We've previously written about "Primitive Technology," the amazing YouTube channel chronicling a guy (who never identifies himself) navigating the wilds of Far North Queensland, Australia with nothing more than what he fashions with his own hands. Those hands seem to have nearly magical powers as he confidently conjures what he needs to survive from the very elements around him (while capturing it all on a future phone).
As part of my work, I spend a big chunk of my day watching DIY videos of every kind of "It" you can imagine. This YouTube channel is one where I anxiously await new content.
In this latest video, the mystery man that some have dubbed "Prim" builds himself a bow-drill blower and clay forge near the entrance to his tiled-roof mud hut. With his blower and forge in working order, he then collects orange iron bacteria (iron oxide) from the creek (that baby shit-brown substance at 3:14), mixes it with powdered charcoal (carbon for reducing oxide to metal), and wood ash (flux to lower meting point). He forms all of this into a cylindrical brick and fires it in a charcoal oven. The result is a melted iron ore slag with tiny, 1mm-sized specs of iron in it.
Congratulations, Prim! You just entered the Iron Age! On his blog, he explains that wasn't really his intent:
My intent was not so much to make iron but to show that the furnace can reach a fairly high temperature using this blower. A taller furnace called a bloomery was generally used in ancient times to produce usable quantities of iron and consumed more charcoal, ore and labour.
Even though he says that smelting iron wasn't his goal, now that he can, it would be fun to see what sorts of things he can do with this new technology. So, with iron smelting, we're up to I think GURPS Tech Level 3. With this guy's virtuosic maker chops, he might reach TL 9 (the AI/VR age) before the rest of us do!
You can see all of "Prim's" videos, with some background explanations and tech details, on his blog.