We can picture to ourselves how in the first period the savage smith, step by step, bettered his control over his fire, at once his source of heat and his deoxidizing agent.
The fuel has, in addition to its duties of deoxidizing and carburizing the iron and yielding the heat needed for melting both the iron and slag, the further task of desulphurizing the iron, probably by the reaction FeS+CaO+C=Fe+CaS+CO.
In the former case there is no later chance to remove sulphur, a minute quantity of which does great harm by leading to the formation of cementite instead of graphite and ferrite, and thus making the cast-iron castings too hard to be cut to exact shape with steel tools; in the latter case the converting or purifying processes, which are essentially oxidizing ones, though they remove the other impurities, carbon, silicon, phosphorus and manganese, are not well adapted to desulphurizing, which needs rather deoxidizing conditions, so as to cause the formation of calcium sulphide, than oxidizing ones.
After the ascending column of gases has done its work of heating and deoxidizing the ore,.
(4) This same strong deoxidizing action leads to the practically complete deoxidation and hence extraction of the iron.