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Wikipedia article

This article is about an older version of DF.

Iron is an extremely useful and desired metal. It is the second best weapons-grade* metal, only slightly behind steel (and not including adamantine, which is in a category by itself). Iron has a material multiplier of 10, putting on a par with silver and (approximately) black bronze, making it good but not "great" for producing metal objects of value.

(* Iron is also, arbitrarily, chosen as the baseline for comparison for other metals for armour and weapons - iron is "100%", and other metals are higher or lower than that.)

Iron is predominantly used to make steel, or to forge weapons and armor if steel production is not possible. Iron is the most commonly used of the three metals possible* to forge anvils. Iron can also be fashioned into objects such as coins, furniture, and crafts, when it is not being used for more practical purposes.

(* Steel and adamantine are harder to obtain and usually put to better uses, and while increasing an anvil's value they do not improve the anvil's effectiveness.)

Iron bars can be created from ore at a smelter by a dwarf with the furnace operating labor activated.

Much like in real life, Dwarf Fortress does not have one single source for iron, but instead has three different iron ores. These are:

Combined, these only occur in igneous extrusive* and sedimentary* layers. Since there is no iron ore in igneous intrusive layers, these minerals are never found in granite, diorite, or gabbro, nor any soil layers (unless a vein crosses partially into one from another area block - see vein.)

(* Andesite, Basalt, Felsite, Obsidian, and Rhyolite layers are igneous extrusive, while Sandstone, siltstone, mudstone, shale, claystone, rock salt, limestone, conglomerate, dolomite, flint, chert, and chalk layers are sedimentary.)

Iron bars are needed to make pig iron bars, which in turn are used to make steel bars, using the following recipes:

See steel for a complete discussion.

Invading goblins (or humans) often carry iron equipment, most of which is not usable by dwarves, being either "narrow" or "large". After successful fortress defense, recovered arms and armor can be traded, or melted into iron bars - this is sometimes referred to humorously as goblinite, the 4th iron ore. This can be a reliable source of iron even when other ores are scarce.

It is also possible to trade for iron or iron ores.