What is Sponge Iron?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Sometimes known as direct-reduced iron, sponge iron is a product that is produced using iron ore. The iron ore is often in the form of pellets or lumps, and is subjected to a reduction process that is created by the use of a reducing gas that emits from coal or a natural gas source. This type of iron can be produced in several different types of furnaces, including coke or charcoal ovens, blast furnaces, and basic oxygen furnaces.

Sponge iron is created from iron ore.
Sponge iron is created from iron ore.

There are several benefits associated with sponge iron that allow it to compete effectively with other types of smelted irons. One has to do with the actual composition of the final product itself. For example, this type of iron is considered richer than pig iron, another type of iron commonly produced in blast furnaces. Direct-reduced iron has a slightly higher iron content, which often makes it better suited for use in electric furnaces.

A coke oven can be used to produce sponge iron.
A coke oven can be used to produce sponge iron.

In addition, the gases emitted during the production of sponge iron can be harvested and used in various other applications. This by-product of the iron making process helps to offset the cost of producing the iron, as well as aid in keeping other processes that require the gas for proper production. It can also be used to produce a powdered ore that works very well when mixed with other metals in the production of different types of iron-based products.

One of the more common uses for sponge iron is the creation of wrought iron. Iron of this type is helpful in the creation of ornamental objects for use around the house, such as decorative grills for screen doors, burglar bars for windows, and even for various types of wall hangings. Sponge iron is also often used for the manufacture of components used to create durable lawn and patio furniture. When properly treated, wrought iron furniture can easily resist deterioration from the weather, and last for a number of years.

In recent years, refinements to the production of sponge iron have made it possible to reduce the iron without necessarily having to melt the ore. Because the iron can be made into pellets and even into powder, it is an economic and useful substitute for the scrap metal sometimes used by steel manufacturers. The amount of time and resources required to produce sponge iron is minimal, so it is possible to manufacture large amounts quickly, a fact that only adds to the advantages of this type of iron product.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


I am looking for information on using this product for water filtration. Can you help? --Ken B.


Did you know that people have been using the sponge iron manufacturing process for centuries? In fact, sponge iron has been used in manufacturing iron in the Middle East, Egypt, Europe, and China since at least the 16th centuries.

The whole history of carbon and iron products really fascinates me, especially when you see the importance that such things play in everyday life.

I would really encourage anybody with even a slight interest in metalworking to look into its history -- there really are a lot of fascinating things in the hidden history of metal.


So what would be the advantage of using sponge iron as opposed to say, wrought iron or even steel? Are sponge iron prices that much better or something?

I had heard before that DRI or sponge iron was really pretty useless except for manufacturing other iron products, so this article was very enlightening to me.

If you could give me even more information, or perhaps point me to some sponge iron manufacturers where I could get more information, I'd really appreciate it.


I have recently been looking into different places in India that supply iron for a research project, and I was wondering if there is any way to really tell how good the quality of a company's sponge iron is without having a sample sent to the lab.

I am unfortunately very ignorant about this subject, and would like to know if there are some sort of industry standards to sponge iron plants out there (I know there are for steel suppliers), and if so, if someone could tell me more about them.

Any information would be appreciated, thank you.


Can dri be used for landfill cover? Is it safe and how much does it leach?

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