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What is Ingot Iron?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 02 December 2016
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Ingot iron is high quality iron which has been cast in bar form. It contains very few impurities, and it has not been worked; it has simply been melted and cast. This product is available from companies which mine and produce iron, although people usually need to purchase it in very large amounts since these companies focus on handling iron in amounts appropriate for industrial use. Some may, however, have ingot iron in display in public areas because it can be a topic of interest for visitors to their facilities.

An ingot is simply a bar of purified metal. People have been using ingots for thousands of years during metal processing. The ingot is easy to handle and transport, making it convenient for mines because they can prepare metal for packing and shipping ingot form. The size and shape of an ingot varies, depending on the conventions for that particular metal, but they usually take the form of rectangular bars which are small enough to be easy to handle, but not so small that they are impractical.

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The ingot may have a slightly tapered shape, which is designed to facilitate even cooling. An iron ingot is also commonly stamped with a marking which indicates which company produced it, and possibly where. This mark may take the form of a company logo, or a stamped word or series of words. Ingot iron is often made with pig iron, a minimally refined form of iron which cannot be used on its own, but can be processed to make various iron products.

Iron ingots may also be stamped with information about their purity, which is designed to assist people using the bars in metals processing. Knowing which impurities are present can allow people to decide how they want to handle ingot iron; various components can be added to create a steel alloy, which may perform differently depending on which impurities are present and how the metal is processed.

On its own, iron is a very soft, highly malleable metal. Ingots are usually cast with some impurities so that they are reasonably hard, as otherwise they can be damaged during shipping. The percentage of other materials does not have to be very high to create a durable, strong metal alloy which can be used in a wide variety of settings. Some interesting antique examples of ingot iron can be seen on display in some museums, as examples of metalworking from earlier eras in human history.

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TreeMan
Post 6

Does anyone know what a billet is? It seems like I have heard this term used to refer to processed and refined metal ores. How does an ingot differ from a billet, or are they the same thing? Is one term more common for a certain type of metal than another?

stl156
Post 5

@Izzy78 - As far as I know, ingot is a general term that can be used to describe any type of refined metal that is in bar form. I have heard it used for everything from iron to copper to aluminum, but I'm not sure about things beside metals. I would be interested to know if anyone has heard of other materials being referred to as ingots.

As for the second part of your question, wiseGEEK has a good article on refining iron ore that I would suggest. Basically, the ore is initially combined with several minerals. To make pig iron for ingots, the iron ore is combined with carbon and limestone which each bond to certain impurities that can then be removed from the iron.

Izzy78
Post 4

Is ingot a term that is specific to iron, or can other metals and materials that are formed into bars be considered ingots, as well? For example, could you have a copper or gold ingot? What about for other materials that are not metal, like plastics (even though I think plastics are usually made into beads before final use).

I don't have any experience with mining or metal manufacturing, but what types of impurities are usually found in iron after it is mined? What is done to remove the impurities from the iron before it is cast into ingot form, and what happens to the waste material?

JimmyT
Post 3

@titans62 - Not an odd question at all. I know what you mean about some words like this being pronounced differently. The end of the word is actually pronounced more like "gut". Since I like finding word origins, I looked up ingot, and found that it comes from Middle English, so there are no tricky silent letters.

My question about the article was whether there was a way to take something like iron scrap metal and reform it into ingots for other use. Is this possible, or is the strength and composition of the metal changed too much during manufacturing to be used again? I guess another question is what even happens to iron or steel once it is taken to a scrap yard?

titans62
Post 2

This may be an odd question, but how is this word pronounced? Is the "t" hard or soft (is the end of the word pronounced like got or go?) I have seen words like ingot pronounced different ways depending on the etymology. I was just curious.

jcraig
Post 1

I had no idea what was behind making iron ready for transport and usage. I guess I never really thought about how it got from a mine to a factory that made iron or steel products.

Does the melting and casting process usually happen near the iron mine, or is the iron ore transported to a factory somewhere that then produces the ingot and then ships it again to other places?

The article says the ingot bars and small enough to handle. Does that mean for humans or for machines? What dimensions do the bars usually have, and how much do they weigh? Is an ingot bar something you would ever be able to find and buy just to have it?

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