Cast iron products are abundant for many other uses than cooking great food. Its properties lend themselves to being almost indestructible and very durable for many years, even when items are outside in the elements.
How Is Cast Iron Made?
Cast iron products are made in the same manner as they have been for centuries. Iron ore, coke and limestone are heated to a very hot melting temperature in a blast furnace. This process removes all the impurities from the iron and results in producing liquid, molten iron. The liquid iron is then poured into a mold of any shape and size to create an item. After it cools and crystallizes, the item is removed from the mold and ready for its intended use.
Cast iron products form a protective film on the surface to make it the ultimate material to resist corrosion. It may also be painted, galvanized, plated, or have a type of wax to coat it. Most cast iron products for use outdoors has a factory preservative applied to the exterior to prevent rusting from humidity and oxygen in the air.
Given the manufacturing process, anything can be made of cast iron in any type of mold.
This is a large group of items used as military supplies made of cast iron. It includes weapons and guns mounted on military combat vehicles. The vehicles themselves are ordnance as well as ammunition and maintenance tools and equipment.
Antique Stoves and Heaters
Old stoves used for cooking and stoves used for heating an area are made of cast iron. Many of the pipes that vent the appliance outdoors are also cast iron as well as fire prevention firebacks behind the appliances to prevent walls from burning or getting overly hot. These types of appliances are originally wood burning, but can be transformed into a natural gas heater with a retrofit.
Many pieces of hardware are cast iron, especially for outdoor products. Cast iron hardware can be found on barbeque pits on the hinges and latches so they will be a long lasting product without rusting and needing replacement. Many toolboxes that are made for installing in the bed of trucks include cast iron hardware.
Piping and Fittings
Cast iron pipes can still be found in very old homes that have not replaced them with a newer type of pipe. These are pressure pipe that carry gas, sewer and water to different areas of homes or businesses. When cast iron pipes were used, the fittings were also made of cast iron.
Many homes include cast iron columns on the front to create a grand focal point at the entrance. Often, a home with columns will also have cast iron balusters, or spindles, that are used to weld to a top and bottom cast iron rail and create a cast iron decorative fence around a property.
Decorative Pieces both Inside and Outside
Antique bathtubs in all their elegance with claw feet were made of cast iron. These tubs lasted so well that you can still see some that are still in use in homes today. Free standing tubs, such as these make a great focal point in a large bathroom when place in the center of the floor.
Most of our grandmas still have cast iron trivets. These were originally manufactured with three legs but some were cast later with either four legs or to lie flat on a table. Trivets are used to place on a surface and then place hot dishes on top to keep the surface from becoming scorched or hot.
Antique sewing machines were cast iron. The very old models either had a treadle underneath them to press up and down with your feet to power the needle, or a hand crank on the side for power.
Hand irons made of cast iron were placed in the fireplace to heat up. Then you passed them over your clothes to iron the wrinkles out. After a bit, when the iron became cool, you had to reheat it again. This makes us very happy to have electric irons now.
Interior decorations were made of cast iron and include candleholders, clocks, signs of all types and banks.
Remember the old dinner bells outside in the Western movies? Those were generally made of cast iron to withstand being outdoors at all times.
Outdoor décor of all types are made of cast iron including plant stands, water fountains, stairs for apartments or condos, mailboxes and yard art as well as shepherd’s hooks for hanging flower baskets or bird feeders.
In the Workplace
Some cast iron items were used very often in different types of businesses. Butcher shops used hand crank meat grinders to make hamburger out of beef. Blacksmith’s enlisted the help of a cast iron anvil for it’s strength and durability to hand pound heated metal into shapes for horseshoes and other items. Some of the original tortilla factories used cast iron tortilla presses to make all of the homemade tortillas one by one and all by hand. Old soda shops that served ice cream and bottled sodas used a bottle opener made of cast iron.
The most popular use of cast iron today is in cookware. Many other materials developed over the years to take cast iron’s place. Cast iron still has passed all the tests of time when it comes to cookware and remains the vessel of choice among top chefs throughout the world for all of its fine properties.