Pig iron bars can be created at a smelter by a dwarf with the furnace operating labor activated.
The recipe for pig iron is: one iron bar, one flux material, and one unit of fuel will create one pig iron bar. Note that the fuel is part of the reaction as a source of carbon - even when using a magma smelter you will need one unit of fuel, and for a normal smelter you will need two, with the second unit being used to fuel the smelter. The flux material must be a stone, not a block, and the fuel must be coke or charcoal, not wood.
Pig iron is mainly used as a component in the manufacture of steel but can also be used for buildings and constructions that allow bars and have no restrictions on what type of bars to use; however, it cannot be used to make any other products. It is possible to stud other objects with pig iron, although the option isn't available at the forge, and instead needs to be ordered by the manager.
Dwarves can have a preference for pig iron and will be happier in a room whose floors and walls are made of it. Keeping a few spare pig iron bars may be marginally useful for strange moods.
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After years of extensive dwarven research, scientists have concluded that no, pig iron is not related to pigs in any way, and is therefore impossible to craft into ☼steel bacon☼.
Stories of a legendary ranger carrying pig iron on his hip are so far unproven.
In real life
Pig iron is a high-carbon iron that is an intermediate product in the production of wrought iron as well as steel. It is very brittle and thus, as in Dwarf Fortress, only marginally useful except as a step towards better materials. Its name comes from the traditional shape of pig iron castings, consisting of a central runner with ingots on each side at right angles, resembling a sow suckling a litter of piglets.
Pig iron in a display case.
[STATE_NAME_ADJ:LIQUID:molten pig iron]
[STATE_NAME_ADJ:GAS:boiling pig iron]