If you think Valyrian steel swords from Game of Thrones require one of the most dangerous and difficult bladesmithing processes ever, with all of that dragonfire and spellcasting and whatnot, you’re absolutely right, of course. But outside of the realm of fiction, the title for most difficult bladesmithing process may have to go to the making of the thermite sword. As YouTuber TheBackYardScientist shows in the below video, making one of these bad boys requires a whole bunch of steps that are unpredictably volatile and extremely dangerous.
The resulting sword sure is a shiny beast of a blade though.
The video, which begins with a little pop-in from the Hacksmith (another YouTuber who’s also dabbled in deadly weaponry), shows the process of creating molten iron using a thermite reaction. A thermite reaction, as electronics engineer David Avery explains succinctly, is a process that reacts iron oxide (rust) and aluminum in order to create molten iron. The process is initiated with a fuse (often made of magnesium), which burns at a very high temperature — about 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. Essentially, the heat causes the aluminum, which is more reactive, to take oxygen atoms from the iron oxide, resulting in molten iron and aluminum oxide.
In order to make a sword out of thermite, TheBackYardScientist dug out a blade-shaped mold in insulating firebrick, which was then placed below a pot of thermite. In the video, we watch as TheBackYardScientist initiates the thermite reaction with a blowtorch, causing the aluminum to oxidize and the molten metal to pour down into the blade mold. Not only is the exothermic reaction dangerous because of the heat and fire released, but also because using water to extinguish the reaction is dangerous in its own right.
Notice how TheBackYardScientist is wearing a gas mask as he puts out the thermite reaction with water from a hose. The (presumed) reason for that is because adding water to the reaction can create hydrogen gas, which can asphyxiate a person and is also potentially explosive. Which means you should never ever try this at home or anywhere else for that matter.
After a good deal of polishing, grinding, and welding, TheBackYardScientist shows off the blade, which weighs five pounds and has a unique mirror finish to it. The blade also passes the Fruit Ninja test with flying colors.
What do you think about this thermite sword? Is this the most dangerous bladesmithing process you’ve ever seen, or have you seen some Valyrian-level alchemy before? Let us know in the comments below!
Images: YouTube / TheBackyardScientist
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