In place of the old forge, in which the actual contact between the iron and the fuel, itself an energetic carburizing agent, made decarburization difficult, he devised the reverberatory puddling furnace (see fig.
That the blast-furnace process must be followed by a purifying one, that carburization must at once be undone by decarburization, is clearly a disadvantage, but it is one which is far out-weighed by five important incidental advantages.
As the melting point of the metal is gradually raised by the progressive decarburization, it at length passes above the temperature of the furnace, about 1400° C., with the consequence that the metal, now below its melting point, solidifies in pasty grains, or " comes to nature."
The delay which this test causes is so unwelcome that in all other countries the blower continues the blow until decarburization is nearly complete, because of the very great accuracy with which he can then read the indications of the flame, an accuracy which leaves little to be desired.
Then the furnaceman, controlling the decarburization and purification of the molten charge by his examination of test ingots taken from time to time, gradually oxidizes and so removes the foreign elements, and thus brings the metal simultaneously to approximately the composition needed and to a temperature far enough above its present meltingpoint to permit of its being cast into ingots or other castings.