History of Puddling

The process of puddling was one of the most important process in making iron and steel.  It was developed in the second half of the 18th century.  It replaced the charcoal fuelled process.  Henry Cort made the process in 1784.  He came up with the process in England.  Cort’s process made making iron easier since no charcoal fuel was needed during this process.  Cort’s process began to flourish all around the world.  It traveled all around Europe and eventually to the United States.  Many process were developed after Henry Cort’s process, but his process open the doorway for other processes.

Process of Puddling


Puddling Furnace

Before the use of the technique called “puddling” the product produced by iron making was called “pig iron”.  Pig iron was very brittle and had many impurities so it had to be converted into wrought iron.  The process of puddling did this conversion. The iron puddler was in charge of his own furnace where the conversion of iron took place. Pig iron was heated to a molten state in a large furnace.  The molten metal was stirred and carbon began to burn off.  The carbon was very important in the puddling process.  It determined wheather or not it would be the right type of iron.  Finally, the molten metal was then made into balls and the remaining impurities were hammered out.


Importance of the Puddler


“Puddler At Work”

The process of puddling was no easy task and these workers were held in high regard. The puddler was highly skilled and was the best worker in the company.  This was a dangerous occupation, which required much physical strength, stamina and concentration, “The puddlers were the aristocracy of the proletariat, proud, clannish, set apart by sweat and blood.  Few of them lived past forty.  Numerous efforts were made to mechanize the puddling furnace…Machines could be made to stir the bath, but only the human eye and touch could separate out the solidifying decarburized metal.”[1]  What also made the iron puddlers so special was that there were no schools or teaching of iron puddling.  The process was passed down from father to son.

Puddling and Steel

The process of puddling has a lot to do with iron more then steel.  However, the puddling process made the first glimpses of steel.   Workers began experiment with the puddling process to make the steel.  This steel was called puddled steel.  The experiments were successful, but sometimes the steel would split and break. Puddled steel was just wrought iron that was not heated as long.  The process of puddling steel opened the doors to many different processes of making steel.  Eventually The puddlers were replaced by machines and different process.  However, without the process of iron puddling, the iron and steel would never have progressed as it did today.

Extra Links

Extracts from “Life of Iron Puddler”: http://www.sirhowy.com/puddler.html


More on Puddling Furnace: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puddling_%28metallurgy%29

[1] The Cambridge Economic History of Europe, Vol. VI, Part I, 1966, p. 447

Kenneth, Warren. Bethlehem Steel: Builder and Arsenal of America. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh, 2008.

Sirhowy Valley History, “The Iron Puddler,” Sirhowy Valley History. http://www.sirhowy.com/puddler.html (accessed February 28, 2013).

The Cambridge Economic History of Europe. The Cambridge Economic History of Europe, Vol. VI, Part I, 1966, p. 447





17 thoughts on “Puddling

  1. Although I probably should know this, adding a link to explain what the “charcoal-fueled process” is would be really helpful. Also, adding a caption to explain the first photo would be cool and add to people’s understanding of the puddling process.

  2. Your description of the puddling process is really helpful. The description combined with the depiction aids the audience’s understanding of the task of puddling, making the rest of the page more comprehensible and interesting. One thing to look into changing might be your sentence structure. There are a lot of short, concise sentences throughout, which is fine, but the page may flow better if certain ideas are combined into fewer, lengthier sentences.

  3. Great information here about puddling. Maybe you could add more information about how much puddlers would have gotten paid. I also think it would have been nice to have more in text citations and explain why puddling was such as difficult task.

  4. I thought you did a great job explaining and presenting your topic. We mentioned this in class, but why did puddlers live to be only 40 years old? You answered that in class but I also think it would be interesting if you could find the number of puddlers there were in total. Nice presentation.

  5. I liked how you described what puddling is, and how hard it is. I think if you add a link to a site describing how puddling works it would help a lot. Something to explain you picture.

  6. Try cleaning up the prose a bit. You have plenty of data, but paragraphs don’t flow particularly well. Consider linking some of the simple sentences with words like “and”, “but”, and “”; try to cut down on repetition of words (especially “process” in the first paragraph).
    The article is nicely laid out – I like the flow of invention, technical details, significance, and relationship to steel.

  7. Very good way of going about describing what the job was, and then the working conditions. An image that could really connect with your second paragraph would be a picture showing the difference between wrought and pig iron.

  8. I would try and find a little bit of firsthand information from a puddler. I think that a primary source from an actual puddler would add a lot to the post.

  9. I like the explanations and think the page transitions nicely from topic to topic. Perhaps an in-text hyperlink further explaining one of either the history or importance of puddling may help.

  10. I think you have a lot of great information and the content shouldn’t be messed with. The only suggestions I have are, like Eric said, insert in-text hyper links. Also, formatting the pictures and text appropriately.

  11. Good source of information. I would like to also see the process of puddling explained in relation to the image you provide.

  12. I really like the picture of the puddler, I’m not sure if you had that in there on Wednesday. Just going back from the class presentation, I recommend being more familiar with the process of puddling. Nice quotation about the life of a puddler. Well done.

  13. The information about puddling is very clear and concise, but I agree with Andrew that it would be more interesting if you could insert a little more information about puddlers lives, or maybe put a link to a website that has that information that would be great.

  14. Well-written and structurally sound piece of writing. Has all the main components an audience wants to hear about the general information about Puddlers and Puddling , but maybe bringing in the personal aspect to the life of a puddler with a quote or two would not be a bad idea. Regardless, well done.

  15. You have some very powerful pictures. Maybe a caption, an in text explanation or anything to enlighten people’s understanding of puddling. In addition to this, some in-text hyperlinks could be very useful.

  16. It would be interesting if you added a section that discusses the elimination of the puddler industry due to the rise of technology. Also, you could add a link discussing the technological equipment that replaced the puddler. Otherwise than that, great work.

  17. Great information but maybe explain why puddlers only live to be around 40 years old. Great information.

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