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Block of the Month: Redstone Ore

Replenish your redstone, or light up your life

There’s not a lot of light in the depths of the Overworld. At the bottom of a mineshaft, you’ll usually need to bring torches if you want to find your way through the darkness. 

However! There are two notable exceptions to this rule – two sources of light deep underground. The first is lava, and you definitely don’t want to tangle with lava unless you absolutely need to. The second, though, is more appealing to a treasure-seeking adventurer: redstone ore.

Redstone ore began appearing in the Overworld in July 2010 – in Seecret Friday Update number three. It arrived alongside buttons, levels, pressure plates, and doors, though it didn’t get the name “redstone” until about five days later. More recently, the devs also added a deepslate version – because they’re nice like that. But it does take a little longer to mine.

Ore is the primary way that most players will gather redstone dust – though it is possible to find dust in chests, from mobs, or in woodland mansions, ancient cities or jungle pyramids. Break a block of redstone ore with an iron pickaxe or higher to get 4-5 redstone dust, or slightly more if you have a Fortune enchantment – up to eight if you’re extremely fortunate.

It’s tricky to get hold of redstone ore blocks, because usually they crumble into dust when mined. To obtain the block itself, you’ll need a silk touch pickaxe. You can then smelt those blocks into a single piece of redstone if you like, but it’s a much better idea to break it instead, because you’ll get a lot more redstone.

When you do give it a whack, you’ll notice that redstone ore gives off red particles – these high-energy dust motes are as bright as three lit candles. You might think that’d make them good for mood lighting in your base, but the light goes out again after a short while as the energy burns away. To activate it again, you’ll need to hit it again, or have a creature disturb it in some other way.

I wonder what that feature could be used for? Perhaps as an early warning system for a hidden underground base? Or maybe as a dimly-let entrance to a buried temple. Or maybe as a challenging puzzle for visitors to your base to solve – try to get across the room without lighting up a redstone ore block! 

As always with Minecraft, the possibilities are pretty much infinite.

Duncan Geere
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Duncan Geere
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