At one time, wrought iron was far more important, relatively, than it is now. As a matter of fact it is surprising that the process can survive at all. The process is essentially a melting of pig iron, a burning out of the phosphorus and carbon with the aid of iron oxide, and a final massing of the ferrite - now of much higher melting temperature - with working and shaping through rolls into commercial bars. Simple coal-fired furnaces are used.
The furnaces used are necessarily of limited size; fuel consumption is excessive; labor is arduous; and the product is anything but uniform. To a considerable extent the industry has fallen into busheling or bundling steel scrap in a reverberatory furnace somewhat larger than the genuine puddling furnace, then putting it through the regulation finishing as for real wrought iron. The product hardly can be considered desirable.
Wrought iron holds its small place largely through custom and its ability to weld easily. It is most excellent for many purposes, but it has a losing fight against steel that is equally good and cheaper.