Annealing Steel

By Ari Reid
Hammer, a hot steel horseshoe
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Annealing is the process of super-heating and then slowly cooling steel to soften it up and make it workable for your projects. Steel can be annealed in a forge, such as in a blacksmith's shop, in a ceramic kiln or in a furnace. Annealing changes the molecular structure of the steel in order to make it workable; as the steel cools, the molecules realign themselves, resulting in a hardened product.

Annealing in a Box

Step 1

Place the steel in the cast iron box, packed with insulating material. If the steel is small enough, build a firebrick box in a forge and place the steel inside of the box.

Step 2

Steel, a furnace, kiln, forge
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Place the box into the furnace or kiln and heat the steel and box to between 1400 and 1650 degrees, depending on whether you are dealing with high- or low- carbon steel. High-carbon steel can be annealed at lower temperatures than low-carbon steel. The steel should be heated long enough to ensure that it heats throughout.

Step 3

Turn off the heat source after the steel is heated through, and allow the steel to cool slowly inside of the box; overnight is recommended.

About the Author

Ari Reid has a bachelor's degree in biology (behavior) and a master's in wildlife ecology. When Reid is not training to run marathons, she is operating a non-profit animal rescue organization. Reid has been writing web content for science, health and fitness blogs since 2008.