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Smelting is a process of applying heat to ore in order to extract a base metal. It is a form of extractive metallurgy. It is used to extract many metals from their ores, including silver, iron, copper, and other base metals. Smelting uses heat and a chemical reducing agent to decompose the ore, driving off other elements as gases or slag and leaving the metal base behind. The reducing agent is commonly a source of carbon, such as coke—or, in earlier times, charcoal. The carbon (or carbon monoxide derived from it) removes oxygen from the ore, leaving the elemental metal. The carbon thus oxidizes in two stages, producing first carbon monoxide and then carbon dioxide. As most ores are impure, it is often necessary to use flux, such as limestone, to remove the accompanying rock gangue as slag. Plants for the electrolytic reduction of aluminium are also generally referred to as aluminium smelters. Labourers working in the smelting industry have reported respiratory illnesses inhibiting their ability to perform the physical tasks demanded by their jobs. Smelting involves more than just melting the metal out of its ore. Most ores are the chemical compound of the metal and other elements, such as oxygen (as an oxide), sulfur (as a sulfide), or carbon and oxygen together (as a carbonate). To extract the metal, workers must make these compounds undergo a chemical reaction. Smelting therefore consists of using suitable reducing substances that combine with those oxidizing elements to free the metal. In the case of carbonates and sulfides, a process called 'roasting' drives out the unwanted carbon or sulfur, leaving an oxide, which can be directly reduced. Roasting is usually carried out in an oxidizing environment. A few practical examples: Reduction is the final, high-temperature step in smelting, in which the oxide becomes the elemental metal. A reducing environment (often provided by carbon monoxide, made by incomplete combustion in an air-starved furnace) pulls the final oxygen atoms from the raw metal. The required temperature varies over a very large range, both in absolute terms and in terms of the melting point of the base metal. Examples:

[ "Composite material", "Organic chemistry", "Metallurgy", "Waste management", "Schreyerite", "Spent potlining", "Flash smelting", "Smelt", "vacuum induction furnace" ]
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