steel, which is still mostly iron atoms...)

If you want a house that's free of any kind of iron/steel, it's going to be really tough. All the nails, screws, brackets, joist-hangers, and any other structural metal element are iron/steel. Some old post-and-beam houses might have wooden pegs holding the beams together, but good luck making anything recognizable as a modern wall without iron/steel (I suppose you could get some kind of custom-made exotic alloy nails for an outrageous price). And while electric wires themselves are copper, the outlet boxes, switches, etc are going to have steel/iron cases or moving parts. Hard to imagine any kind of electric powered appliance/lamp doesn't have some iron/steel in the case (or the actual plug that goes into the socket). Just finding a raincoat without zippers, snaps, or metal eyelets is going to be an issue.
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Old 03-26-2012, 11:22 AM
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red blood cells.
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Old 03-26-2012, 11:30 AM
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One surprising (well, to me, so it could surprise a Faerie, if you'd like it for the story) huge piece of iron in my home is...the bathtub. It's in a fairly modern building, by neighborhood standards. It looks just like an acrylic tub, like the kinds I grew up with. It's got a layer of enamel over it, so it doesn't look like iron, but you can see the iron where the water's been dripping for 50 years and wearing away the enamel, just under the tap.

Last edited by WhyNot; 03-26-2012 at 11:31 AM.
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Old 03-26-2012, 12:35 PM
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I was surprised to learn that rebar (when not being used in construction it can be used by the casual user in landscaping) is NOT iron.

Cereal.
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Old 03-26-2012, 01:21 PM
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I was surprised to learn that rebar (when not being used in construction it can be used by the casual user in landscaping) is NOT iron.

Cereal.
It's NOT?! (Well, maybe not cast iron.)
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Old 03-26-2012, 09:28 PM
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Are the sound plates in modern pianos still made of iron?
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Old 03-26-2012, 11:00 PM
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Old 03-27-2012, 12:24 PM
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Quote:
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That's my WAG as well, but many urban fantasy writers count that as meaning "cold iron" but not "steel", and their definitions have very little to do with metallurgy; many seem to think that if it's black it's "cold iron" and if it's shiny it's "steel".
Additionally, my understanding has always been that the original myth didn't have anything to do with the current temperature of the iron, but with how it was forged. "Cold-forged iron," is how I've always thought of it.

Cold forging is a specific technique: see here and here for descriptions. Although those descriptions talk about modern mechanical processes sometimes involving molds and so on, I always assumed the myth referred to hand-forging by a blacksmith, essentially beating the iron over and over to give it certain advantages of hardness (such as for edged weapons).

So please don't have your fictional characters storing iron in the freezer to deal with Fey folk.
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Old 03-27-2012, 05:27 PM
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Additionally, my understanding has always been that the original myth didn't have anything to do with the current temperature of the iron, but with how it was forged. "Cold-forged iron," is how I've always thought of it.
Cold iron in legends does refer to the temperature when you touch it, not forging technique.
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Old 03-27-2012, 08:13 PM
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For the purposes of the OP the distinction between iron and steel is pretty much arbitrary.
When it comes to metallurgy and manufacture, there are a range of different processes to engineer a wide variety of different properties that are dependent upon the carbon content as well as other factors.

Cast iron with a high carbon content for example does not transmit vibration well and is useful for machine bases.
Armco iron has an extremely low carbon content and is highly malleable and will absorb a large amount of energy before fracture.

Various heat treatments alter the crystal structure enormously and these in turn are also dependent on other alloying metals at well as the carbon content. There is good reason for labelling ferrous alloys according to their carbon content, but this is not the whole story. The terms, wrought iron, steel and cast iron are entrenched in history and refer more to the manufacturing process than to the actual composition. With a wider range of processes available today and an enormous increase in the range of properties, these terms are indistinct and the lines are blurred.
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Old 04-03-2012, 08:59 PM
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Are those bars people put on windows to keep burglars out iron?
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