Kintail: Collecting Sand

Ever since my attempt to make iron ore failed I’ve been asking myself why? Many times in my life after something hasn’t gone according to plan that failure has actually became an opportunity to better understand my work. I guess in reconsidering how something works, and fitting into that a new experience, I’ve come away much the wiser. Because of this, and probably because I don’t like something not working too, I’ve decided to give making iron ore one more try.

I believe that my greatest blunder was using the pyrite in my charges. While the roasting would have changed much of it to magnetite, it certainly wouldn’t be pure and this roasting also added an extra complexity to my process. So my new attempt had to begin with finding another source of iron oxide.

At first this looked like it was going to be the easiest collecting yet. In talking with Reiner last week he said that he had found lots of pure magnetite sand along Lake Erie. In fact he and Maggie generously offered to take a trip and collect some for me. But after they returned they had bad news, with the Lake level being so high his year there wasn’t any black sand to collect.

So, in the end, the three of our headed over to Lake Huron (as the water levels were normal there) and began our search. We eventually came to Kintail where we walked a great portion of the beach looking for black sand. Eventually we did find little ribbons of black sand on the shore. We tried many different tools to collect these thin layers, from shovels to hands, but in the end a sea shell seemed to work the best.

It is really wonderful to have the magnetite. After all, when I think about the work (and sulphur-smell!) of cooking the pyrite an afternoon spent scrapping sand on a beautiful beach is quite enjoyable.

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