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What is an Iron Rod?

By Von Shanks
Updated May 17, 2024
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An iron rod is a length of iron that is mainly used in heavy construction projects. Reinforced concrete is intertwined with iron rods, also called rebar, to strengthen the tension of the build. An iron rod can be purchased with or without a ribbed design. Construction-grade iron rods are primarily used in construction or building projects, but a wrought-iron rod can be used in various types of decorative art projects.

Iron is one of the 92 basic elements that are considered "natural," meaning they're not manmade; iron is identified by the symbol "Fe" and has an atomic number of 26. It is hardly ever found in a pure iron form, though there have been pure iron meteorites found. Iron is usually mined in the form of an oxidized or sulfide form of iron ore. The iron ore has to go through a process of reduction to be transformed into a pure metallic state. This reduction process basically takes the oxygen out of the ore and makes it pure.

Wrought iron is a fibrous metal that is soft and easily worked. It has a grainy look, almost like wood. The word "wrought" basically means “worked.” Blacksmithing is a form of iron and steel work that uses what is called a forging process. Forging is started by heating the wrought-iron rod or steel and then working it with a hammer and other tools to bend, cut and flatten the iron rod to a desired shape.

Wrought iron is produced by using a process known as smelting. The operation of smelting involves heating the iron ore with charcoal. At a proper temperature, the charcoal mixes with the oxygen and rises out of the iron as a gas. The remaining iron and slag are then removed while still hot. They are worked with a hammer, which works the iron into a consistent mass and forces out the slag.

Wrought iron is so expensive to produce that it is no longer made on a large scale; true wrought iron is now primarily used in conservation to keep historical sites authentic, and the iron is formed from recycled scrap. Most items considered wrought iron in the early 21st century are actually made of mild steel. It is still called wrought iron because it is still worked by hand. Before the switch to mild steel, wrought iron was used to make nails, rivets, chains, nuts, bolts and ornamental ironwork.

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Discussion Comments
By seag47 — On Jan 10, 2013

There is a historical property in my town that is lined with iron gates and an iron fence. They don't look like the fancy, sleek gates of modern times. They look old and rough, the way that iron was meant to look.

I'm sure that they are very heavy. I've never tried to open the gates, but I suspect that if I did, I would need help.

By wavy58 — On Jan 09, 2013

@shell4life – I've seen wrought iron curtain rods, but I've never heard of anyone using old, rusty iron rods for this! It would give the window a unique look.

The wrought iron rods are always decorative at the ends. They twist and curl into shapes that make the windows look more elegant.

They are usually black. I have seen brown ones before, but they were just as smooth and as rust-free as the black ones.

By JackWhack — On Jan 09, 2013

I've seen the ribbed iron rods at construction sites before. They line a big empty space where concrete will soon be poured.

By shell4life — On Jan 08, 2013

My friend's house is basically like one big museum. She collects antiques, and she even managed to find some old iron curtain rods.

I believe these are the real thing. She found them at an estate sale, and the person holding the sale didn't know how much they were worth, so she got them at a great price.

It's a good thing that her curtains were maroon, though, because the iron did rub off on them. I'm just glad she didn't use these rods in the room with the vintage white curtains.

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