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Taking Inventory: Iron Ignot

Oh the irony

Quick! What’s the most versatile item in Minecraft — the one used in the most recipes? It’s not planks. Not sticks, either. Definitely not diamonds. It turns out that the most useful item in Minecraft is our item of the week, the hefty, reliable, iron ingot — featured in 33 different recipes. Did you guess right? If so, well done! If not, er, the right answer is literally in the title of this article, buddy.

Iron ingots were added to Minecraft on 29 January 2010, at the same time as sticks, mushrooms, and diamonds (did you know what diamonds were called ‘emeralds’ back then? The past is so stupid). As just about everyone who’s ever played Minecraft for ten minutes knows, you mostly acquire iron ingots by smelting iron ore blocks in a furnace.

But that’s not the only way to stock up! It’s also possible to find iron ingots in villages, pillager outposts, strongholds, shipwrecks, nether fortresses, jungle temples, desert temples, chest minecarts, End cities, dungeons, woodland mansions, and as buried treasure.

And that’s not the end of the list. Zombies, husks and zombie villagers have a small chance of dropping iron ingots when they die, and iron golems drop them (obviously). You can even trade for iron ingots - Armourer, Toolsmith and Weaponsmith villagers stock them. It’s pretty hard to play Minecraft without finding an iron ingot. You’ve probably found six just by reading this article. Somehow.

Iron’s basically everywhere in the real world, too. By mass, it’s the most common element on Earth, making up much of our planet’s outer and inner core. The magnetic field that all that iron generates is the reason why compasses work. So next time your friend screams ‘compasses work because of WITCHCRAFT!!!’ link them to this article and set them straight! Also, get better friends.

On the surface of our planet, there isn’t so much natural pure iron, but there’s a lot of iron ore - which humans only began to be able to take advantage of when they developed the technology to build furnaces capable of reaching 1500C or so - the temperature at which iron melts. This marked the beginning of the Iron Age.

Today, iron is by far the most common industrial metal — often in alloys such as steel — because it’s relatively cheap and abundant, but also strong. The body of an adult human contains about four grams of iron, which is used in various biological processes, meaning that the entire human race contains about 30 million kilograms. 

That’s a lot of ingots. More than you can fit into a chest. More than you can fit into a double chest! Maybe it’s time to upgrade your storage room...

Duncan Geere
Duncan Geere

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